I wondered months ago whether the Galaxy S24’s built-in AI would be available for free or if the buyer would have to pay for it, either as a subscription or in the form of a price hike for the phone itself. As ChatGPT has shown, AI features can’t be free. If you want the best ChatGPT experience you can get, you have to pay for a subscription.
Back to the Galaxy S24, we now know that Samsung didn’t increase its flagship phone prices this year, other than a $100 price increase for the Ultra model. Initially, I speculated that Samsung would have to charge for AI differently, perhaps via a subscription.
I made it a point to ask about the cost of Galaxy AI when I met with Samsung for a Galaxy S24 briefing. Samsung said that it had no plans to charge for its AI services at this time. This implied that things could change down the road, and it turns out we now have a deadline that comes directly from Samsung: 2025.
Galaxy AI is an extensive collection of AI, and generative AI features that are built right into Android. It’s not just Samsung’s Gauss AI at play here, as the Korean giant partnered with Google for some AI features. I’d argue that Circle to Search, the standout AI feature of the Galaxy S24 series, has nothing to do with Samsung.
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That is to say that it’s not up to Samsung alone to decide how to pay for AI. And I’ll say it again and again: nothing is free on the internet. You pay with your personal data for Google features like Circle to Search. The same goes for any other generative AI tricks built with the help of Google’s Gemini or other Google LLMs.
Others, like Samsung, could find other ways to monetize AI. Samsung did tell me that it’s not collecting user data from its AI features. Also, Galaxy AI won’t train from messages and conversations.
Using Google’s Circle to Search AI feature on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Image source: Samsung
Samsung has quietly started teasing the possibility of charging for some AI features in the future. First seen by Android Central, a footnote in the Samsung Galaxy S24 announcement for Australia indicated the Galaxy AI features might not always be free:
Galaxy AI features will be provided free of charge until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices.
The US announcement doesn’t contain a similar warning. However, the Galaxy S24 product pages do have footnotes that feature a similar disclaimer:
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.
We’re still in the early days of Galaxy AI, and things will change. Samsung will continue to improve Galaxy AI features and add new ones. Also, Samsung plans to roll out Galaxy AI features to select devices later this year. On top of that, I expect all Galaxy flagships and even some mid-range phones to ship with Galaxy AI features going forward.
I will also add that some of the Galaxy AI features are available on the device. Translations in Messages, Calls, and Interpreter; the Camera’s Edit Suggestion feature; and the Photo Ambient Wallpaper picker happen on the Galaxy S24. Therefore, Samsung can’t monetize those. However, the bulk of Galaxy AI requires cloud processing. That’s where Samsung might implement subscriptions.
Finally, I’ll also say that Samsung’s Knox security suite lets you disable Galaxy AI features on the device. This is a feature that can come in handy if you don’t care about generative AI features, whether they’re free or paid.
Meanwhile, you can preorder one of the three Galaxy S24 versions at this link.