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Smartphone AI Is Coming: What's Next?

  • Smartphone AI or edge AI is expected by 2024, and will likely be combined with cloud AI.
  • Apple and Samsung are already investing in AI capabilities, so expect Siri to get smarter and real-time language translation.
  • Smartphone makers will likely include tiered pricing, with AI-capable phones being more expensive. Companies might also charge subscription fees to access some AI capabilities.

Smartphone AI vs Cloud AI

Ever wondered why your iPhone lags behind compared to ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini? That´s because those AI models reside in the cloud, where there is ample computing power, whereas your smartphone’s own computing power is limited to its hardware. When using ChatGPT in your smartphone, it communicates with a data center through Wifi or 5G, sends a query and waits back for a response.

In 2024 edge AI should arrive to smartphones and other edge devices, and hardware should be able to directly perform some AI calculations. Smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung are developing more powerful system-on-chips (SoC) every year to power edge AI. Apple´s A17 chip used in the iPhone 15 can perform 35 trillion operations per second vs. 17 trillion for its predecesor, the A16. And Apple is throwing $1 billion anually into the AI race.

AI-capable smartphones will likely combine on-device AI with Cloud AI. Samsung has already announced that its Galaxy AI, Gauss, will be a combination of both approaches. Simpler computing tasks like voice commands, offline language translation or personal assistant tasks will be done on the device itself. Cloud AI, through LLM providers like ChatGPT or Gemini, will step in for heavier tasks like live language translation or traffic prediction.

Cloud AI may run on older phone versions because, as far as you have the app, the computing complexity resides in a data center. But you will have to buy a new generation smartphone to access edge, on-device AI functionalities, given previous smartphone versions lack the necessary hardware.

Smartphone AI Likely Comes at a Price

In any case, be ready to open your wallet. The billions put into R&D need a return and consumers will likely pay the bill.

  • Apple could pull its classic move, treating edge AI like extra capacity storage or upgraded CPUs, setting higher price tags for iPhones with embedded AI features.
  • Rumors say Samsung is eyeing a subscription fee to use AI features in its next Galaxy S24. In the tech world, subscription revenue is sticky as glue, and big companies like it.

Edge AI promises a big step up in power and productivity, but don’t be surprised if your wallet feels a bit lighter on the way. The price of progress, my friend, is often counted in dollars and cents.

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