Five key questions from this week’s Galaxy Unpacked event

The dust has since settled in San Jose, California following Samsung’s first Galaxy Unpacked event of the year where three new models of flagship phone were showcased alongside the company’s new on-device AI play called Galaxy AI.

As we saw at CES 2024 only a couple of weeks earlier, AI is where nearly every major consumer electronics manufacturer is pouring their efforts at the moment.

While Samsung did not elude to it, the company clearly held its first Unpacked earlier than normal this year in order to get ahead of the pack, where AI will likely be embedded or feature on Android phones from competitors in 2024 too.

It is not all about the new phones and AI, however, with several machinations around the announcements made in California this week.

It is with that in mind that we’re taking a look at some of the key takeaways from this week’s Galaxy Unpacked, and mulling over the potential implications it will have down the line.

Samsung and Google to dominate Android market?

In year’s past Samsung routinely brings a number of partners onto the stage during Unpacked to detail what collaborative efforts are in the offing. This year was quite different, as only Google featured.

It shows that the pair are not only deepening their relationship, but also that in territories where Google does not sell its Pixel hardware, like South Africa, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 will be the standard.

There is also the fact that many of the Galaxy AI features showcased this week being powered by Google. Circle to Search in particular is a Google-powered aspect of the S24 series, and in many respects feels like an extension of what Google Lens is.

Samsung continues to be the leader as far as Android phone makers, and while many people may not be able to afford the S24 series out of the gate, the addition of Galaxy AI thanks to its partnership with Google means it has yet another differentiator in a competitive market.

As such, depending on when competitors can get their hands on AI tools and embed in devices to the level that Samsung has on the S24 series, the domination looks set to continue.

Getting third-party apps involved with Galaxy AI

Galaxy AI is cool, of that there is no doubt. The translate, note, and transcription functionality is truly an enticing prospect, but it is worth noting that many of these features are restricted to Samsung’s native apps.

Our question here then is when will the functionality extend to third-party apps. Being able to record meetings on my S24 phone and have it automatically transcribed is great, but the ability to take any recording from another device and do the same would be even better.

It’s clearly something that Samsung is actively thinking about, as the Instant Slow-Mo and Generative Edit functions can work on any piece of media found on the S24’s library, regardless of what the original source is.

If Samsung wants to make Galaxy AI truly shine, getting third party app developers involved will prove crucial.

How long with Galaxy AI features be exclusive?

This beings us to another key question. Given that Google is powering many of the experiences on the S24 series, whether it be via Lens, Bard, or Gemini, it is unclear how long features like Live Translate or Translator will only be found in the Samsung stable.

Only time will tell just how much of a head start Samsung has in that department, but we should have a better idea of the lay of the land when Mobile World Congress happens next month and other smartphone makers showcase their wares.

For now though, most Android OEMs are now playing catch up.

What about the Galaxy S24 and S24+?

In case you forgot, Samsung actually had three new smartphones that were revealed at Galaxy Unpacked.

That would have been an easy mistake to make as the Ultra model got most of the stage time, but it seems like the base S24 and larger S24+ were segregated to the sidelines during the event.

Much like Apple, which seemingly puts all of its attention and best specifications into the Pro models these days, the Ultra has become Samsung’s pride and joy. Hopefully that is not a sing of things to come, however, as it will likely result in consumers opting for the more affordable Galaxy A series, or perhaps a competitor offering instead.

Is the Galaxy Ring a game changing wearable?

In a move that surprised everyone, including some people at Samsung, the company teased a new wearable as it’s “What’s next?” product.

Called the Galaxy Ring, as far as we can tell, it’s still unclear whether this device is simply a smart ring that’s used for biometrics to potentially replace a smart fitness band or whether more features will be embedded into the device.

The potential applications are endless, with some suggestions being that the Galaxy Ring could combine several tools into one – including tracking, NFC-based tasks, a gesture-controlled stylus, ID verification, mobile payments, and more.

Either way, Samsung piqued everyone’s interest with the Galaxy Ring. All we need to know now is, when will it debut, what can it do, and how much it will cost to do it?


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