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Samsung’s Unpacked Event Promises a First Look at Galaxy AI: What We Know So Far

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Samsung’s new Galaxy phones usually have high-resolution cameras, bright screens and sharp designs. But the rumored Galaxy S24 series, which will likely debut at Samsung’s next Galaxy Unpacked event on Jan. 17, may stand out from its predecessors in a big way. New software features rather than fresh hardware could be the S24’s biggest attraction.

This story is part of Samsung Event, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Samsung’s most popular products.

That’s because Samsung is expected to bring more generative AI-powered features to its next major phones. The company recently announced its own AI model, as well as Galaxy AI, a new AI “experience” for mobile devices, and it seems likely these technologies will play a big role in the Galaxy S24. 

Read more: Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked Event 2024: What To Expect and How To Watch

Generative AI, or AI that can churn out conversational (but not always accurate) answers to prompts based on training data, was everywhere in the tech world in 2023. That applies to smartphones too, especially toward the end of the year, as Google unveiled the Pixel 8 series and Qualcomm and MediaTek introduced new phone chips optimized for AI.

Here’s a look at what we know so far about Samsung’s potential AI plans for its next major smartphone release. 

What is Galaxy AI?

Samsung’s promotional artwork for its AI Live Call Translation feature.

Samsung

We don’t know much about Galaxy AI yet. But Samsung describes it as a “comprehensive mobile AI experience” and “universal intelligence on your phone.” Samsung mentions communication, productivity and creativity as areas where Galaxy AI will show up on its phones, meaning it’s possible we’ll see Galaxy AI features in Samsung apps like phone, messages, S Note and the camera. 

But that’s just speculation, we won’t know for sure until Samsung reveals more details. Samsung says Galaxy AI will arrive early next year, which means there’s a good chance it’ll debut with the Galaxy S24 series. 

Read more: Best Phone of 2023

Samsung provided one example of how Galaxy AI will appear in future phones. AI Live Translate Call, which the company says will be available on “the latest Galaxy AI phone,” will provide audio and text translations in real time during phone calls made through Samsung’s native phone app. It sounds similar to the Pixel Live Caption feature currently available on Pixel phones. 

Based on Samsung’s press release, it sounds like certain Galaxy AI features would be processed on the device to preserve privacy, while others could be executed in the cloud. AI Live Translate Call is one such example of a feature that would work locally. 

AI isn’t new to Samsung phones

A screenshot of the Bixby text call button on an incoming call

What an incoming call looks like with Bixby Text Call.

Screenshot by CNET

Generative AI may be having a moment, but AI has powered many smartphone features for years, particularly voice assistants, language translation apps and photography tools like portrait mode. Samsung has already been ramping up the use of AI in its phones, and its existing efforts could provide a hint at what’s to come with Galaxy AI. 

In early 2023, Samsung upgraded its Bixby voice-enabled helper with a few new tricks, such as the ability to have it blend traditional phone calls with texting through Bixby Text Call. As the name implies, it allows you to answer a call and carry out a conversation via texting while the caller speaks verbally, with Bixby acting as the intermediary. 

You can even clone your voice to make Bixby sound like you when it reads your texts to the caller. Samsung also expanded Bixby’s offline functionality with support for certain commands without an internet connection, such as setting a timer or activating the flashlight.

Read more: Best Samsung Phone of 2023

Samsung’s description of Galaxy AI sounds a bit like a supercharged, updated version of Bixby. And Bixby’s recent direction feels aligned with where Galaxy AI could be going, especially with features like Bixby Text Call. But given that Samsung has broadened Bixby’s role in its smart home platform, it seems unlikely that Galaxy AI would wholly replace the company’s 6-year-old voice assistant. 

Instead, I could see Galaxy AI serving as an umbrella term for various AI-powered phone features, including those that work through Bixby. Or maybe it’ll be a rebrand of Bixby’s phone-centric features. We’ll know for sure when Samsung has more to say.  

An AI-centric processor for the Galaxy S24

Watch this: What to Expect from Samsung Unpacked 2024

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Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.

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