The rise of Generative AI smartphones

Richard Brown
3 min readApr 16, 2024

No wonder that the Apple iPhone is beginning to lose market momentum given how aggressively Qualcomm is working with its customers to accelerate the transition to AI smartphones using its latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform. Samsung, Asus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Honor have all recently launched new devices based on the platform with an array of promising new applications that take advantage of its on-device AI engine.

Qualcomm envisions a future powered by smartphones equipped with on-device AI capabilities that make it easier for you to interpret and respond to whatever is happening around you as well as generate captivating new content to share with others. You will use the camera not only to enhance photos but also remove unwanted objects, alter lighting for dramatic effect, or create stylized videos with custom soundtracks in real-time. Your generative AI assistant will evolve beyond following basic commands to crafting emails, messages, or social media posts that reflect your unique style and voice, transcribing your phone calls, and translating languages in real-time.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform is specifically designed to harness the power of generative AI with its dedicated AI engine featuring the Qualcomm Hexagon NPU (neural processing unit) as well as advanced CPU and graphics processors. Just as critically, the company is investing heavily in creating software development kits (SDKs) and frameworks that make it easy for developers to leverage the platform’s on-device AI capabilities to develop intelligent new applications for consumers and commercial users.

As a result of this holistic approach, Qualcomm is building strong market momentum with the recent launches of smartphones from Samsung, Asus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Honor that combine the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform with powerful new generative AI capabilities.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 series and the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra leverage on-device AI for real-time translation within phone calls and the ability to automatically convert voice calls into written transcripts. Xiaomi’s 14 and 14 Ultra come with an “AI Portrait” feature, allowing you to train the smartphone on your own face and generate realistic AI selfies with just a simple text prompt, while the Oppo Find X7 Ultra includes a feature called the AIGC Eraser that allows you to remove unwanted objects or people from your photos without requiring an internet connection.

These early applications provide a tantalizing glimpse of the potential real-world benefits of generative AI on smartphones, including breaking down language barriers through live translations, unlocking new possibilities for self-expression using AI-powered photo and video editing tools, and saving time with AI-assisted writing.

Despite its longstanding reputation for innovation, Apple appears to be losing its mojo because of its recent focus on incremental improvements rather than groundbreaking technologies like generative AI. Although the company undoubtedly has the resources to adapt, its current trajectory suggests that it risks losing momentum if it fails to meet new consumer expectations being driven by Qualcomm and its smartphone customers as they push the boundaries of mobile AI.



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.