Sure, it’s not for everyone. If you don’t use the S Pen, the Note series is frankly not worth the asking price. If you do, however it makes every other premium flagship phone on the market look severely lacking.
Allow me to explain…
It lets you recoup wasted time
The Note is a productivity phone. It’s about reclaiming time which would otherwise be lost to waiting around. Waiting for a bus or train? Stuck in traffic? Your date is late? On a long flight with only a cheap G&T and recycled movies for comfort? You can spend less time suffering through the wait and put those minutes (and sometimes hours) to good use. Put on some earbuds, tune into your favourite music, and sketch or illustrate the time away. People who don’t draw will not understand the satisfaction of being able to pull out your phone and bring to life whatever is in your head, in full colour, anytime, anywhere, bringing nothing but your phone.
It’s a visual communication tool
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And certainly being able to write on any picture you take is a design tool few designers wouldn’t appreciate. When you can do it with the pinpoint precision of an SPen, it’s something you reach for again and again.
The Note lets you not only jot down notes on your pictures, it also has tools that pop up to crop out just the parts you want. Rather than hiding these functions in apps, they pop up right when you take out the pen. This sort of seamless integration is what makes the Note a real time-saver for designers and anyone who wants to communicate ideas quickly.
It’s actually a great illustration tool once you get used to it
And you DO get used to it. Yes, it’s a small surface compared to a Wacom tablet, or iPad Pro, but it fits in your pocket, and it’s something you are carrying around with you anyway. It’s not about what’s better, it’s about what you can do with what you carry around. They say the best camera is the one you have on you, well this is also true for illustration tools.
It’s not a one or the other sort of deal either. Most of the pro-grade drawing apps on Android will happily export a nice layered psd file, which you can use in Photoshop or GIMP, and pick up right where you left off. Pinch-zoom helps you get into the detail, and the Note series has the specs (memory and processor speed) to support very high resolution detailed illustration work.
It’s the fastest, least distracting way to jot down notes for later
Over and over – someone wants to suggest a book or movie, or give you a phone number or email address. So you unlock your phone, fumble through apps to find whatever best fits the information given. Meanwhile the conversation is on pause, or at best continues in a half-listening “please say that again, because I was trying to find gmail” sort of way. Well Samsung actually devised what I’d consider the most ingenious solution to this recurring problem- simply take your S Pen out of the phone, and start writing. No unlocking necessary, just pull out the pen, write down what you want to remember, and put the pen back in. Done. Conversation continues uninterrupted by technology getting in the way.
So why do people dislike the S Pen?
This is something I can only guess at. It’s not like Samsung is forcing anyone to buy it, or offering only phones with pens. Complaining about the S Pen is akin to looking over at the table next to yours, see people enjoying a beautiful, carefully crafted dish, and demanding to the manager it be taken off the menu.
Samsung offers a variety of top spec phones to choose from which do not feature the S Pen. Why don’t these people just buy that? My thought is that having no perceived use for the S Pen themselves, they have decided it’s worthless, and should be done away with… because surely everyone should be as boring as they are in their phone use.
I can only assume these people have no sense of fun. I mean just the quantity of neat features packed into the S Pen and Note software seems designed to encourage play. Here’s a good sampling of them:
The tech toy and fun value of this thing is through the roof! But no, it seems some people have no imagination at all. This is why we can’t have nice things.
The Note is the only luxury-priced smart phone worth the asking price
I always like to end a post like this with a controversial statement… but this isn’t one of them. The only reason I buy Samsung phones at all is the S Pen. It’s the one feature that I can’t get on any other phone, and which saves me lots of time. It’s simple really- a phone is a tool to me. The investment has to recoup me the time I put into earning the money to buy the thing. With the extortionate prices of even standard flagships these days, there’s so very little reason to go with the top-end models when you can get everything you would use in premium flagships in devices which cost less than half the price. But if you want to get lost time back doing something productive, and you like to draw and digitally paint, the Note may be worth it for you. If not, that’s cool, but kindly stop complaining and let others enjoy their meal.