Rebuttal: No, Samsung should absolutely not ditch the S Pen

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Rebuttal: No, Samsung should absolutely not ditch the S Pen
Last week, my colleague Victor ran an opinion piece stating that Samsung should kill off the S Pen in favour of other upgrades that the Galaxy Note line needs. Now, we are a diverse team here at PhoneArena, with different preferences and opinions. And I happen to be of the opinion that no, Samsung absolutely shouldn't even think about losing the S Pen. If anything, I and many other Note fans have been hoping to see the S Pen on other Samsung phones for some years now.

I've been hooked on the Samsung stylus experience ever since I first tried it on the Galaxy Note 3. For years, the Galaxy Note Edge was my main daily driver, which I would always come back to after reviewing or testing another phone. Currently, I am rocking a Galaxy Note 8, which I find myself strangely incapable of replacing, despite the fact that I have some grievances with the device.

So, what makes the S Pen so special in the eyes of a Note fan?

1. Identity

While this is not the most important point, I feel like it's the one that sticks out the most and is good to start with. All too often, we complain that today's phones all look the same, all do the same, and there's a lack of diversity or identity from one product to the other. But the Galaxy Note line happens to be unique thanks to its S Pen. Thanks to the Wacom digitizer underneath the Note's screen, the Samsung stylus experience is absolutely unmatched by any smartphone out there. From the pointer accuracy to the pressure levels, and to the incredibly good palm / hand rejection.

Here's something I always found funny — since Samsung basically popularized large phones with its Note line, a ton of Chinese manufacturers have also started naming their big phone models "Note". But they are not a Note... they literally lack the one thing that gives the Galaxy Note its name — the ability to use it as a small notepad!

2. The S Pen takes up a lot of space. So what?

One of the arguments against the S Pen is that it takes too much space inside the device, which can be "better used" to expand the battery, for example. Now, first of all, the Galaxy Note 9 already has a pretty huge 4,100 mAh battery. Yeah, it's not a powerbank-like cell, but it's still pretty generous. And the phone is perfectly capable of giving you plenty of screen on time and still survive until bedtime when it can be charged on the nightstand. Come on, 90% of phones need their nightly charging — it's a part of everyone's routine. Actually, even if you forget to top it up at night, you can still get quite a lot of charge in there for a minimum amount of time thanks to the Samsung Fast Charge wallplug.

And if, in theory, Samsung removes the S Pen and expands the battery, how much bigger would that actually be? Maybe it could get up to 5,000 mAh... that's a "whoop-de-doo" right there. Same difference.

3. What is it used for?

Now, Victor makes a lot of fair points about the S Pen's features and actual usage. Let's be fair here — being able to mark a part of your screen, capture GIF, magnify, or translate text can easily be done with finger taps and drags and these actions don't really need the S Pen. These are some features that Samsung threw in there just so it has something to market the S Pen with, I agree. Most of them have subsequently been added to the Galaxy S line.

But that doesn't make the S Pen any worse at its main tasks — taking notes by hand, marking up photos and screenshots, using it as a pointer on websites, and yes, even making small drawings either for fun or to add to a bigger project later.

Let's break it down then.

Taking notes by hand on a phone? Yes, I agree many people will find this ridiculous. And they could be right — the virtual keyboard is often faster and more convenient. But that doesn't change the fact that jotting things down by hand has its place and its use.

For one, writing things by hand is a better exercise for your brain. Multiple studies have shown that it activates your motor memory and anything you write down (instead of typing it down) has a better chance of sticking in your long-term memory. Let me pause here for a second and say that I recognize that this is extremely contrived reasoning. However, I do, in fact, prefer the act of taking notes down whenever I am in the early stages of a new project. Song lyrics or chords, for example. Or an idea for a video project. I will just open a note and start writing things at random, underlining words, writing weird symbols every which way, and generally creating a mess of a note that only I can read. But it's a creative process, which is made that much easier with a Note phone. No need to worry about notebooks, sheets of paper, and losing stuff. It's all in the Notes app.

Marking stuff up — now, this is a no brainer. While it doesn't happen every day, sometimes I do need to take a screenshot or an actual picture of something and write around it. Maybe underline something important or share measurements. Sure, there are lots of ways to do this, but drawing over an image with the S Pen is one of the easiest and most pleasureful ways.

Digital signatures — on very rare occasions, I've been asked to sign a PDF digitally. When that happens, I am extremely happy to have an S Pen handy, instead of awkwardly trying to sign something with my finger.

Web browsing — in 2019, a ton of websites out there have been optimized to work well on mobile. And a lot haven't. The S Pen's cursor (hovering over the display) can be used as a mouse pointer and the stylus itself can be used for more precise taps, which has improved my browsing experience countless times.

Drawing? While I agreed that you can't use a Note phone for a complete masterpiece, you can still sketch on it. The PenUP app, which is filled to the brim with user-generated content, is proof of this. Actually, scratch that. Browsing through the PenUP app right now reveals some truly incredible works. Granted, some of them were probably made on a Galaxy Tab S tablet. Bottom line, even if not for super-serious works, drawing with the S Pen is still viable. And some people like to do that for recreational purposes.

4. In conclusion

Viva la S Pen, that's all I have to say. And so do many other Note fans!



1. Ichimoku

Posts: 144; Member since: Nov 18, 2018

nice article, and thanks.

7. Mike88

Posts: 227; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

PA is trying to show that it wasn't trying to favor pixel but everyone knows the truth now

9. pimpin83z

Posts: 391; Member since: Feb 08, 2019

Favor the Pixel? LMAO! You must mean over Android phones.

18. Mike88

Posts: 227; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

PA wanted Samsung to remove S pen in Note phones because pixel comes around the same time but people( who don't buy iPhone around same time) choose Note over pixel because it's always the better device overall with spen as additional selling point. So PA wants note to be a flop so that Pixel can get a chance.. I don't know why are they trying so hard to make pixel a mainstream device while it's one of the worst phone in the market every year

2. wickedwilly

Posts: 640; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Victor's article was hard to take seriously. The Pen makes the "Note" a "Note", without it, it is an updated larger S series phone. He would've be better of arguing the iPhone could have a bigger battery if Apple took away Touch ID and made the phone thicker to accommodate a bigger battery. It needs that more than a Note. Of course his Apple bias would mean that article will probably never be written.

20. Mikele

Posts: 122; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

Victor always wants recognition as he asked for the removal of S Pen which has been a signature of Note Series. It's like getting off steering on vehicles

3. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Very good rebuttal. Victor in his obvious hate, not bias; but outright hate of Samsung is just very apparent here. 1st, the S-Pen taking up space for features and battery size. Well, the iPhone and a lot of other android phones don't have pens inside them, yet have smaller batteries. What's the excuse for that? So why can't Victor talk about the fact the iPhone Plus and Max models are all as big as the S plus model and the Note, yet has a as much as 1000MaH smaller battery in them. 2nd - His stupid claim about things you can do with the pen, you can do with your fingers Well I have a better argument for that. Victor, God gave you 10 fingers, why do you eat with a spoon and fork? God gave you feet and legs, why do you drive? Because it obvious those tools are better at doing something, even though yes you can do it another way. Victor, you have glasses on your face. Why? Glasses help you see better, don't they? I know this isn't Victor writing the rebuttal, but he will read these posts to it though. See Victor, what you showed is not only your complete lack of common sense, in understand a simple point. It's call having the right tool for the right job. You can bang a nail with the heel of your shoe. But does that mean you should? Why eat off a plate? You could just eat it right out the pot right? If you don't like the S-pen, or need the S-pen; you simply don't buy a Note. Because Samsung has basically merged the Note with the S, with it main and almost only distinction being the pen, then you simply would buy the Galaxy S. He is however entitled to his opinion, regardless of how stupid it may sound. We all can have stupid opinions. But this one isn't stupidity. This is outright pure unadulterated hatred, because the argumenets simply hold no water. when you consider the physical size of the iPhone, why has it ALWAYS had a smaller batter vs Android devices of similar dimensions? Why do iPhone's all have lesser reoslutions then it competitors for a devic eof the same size? The iPhone didn't even have half of the fancy features the galaxy S has had, so what is Apple excuse for not having better hardware liek cameras with fancier features in their phones? trying to make it seem the S-pen is making us miss out on something, when other p[hones don't even have a pen and don't have them either and yet he says nothing, makes what he said completely disingenuous. Just like most hypocritical self-righteous fanboys, they are so quick to attack someone else, when you own platform is MORE flawed. Apple owns Beats. Why can't they put better headphones in the box? Samsung did after buying HK. Samsung puts all the needed adapters in the box. Why can't Apple? Samsung takes the good publicly with the bad, and actually does better. Why can't Apple? if Victor was an American, he would be a Republican. Quick to point fingers, blind to the fact their own crap stinks.

31. AndyH

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 13, 2019

Hi It would earn greater credence if your very good answer didn't use Apple as the comparison. Those buying the Note will probably have very little interest in an iPhone as a next choice. I think commentators use Apple as if is easy to justify, when the reality is Huawei is now the direct competition to the Note. The Mate 20 X would be a much more logical example. The Mate has the unholstered m-pen and why cannot Samsung go this route. The 20X has a 5000mah because it has not had to make room for the pen. Just design cases to support the s-pen and that extra room will allow the chin to disappear, a bigger battery, needed with 5g, will allow room for a periscope camera, maybe why the Note didn't have this and why the Jack and SD card was ditched? I think the Note has lost its way and apart from the die-hard s-pen fans it offers very little for others. Last year I had the choice Note -v- Mate 20x and went for the latter and I believe millions of others also did. The Mate gave us more and looking at the Note 10 it remains simply an s10+ with an s-pen when it could offer so much more.

56. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Maybe. But for me, if I am not buyign the Note; then I am gonna buy the next most compatible device in place of it and that is the galaxy S. Having said that, if I couldn't buy an S or Note, I wouldn't buy any other Galaxy device and I wouldn't buy any other brand of Android either. I would then at that point, just buy another iPhone and a lot of others liek me would do the same. I would only bounce between the 2.

46. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3111; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Your points are solid except for the part where you go off-topic and compare Samsung to Apple. Android is not as well optimized as iOS and will always require additional RAM and battery capacity to provide equal performance. That's not Samsung's fault, it's part and parcel of Android as an OS. I honestly can't tell the difference between Apple's Retina Display or the QHD of any Android, Windows or BlackBerry device. VR did not take off the way tech companies envisioned so the need for QHD is not necessary anymore. In fact my Samsungs came with 1080p as the default setting, not Quad. Don't bring Apple into this conversation, it's not relevant. Next thing you know, Leo will be here proclaiming Apple as the Second Coming. I believe he too is a Republican, or at least acts like them.

57. oldskool50

Posts: 962; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

I talked about Apple because Victor is an Apple fanboy. And the point was he is so quick to point fingers at Samsung and the Note, yet he won't do the same for the iPhone where the Note shows the iPhone is considerably lacking when it comes to the 2 devices being in the same cost range. I am not saying the iPhone needs a pen. Just saying for its cost it seriously lacks on features and capabilities. And you claim that Android actually needs more RAM vs IOS is simply not true. I mean look at the features Android phones with just 4GB of RAM were doing. yet the iPhone does less than those older phones. And when you consider the fact Samsung phones have so many capabilities, there is also more sofwtare and resources needed to run them properly. So more RAM helps. has nothign to do with Android. Has to do with the fact, your devices software is gonna have more drivers to load for hardware, more code for enhanced capabilities and the OS has to run too. That's why they need more RAM. But anything above 6GB right now is pure overkill and nothing but a fancy tick on the list of specs. IOS isn't more optimized. They are simply optimized differently. Android runs on a VM.

67. Magnus100

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 17, 2019

You were initially on track then foolishly derailed your own arguments with hateful projections, criticizing Apple and somehow injection politics into it by suggesting Republicans are are quick to point fingers... a quality which you've demonstrated you have in abundance. Next time leave out your disdain for Apple and also leave out your hateful intolerance for people with deferring political views. This was supposed to be about the wonderful Galaxy Note with its invaluable S Pen.

4. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 521; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

"And if, in theory, Samsung removes the S Pen and expands the battery, how much bigger would that actually be? Maybe it could get up to 5,000 mAh... that's a "whoop-de-doo" right there. Same difference." There's some other OEMS out there who have no s-pen and have smaller batterys like motorola, sony, lg. Only Huawei really has a 4200mah battery in the Mate series and samsung have the 4500mah in the S10 5G model. And thank god there some sane people working at Phone Arena.

5. Tipus

Posts: 819; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Finally an article that makes sense :)

6. VariableCheapskate

Posts: 71; Member since: May 29, 2019

Some of you writers can't help but snark and sneer when anyone points out your obvious bias, then cry your cry about being the ones who are bullied for it. I'm glad this article is an example of objective viewpoints and facts about the Note Line's philosophy that simply cannot be ignored. Also, the budget equivalent, and only one that many can recognize in the smartphone market is the LG Stylus/Stylo. Why give LG the monopoly on that without a flagship equivalent ready?

8. checkmymike

Posts: 218; Member since: Dec 28, 2011

I so agree with this article than the first one.

10. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I haven't read the previous article, because I found no need for a Note, I read this one in order to understand the point of view of a tech editor - based from far more experience than regular users - when it comes to the S-Pen. 1. There are plenty identity related features in every single phone: iPhone is the first that comes to mind - it's still special and - at least outside US - distinct both visual and functional; Huawei - became synonymous with camera quality, backed up by Leica name. 2. - 3.1. Writing notes by hand, using electronic devices offer the best of both worlds: the cognitive and visual advantages of handwriting and the convenience of easy storing, access, search, share etc of electronic notes; there's only one problem with the Note: the S-Pen is a really bad writing tool; it's good enough to jot, annotate, sign etc, but it's horrible at writing more than 1 phrase. 3.2. Markup tools are designed around using a finger; that's hardly anything one can't do with ease. 3.3. I sign documents digitally since forever; a few years ago I did it with Readdle PDF expert (it was ~10€), but now I switch everything in Adobe (fill&sign) - I saved my signature (on my PC, signed on a piece of paper and scanned it) and I simply press a button to put it on every doc I want. 3.4. In 2019? You have got to be kidding. 3.5. - S-Pen has niche uses, but for the vast majority of smartphone users it is simply worthless.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Keep trying.

16. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Note 7 was the only phone that could have made me switch from the iPhone - I was so close to get one when the battery gate opened. Samsung made the 8 once again freakishly huge and it moved the fps in the worse place.

15. Mzedalis

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 14, 2019

Yeah you sound like your talking about the note2 the note 9 writes amazing.

17. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

A pen becomes comfortable when it is as thick as ~10 mm (diameter or width - preferable the diameter of the circle surrounded by the shape of the pen) - Parker and Montblanc fountain pens are of that size (and I don't have to tell you how expensive is M and how much P sales); pencils made by Maped or Herlitz - which are shaped as triangles with the edge of 10 mm - have a diameter of 9 mm. The S-pen is 5.7x4.35 mm and I assure you a writing instrument of that size becomes uncomfortable in no more than a few phrases.

19. aegislash

Posts: 1465; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

Dude, if you have never used a Note, than how exactly are you assuring anyone that the S-Pen is uncomfortable? Why do you care so much about a device you don’t intend on buying? Also, unrelated but aren’t you the guy who insists newer iPhones don’t have a notch? LOL. Sorry but those rants of yours were comedy gold.

26. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I said I have never owned a Note, but I have used a lot of phones I never owned. I believe I have handwritten more than everyone on this site put together, because I lived my education years in a country that valued quantity so I have used numerous writing instruments over the years. As long as I’m not telling anyone what to like and dislike, I can give my opinion on anything and S-Pen is a unique thing to an Android phone that can make me interested to talk about. “Insist” is too strong word, I just set the things straight, because “notches” are only in the heads of stupid Apple haters; iPhone’s display do not have notches, they have extensions.

22. chenski

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Don't argue with them, in this site you can't talk bad things about Samsung, esp about note device, even though at the end of the day it's just another flagship

23. wickedwilly

Posts: 640; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Of course you can be critical about the Note, Samsung or any phone or OEM. It is when the criticism is flawed or unbalanced you will get an argued response. Leo makes some really stupid comments and deserves to be shot down when he does (like there is no notch on the iPhone).

32. darkkjedii

Posts: 30899; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That is now your new dumbest post, and you’ve had some really dumb posts. Keep up the good work Leo lol.

35. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Because you said so? Mkey. So that you know: every time when dumb person like you dislike what I say, it's a clear sign that I say pretty accurate things.

40. darkkjedii

Posts: 30899; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

No, it’s a clear sign, that what you said is just dumb. You honestly post some of the dumbest, most unfounded stuff on this site. That’s academically a fact. It’s gotten to the point, where we don’t even take you serious anymore. You’re now on the level of peaceboy (iloveapps), and Mxy...a site joke.

41. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

“That’s academically a fact.” I was born outside commonwealth and yet I understand English better than at least 3 persons that say they live in us. Since when are the comments on this site part of academics, dumb ass :))))?! There is a person that cleans my waste baskets and dusts my offices; I care about you taking me serious just as much as I care about her telling me how to run my company.

42. moooxooom

Posts: 8; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

ergo the conclusion, the command of English has absolutely no correlation with the presence of common sense. I shudder to think for a moment that you thought people take you seriously. It's probably more like a bunch of immature kids deciding to poke sticks at a dying, rabid dog. You know, out of amusement, and a sense of superiority when in a group.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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