Apple Can Beat Samsung On Price With New ‘Free’ iPhone AI

The unveiling of Apple Intelligence at WWDC revealed some familiar tools and a couple of unique ideas, while tying everything together with the company’s trademark polish. But one piece of information was missing from the announcement: will Apple Intelligence be free forever?

The company hasn’t explicitly said that its announced tools—Rewrite, Image Playground and Genmoji, to name a few—will be free for a defined period, or if some will have premium tiers in the future.

The only mention of price in press releases is related to ChatPGT’s integration into iOS 18, which Apple says is “free without creating an account.” When quizzed, Apple simply told me that “they’re free” but didn’t elaborate on how long for.

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This is the murkier side of AI-powered smartphone tools across the main manufacturers, all of which are quiet on their exact future pricing plans. This is new territory for everyone so companies are likely figuring it out as they go along, with the popularity of AI being a deciding factor.

Right now, a lot of AI tools have the perception of high-end demoware because they’re not part of the core smartphone experience. But if Galaxy AI, Google AI or Apple Intelligence can become integral to the One UI, Android or iOS experience, then we will eventually see premium plans for access to the best features of those platforms.

If Apple AI stays free, however, it will steal a march on the competition. Samsung joked about Apple’s third-place pace in the AI race on Twitter after WWDC. But Apple’s late, panicked, entrance into AI won’t matter if the features are free, while Samsung’s are free until “the end” 2025. A possible reality that Samsung ominously and repeatedly warns Galaxy AI users of.

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Apple does have form here. When it launched its Emergency SOS feature, which uses satellite communication to text emergency services, the company initially said it would be free for two years, but later extended the free trial to three years.

The iPhone maker is reportedly spending $450 million on building infrastructure to support Emergency SOS, on top of development costs. Like AI, it’s not a cheap feature to make and maintain. Whatever Apple does with satellite communication, in terms of pricing, might give us an idea of how it treats Apple Intelligence.

The four main competitors are engaged in a game of AI-subscription-plan chicken right now. While Google and Microsoft have some paywalled features, the headline skills are free to use. Samsung’s are free too, despite reserving the right to charge in the future with its vague disclaimer. I imagine all companies are waiting to see who pulls the trigger first by setting out a clear, detailed subscription plan for every and all smartphone AI tools.

Apple, as it stands, is flatly saying its AI tools are free with no caveats whatsoever. We’ll have to see how free they truly are over the coming months. Will the Image Playground app start charging users after a certain amount of images are created, as Google does with Magic Editor? If that doesn’t happen, and these tools remain as bluntly free as Apple explained to me, it will have a major advantage over the competition, despite being a late entrant to the AI war.

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