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Samsung's Galaxy Note II and its magic S Pen: real innovation or a gimmick?

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Samsung's Galaxy Note II and its magic S Pen: real innovation or a gimmick?
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a monstrous phone in every aspect - it’s got a gigantic 5.5-inch display, a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and runs the latest of Android, but instead of focusing on that, Samsung continues to accent on the S Pen, a stylus that slips inside the phone. Samsung has gone to great lengths developing new software for the S Pen with an even better note-taking and sketching application and overall modifications even to core Android functions to better integrate the stylus.

But are those features really requested or is it just the big screen and powerful specs that people are buying? Most importantly, is the S Pen the kind of true innovation that you, the customers, want to see in phones, including the stylus-enabled software with all those fancy hover actions? Or do you see through that and consider the S Pen nothing more than a gimmick, another feature with doubtful practical significance that would lure people into spending their money? And why? Hit us with your thoughts on that in the comments below.

Phonearena polls
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Samsung's Galaxy Note II and its magic S Pen: real innovation or a gimmick?
67.44%
1081 votes
(1081 votes) The S Pen is an example of real innovation with hover actions, quick notes during call and a better drawing app!
32.56%
522 votes
(522 votes) The S Pen is merely a nice gimmick. Real innovation is in chips, interfaces and screen technology!

1603 votes

71 Comments
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posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:33

1. steelicon (Posts: 318; Member since: 02 Apr 2011)


The feature set should be standard across the 2012 lineup of Galaxy Note, including Galaxy Note 10.1 GT-N8XXX.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:40 10

2. fragmentation (banned) (Posts: 31; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


If you think it's innovation, it means your fingers are malfunction.

Seriously, exactly how many note user use the sPen 24 hour?

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:42 10

4. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2283; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Well said... I only got it..cause its screen size

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:50 9

7. fragmentation (banned) (Posts: 31; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


And I dont understand how many user will use sPen to do AirView, by clicking the photo and video when you have FIVE PAIR OF FINGERS!!!

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:56 21

10. phitch (Posts: 214; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


Because we all know that fingers are far more accurate than the tip of a pen?

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 09:02 5

45. SleepingOz (unregistered)


Never mind.. These haters draw, write and trace better with their fingers than with a pen.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 11:27

54. MobileCaseReview (Posts: 242; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Yeah to be honest, at first I got it because of S Pen functionality. But ever since I flashed CM 9 and now Liquid Jelly Bean 2.0, I never use the S pen. It literally came down to realizing it was just for screen size. It spoiled me having so much screen real estate and makes it hard to consider moving to smaller screen phones. However, if the next developer phone has a 5 inch screen, it will be an instant transition lol.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 06:38 14

24. whysoserious (Posts: 318; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Since when did you guys prefer drawing something with your fingers, or taking notes and not your pen? There's a reason why Samsung call it "note."

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 08:20 5

37. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 660; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


Isnt useful when you're visiting sites where u need to place the cursor on the manu and the other menu will appear. I think it's innovation, this will be useful for artists who don't just wanna create stuff in front of their PC, they can just take the Note and start creating. That is the whole idea i think.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 16:09 2

59. Dr.Phil (Posts: 1335; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


Considering the definition of innovation means creating a new method of doing something, I would say yes this is innovative. Yes, we have seen cellular devices with a stylus before, but those were mainly used for what you were just speaking of: replacing your fingers. Devices with touchscreens back then had either smaller screens or were not as accurate with the touch of a finger. Then along came capacitive touch screens and larger screen sizes that did away with the stylus. No one thought of any reason to go back to using a stylus because touchscreens were able to be fully used with your fingertips. Samsung obviously saw there was a reason to bring back the stylus, but this time with some new technology added to it: the Wacom digitizer. This allows artists to be able to do doodles and drawings with different levels of pressure that you cannot get with a normal stylus. It enabled note-takers to quickly jot down notes more comfortably (and I would argue quicker) than writing them with your fingertips. What I would ask for you to do is to pick up a Galaxy Note II and just try writing or drawing first with your fingertips and then with the S-Pen. There is a difference. I have noticed while using the note that while jotting down notes I have more room. You see when you draw with your fingertips you tend to write bigger and draw bigger than you would when using the S-Pen. So, in short, to answer your question yes it is seen as innovative because Samsung took an old technology that was used years ago, updated it with newer technology for a new usage, and then implemented it along with accompanying technology that uses the S-Pen's capabilities.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:41 7

3. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2283; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


I have the first galaxy note .....and at first it was amusing ...now now i forget, its even there. .. :-\

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:46 28

5. Crossblade (Posts: 211; Member since: 21 Apr 2005)


The S pen is great for .... Draw Something :D

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 11:28 2

55. MobileCaseReview (Posts: 242; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


True story!

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 16:24 1

60. easymomo (Posts: 91; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)


LOL, When I got the 1rst model, it was only for the screen size. I only started using the s-pen after several months. It is usefull for some people and not for others but it's still innovation.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 05:50 14

6. phitch (Posts: 214; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


It is innovative, there are two types of people who buy the Note. People who buy it for it's size and people who buy it for it's utility. Victor, I understand you dislike Android, especially as of late, but really the s-pen is a fantastic option to have. It is innovative as it really is the first pinpoint accurate stylus for capacitive touchscreen phones (not tablets... HTC Flyer). If we are going to say "iOS's Siri is innovative" when it really isn't, then you have to say the same about the S-Pen, regardless if you use it or not.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 06:24 10

20. Victor.H (Posts: 678; Member since: 27 May 2011)


No dislike for Android at all on my part, actually. The topic I wanted to bring for discussion here is whether the S Pen should really be the big focus of Android's biggest phone maker Samsung as it has been lately with the Note 10.1 and Note II.

It's a great feature to have without a doubt, for me it's kind of like a bonus coming with the phone, and I'm pretty sure creatives appreciate it much more. But is it really the single most important thing that we should focus on? Are you happy about it getting the most attention from Samsung? And would you want to see more development and innovation in styluses, or consider screen technology, processors, cameras and so on more important? I'd love to hear more opinions on that.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 06:47 5

27. SGSatlantis (Posts: 226; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)


It's not like Samsung is cutting corners on the other features of the N2. It's a bonus, you can use it if you want to and forget it if you don't. And the Note lineup is more of an alternative to the S3 and Tab10.1 if you really need the S pen. Me being a nostalgic I'm missing my pen from the SE P1i and that being said I would really like if my GNexus came with one, but I don't plan to upgrade to the N2 because of its size.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 07:06 1

31. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


erm gimmicky 2GB of ram and a downgraded screen ?

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 08:25 3

38. SGSatlantis (Posts: 226; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)


Wow I've never heard anyone complain about getting 4X ram than the "high end" iphone, and how is the screen downgraded it has 3 subpixels and it's brighter. BTW unlocked it will be cheaper than the 4S so think about it.

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 09:02 1

44. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


i wont buy the Note , i will buy the HTC One X instead

Where the old note one with its dual core CPU sells for rm1999 and S3 sells for 2199 here in Malaysia HTC One X with its none pentile screen and quad core tegra 3 cost just RM1850 !

Samsung products are just like apple products , overpriced

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 22:31

61. nk_blu (Posts: 9; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


According to you, it sounds like all phones with similar core specifications need to be priced the same. Then how do you put a price on removable battery and microSD slot? These are important to some users and take value in it, so maybe for them, HTC One X is the overpriced phone...hrrmm

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 09:04

66. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


Read an article on phonearena
A survey shows that less than 1% of smartphone users care about removable battery or SD slot
I have removable battery on my nexus , but i never removed my battery not even once . The One X comes on 32GB 1850 while S3 comes in 16GB 2199 , with 32 GB of storage i dont think you will run out .
Conclusion Sd slots and removable battery might be important for some , but for most they are useless and GS3 is still overpriced

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 09:06

47. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


Btw , i never ran out of the 1GB of ram on my nexus unlike my mom's 128mb ram xperia x8

2gb of ram is for spec hungry people like you where you want a 1000hp supra for no reason

Judging by your name , you are probably just a Samsung Fanboy troll

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 10:36 1

53. SGSatlantis (Posts: 226; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)


I've had HTC and SE phones, my GNexus is my first Samsung phone that i bought for 280€. Here in SE Europe the 4S costs 650€ and the S3 is 600€ with better specs. I agree that Samsungs smartphones are at most 10% overprived but the iPhone is 40% since you can get a Sony with compareable specs for around 350€. Quad cores and 2gb ram make sense for power users and it serves as a guarantie that the device will be supported for longer.
I am a fan of StarGate Atlantis, and my profile was created when I was using HTC EVO 3D. I bought my phone based on the price and being a Nexus for vanilla Android.

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 09:11 1

69. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


high 5 nexus user .
Alright i think i should apologize so i am sorry .
But at least you agree with me that Samsung products are slightly overpriced
4 malaysian ringgit is = 1 euro , so why should i pay more for a phone with same specs , less memory . The only reason i should do that is because of the Samsung badge and Samsung badge like apple's logo is considered trendy and cool

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 09:09

68. ph00ny (Posts: 1268; Member since: 26 May 2011)


You should get yourself an old Nexus S. It runs the latest android os and probably does pretty much everything you want without paying a boatload. Like you said, specs hungry people want high performance items for no reason

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 12:30 1

70. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


i already have galaxy nexus

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 08:28 3

39. mrbtree (Posts: 59; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


screens is bigger with the same resolution but it's not a pentile display, this is a proper rgb matrix display, it's not always about resolution.
for people who are still confused. rgb is better than pentile

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 09:07 1

67. ph00ny (Posts: 1268; Member since: 26 May 2011)


You honeslty don't think better soc, "upgraded" screen (can't whine about pentile anymore), better spen, more software addons focused on the spen interaction and a larger battery doesn't count?

Awesome...

posted on 04 Sep 2012, 08:29 1

40. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 660; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


Victor, when you seel a product or when you advertise a product, to attract the consumer you need to have USP (Unique Selling Point) something that will differentiate your product from that of the competitor, I think the reason why Samsung focus on the S-Pen is because it's the Note's USP, and one of the kind. Just as Apple uses the Retina Display to sell their product and persuade consumers that it is the best screen ever. While other Manufacturers might have the same screen, the word "Retina" makes it sound like it's one of the kind. It really makes me doubt your judgement that, you even said "But is it really the single most important thing that we should focus on?", unless if you don't know anything about Marketing, then I forgive you. Because now the USP of the iPhone 4S is Siri, and for Note II is the S-Pen features.

It all boils to the USP of your product. In this case the S-Pen gets all the attention. While other features comes later. You always need one feature to differentiate your product from the rest.

Just saying Mr Victor H

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