If you’re planning to take advantage of one of Samsung’s many Galaxy S24 deals, or even if you’ve been tempted by Google’s surprise sale for the Pixel 8, hold up. The Galaxy S23 Ultra might be the better option.
When Samsung launched the Galaxy S24, it also promised that some of the phone’s AI features would filter down to handsets launched in 2023. Now, according to screenshots from the Galaxy S23 page on the Samsung website (via Mishaal Rahman and Tarun Vats on X/Twitter), we know which features are making it to last year’s Samsung handsets.
They include; Live Translate, which offers real-time translations of phone calls, and Circle to Search, which lets users highlight and search for objects in a picture by scribbling or circling them. Note Assist is also making it over, which auto formats, summarizes, translates and spell corrects notes. Finally, AI-powered image creation and editing features, via Photo Assist, will come to the Galaxy S23.
These are some of Samsung’s headline Galaxy AI skills. Circle to Search has been heavily advertised by Google and Samsung as a next-generation feature, while generative picture editing is a AI addition to the S23.
I’m sure Samsung is planning to roll out more AI features to the S24 range as it develops them, but right now the S23—specifically the S23 Ultra—is a great value phone. It now has these next-generation AI features (with the possibility of more on the way), an excellent camera, three years of OS updates, and four years of security patches left, and, most importantly, it is comparatively cheap.
The S23 range isn’t available to buy directly from Samsung right now, but on Amazon, the S23 Ultra costs $895 for the 256GB model. Whereas an unlocked S24 Ultra is selling for $1319.99 on Amazon and $1299.99 on Samsung’s website. That’s roughly a 47% price difference for two phones that aren’t wildly different.
Where this gets more complex are trade-in deals. Samsung will give you the most amount of money for your old phone compared to other retailers. Best Buy is offering $295 for your old iPhone 13 Pro Max (a realistic phone to trade in) when buying the Galaxy S24 Ultra, while Samsung will give you $500 for the same handset.
However, you can’t take advantage of Samsung’s high trade-in prices because all Galaxy S23 models are out of stock on Samsung’s website. So if you have a semi-recent Apple phone, you might be able to get a good price for it and therefore a much cheaper Galaxy S24.
The one sticking point is the software support. The S23’s remaining four years of security patches doesn’t match up to the S24’s seven years of support, a recent policy that Samsung announced when it launched its latest phone. There’s a chance that Samsung will revisit this policy again and retrospectively tack on a few more years of Android updates to older Galaxy phones, but you shouldn’t rely on a remote possibility when buying a new handset.
Moving with the times
The addition of generative AI-powered abilities to smartphones, alongside industry-wide standards for longer software support, may well change how we buy handsets in the near future. If both the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 continue to receive new AI features during their seven years of support, as Google tends to do with its feature drop program, then the allure of new phones evaporates.
Not completely, hardware advances in the battery and camera departments will always be important. But knowing your phone will not only stay up to date, but at the cutting edge, dulls some of the shininess of a recently launched handset. This is why the major players in generative AI, like Google, Samsung and Microsoft, are considering paywalls for their chatbots. Alongside it being expensive to develop and run this tech, these companies need new and stable revenue streams.