Will Samsung’s Unpacked event cause Apple to re-think their game plan
It’s a pretty big week for Apple – in a few hours, Apple Vision Pro will be available to pre-order ahead of its 2nd February release date.
But timed as if to ruin their party Samsung hosted their big event of the year yesterday, earlier than normal – almost as if they had inside intel as to when Apple would be announcing their pre-order date.
Of course, Apple was guilty of this very tactic last week when they tried to gatecrash the CES party. But as the dust settles today I’m left wondering if the top brass at Cupertino have woken up with anything to worry about.
Are Samsung catching up – are they now biting at Apple’s heels?
Imitation – the highest form of flattery
One thing cannot be denied – Samsung’s S24 Ultra from some angles looks to be a pretty direct copy of Apple’s iPhone.
It has Titanium sides and the bezels, flat screen edges and squared-off sides look uncannily the iPhone. I know there is only so much you do with a slab phone but the S24 Ultra is pretty much a copy-and-paste!
Clearly from the back, you can tell it’s a Samsung with the camera layout still looking the same as last year’s model.
Of course, it’s under the hood that things start to get a bit more spicy.
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Apple Notes – watch out
We knew that Samsung would be leaning heavily into AI at this event and that the S24 series of phones would equally be making a big play on AI – and on that front, they certainly didn’t disappoint.
For whatever reason so far Apple has decided not to join the AI party – sure there are there are subtle elements of AI littered through our iOS devices, but no obvious show ponies.
Samsung on the other hand rammed AI goodies down our throats. One of the features that stood out was Note Assist – I have to admit that made Apple’s Notes app look a little dated.
Using the S pen AI will take your scribbled notes and not only turn them into neat text but will even create bullet points and headings – it looks impressive and I wonder how Apple will react to that at WWDC this year.
Similarly, Samsung has brought AI to messages and phone calls as well with its Live Call and Text Translations. It will enable you to message someone in their language, in real-time. That tech carries through to calls as well with Galaxy AI able to translate the spoken word – and all of this, they stressed will be carried out on device – so presumably secure.
The AI is supposedly that good that if you use the recorder app to record a seminar or lecture it can even separate the dialogue by speaker.
When will we see Apple pull the ripcord on their vision of AI?
AirDrop by any other name
Samsung cosied up to Google at yesterday’s event as they have been working closely in the background with them.
Circle to Search looks like a pretty powerful new way to search the web – it takes Google Lens a stage further. Simply by circling, scribbling, highlighting or tapping you can search for further information on any image on your phone.
It looks that good it makes me wonder why Google didn’t jump first and use it on their Pixel Pro rather than letting Samsung steal the glory though.
Other features look to be re-hashing ones that we’ve had on iOS for a while now. Photomoji is the same as creating a sticker from a photo and placing it in a message – an iOS feature that I used once by the way…and Android Auto looks almost like a carbon copy of Apple’s CarPlay.
Having tried Android recently, one of the features that was most notably missing was an AirDrop equivalent – well, that’s now been sorted as Samsung announced QuickShare. Again the UI looks very much as if they decided that Apple’s AirDrop couldn’t be improved upon – it looks so similar.
I recently fell in love all over again with Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max – and in no small part that was because of the video capabilities on the phone.
I’ve now switched full-time to shooting the main video on my channel in Apple ProRes/log as the quality just can’t be touched with the other cameras I have. Samsung still hasn’t caught up with that and it looks as if Apple will remain top of the heap when it comes to video – even if the Ultra can record in 8K.
The S24 Ultra has a 200MP main camera sensor, but I just can’t see how it can beat the quality of the Raw images I can shoot on my iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Last year around this time, Twitter was alive with moon shots if you recall – folks flexing and showing off using their 10x zoom on the the S23 Ultra. Roll it on 12 months and it seems that once again Samsung is following Apple’s lead and reverting to a 5x zoom.
Just like Apple if you want to zoom in further you can and it will then simply crop in on the centre pixels – and pack more pixels in meaning the quality should be better = that’s the same solution that Apple came up with last year for their iPhone 15 Pro phones.
The photo editing tools and features that were shown off last night, whilst different to Apple’s look very similar indeed to many of those already found on Google’s Pixel – although I’ll admit the reflection removal tool looks pretty impressive there was nothing else that had the wow factor
The end game
Overall, I prefer the general look and presentation of an Apple event. Scary Fast was much more to my liking than Samsung’s Unpacked. Yesterday’s event was way too frantic and busy for me and the presenters didn’t seem as polished as those we’ve come to expect from Apple.
But again after the event I’m left wondering what more we need from our phones. I spend a lot of my day making content about them and even I never use half of the features that are already available to me.
At what point will we have reached the limit of not only what we expect from our phones but equally what we can remember to use? These phones are already so feature-packed that most of us never use what’s already on there.
Android or iOS – Apple, Pixel or Galaxy – they are all good and give us more toys and gizmos than we are ever likely to use. All these phones are fantastic and there is no right or wrong as to which one we end up using.
I am very happy with my choice to be an Apple user because it suits me and my personality. I know from a practical standpoint though I could get much of what I do with any flagship phone – it’s just I happen to prefer to get it done with Apple and an iPhone…
Still, today I am wondering if should I buy and try the Samsung S24 Ultra or not. I can’t see myself switching but as I learned last year, it’s always interesting to see what’s happening on the other side of the fence.
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