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!

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37 Comments

1. Ichimoku

Posts: 179; Member since: Nov 18, 2018

nice article, and thanks.

7. Mike88

Posts: 438; 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: 597; Member since: Feb 08, 2019

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

18. Mike88

Posts: 438; 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: 754; 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: 187; 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 unregistered

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 unregistered

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: 3168; 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 unregistered

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: 626; 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: 908; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Finally an article that makes sense :)

6. VariableCheapskate

Posts: 200; 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: 222; Member since: Dec 28, 2011

I so agree with this article than the first one.

11. pogba

Posts: 113; Member since: Jun 13, 2018

this rebuttal would get a don demarco on url!!

12. NateAdam8

Posts: 439; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

There Phonearena goes again flip-flopping back and forth between what's popular and what they want and like most people they don't even know what they want in a phone cause when they get what they wanted there's always something else.

14. Mzedalis

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 14, 2019

Duming the s pen is a dumb suggestion. There are a hell of alot more phones without a stylus. I get a kick out of people that think if they wouldn't use a feature that it's not necessary. I use my S pen multiple times a day. Besides writing it has many more functions

21. chbanks512

Posts: 79; Member since: Mar 07, 2017

Thank you for cleaning up that mess, good sir

24. TS020

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

My understanding is that the S-Pen in the Note 9 can also be used as a remote shutter for the camera. Someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though.

29. Sam1ne

Posts: 57; Member since: Apr 07, 2019

Yes it absolutely can. Used it many times. (My favorite was a slow motion of me throwing a snowball right into the camera, and then sending that to my darling afar who was eager for some snow).

30. TS020

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

Awesome, thanks Sam. I'm still rocking a Note 3 so I'm kind of out of the loop lol

33. Sam1ne

Posts: 57; Member since: Apr 07, 2019

Now, that's even more awesome.. I loved my Note 3 so much I couldn't sell it. My mom has it now and loves it. I decided to keep my Note 9 for at least 3 years if possible. Just the best piece of tech I ever bought..but the Note 3 is the close second!

53. Geezy0303

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

yes it can and it definitely is a great feature to use

25. srgonu

Posts: 566; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Thanks for trying to fix the damage done by victor to PA. Victor is more of a critic than a tech writer. oops, even a critic knows what he is talking..

27. AlienKiss

Posts: 280; Member since: May 21, 2019

I don't know who this Victor is, but I have the feeling he doesn't have a clue about smartphones. This is so unprofessional it really makes me wonder who hired him and if they checked his CV. Phone Arena, don't make the same mistakes as gsma does : stop hiring unprofessional people who think they are journalists just because they can write an article. Also, please STOP deleting user comments! Is this a communist website?? What happened to free speech?

28. Sam1ne

Posts: 57; Member since: Apr 07, 2019

Honestly there was no need for "rebuttal " as Victor's article got absolutely torn apart in the comment section. But still, this was a great write up.

34. darkkjedii

Posts: 31658; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

The Note is the King, and the S-Pen is a must have. I gotta have my Note, best line of phones ever made IMHO.

36. dirtydirty00

Posts: 428; Member since: Jan 21, 2011

I use my S Pen a lot. I make diagrams at work with measurements. I also sketch design changes on job sites for people to see using my S Pen. I would be mad if they got rid of it. It's so convenient having it inside the phone tucked away

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