PAT PILCHER tells you everything you need to know about the innovative, AI-enhanced features of the Samsung S24 smartphone.
It’s that time of the year again. As online speculation and rumours surrounding Samsung’s Galaxy S24 smartphones surged, Samsung finally unveiled the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24. There’s a heap of new stuff and a tonne of cool features. Here are the highlights. I briefly got my hands on an S24 Ultra and here’s what’s what.
The biggest news with the new Galaxy lineup is what Sammy calls Galaxy AI. From crazily cool photo editing tricks to breaking language barriers, the Galaxy S24 packs some useful AI trickery.
The headline AI feature is Live Translate, which provides two-way, real-time voice and text translations during phone calls. Left something in your hotel room while travelling? Phone the hotel and set the translated language as you call. Your speech will be translated into one of 13 languages, so the hotel concierge will hear the conversation fluently in their own language. Additionally, their speech will also be translated back into English for you. Cool eh!
Because the S24 range sports an integrated NPU (neural processing unit), all the AI legwork is done on the device instead of sending data to a server farm to be processed and sent back to your phone. The upshot is that on-device AI keeps conversations secure, and there’s no delay – everything is super responsive.
Then there’s the Interpreter app, which can translate live conversations instantly using a clever split-screen view which allows people standing opposite each other to read a text transcription (in their own language) of what has been said – ordering a meal when on holiday just got a lot easier. No cellular data or Wi-Fi is needed either, which is great if you travel and want to avoid costly mobile data roaming charges.
It isn’t just AI language translation, either. Chat Assist will give your conversational tone a nudge for instant messages and other apps. Hence, your message sounds as intended (This feature will be a godsend for me as my superpower is making embarrassing typos on social media). Messages, emails and more can also be translated in real-time into 13 languages. Suppose you’re one of the lucky few to have Android Auto In your car. In that case, incoming messages can also be automatically summarised. The Galaxy will even suggest relevant replies, allowing you to stay connected but focused on the road.
The summarising feature has the potential to be a useful workplace tool, too. It’ll create AI-generated summaries and AI template creation for notes that include cover/headings, etc. Even handier, voice recordings (even with multiple speakers) can be transcribed into text, which can also be summarised, making note-taking in meetings less fraught, freeing you up to focus on the meeting instead of frantically scribbling.
Another feature I’ve quickly become addicted to is Circle to Search with Google. With a long press on the home button, you can circle, highlight, scribble on, or tap anything on Galaxy S24’s screen. Google will find relevant search results. This applies to photos, videos and text. Even nicer still, you can refine your search results in real-time.
No Galaxy launch is complete without a new set of camera specs, and this time around, Samsung has really delivered. Under the hood, the Galaxy S24 range sports what Samsung has branded as the ProVisual Engine, which consists of many AI-powered widgets that team up with the new 200MP main shooter to optimise captured photos and videos so they really pop.
The Galaxy S24 also sports what Sammy calls a Quad Tele zoom System, which consists of an optical periscopic zoom lens with a 50MP zoom camera to deliver optical zoom at 2x, 3x, 5x and 10x. Adding in digital zoom, the S24 Ultra can deliver a surprisingly clear 100x zoom, which makes good use of the extra headroom afforded by the 50MP sensor and AI image optimisation for less shaky zoomed-in images.
Shooting photos in the dark also got better thanks to a raft of AI image processing tweaks. With Samsung’s Nightography, photos and videos shot at night were viewable, even when I made use of the S24 Ultra’s zoom capabilities. Image processing aside, the Galaxy S24 Ultra makes use of a whopping 200MP image sensor with 1.4 ?m pixel elements that are 60% bigger compared to those on the Galaxy S23. This allows for far more light to be captured. Blu has also reduced thanks to mechanical and digital optical image stabilisers (OIS), which deliver silky smooth video (so you can walk and record smooth video) and all but eliminate hand-shake-induced blur in low-light photos.
Perhaps the most fun new features of photography on the S24 are the new AI editing tools. The Edit Suggestion function uses Galaxy AI to recommend optimisations for photos. Generative Edit allows you to remove or reposition/resize objects, and it will fill in the missing chunks of your photo backgrounds from any objects you’ve selected and moved using generative AI. The AI will also straighten crooked images and fill in any resulting empty image borders. If you’re watching a video and want to see more detail, you can fire up what Samsung calls Instant Slow-mo, which promises to be a real boon for sports fans. It generates additional video frames to slow down video smoothly.
All this AI smarty pants stuff requires loads of processing grunt, so the Galaxy S24 Ultra packs the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 silicon under its hood. It also has an integrated NPU (neural processing unit) for efficient on-device AI processing. GPU capabilities have also been tweaked, with the S24 range supporting Ray tracing for life-like in-game shadows and reflections in supported games. All that extra power also results in more heat. To this end, the Galaxy S24 range also boasts an improved thermal control system with a 1.9 times larger vapour chamber, allowing it to run cooler. Rounding up the S24’s spec bumps, Samsung has increased the base internal storage spec from 128GB to 256GB, which is great news for anyone with a sizeable music collection. Internal RAM is also a generous 12GB, making multi-tasking smoother.
The other area that Galaxy devices have always impressed me with is their displays. The S24 range is no exception. The integrated OLED display delivers super crispy and vivid images. According to Samsung, the S24 Ultra sports the brightest Galaxy display ever. The Galaxy S24 lineup screens can reach 2,600nit peak brightness for improved outdoor visibility even in direct sunlight. All screens across the Galaxy S24 range have slimmer bezels and larger screen sizes. The Galaxy S24+ has a 6.7-inch display, while the Galaxy S24 has a 6.2-inch display. The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a whopping 6.8-inch QHD+ display. Samsung has also used Corning Gorilla Armour in the Galaxy S24 Ultra for greater durability.
The S24 Ultra might be the biggest device in the S24 range. Still, it is also incredibly light thanks to being the first Galaxy phone with a titanium frame. Its body is slimmer than previous Galaxy Ultra devices, and its chamfered edges make for a comfortable in-hand grip. The Galaxy S24 series comes in several colourways, too. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is available in Titanium Grey, Titanium Black, Titanium Violet and Titanium Yellow. Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 colours include Onyx Black, Marble Grey, Cobalt Violet and Amber Yellow.
Prices start at $2449.