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?

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

41 Reactions to this post

"Do you use the S Pen on your Galaxy Note?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Molan James I don't hate the stylus, its a nice/great inclusion to have the option of using it, especially with the fact that it allows for precise input for artists or note-taking.Check How useful is a stylus for your smartphone? http://www.careace.net/2012/07/12/careace-survey-how-useful-stylus-smartphone/
Raymond Toshlee Jones Jr. If the note takes a little trip over to sprint, i would buy it
Stephen Lindsay You guys seriously need to stop posting about the NOTE because i want it bad and i cannot upgrade untill next dec.
Sivakumar Krishnamurthy I use the S pen to take down notes and jot down the work for the day. It's an extremely useful stuff.
Osman Ismail Super useful and I love drawing with it...however, just lost my second one...
Chong Kok Leong I just use it for drawing things. Not really use it if I'm busy.
Omar Futurevilla Afifi can some1 help choose out a phone should i get samsung galexy s2 or galexy note
William Martin @ali redwolf, the s-pen uses inductive technology, not the capacitive sensors that most touchscreens use, so it will only work on other wacom enabled devices
Zach Cline Chris quit worrying about apple. Why is it that fandroids feel the need to bring up apple in a post that is completely unrelated to the iPhone / iOS? Get a freaking life.
George Cardoza Getting mine soon!
Moises Castro I would luv if my gs2 had an S pen
Chris Taylor Lol if Apple came out with a pen everyone would be like "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!!" But with Samsung, everyone says its stupid. Hypocritical much?
Davide Mazza A lot more then expected
Jarno Tuomainen Ali Redwolf, I tested S pen with iPhone 4, Lumia 800 GTab 7" and Nokia C2-02. Doesn't Work with those. I'm going to check Galaxy XCover, iPad 2 and GTab 10.1 tomorrow, but I very much doubt those will notice it either.
Reginald Raynor Not really but I definitely need to start
Ali Redwolf Question: Does the S pen work on any other smartphones? If so, I'm going to order it tomorrow. Saw the commercial and almost went to order (if sold separately) immediately. Since you all have them, can one of you test that and let me know? I have the Huawei Ascend II. Any feedback?
Darrin Grant I hardly ever use my pen, unless I'm showcasing the phone to someone
Huey Liggins Only every now and then. Not as often as I'd like
Vijay Patel Ofcrse yes.
Miles Justin McNairy Yes, I used the S-Pen for anything. Sometime I don't. I find it useful for Swype though
Daniel Cuadrado I've had my note for two weeks, haven't used it once.
Dounutz Sesar Im about to get this Friday or maybe sooner!!! I have an iphone 4 n im just bored whit it notin interesting hope its a good Jump
Gee RealEstateagent Waters Saving for this phone as we speak. played around with it and i loved it. I thought it would be too big at first but it's not bad at all.
??? 2 words, draw something
Jarno Tuomainen With photo- & videoeditor and with S-memo. Otherwise it's been pretty useless.
Ramon Coombs Yup, mostly with S-memo (International Version)
BossMan Atl I use mine
Dorian Delandro international version you troll
Lance Tomlinson I love how everyone ignores the main issue with the Note, that reviewers ignore, everyone. The Note (LTE 4g, not the International version) has an Anti-Raindrop detection "feature" that ruins the device. Anyone can test this with a multi-touch tester, place 2 fingers on the Note at the same time, after 10 seconds or so the first point of touch will get dropped. Any games where you have to hold 2 points down are not going to work. I had to sell my Note because of this which was upsetting.
Billy Doyle How can Neil not use it in 4 month's when it was just released about a month ago/
KoDy Designed ByCrime All the time! Using it right now to swype this!! Lol I can never go back to the old way using fingers and getting fingerprints on my screen UGH!!!
William Martin you can also take a screenshot by swiping from right to left across the screen with the side of your hand
David Hillier Yes, it's absolutely brilliant for Draw Something! I also use it for cut and paste and for adding to graphics.
Brain Roopull The one feature I miss the most about my old Windows Mobile phones is the stylus... The S pen isn't exactly the same, but a step in the right direction.
Neil Hussey Nope. Used it for the first few days, because of the novelty factor, and haven't used it in the 4 months since! Don't use the 'Note' function at all and everything else can be done with my finger.
Chris Taylor Yes.. ;o)
Anthony Bailey The S Pen was obviously useful from the beginning. And I am using my S Pen more and more each day. I particularly love it for use in "Draw Something." It is also way more accurate in Swype vs. using your fingers.

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices