Samsung's new Galaxy AI features, which were shown off at 2024's first Galaxy Unpacked event and debut in the Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24 Plus and Galaxy S24 Ultra phones, will only be available for free until the end of 2025.
This wasn't made clear at the Unpacked event, but a closer look at Samsung's terms and conditions for its Galaxy S24 webpage notes: “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.”
So it looks like features like the AI-powered Generative Edit may require some form of payment or subscription to use at some point next year. How much this would cost is also currently unknown and it is unclear what exact features would be subject to a paywall and which will remain.
The Galaxy AI tools include features like live translation, smart photo editing, intelligent note summaries, real-time language translation and the rather neat 'Circle to Search' tool.
It’s important to note that some of the AI features are built into the phone while others are cloud-based and will require an online connection, this could be how Samsung justifies the cost.
So going by these T&Cs, this only gives Samsung Galaxy S24 users around two years to enjoy the AI enhancements, unless Samsung extends the period or scraps the idea.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung kept this detail quiet as people have already taken to social media to express their anger at paying a subscription for their phone and it could impact sales of the new flagship phone by dissuading potential buyers.
This, plus the whole Galaxy AI paywall thing, is why software-based smartphone upgrades are concerning. Why would I pay $1300 for a phone with features that can all be given or taken away at will?January 18, 2024
Still, it's currently not clear which features will be supported and which are exclusive to the Galaxy S24 series. The Galaxy AI enhancements to these older devices are anticipated to be released before June this year.
This has happened before
Apple attempted a similar approach with the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature with the iPhone 14 offering 2 years of free service but eventually changed this to three years of support.
Meanwhile, Google’s Magic Editor is free on supported Pixel phones with additional tools available to all via the subscription-based Google One. This also provides cloud storage, and a VPN as well as monitoring the dark web for your info.
This subscription-based approach seems counterintuitive to Samsung’s commitment to OS updates which could keep the Samsung Galaxy S24 in users' hands for seven years of updates.
Overall, time will tell if this could become part of a new trend of paying for new devices only to discover some features being locked behind a paywall and it may become yet another cost to factor in when purchasing a new phone.
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James Ide is a writer for TechRadar specializing in phones and tablets, having previously worked at The Daily Mirror since 2016, covering news and reviews.
James loves messing with the latest tech, especially phones due to their incredibly rapid pace of development.
When not surrounded by various devices and/or tinkering with gadgets while putting them through their paces, James has a love of handheld consoles.
He is almost the textbook definition of a geek, who loves sci-fi, comics, games and of course, all things tech. If you think you have a story for him or just want to challenge him at Smash Bros, get in touch.