Up until last Friday, I was dying to get my hands on a Galaxy Note for a personal device. (You all probably know that by now.) Appropriately dubbed "phablet," the Note is a mix between a smartphone and tablet. And being the tablet fiend I am, I had to get one. It was going to happen sooner or later. There was no avoiding it.
I traded my Nexus for the Note on Friday and immediately fell in love. Of course, there are a few things I would change about the Note – there are a few things I would change about every smartphone. Aside from being stuck on Gingerbread (with TouchWiz no less), though, I have very little to complain about. And after spending just shy of a week with the phablet, I'm surprised by how much I actually find myself using what I thought to be the least notable feature of the Note, the S Pen (stylus).
Being a stylus, granted it is far better than your typical capacitive stylus and comes with additional functionality (the button), I honestly never thought I would use it all that much. I had no reason to hate it, like most people do, but I figured it would stay in its slot in the back of the phone. I've had my fair share of capacitive styluses (styli?) and found them to be no better than a shaky, inaccurate finger.
I knew the S Pen was different, but I doubted it could be that much different or better. I had tried it in passing (with a few demo units at CES and with Aaron's Note during his challenge), but a few minutes with it really doesn't do the S Pen any justice or give the users the full scope of its abilities.
So what makes it so much better than your average stylus? For one, it isn't capacitive; it's inductive. Using a capacitive stylus, if you touch your hand to the display while trying to write, your palm may also make marks on the display or cause the application to zoom in or out. Since the S Pen is inductive, when it is in use, capacitive input is shut off entirely until the S Pen is lifted from the screen, so you can rest your palm on the display without worrying. But it also has a tiny point about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen, like resistive styluses of yesteryear. Capacitive styluses come with either felt or rubber tips, making them big and inaccurate.
Like I said, I literally thought I would never use the S Pen. But the Note has replaced the Nexus as my primary device, and I have noticed that I'm using the S Pen almost every time I turn the device on – which is very often. Even if I don't use it, I pull the S Pen out when I flip the cover (I'm using the Samsung Flip Cover on my Note, pictured above) around back and have it ready to go if I need it for a screen shot or a quick note.
Mainly, I have been using it for annotating. A lot of annotating and note taking. And a lot of 'stache drawing on my friends and family has been going down, too. (Am I the only one who thinks Aaron would look better with long hair and a beard?) It also makes clicking tiny while Web browsing much easier. Instead of zooming in so I don't miss and click the wrong link, I can just tap it with the tiny, accurate tip of the S Pen.
With the Galaxy Note, you can take screenshots two ways: press the button on the S Pen and long press on the display or press and hold the home and power buttons simultaneously. When you use the S Pen, unlike any other native Android screen shot function that I am aware of, the Note pulls up a preview of the screenshot and allows you to edit and/or annotate it immediately after. I have always been one to take a ton of screenshots, but I'm almost certain that I have taken more in the past week than I ever did on the Nexus, and most of the time, I made notes or huge, red arrows to remind me why I took the capture in the first place.
On top of that, it has made Draw Something ten times more fun to play. I started playing it from my iPhone and quickly learned that my fat fingers simply do not make for pretty pictures. I even tried it with a capacitive stylus I had laying around. Terrible. With the S Pen and the 5.3-inch display of the Note, however, I found it a lot easier to actually enjoy drawing in Draw Something. Too bad it doesn't do anything for my drawing skills (or lack thereof).
Unlike the enormous display of the Note, however, the S Pen is something I could live without. It is simply a huge and unexpected plus to the Note line. The S Pen, while many still claim it is a gimmick, is something that Samsung should stick to. Work that stylus, Sammy!
What do you think about the S Pen, Note users? Do you use it all the time, or do you find it to be, more or less, a gimmick? I'm using it all the time for all sorts of things. What about you?