Sometime between the introduction of the feature phone and the smartphone we know today, there was a time and place when the term “smartphone” was just taking off, but had an entirely different meaning. In the beginning, you were looking at Windows Mobile, BlackBerry OS, or Palm OS when it came down to phones with Internet access. Along with a different set of popular operating systems, however, you were also looking at a completely different form factor. You hardly ever had the slab style smartphone. Instead, most “smartphones” at the time still came with physical keyboards and a much smaller touch screen. It also wasn’t uncommon to be supplied with a stylus, along with a stylus docking station included in the phone. You know, kind of like how the Galaxy Note line has.
It was an included accessory that I absolutely loved. I realize that screens were much smaller, so the inclusion of a stylus was almost necessary because even a fingertip would have had a lot of trouble pin pointing exact locations on such a small display. With that being said, I don’t think that smartphones today should necessarily forget about styluses (styli?) either. I think that Samsung’s Galaxy Note line has a good thing going for it by still including the stylus despite the large size of the phone. I believe that the stylus is still an extremely handy tool to include in smartphones today.
I would like to see more manufacturers bring this small, yet significant, accessory back.
I generally don’t keep my gadgets for too terribly long before I start looking for something better. One exception to that rule, at least in the past year and a half, has been my tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Before the Galaxy Note 8, I had been hunting around for the perfect tablet for me. I tried the Kindle Fire, the original iPad, the iPad Mini, and a bunch of others that I can’t recall right now. Nothing really struck me as “This is working really well for me.” Finally I went ahead and purchased the Galaxy Note 8. I knew I couldn’t handle the size of the Galaxy Note as a phone, but I thought as a tablet I would really like a tablet that came with a stylus, and I was totally right. Not only do I use the stylus for sketches and artwork, but I realized I habitually use it for simple tasks like web browsing as well. The screen is, of course, plenty big for using without a stylus, but for some reason reaching and using the stylus comes naturally for me. I prefer to use it in many cases.
I do realize that you can purchase a stylus for any smartphone or tablet on the market right now, but there’s one thing that makes them different from the “smartphones” of yesteryear, or Samsung’s Galaxy Note line - the fact that the stylus comes with a specific docking station within the device itself. This, in my opinion, is key.
I’ve owned separate styluses for other smartphones that I’ve carried around with me in my purse or pocket, but nothing beats having a specific slot within the phone itself to keep the stylus around. I have a tendency to lose things left and right, but even after owning my Galaxy Note 8 for a year and a half I still have the original stylus that came with the device - and for that I thank the included stylus dock within the tablet. Even when I had older smartphones that also included a stylus dock (Palm Centro, Palm Treo Pro, HTC Touch Pro) I remember only losing the stylus one time. Every other stylus I have ever purchased for newer smartphones are long gone, having been set down or misplaced somewhere along the line.
Maybe I’m wrong and the inclusion of a stylus is completely unnecessary these days, but I know that if any of my favorite smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z3 or the HTC One came with an included stylus and dock, they would hear no qualms from me. I’ve just found that it’s a really nice option to have, and would still like to see more companies make use of the accessory.