In the November issue of Popular Mechanics, we tracked down three of the best styluses you can get in South Africa right now.
Arguably the most versatile for the everyday user is Samsung’s S-Pen – the most beloved feature of the Galaxy Note range.
We spoke to Justin Hume, Director: Integrated Mobility at Samsung South Africa, to find out more about the S-Pen.
PM: How has the S-Pen evolved over the years?
JH: When Samsung first introduced the Note1 in 2011, the S Pen was designed as a smart writing and drawing tool to allow users to explore their creativity. With every iteration of the Note since then, the S Pen has evolved. The Note2 gave users greater power to navigate their smartphones effortlessly. Additional features such as translation capabilities in later models and live messaging in the Note8, made the S Pen even more appealing as the years went by.
While previous versions of the S Pen relied on electromagnetic field technology to power it when it was close to the Note, the new S Pen is Bluetooth-enabled, which is an absolute game changer. It has a range of approximately 10 meters, which makes it more than a writing tool. It’s a powerful remote control for your device which allows you to do presentations effortlessly, control multimedia or take pixel-perfect selfies.
PM: Why has the S-Pen been such a much-loved accessory for Note users?
JH: The S Pen has bridged two worlds. The sense of control which traditional pen and paper gives, and the need to convert information to a digital format, is seamlessly woven into the design of the S Pen. Today, users are juggling a lot more in their lives and are spending extra time on their device and don’t necessarily want to sit down on their computer to do other tasks. The S Pen makes devices like the Note9 more relevant to those who want to remain mobile. It also allows for more precision while messaging or playing games. Then there are those who are inspired by the possibilities of using the S Pen as an artistic tool – both relevant for professionals like architects or budding Picassos. Of course, the S Pen has now evolved to become a remote control for your device as well. It’s the power to get more done, that makes it such a beloved feature.
PM: What makes a good stylus?
JH: A good stylus should feel like an extension of your finger – just a lot more accurate. Increased sensitivity between the pen the screen should allow you to write, select and create with pinpoint accuracy. The integration between the device and the stylus should be well considered to give the user a sense of complete control and power. It should feel intuitive. Using it should be as effortless as putting pen to paper. The Note9’s S Pen delivers this experience.
PM: Will the increasing size of smartphone displays potentially cause the stylus to become a more widely used accessory?
JH: Most likely so. Bigger screens have become popular over the years, which means a stylus is becoming more relevant.
PM: How important is a good display when it comes to using a stylus? Much of the S-Pen’s functionality – other than its Bluetooth-capabilities – reside in the display, not the S-Pen itself.
JH: The quality of the display has a negligible impact on the functionality of the stylus.
PM: The S-Pen has Bluetooth capabilities with limited functionality at this stage. What are some of the potential future uses of the S-Pen?
JH: The S Pen already has ground-breaking capabilities as it functions like a remote control for the Note9, by activating the camera, multimedia as well as presentation slides. Gamers will undoubtedly find the S Pen useful in various adapted formats as will enterprise.
PM: The S-Pen has a super-capacitor. How does this technology work, how were you able to include this in the S-Pen for the Note 9 and why isn’t it used in larger devices?
JH: You can slide the S Pen into the Note 9 for a mere 40 seconds to fully power it. This is achieved because it has supercapacitor, instead of a battery. Given the numerous functions that the S Pen can perform the super-capacitor technology makes a difference. A super-capacitor stores energy by means of a static charge, as opposed to an electrochemical reaction that goes on inside a battery. But while batteries take a long time to charge they can store more energy. Supercapacitors literally charge in seconds but hold less energy. This works well for the S Pen but impacts the application in larger devices.
PM: Will the S-Pen work with other Samsung devices in future?
JH: The S Pen is more popular than ever and will continue to be featured in the Note series, evolving every time. It is already well integrated in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.
It looks like the stylus is here to stay and if Samsung has anything to say about it, it will change the way we interact with our devices in powerful ways that none of us have imagined.