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The best stylus phones you can buy: Expert tested

ZDNET tested the top stylus phones on the market that offer high precision, added functionality, and ease of use.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Reviewed by Kayla Solino
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra | Best stylus phone overall
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Best stylus phone overall
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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra | Best runner-up stylus phone overall
Demonstrating screen-write on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with an S Pen.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Best runner-up stylus phone overall
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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 | Best foldable stylus phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Best foldable stylus phone
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Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) | Best budget stylus phone
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) on a table
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
Best budget stylus phone
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TCL Stylus 5G | Best stylus phone for less than $300
TCL Stylus 5G
Best stylus phone for less than $300
View now View at TCL

Over the past year, I've tested more phones than I can count, and ever so often, I get an itch to use one that works with a stylus. Whether you're a business professional, student, or artist, stylus-supported smartphones are invaluable due to the added precision and tactile feedback -- features that a finger simply can't touch. 

For my field of work, I need to sign NDAs and PDF documents while always on the go, so having a stylus makes my job that much easier. The accessory is also useful when I'm editing photos and want the most precise degree of tilt. If you're sold on the premise, which I assume you are if you've clicked into this buying guide, allow me to show you the best stylus phones worth considering, starting with my current top pick, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Best stylus phones of 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy | Display: 6.8 inches, 3,200 x 1,440 pixels | RAM/Storage: 12GB with 256GB/512GB/1TB | Cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 50MP with 5x optical, 10MP with 3x optical, 12MP front | Battery: 5,000mAh

At the top of the ladder this year sits the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, and I don't expect that to change any time soon. Like in previous generations, the Ultra line has a built-in S Pen stylus that's siloed on the bottom corner of the device, making it convenient to quickly whip out, jot down some notes, and carry on.

What separates the S24 Ultra from the pact this year is the all-new Galaxy AI features -- particularly, Circle to Search, Generative Edit, and an improved Notes app integration. With Circle to Search, users can draw or tap on a subject on the screen and receive Google Search results nearly instantly. Generative Edit, much like Magic Editor on Pixel phones, lets you remove, resize, and reposition image subjects. It certainly helps to have an S Pen for the most precise adjustments. And the new Notes app uses on-device AI to summarize, organize, and help clean up your handwritten notes.

The S24 Ultra features some practical hardware changes, too, like a flat-screen design that serves as the ideal canvas for note-taking and sketching and a display that's tougher, brighter, and more glare-free than last year's model.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Pros & Cons
  • Integrated S Pen stylus for enhanced functionality
  • 256GB base storage leads the competition
  • Reliable quad-camera setup
  • Phone can be unwieldy for some, especially with a case
  • Fast charging is still capped at 45W
  • Pricier than most Android phones
More Details

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy | Display: 6.8 inches, 3,200 x 1,440 pixels | RAM/Storage: 12GB with 256GB/512GB/1TB | Cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP with 10x optical, 10MP with 3x optical, 12MP front | Battery: 5,000mAh

Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is no longer the latest and greatest, but it's still, undeniably, a contender for the best stylus phone that you can buy. That's because the company made little to no upgrades in terms of the S Pen's feel in the hand and software features this year. That's a win if you're hunting for a stylus phone that no longer costs as much as it once did. 

Like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, the S Pen on this model features 4,096 pressure levels, is filled with productivity features like off-screen memos and Smart Select, and is conveniently stored at the bottom of the handset.

Samsung's Notes app, which is the core of the stylus writing experience, has also improved since the early Galaxy Note days. Now, you can collaborate with other users on the same document at the same time, and it's never been easier to just drag and drop files and images into the note-taking app.

There were more subtle improvements that Samsung made with last year's Ultra model a fantastic phone in general, like the large and less-curvy 6.8-inch display, the massive 5,000mAh battery, and a bump in base storage to 256GB, allowing you to store even more memos and files than before.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Pros & Cons
  • Armor Aluminum material for a lighter yet more durable design
  • IPX8 water resistance
  • S Pen support with the large 7.6-inch display is a killer pairing
  • Still expensive
  • S Pen is sold and stored separately
More Details

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Main display: 7.6 inches, 2,208 x 1,768 pixels | Cover display: 6.2 inches, 832 x 2,268 pixels | RAM/Storage: 12GB RAM with 256GB/512GB | Cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP with 3x optical, 10MP front, 4MP main display | Battery: 4,400mAh

While the S Pen isn't built into Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 like the aforementioned picks, the expansive 7.6-inch main display and stylus pairing may be enough to entice your penmanship endeavors. Like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, having the S Pen gives you the power to use Air Commands and gesture controls, with up to 4,096 pressure levels for precise inputs.

Still, the optional stylus shouldn't be the only reason you buy the Galaxy Z Fold 5. At the base level, the Z Fold is a dual-screen handset that can transform into a tablet. 

With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 12GB of RAM, and an IP-rated design for water resistance, this may just be your best bet for a stylus-supported tablet experience without buying an actual tablet.

Review: Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5

Pros & Cons
  • Reliable display performance
  • One of few non-flagship phones with a built-in stylus
  • Relatively affordable
  • Cameras are nothing to write home about
  • Don't expect the latest Android software updates
More Details

Moto G Stylus 5G tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 | Display: 6.6 inches, 2,460 x 1,080 pixels | RAM/Storage: 6GB with 256GB | Cameras: 50MP main camera, 8MP ultra-wide, 16MP front | Battery: 5,000mAh

Motorola's Moto G Stylus proves that you don't have to spend a fortune to get the benefits of a stylus. In fact, with a retail price of $399, the G Stylus undercuts every above phone on this list while still offering the essentials like a 6.6-inch display that ramps up to 120Hz refresh rate, 256GB of base storage, a beefy 5,000mAh battery, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The stylus experience isn't all that half-baked, too. For example, removing the stylus from the phone triggers Motorola's notetaking app. There's also a quick toggle that appears when the stylus is in use, giving you access to shortcuts like capturing screenshots, launching a selected app, and even creating a GIF.

Review: Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

Pros & Cons
  • Feasible stylus experience for the money
  • Large and vibrant display
  • Great-sounding stereo speakers
  • Much more affordable than others on this list
  • Camera quality is just passable
  • Limited RAM
  • No palm rejection when writing
More Details

TCL Stylus 5G tech specs: Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G | Display: 6.8 inches, 2,460 x 1,080 pixels | RAM/Storage: 4GB with 128GB | Cameras: 50MP main camera, 5MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 13MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

Like Motorola, TCL has found most of its retail success in the low to mid-end markets. The strategy is sound; users who don't want to pay up for Samsung, Apple, or even Google's premium offerings can spend less on a TCL phone, even if flagship features like wireless charging, higher RAM, and better cameras are forfeited along the way.

Still, there's a lot of bang for your buck with the TCL Stylus 5G which, at the time of writing, is available exclusively on T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile for $269. For the price, you're getting a large 6.8-inch display, 128GB of base storage that's expandable via MicroSD, a quad-camera setup, and of course, the built-in stylus.

One of the tradeoffs to note is the lack of palm rejection when writing with the stylus. Fortunately, when ZDNET tested the device, the absence of the stylus feature didn't significantly affect the usability of the writing experience.

Review: TCL Stylus 5G

What is the best stylus phone?

While the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra takes the crown for best stylus phone, here's how the top performers measure up to each other in price, display size, and battery:

Stylus phone




Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra


6.8 inches


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra


6.8 inches


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5


6.2 and 7.6 inches


Motorola G Stylus 5G 2023


6.6 inches


TCL Stylus 5G


6.8 inches


Which stylus phone is right for you?

The biggest question you should ask yourself is: How much money am I willing to spend? The best picks from the list, including the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and Z Fold 5, can run you as much as $1,800. With the average ownership times of phones ranging from three to five years, the investment may be worth it.

Choose this stylus phone...

If you want…

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

The best stylus phone that money can buy with an integrated S Pen Stylus, ample storage, and numerous AI features to optimize your workflow.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

A near-perfect stylus experience for less with a large display and 2.8ms latency. It's great for content creation.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

The best foldable phone that you can write on with IPX8 water resistance, S pen support, and aluminum material for ultimate durability.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

A mid-range option that ticks the essential boxes like affordable price, dependable performance, and a built-in stylus.

TCL Stylus 5G

A low-cost smartphone with a built-in stylus, a large display, and good sounding speakers.

How did we choose these best stylus phones?

  • Stylus function: There are numerous phones on the market with styluses, but only the best utilize the accessory to its fullest. Samsung is a front-runner in this aspect, with an S Pen experience that has gone through more than 10 years of refinement. 
  • Price: Motorola has seen great success with its Moto G Stylus line thanks to the accessibility it brings to the budget market. Not everyone is willing to spend $1,000 or more for a stylus phone, so trailblazers deserve some recognition as well. 
  • Competitive phone construction: Lastly, while the end goal is to get the best stylus experience, we recommend phones that play just as well on their own. Every selection on this list carries specs, processors, and features that can go head-to-head with non-stylus counterparts.

What if the stylus breaks?

Whether your stylus breaks or is nowhere to be found, most manufacturers offer replacements at an additional cost or free with a qualified insurance plan. Samsung's S Pen, for example, can be purchased from its online store or at retailers like Amazon.

Also: The best stylus pens

You can also look for stylus pens that offer exceptional durability and support. That way, you don't have to worry about replacing them often. 

Do stylus pens work on all phones?

Stylus pens work on all devices that have touchscreen capabilities. However, some phones have a stylus designed specifically for that device or brand. Buying the right one ensures you maximize all the features available to you. 

Meanwhile, there are some phones that don't offer these capabilities. To demonstrate, the Apple Pencil doesn't work on any iPhone models, only iPads. 

Are stylus phones worth it?

They're perfect if you plan to create artwork, scribble notes, or do other activities that require a more precise touch. And with many note programs, you can jot down notes on PDFs, create whiteboards for collaboration, and much more. 

Are there alternative stylus phones to consider?

While some manufacturers like LG have discontinued stylus models, the market is still hot with quality choices. Here are some alternatives to consider:

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