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Galaxy AI will be free through 2025, but will a subscription follow?

Samsung was the first smartphone vendor to make a big deal about generative AI features on mobile devices this year. It partnered with Google and others to launch the Galaxy AI suite on the Galaxy S24, turning AI features into a big selling point for the new flagships. A few months later, Samsung started bringing Galaxy AI features to older devices. I expect the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Flip 6 to offer the same Galaxy AI features as the Galaxy S24, if not more.

While Galaxy AI is available for free to buyers, we learned from a footnote in January that it will only be free through 2025. Samsung reinforced the same commitment in a different footnote, giving us a clear estimate. Galaxy AI will be free until the end of 2025. What happens after that? Will we get a Galaxy AI Plus subscription?

The footnote comes from a Samsung announcement earlier this week that detailed the opening of seven Galaxy Experience Spaces around the world to let users discover the new features of Galaxy AI.

The footnote makes it clear that not all Galaxy AI features might be available on all supported devices. Also, third-party AI features might have different terms of use. One such third party is Google, whose Circle to Search feature debuted with the Galaxy S24 series. But Samsung says that its own Galaxy AI will be free until the end of 2025:

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Availability of Galaxy AI features may vary by device model. Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices. Different terms may apply for AI features provided by third parties.

Using Google's Circle to Search AI feature on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.Using Google’s Circle to Search AI feature on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Image source: Samsung

Samsung may very well extend that deadline once we approach the end of next year. After all, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Flip 6 might bring new Galaxy AI features. Then there’s the Galaxy S25 series, which should also feature new AI tricks come early 2025. Add Google’s own AI efforts, and next year’s Android flagships might rock more powerful generative AI features than its predecessors.

I said back in January that Samsung should charge a price for Galaxy AI down the road. A Galaxy AI Plus subscription made sense to me. It could help cover some of the costs and ensure that Samsung invests in strong security and privacy features.

After all, most Galaxy AI features do not run on-device. There’s a lot of data exchange with servers, and I wouldn’t want to pay for AI of any kind by training AI with my data.

Threat of Apple Intelligence and Google AI

On the other hand, Apple Intelligence features in iOS 18 run locally on the device for most tasks. Apple has also developed new technology to safeguard the privacy of data that needs to be sent to the cloud for processing. ChatGPT integration also comes with prompts for the user to allow data processing on OpenAI servers and assurances that the data stays private.

Given the way Apple Intelligence works, I also said that Apple can’t charge for iPhone AI yet, especially since most of its AI features work on-device. But I would gladly pay for the Siri AI of the future that becomes a truly powerful assistant.

I’ll also point out that almost all the ChatGPT features you’d have paid a Plus subscription for in January are now available for free. That includes access to the brand-new GPT-4o model.

Apple Intelligence running on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.Apple Intelligence running on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Image source: Apple Inc.

By the way, Google is rumored to launch a Google AI suite of AI features on the Pixel 9. These will likely stay exclusive to the Pixel 9 and Pixels in general for a while, putting pressure on Samsung. It’s unclear whether Google AI will be free on Pixel 9 forever. But then again, Google usually offers free software to its customers. And, again, GPT-4o is available for free to ChatGPT users.

Google teased the new Gemini AI assistant at I/O 2024, proving it can match the abilities of GPT-4o. Gemini AI would be a great addition to any Android phone, Samsung’s flagships included. But it could always be an exclusive element of the Google AI suite of AI apps that Google is working on for the Pixel 9.

Now that we’re about to focus on Galaxy AI again, I have to say that Samsung needs a significant upgrade to Galaxy AI before it can charge a price for a Plus subscription of any sort.

Yes, the Siri experience Apple demoed for iOS 18 won’t be ready until next year. And yes, it’ll initially roll out as a beta AI assistant. But Samsung doesn’t have anything like it at the time of this writing. It can’t match the Gemini AI assistant on its own, either.

Where’s Bixby?

Unless we get a revamped Bixby by late 2025, there would probably be no reason to launch a Galaxy AI Plus paid subscription. That’s not to say that Samsung shouldn’t pass some of the costs of AI development and processing to the user. Just that Samsung has to up its game in the AI race, given what’s happening with competitors.

We’ll hopefully learn more about Galaxy AI next week when Samsung launches the new foldables. But whatever happens with the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Flip 6, you still get some 18 months of free Galaxy AI access on supported devices.

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