I was wrong when I said you should never buy a Galaxy S24 over any iPhone

Samsung Galaxy S24 generative AI home screen wallpaper
(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Mea culpa, I tried offering the Galaxy S24 some tough love. I thought I was being logical, even right. Nope, I was wrong when I said every iPhone was a better buy than Samsung’s flagship S24. 

In fact, after testing AI features and learning about Apple’s Intelligence plans, I’m especially impressed by what Samsung is offering on the Galaxy S24 that Apple won’t give iPhone 15 owners. 

Why was I so mean to the Galaxy S24? I don’t want to dwell on its faults; that’s not what this is about. This is about saying I was wrong.

I was feeling very down about Samsung software, though, and I have more than a professional interest in it. I personally own Samsung phones and have recommended them. My Dad carries a Galaxy S22. He’s scared to upgrade to a phone with AI, but I’m slowly changing his mind.

Samsung Galaxy S22

Ok, Dad, you don't need to upgrade yet, but soon... (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Then Apple’s iOS 17 launched, and it’s really cool. It’s useful, social, and innovative. It has features that Apple finally stole from Android and features I wish Android would steal. 

Between the new Safety Check In, contact cards, proximity sharing features, StandBy mode, and everything else, it really feels like Apple arrived at a thoroughly modern mobile OS, leaving Android behind.

Sure, StandBy is cool, but have you seen an AI moon?!

Then along comes AI. I was skeptical about smartphone AI at first. In my reviews of the first AI phones, the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S24 Ultra, I called these features silly or creepy, but then I dug deep. 

While writing TechRadar's list of the Best AI phones, I thoroughly tested the latest AI features. I skipped the weird and superfluous features and focused on the useful stuff, and it turns out that smartphone AI is truly useful. 

There is no need to wait for Apple Intelligence, the next Snapdragon chips, or new large language models. AI makes today’s phones better, and for the AI tools I actually use, the Galaxy S24 is one of the best phones you can buy. 

Right now, there are five or six very useful AI tools on smartphones – including AI camera enhancements, generative AI photo editing, generative AI writing, AI voice assistants, AI language translation, and overall AI interface enhancements and suggestions. 

Google Magic Eraser Test Statue of Liberty

Erasing the Statue of Liberty from the, er, Statue of Liberty is creepy (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The first feature we considered AI on a smartphone was the ‘Magic’ photo editing in Google Photos. Photo editing tools are the most common smartphone AI feature, and even phone makers that eschew AI, like OnePlus, have some type of AI photo editing.

There are also AI tools that assist the camera, and Samsung has been using AI for scene optimization in its Camera app for a while. Those astounding AI moon photos you can take with the Galaxy S24 Ultra owe their perfect exposure and color settings to AI, which identifies your subject and adjusts accordingly.

Even if the less expensive Galaxy S24 doesn’t have the same zoom lens as the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it still has AI helping the camera, and intelligent shooting modes make Samsung cameras more fun. Photos tend to look better when I use a Galaxy phone, especially food photos and long-distance pictures.

Generative writing is much newer than photo AI tools, but AI can take your writing and rewrite it in a new style. You can ask Samsung’s Galaxy AI to rewrite an email, and it will give you options in a formal tone, a casual manner, or loaded with emojis.

Siri, Bixby, and Gemini test showing

Gemini on the Pixel 8 will help you write messages (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Google Pixel 8 can do the same, but Samsung’s Galaxy S24 is much better at rewriting messages. The Pixel often crafted messages I would find embarrassing, but Samsung’s AI was useful enough that I’ve used its suggestions in my own personal messages to avoid sounding terse or when messing with my teenager.

Samsung becomes a smartphone AI leader

Samsung’s lead so far is significant. AI tools, especially large language models, seem to be developing exponentially. If Samsung has a lead now, it may be able to push that lead even further as its AI models evolve with Galaxy AI. 

One feature that you probably think needs more AI is Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant. Except, when I tested Bixby against Siri and Google’s Gemini, Bixby was by far the most effective voice assistant already. Samsung calls Bixby ‘AI,’ but it was invented before today’s advances in large language models. Even so, it’s way ahead of the competition, and there’s plenty of technological room to improve. 

So, Samsung has the best voice assistant, the best AI writing tools, and the best AI camera enhancements. We’re still testing different smartphone AI language translations to determine the best, but Samsung reps tell us Galaxy AI can translate between 16 different languages. Google’s Pixel Live Translate can only handle about a dozen.

Apple ceded the AI lead to Samsung, for now...

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets new Galaxy AI features (Image credit: Future)

Samsung’s Galaxy AI features aren’t just available on the latest Galaxy S24 family. You can use Live Translate even if you have a Galaxy S23 or a Galaxy S22. You can use most of the new AI features with Galaxy Z foldable phones from 2023 and 2022 and the Galaxy Tab S8 and Galaxy Tab S9 tablets from the last two years. 

That’s an incredible level of support, especially compared to the competition. 

That’s where Samsung really changed my mind. Rather, I’d say Apple changed my mind when it announced Apple Intelligence and declared the new features would only come to the iPhone 15 Pro and better. 

As far as we know, if you buy a brand new iPhone 15 today – Apple’s latest iPhone model – it won’t ever work with the new Apple Intelligence features.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max in front of stalactite photo

Got one of these? Cool. If not, you'll want a new iPhone soon (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Are tables finally turning? Samsung already offers seven years of major OS updates for its latest phones. Apple offers only five years, and if you didn’t spend at least $999 / £949 / AU$1,849 on an iPhone 15 Pro, you don’t get the REALLY cool stuff. 

The stuff everybody is talking about. The stuff that dominated the news out of Apple’s WWDC 2024, Google I/O 2024, and whatever party Samsung throws for developers 2024.

If you’re buying a new phone today and are interested in AI features, I would not recommend buying an iPhone 15 or any older iPhone models Apple still sells. Buy a Galaxy S24 instead.

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Philip Berne
US Mobiles Editor

Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, starting more than 20 years ago at eTown.com. Phil has written for Engadget, The Verge, PC Mag, Digital Trends, Slashgear, TechRadar, AndroidCentral, and was Editor-in-Chief of the sadly-defunct infoSync. Phil holds an entirely useful M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. He sang in numerous college a cappella groups.

Phil did a stint at Samsung Mobile, leading reviews for the PR team and writing crisis communications until he left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. Phil is certified in Google AI Essentials. He has a High School English teaching license (and years of teaching experience) and is a Red Cross certified Lifeguard. His passion is the democratizing power of mobile technology. Before AI came along he was totally sure the next big thing would be something we wear on our faces.