New iPhones don't support Apple Pencil: Samsung Note 9 still best for stylus users

There were rumors that the new Apple iPhones might support the Apple Pencil and challenge Samsung's Galaxy Note 9. That did not occur so Samsung still offers a unique feature with the S Pen.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

The Apple Pencil is an excellent tool for iPad owners and there were rumors that Apple would add Pencil support to the new iPhones. Three new iPhones were announced yesterday, but Apple Pencil support was not one of the new functions.

It has been more than a month since I started using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, see our full review, and the S Pen has been ejected and used multiple times every single day. It is essential to my productivity and I am not sure I can give it up on the Note 9 to go to an iPhone Xs Max.

While I was interested in seeing what Apple might have done with the Pencil on an iPhone, the inability to carry the Apple Pencil in the iPhone is a non-starter. This is one failure of the Apple Pencil with the iPad, not to mention with the Pixelbook and Microsoft Surface as well, and having to have a case or some other mechanism to carry around a stylus is not a very effective solution.

Many Samsung products provide silos for the stylus and the Galaxy Note 9 sets the bar for functionality. If the stylus is not readily available all of the time, experience indicates it will not become a critical part of the user experience.

I've detailed why the S Pen is a differentiator and the many ways it enhances the user experience while improving productivity. Given the usefulness of the Apple Pencil on the iPad, it would have been interesting to see what Apple could have brought to the new iPhone. Given the massive 6.5 inch display of the iPhone Xs Max, it seems to be perfect for stylus use.

The stylus may be a relic of a bygone era, but Samsung continues to innovate with it and the new Bluetooth capability takes it to the next level of productivity. The Galaxy Note 9 is currently at the top of our 10 best smartphones list and the S Pen is likely to be a major factor in keeping it there for some time.

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