Samsung Unpacked: What to expect as Galaxy S24 phone prepares to make its debut

South Korean smartphone manufacturer is expected to launch three variants of the flagship device on Wednesday

Samsung will open experience zones after January 17's Unpacked event at select cities – Dubai included – to showcase its Galaxy AI platform. Bloomberg
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Samsung Electronics is set to unveil its latest flagship smartphones in the first major release of 2024, which is expected to be an interesting year for the market.

The South Korean company, one of the biggest mobile phone makers, is scheduled to announce the line-up at its Unpacked event on January 17 at the SAP Centre in San Jose, California – the home turf of rival Apple.

Apple's iPhone toppled Samsung's devices to become the world's best-selling smartphone in 2023, marking the first time that the South Korean company has lost the top spot since 2010.

The US technology company's iPhone shipments grew by 3.7 per cent annually to 234.6 million in 2023, accounting for 20.1 per cent of global market share, the latest preliminary data from research company International Data Corporation showed.

Samsung's smartphone shipments fell by 13.6 per cent to 226.6 million, leaving it with a market share of 19.4 per cent.

The National takes a look at what is expected at round one of Unpacked 2024.

What and how many devices will Samsung launch?

Barring any major surprises, Samsung will introduce the Galaxy S24 series, the latest version of one of the market's most popular smartphones.

For the fifth straight year, three devices are expected – the entry-level Galaxy S24, the Galaxy S24+ and the premium Galaxy S24 Ultra.

All of Samsung's Galaxy S line-ups in the past four cycles, except for the S22, eventually had an FE, or Fan Edition, model.

Key upgrades in store

The usual upgrades are in store, including improvements to its camera, build and, most notably, artificial intelligence capabilities, but more on that later.

Interestingly, it has been reported that Samsung will be using titanium – the same material Apple used on its latest iPhone 15 Pro models.

As is the case with Apple, Samsung is expected to use titanium – lighter yet more durable – on the high-end Galaxy S24 Ultra.

In The National's review last year of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, we suggested that Samsung had put too much focus on the camera.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, given that it is one of the key components of a smartphone, but the focus may shift this year amid the AI craze.

How much AI would we see?

Given market trends, the rise of generative AI, an apparent growth in demand for AI-related services and Samsung's own teaser, it is certain the company will focus on introducing more AI features to the Galaxy S24.

Smartphones have used AI for a while, most prominently in digital voice assistants such as Samsung's Bixby, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant, as well as through incorporating machine learning capabilities to make devices smarter and tailored to user behaviour.

The more-AI-in-smartphones saga has even prompted ChatGPT maker OpenAI, former Apple design chief Jony Ive and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son to collaborate and try to create the “iPhone of artificial intelligence”.

We can expect Samsung to ramp up its AI features on the Galaxy S24, including those for tweaking photos and managing, transcribing and translating calls.

Indeed, the company, during its November AI Forum in Seoul, unveiled Gauss, its platform that is capable of generating text, code and images – formally joining the generative AI race and challenging ChatGPT.

And that teaser? Samsung on Thursday said it would be opening experience zones at select cities across the world – Dubai included – to showcase the capabilities of its new Galaxy AI platform.

Key specs

There is nothing official but German website WinFuture said it was able to get hold of the Galaxy S24 line-up's spec sheet.

For the S24 and S24+, their displays are slightly bigger at 6.2 inches and 6.7 inches, respectively, compared with their predecessors' 6.1 inches and 6.6 inches.

Both will have a triple-lens camera, with a 50-megapixel main sensor plus 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultra-wide lenses, and 30x Space Zoom. They will also use the Samsung Exynos 2400 chip.

Meanwhile, the S24 Ultra is expected to retain its 6.8-inch screen size. It will have a quad-lens camera bannered by a 200MP “super quad pixel” lens, two telephoto lenses with resolutions of 50MP and 10MP, a 12MP ultra-wide lens and 100x Space Zoom.

It will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor.

Save for the 50MP bump-up on one of the S24 Ultra's telephoto lenses, that is practically the same camera specs as last year's S23 series.

Samsung unveils new Galaxy S23 series

Samsung Electronics Co.  Galaxy S23 smartphones during a media preview event in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, Jan.  30, 2023.  Samsung unveiled its latest iPhone-rivaling Android smartphones, improving the cameras, battery life and design with its new Galaxy S23 line. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg

Colour options for the S24 and S24+ are cobalt violet, amber yellow, onyx black and marble grey while the titanium-clad S24 Ultra will have titanium black, titanium grey, titanium violet and titanium yellow.

As for storage, the S24 will apparently come in only 128 gigabytes and 256GB, with 8GB of RAM, as the company has done away with the 512GB option.

The S24+ will retain its storage capacities of 256GB and 512GB, with 8GB of RAM.

The S24 Ultra will not have a 128GB option but will come in 256GB, 512GB and one terabyte, all with 12GB of RAM. The S23 Ultra's 256GB came with only 8GB of RAM.

It has also been rumoured that Samsung has improved the devices' cooling system, which will help with another reportedly improved feature – gaming.

The company is apparently positioning its devices to be more gamer-friendly to cater to that growing market.

How much will the S24 devices cost?

The spec sheet revealed by WinFuture showed that the starting prices of the Galaxy S24, S24+ and S24 Ultra are €899 ($980), €1,149 ($1,252) and €1,449 ($1,578), respectively.

They are more expensive than their predecessors, which, at their launch, were priced at $799, $999 and $1,199.

However, these price tags will vary by region. It is expected that US pricing will remain the same.

Will Samsung launch anything else?

While the flagship smartphones are always the stars of Unpacked, never discount the possibility of Samsung introducing other hardware, such as smartwatches, laptops and audio devices, as well as new software updates to boost its ecosystem.

And since Samsung is launching the Galaxy S24 in the US – unlike the Z Fold5 and Z Flip5 that were launched in South Korea, surprisingly the first Unpacked held on Samsung's home turf – we may not expect any cameo appearances from K-pop stars. Sorry, fans.

Updated: January 17, 2024, 1:59 PM