On path to extinction: 6 smartphones with a stylus sidekick

7 smartphones with a stylus sidekick
For better or worse, the stylus may very well be on its path to extinction, saved only by Samsung's ultra-successful Galaxy Note line of phablet devices. Indeed, what was once a smartphone staple is now barely seen accompanying them on their journey from manufacturing plants, to retailers, to consumers' homes. And it's almost entirely touchscreen's fault — they've gotten really good.

But there are still stylus fans out there: According to a relatively recent poll of ours, 22.35% of participating Samsung Galaxy Note 4/Note Edge users make their respective styluses count every day, while nearly 50% use it occasionally to scribble down a quick note or start a Pen Window. If you consider yourself one of them, then the below selection is for you.

Of course, 'selection' is pushing it a little bit, as there are barely a dozen devices released since 2014 to date (that we know of) with a stylus sidekick, so there aren't too many modern devices to consider if you're in the market for one. With that disclaimer out of the way, let's jump right into this one and explore what's currently available:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

It's hardly surprising that we start with Samsung's killer phablet, the Note 4. Toting the so-called S Pen stylus, Samsung promises that the model available with the Note 4 is twice as sensitive to pressure, featuring 2,048 distinct levels.

The S Pen was also infused with new functionality compared to the unit available with the Note 3, including 'Smart Select' and 'Photo Note'. Both features are available from the Air Command pie-like floating controls menu that materializes on the screen when you click the stylus' key on the side. The former lets you do fancy stuff such as extract meta data from selection (e.g., info page of a hotel with its name and address will be broken down to a link to Google Maps with directions), while the latter turns images of handwritten text into digital one.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The Galaxy Note 4's sibling, the Note Edge, is, in almost all every ways a copy, including the S Pen unit on board. As far as we know, there are no differences between the models available with either device, so you're getting both the hardware and software improvements and features of the new tech with the Note Edge, too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo

Released in the first quarter of 2014, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo still qualifies as a relatively recent device, and it packs a stylus, too! The unit here is the less-perfected model available with the Galaxy Note 3, of course, but that's still a better pick than other, non-Samsung competitors in this space, at least if stylus performance is top of your list.

Unlike the Note 3, though, the Neo is a mid-ranger. It has a slightly smaller, 5.5-inch display with a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution, is powered by a hexa-core Exynos processor and 2 gigs of RAM, sports an 8-megapixel camera, and is given life by a sizable, 3,100 mAh battery.

LG G Stylo

The LG G Stylo is a new entry level device from Samsung's cross-town rival, and as the name suggests, it brings a stylus to the table. Unlike Samsung's pens, however, the unit on the G Stylo has a soft tip, which makes it a bit more pleasant in terms of the feedback you get, but it's generally a far less refined model that doesn't come with any extra features.

In any case, the 5.7-inch (720p) LG G Stylo comes with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel main camera, and a generous, 3,000 mAh battery.

LG G3 Stylus

Before the G Stylo hit the market, there was the LG G3 Stylus, which can still be found on shelves around the globe. Like the Stylo, the G3 Stylus has a dedicated pen, but no specialized software to support it.

On the specs side, the G3 Stylus sports a 5.5-inch display with a lowly 540 x 960 pixel resolution, a quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel main camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery,

Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2

The only other stylus-toting smartphone to be released after 2014 and be worth your consideration is Alcatel's OneTouch Hero 2. Granted, we rated it 6.5/10 in our review, but it's still an affordable way into a stylus if you're so inclined. About the only dedicated software feature accompanying the pen is a handwriting-to-text mode, which is generally a hit or miss.

The Hero 2 comes packing a giant, 6-inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor and 2 gigs of RAM, and relies on a 13.1-megapixel snapper for imaging, and a 3,100 juicer to keep the lights on.

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