With the launch of the original Galaxy Note in 2011, Samsung singlehandedly created a new category of smartphone. With its 5.3-inch display, which was back at the time considered huge, and its unique stylus, the Galaxy Note managed to leave a mark and pave the way for a successful flagship lineup of phablets for Samsung. Now, 7 years later, in a world of gigantic smartphones, the large screen is no longer among the major defining features of the Galaxy Note series, but the S Pen stylus still is.
More autonomous S Pen
With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is “freeing” the S Pen
But this raises a simple question: “why?” It’s a pen and it’s used for writing and it has this convenient slot on the bottom of the device. Who’d need to use it 20 feet away from the phone and for what reason? Well, according to the latest rumors and reports from around the web, the Bluetooth-enabled S Pen may be used in a variety of different and interesting ways, though some sources suggest some rather outlandish implementations, such as a speaker built-into the S Pen, which is something we doubt will happen.
Music playback control and remote shutter release
The two most popular rumored features, or at least the two most widely publicized, are remote self-timer and some sort of audio playback control function. The self-timer sort of makes sense, as a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen could be used as a remote shutter release to take pictures from afar, but this would necessitate that you place your Note 9 on a tripod or prop it somewhere and actually leave it outside of your personal space (which is not something many people like to do these days). But jokes aside, this could be a convenient feature for taking group shots – just prop the phone somewhere, gather in front of it, and snap a picture with a press of the S Pen button.
Another talked-about possibility is the use of the S Pen as a music playback control device. The stylus may have a single button it, but it could still be used to pause and/or change a song without having to open whatever streaming app you’re using. Single click to pause, double-click to skip, for example. Furthermore, if your Note 9 is connected to a Bluetooth speaker somewhere in your house, you may be able to change the song from the other room… provided you carry the S Pen by itself.
All said and done, we’d be lying if we told you we were excited about these rumored features. We think that Samsung can do so much more than that, so here’s something we’ve had on our minds for a while, and we think Samsung should just make possible on future Note devices.
The Galaxy Note 9 as a graphics tablet / touchpad
Samsung has been using Wacom-made digitizers in its Galaxy Note series since the very beginning. Digitizers that can not only track the pen pressure that’s being applied on the screen, but also pen tilt. In other words, at what angle you’re holding the stylus while interacting with the screen. You know, just like dedicated graphics tablet do… which Wacom has also been building for years and years.
Unfortunately, although something similar may happen, the S Pen still has one limitation when compared to most dedicated graphics tablet pens — it has only one button, whereas most styluses have two, just like a computer mouse. This comes in handy, because you can map your left and right mouse buttons to them. Samsung’s choice to continue the tradition of having a single button on the S Pen leads us to believe that graphics tablet functionality hasn’t been considered by the company in a way we’d like to see, but if the Galaxy Note 9 is compatible with the horizontal Dex Pad, then users may be able to use it as a graphics tablet when running drawing or image editing apps on a monitor.