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Samsung Galaxy Note S-Pen Hands-On (Video)



The Samsung Galaxy Note is an unusual phone in many respects, though I’ve noticed most people focus more on the size. As a fan of big phones that’s not what interests me most. It’s the S Pen that I’m intrigued by.

Unlike the digitized pen for the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, the S Pen doesn’t have a power supply inside which is why it can be so small. Still, because it’s an active digitizer and not just a capacitive stylus the Note can sense how much pressure you’re applying with the pen and, in some applications, translates that into thicker or thinner lines.

To demonstrate the power of this Samsung invited portrait artists to their booth to create on the spot drawings of CES attendees right on the Galaxy Note. While impressive, I found that it took some effort to create differentiating lines with the S Pen. I’m not sure how long it would take to become proficient.

Galaxy Note S Pen

At the company’s press conference they showed the S Pen inside of a bigger, traditionally-sized pen. One that wouldn’t fit in the phone’s small stylus port. Turns out that’s an accessory for the S-Pen called the Holder Kit that doesn’t add any functionality, just makes the pen a more comfortable size.

It also means you can’t tuck it away in the body of the Note. That would greatly increase my chances of losing it, for other people it may help them keep track of it.

I am surprised that this accessory doesn’t come with the device. The rep we spoke to didn’t know how much it would cost. If it’s more than $5 I might have to call shenanigans.

The idea of the S Pen is solid, especially if you are a big note-taker, as I am. However, I’m not convinced I would make handwritten notes if I owned this phone. I don’t feel too comfortable doing so on the ThinkPad Tablet, but perhaps something pocket-sized would tempt me to use it more.

That Samsung worked with developers to bring S Pen-enabled apps to the device beyond the typical memo/note-taking program you’d expect is a big bonus. Users can take screenshots and mark them up, send postcards using their own pictures and handwritten notes right from the phone with Touchnote, and, coming up, Soonr Scribble for marking up documents.

For those not convinced that a smartphone this size still works as a phone, then pen integration may change a few minds on that score.



  1. Stuart

    01/11/2012 at 10:41 am

    It is a wacom pen I believe. Do other wacom pens from tablet pcs also work on this device? That would be nice to know.

    • Fernando

      01/11/2012 at 12:30 pm

      Yes, any Wacom pen (I tested one from an old Tablet PC) works on the GN.

      • Leolit

        01/12/2012 at 8:00 am

        Even its rear button still works as erazer! w00t!

  2. Tim Davies

    01/11/2012 at 11:30 am

    The best feature of the S-Pen IMO is the ability to tap the screen 2 times quickly and bring up a “sticky note” ths allows you too jot down a quick message or note. I use this all the time while on the phone. If I need to record a number or a quick bit of info, it’s more natural to pull the pen out, place them on speaker, pull up the note and jot down what you need too. I always seam to hesitate more when needing to pull up evernote or another note app when I have to use the keyboard to enter in number or information, then provide the right spacing so I can organize and summarize the information I’m taking down very quickly with-out thinking about it.

  3. ethibault

    01/11/2012 at 11:19 pm

    at long last, GBM the inking site pays attention to this big move from samsung

    Thanks for this article.

    Now I must that I can not explain that Warner Crocker who tried tens of stylus on a pen less equiment like the ipad did not write anything about the galaxynote made for pen with the maker of digitizer, can we take this fact for the confirmation of pro Apple Bias on Mr Crocker side ?

  4. Thuan Kong

    01/12/2012 at 5:08 am

    I hope the Note comes to Verizon.

  5. Stevenkoo252

    02/07/2012 at 4:02 pm

    I am ordering the phone right now and they’re charging $30 bucks for it?!!!??!!!!!!
    What the hell? I’m not talking about S pen holder kit, but the actual S pen itself is $30? You got to be kidding me

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