While there is a lot of buzz for the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series of smartphones, including their most significant feature, Galaxy AI, some fine print concerning the potential cost of some of these AI functions has dropped some rain on Samsung’s parade.
Android Central explains that “Some new Galaxy AI features are only free for Galaxy S24 owners until the end of 2025.” The motivation for these concerning words is a couple of asterisks at the bottom of Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra product page.
“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,” Samsung explains in two different footnotes.
There are multiple ways to take this message, but the most reasonable is to conclude that this means that after the end of 2025, Galaxy AI features will no longer be included, opening the door for users needing to pay to access the Galaxy AI features that are the focal point of Samsung’s Galaxy S24 sales pitch.
While there are other new features in the latest smartphones, including what could be a novel 200-megapixel main camera image sensor and a new 5x optical zoom on the S24 Ultra handset, it is fair to say that Galaxy AI is the primary draw for all three new smartphones. It is the tagline for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, after all. “Galaxy AI is here.”
Android Central notes that Samsung was quick to tout a promise to deliver S24 customers seven years of operating system (OS) updates, but users typically expect to retain access to their device’s features at least as long as they’re using the phone, too.
Interestingly, even though the S24 family is powered by the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy processor, the fastest mobile processor Qualcomm makes, only some of the Galaxy AI features are delivered using on-device processing.
“The only Galaxy AI tools used with on-device processing are edit suggestions, translation tools, and ambient wallpapers for photos. The others require an internet connection for off-device processing,” Android Central explains.
For features that require a network connection, that also means that Samsung is incurring some server costs, so it is not unbelievable that a company would try to get its customers to offset them. However, the Galaxy S24 Ultra starts at $1,300, which is really expensive.
Even so, selling people a device with specific features strongly implies that the customer will continually be able to use these features without paying a surcharge.
Samsung has not outright said that these charges are absolutely going to occur. The “free” period could be extended beyond the end of 2025 and theoretically extended indefinitely. It is also possible that backlash could result in more sweeping changes.
Samsung is far from the only company to seem keen to dip its toes into the “free-for-now-but-paid-later” features pool. Apple planned to provide Emergency SOS via satellite to iPhone 14 users for only two years before adding a third year last November. The Emergency SOS feature has saved lives, so hopefully, it will be free for even longer than that.
Hopefully, Samsung won’t ultimately choose to charge Galaxy S24 owners for core features when 2026 rolls around. It would be sad if smartphones ended up in the same territory as BMW, selling subscriptions to access car seat warming functionality.
Image credits: Samsung