Samsung devoted the vast majority of its latest Unpacked showcase to AI. Even if the star of the show is still the Galaxy S24, Samsung wants all its fans to hitch themselves up to the AI bandwagon, but once you look at the fine print, the company may also need users to pay up for at least some of these or future generative features by at least 2026.
Tech YouTuber Adam Matlock first spotted in a now-deleted Tweet (via 9to5Google) that Samsung included a brief note on its press release for the new phone reading: “Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices.” Though Samsung may have changed the language for its fine print, other people who spotted the footnote also noted it read, “Different terms may apply for AI features provided by third parties.”
Samsung declared its latest phones will get at least seven years of updates, keeping them fresh for a while now, but that doesn’t mean some features like the new Live Translate will remain free. Now, before we put the cart before the horse, that’s not to say Samsung will definitely force people to pay for any or all of Samsung’s touted AI features on their phones. However, it does enforce the idea that some services could require monetary tribute in the future, if for nothing more than to help keep the lights on.
It effectively confirms what previous leaks showed about AI being free until the end of 2025. Gizmodo reached out to Samsung for clarification, but we did not immediately hear back.
Most likely, the AI features that could become paid will be those operating in the cloud. Anything like a large, full-scale language model or AI art generator will likely be operating from remote servers. Samsung previously confirmed with us that the Live Translate and tonality writing tools on Samsung Keyboard are operating on-device. We still don’t have a clear idea if some of the “AI camera” features, like the artificial slow-mo (created by inserting AI-generated frames into a video), work only on the S24 or with a hybrid cloud/local model.
Samsung could also put some of its newer features behind a paywall, akin to how Microsoft is already asking for $20 a month to access GPT-4 Turbo on the upcoming Windows 11 Copilot AI. If Samsung holds to its own promise of free AI until 2026, that’s another two years of feature updates in which Samsung could try to section off more advanced features for those willing to pay.
AI is extremely costly to both train and run. Generative AI, particularly AI image generators, draws an inordinate amount of power. One recent study showed that one AI image takes as much power to create as charging your phone from zero to full. Text generation takes less power than that, but with hundreds of thousands or millions of prompts being interpreted every day, that power demand stacks up.
It’s why this week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman stressed the need for a complete energy infrastructure revolution to support all these AI ambitions. We already know Microsoft is investigating nuclear microreactors to buoy its worldwide data centers, which are becoming more and more stressed with all this talk of AI.