A new era of smartphone wars is here as AI injects new life into them.

Smartphone makers like Apple are turning to AI to breathe new life into their devices.
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  • Apple, Samsung and Google are all turning to AI to breathe new life into their devices.
  • They will use this to sell phones to customers who have become less enthusiastic about them.
  • This signals a new era in the battle between smartphone makers, which used to be vicious and intense.

You almost certainly own a smartphone, although you probably feel like you've owned one for years.

While industry giants like Apple and Samsung waged a fierce smartphone war to give consumers increasingly high-tech devices to keep in their pockets, in recent years these devices have become ubiquitous and quotidian. The capabilities seem to plateau.

With billions of people owning smartphones, companies that sell them have had to cut corners to convince consumers to buy them.

The competition may be over, but the original smartphone wars were so intense for Steve Jobs that he once declared he would start a “thermonuclear war.”

The late Apple founder was furious about Android, the smartphone operating system Google unveiled in January 2007, just 11 months after the first iPhone was unveiled. They felt that Apple's hard work had been stolen.

According to an account in his authoritative biography by Walter Isaacson, Jobs said, “If I had to, I would take my last breath, and I would put every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank to right this wrong.” I will spend.”

The feud went beyond Google. Apple executives were angered by the Samsung Galaxy S in 2010, which they believed was a carbon copy of the iPhone. Samsung's decision to partner with Google to integrate Android into its devices — after years of being a key supplier to Apple — led to more bad blood.

Steve Jobs wanted to start a “thermonuclear war” on Google's Android.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There were years of intense litigation over alleged patent infringements, and great gamesmanship as smartphone makers tried to sell consumers on the concept of their pocketable hardware.

Although it's been a few years since these bitter disputes – a 2018 court settlement over patents may have played a role in ending them.There are signs that a new era of smartphone wars is about to begin. This time, it's going to be supercharged by AI.

Smartphone wars in the AI ​​age

The smartphone market is lagging. Statistics from data firm Canalys show that 1.14 billion smartphones were shipped in 2023, down 4 percent from 2022.

People also seem to be holding on to their current phones for longer. Data published in November by business services firm Assurant found that the average age of devices I traded or upgraded just over 3 1/2 years ago. The industry expected consumers to upgrade every one to two years, but it's hard to blame consumers for this shift.

Apple has often unveiled new iPhone models that look almost identical to the previous ones. New features can also seem incremental or pointless. The iPhone 15 Pro, which has the same 6.1-inch “Super Retina XDR Display” as the iPhone 14 Pro, swapped its ring/mute switch for an “action button.” A 6-core GPU replaced the 5-core one. Samsung's Galaxy series and Google's Pixel phones have a similar story.

But creative AI looks like it will end the era of small changes.

Apple, Samsung, and Google are all talking loudly about how they will use the technology to breathe new life into their devices.

Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the first day of the company's Worldwide Developers Conference by unveiling Apple Intelligence, a suite of new AI features aimed at the company's hardware. The full roster is to be refined and will be released later this year.

Apple Intelligence features were unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

On iPhones, Apple Intelligence will help users “enhance their writing” on everything from emails, messages and documents to summarizing audio and augmenting virtual assistant Siri, the company said. Apple has also inked a deal with OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, to integrate the buzzy chatbot more deeply into its operating system.

iPhones generated more than half of the company's revenue — $200.6 billion of its $383.3 billion in net sales in its last fiscal year.

The company will be banking on Apple intelligence being a hit with consumers, possibly reviving sales in markets like China. There, people are snapping up new devices from domestic rivals, such as Huawei's Mate 60 Pro. According to data from Counterpoint, Chinese iPhone sales fell 19 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024.

Huawei Mate 60 takes on the latest iPhone.
Wang Gang/Getty Images

Google and Samsung have been equally busy.

Last month, Google demoed its AI assistant, Project Astra, at its I/O conference. Supported by its multimodal Gemini model, it is designed to provide real-time conversation and support on Pixel phones. The new slate of Pixel phones, usually revealed in the fall, will instead be unveiled on August 13.

The company also announced other AI features, which will help detect spam calls, create and drop AI-generated images into apps like Gmail, and get quick information from large PDFs by asking users simple questions. will allow.

At an event in Paris next month, Samsung plans to reveal “Galaxy AI” updates to its Galaxy S24 smartphone lineup to introduce “meaningful intelligence” with communication. It is his attempt.

Samsung Galaxy S24 lineup.

The South Korean tech giant will be hoping to regain its crown as the king of the smartphone market. It lost it last year, with data from market research firm IDC showing that Apple gained the most market share.

Maybe the market is starting to feel stale after years of unimpressive updates to your existing products, but as soon as they take advantage of and advertise AI , smartphone makers see 2024 as an open field.

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