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Barron's The AI Smartphone Is Here. 3 Things You Need to Know.

Smartphones equipped with artificial intelligence were the main focus at Mobile World Congress when the world’s largest mobile and communications trade show rolled into Barcelona last week.

Here were the key takeaways from the event and what it means for Apple and other major technology companies: 

Pricey AI Phones

Most smartphones already have access to AI via applications such as ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini, but your next phone—assuming you buy something relatively new—is going to have the technology built right into the system. 

Flagship smartphones on show from Samsung Electronics and Chinese manufacturer Honor—already on the market—were powered by chips from Qualcomm and Micron Technology, enabling on-device AI, as opposed to sending information to a server to be processed. That should remove obstacles over privacy and data consumption for widespread adoption. 

It’s not only going to be for high-end phones either. Qualcomm and its Taiwanese rival MediaTek have both released midrange processors with built-in AI capabilities. 

However, on balance, it is likely that AI is going to mean pricier phones as manufacturers look to extract the maximum benefit from a new upgrade cycle after a slow couple of years for the smartphone sector. 

No Killer AI Feature Yet 

Of all the smartphones on show at MWC, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra was the richest in AI features—offering ‘Circle to Search’, real-time translation and AI-assisted note-taking—but they are all ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘must-have’ tools. 

The Google-powered ‘Circle to Search’ function for images could be useful shopping and travel ideas but might be hard to fine tune. For example, circling dishes in a photo of a kitchen produced both offers to buy similar dishware and food recipes.