Samsung S Pen reflections: A differentiator in a saturated smartphone market

Color is one way we have seen manufacturers distinguish one smartphone from another, but Samsung's S Pen is a differentiator with substantial productivity enhancements. It also helps aging smartphone users in a couple of ways.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

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The rate of smartphone sales has flattened as the market has become saturated with smartphones. This has led to less excitement for new phones, but I personally cannot wait to see what Samsung announces with the Galaxy Note 9 in just over a week.

There is little to distinguish smartphones from each another with color variations becoming more popular today as one attempt to make a phone unique. However, Samsung's Galaxy Note line continues to stand apart thanks to the S Pen.

When I used Samsung Note devices a few years ago, the S Pen novelty would wear off after a couple of weeks. Things have been different with the Note 8 and are likely to get much more exciting with the Note 9. The S Pen is now an essential tool on the Note 8 and even nine months later I use the S Pen many times throughout the day.

There is a lot you can do with the S Pen and I won't reiterate all of the functionality it offers. However, here are some ways the S Pen is essential for me:

  • Magnify: I'm almost 50 and my eyes are changing so I readers are now essential to my day. While you can blow up the text size on your smartphone in the settings, this changes teh overall experience too much for me. The S Pen gives me a quick and easy way to magnify exactly where I hover the S Pen. You can choose from two sizes of magnification area and select 150, 200, 250, or 300 percent magnification. When you cannot find readers and just want to get things done with the Note in your hand the S Pen is wonderful for helping you view the screen.
  • Finger replacement: Another effect of aging is having fingers that aren't as agile as they once were. With a Note in hand, the S Pen is a much more comfortable way for me to navigate around the device and it also makes it easier to view the display without my fat fingers blocking the screen. My fingers always present challenges when selecting text too, but the S Pen offers perfect text selection every time.
  • Live message: My daughters often use emojis in messages and I just haven't come to use them much myself. However, I find that Live Messages give me a chance to offer something unique and personal to the conversation so use it all the time.
  • Screen off notes: The ability to pop out the S Pen and write a note on the display is a key function of the S Pen. It has proven essential over time as I develop an idea, task, or thought and need to capture it quickly before I move on to something else. This is one of the best functions Samsung has ever added to the Note line.
  • Coloring: I only recently discovered the Coloring option in the Air Command selector, but find it rather relaxing to sit on the train and color black and white pictures with the S Pen. Coloring books are now made today for adults and this option on the Note gives you a way to enjoy this experience right on your phone.

Current rumors and leaks indicate the new S Pen will incorporate a Blutooth radio and may provide the ability to control music, act as a remote camera shutter, launch features with the touch of the button, and possibly even setup custom actions with a single or double press of the S Pen button. While I find the S Pen essential now, it looks like it will become more useful for more people soon.

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