Simply pop a ‘pen’ out from your device and immediately start writing – Samsung Electronics’ innovative idea that came to life with the inclusion of the S Pen in the company’s Galaxy Note series 10 years ago has since provided users with unique and enriching device experiences.
Since then, the S Pen has undergone multiple innovations to transform it from a mere stylus into an independent device of its own. For example – you no longer need to rely on just your smartphone to take a picture; the S Pen can do that for you.
The 10 years that have passed since the debut of the S Pen have been filled with countless innovations and challenges. Follow along with us as we chart the evolution of this significant stylus, from its debut as a simple smartphone accessory to its latest form as its own singular category of device.
The S Pen is designed to provide the experience of writing with a real pen. Since its debut with the first Galaxy Note device in 2011, the S Pen has continued to provide improved pressure sensitivity from 256, 1024, and 2048 levels to a remarkable 4096 sensitivity level. Pressure sensitivity determines how much you can vary the width of the lines you draw with your S Pen; the higher it is, the more precisely the stylus will respond to your control. The S Pen’s high pressure sensitivity allows you to control the stroke weight of your stylus as you apply varying amounts of pressure to your screen, and the diameter of the S Pen’s tip has also been reduced over the years from 1.6mm to 0.7mm so as to allow for delicate strokes when drawing.
When it comes to notetaking, every user has their own habits, be it using a specific highlighter to mark important passages in a text or preferring a slim pen tip for writing. The S Pen, which initially provided four pen types – Pen, Pencil, Brush and Highlighter – today offers a wide variety of pen options, including Calligraphy and Fountain pen options. The true-to-life S Pen experience even comes with a different writing sound for each pen option you choose, and the sound effect of a pen cap closing when the S Pen is re-inserted into the device provides a satisfying, realistic feel, too. Furthermore, the eye-dropper tool, which makes it easy to lift colors from within a Note, has also been added for easy pen color customization.
As the S Pen continued to evolve, a built-in battery was added for optimized usage and user convenience. Users need simply plug their S Pen back into their device to automatically charge it; Galaxy Note20 users can enjoy a fully charged S Pen in just 7 minutes, with a standby time of 24 hours.1
Further to these innovations, it is the S Pen’s response time that truly grants it that life-like writing experience. In one of Samsung’s latest mobile devices, the S Pen features AI technologies that bolster the pen’s acceleration and gyro sensors in order to predict pen movement and improve accuracy, resulting in a response time that is 80% faster than the previous model. Combined with a 120Hz display, this faster S Pen provides a remarkably smooth user experience.
Over the past 10 years, the S Pen has developed into a versatile pen with a wide range of features. One such highlight of this evolution is the S Pen’s Air Command menu. When you eject the S Pen or click its button, a series of essential S Pen feature icons appear on-screen. These days, the Air Command menu emerges in a line, as opposed to the fan shape that earlier models featured, in order to display more icons at once. Users can even customize the actions and icons that appear so as to enjoy effortless and instant access to their most frequently used features.
Another notable S Pen functionality is the Screen off memo function, which was included to broaden the horizon of quick notetaking. This feature lets users write their notes down directly onto the lock screen once they have popped out their S Pen. The resulting Note is then kept on the Always On Display, or saved to Samsung Notes, and over the years, this feature has seen more options for pen tips, colors and canvas size included to help you capture your inspiration in real time.
The Galaxy Note9’s S Pen is powered by a Super Capacitor, which provides ultra-fast charging and supports Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE)
Following the application of various improvements and innovations since its inception, the S Pen has evolved to truly became a device of its own. The revolutionized S Pen features Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) connectivity, meaning that users can control their music, camera app and more directly from their S Pen within a certain radius – similar to a remote control.
In recent years, the S Pen has only seen more expansions to its scope. The introduction of S Pen Air actions allows users to control their smartphone’s applications by pressing their S Pen’s button. With Air actions, you can harness intuitive actions to switch between camera and shooting modes, zoom in or out of a shot and execute a variety of other convenient functions – all with customizable gestures.
With the very latest S Pen models, gesture control has only gotten easier with the introduction of five Anywhere actions. Users can now customize actions for the Back, Home, Recent App, Smart Select and Screen Write commands, making the S Pen more helpful for device control than ever before.
Design: Write Intuitively, With Style
The development of an S Pen that came in a range of color options came about to satisfy those users looking to showcase their personality through their devices. Each color option even matched the corresponding device’s S Pen slot. One such highlight saw a clear ocean-blue device paired with a vivid yellow S Pen, with the corresponding packaging summarizing the evolution of the S Pen so far by featuring the stylus on the front of its box to establish that the S Pen truly is the key identifier of Samsung’s smartphone products.
These days, you can enjoy the versatility of the S Pen on larger screens such as tablets and laptops as well as on your smartphone. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A and S series include an S Pen, as does the Galaxy Book, allowing users to take advantage of their S Pen on increasingly larger canvases. The S Pen models included with Samsung’s tablets and laptops have been developed differently to those developed for smartphones, featuring a rounded, unibody design and a glossy finish.
Users of Galaxy Tab S6 and S7 devices can easily store their S Pen on the side and back (respectively) of their tablets thanks to their magnetic storage feature, making it easier to keep track of your S Pen and also providing a simple way for you to charge your S Pen.
Since its conception, the S Pen has been a landmark innovation. An elegant instrument that lets users create to their heart’s content on their digital screens, the evolution of this delicate stylus over the past decade has seen the S Pen grow into an independent smart device of its own. Stay tuned to find out how the S Pen is set to develop further and provide users with even more means of self-expression.
* All functionality, features, specifications and other product information provided in this document including, but not limited to, the benefits, design, pricing, components, performance, availability, and capabilities of the product are subject to change without notice. Availability may vary by market, operator and connected device.