A handful of reports published towards the end of last year, suggested that samsung, in a bid to more fully focus on devices like its foldables, would push off or even discontinue the note line entirely, but shortly afterwards, a another anonymous source who says they work at samsung. Told one of korea’s major news agencies that yeah no the galaxy note is definitely still a thing we’re, just gon na wait until next year to release them, which is fine, but it sort of lacks the definitiveness you’d get. If someone like tm row, for example, just came out and said, no don’t worry we’re still going to keep making those phones that you like. Until we hear something like that, though, all we can really do is speculate and, in my case, try out something that’s kind of meant to be an alternative i’m talking, of course, about the galaxy s21, which we reviewed a few weeks ago and actually really kind of Enjoyed but that’s, obviously only half of the equation: samsung now sells a version of the s pen, a 40 stylus, specifically for the s21 ultra and, more importantly, it also sells that pen with a case for an extra 30, so 70 bucks total gets you something that Kind of sort of makes the s21 ultra feel. Like a galaxy note, a proper galaxy note. It should be exciting, but after living with this thing for about a week, i got ta tell you i’m not sold.
Now. Let me clear a couple things up right out of the gate. That is not at all the fault of the s pen, it’s, honestly kind of a pleasure to use, but that’s me i’ve, always kind of enjoyed the s pen here’s. What i like about it for one it’s huge compared to this little twig, that comes with a galaxy note: 20. Ultra, in this case, the s pen that samsung now sells separately for the s21 ultra is about four inches long it’s a little bit over, but who’s counting, and it just feels so much more comfortable to use because you’re not constantly trying to find the right angle To just hold this tiny, tiny twig of a pen, whether you’re, sketching or you’re, taking down notes comfort, while writing is of huge importance and samsung’s new s pen really delivers on that front. If you’ve ever used a galaxy note before you know that there are a couple things that kind of help define the experience. If you have an s pen, for example – and you hold it within range of your phone, just sort of just above the display, the wacom digitizer can tell the pen is there and sort of lets? You see a cursor moving around more importantly, when you’re within range of that screen just a couple millimeters above you can click the button on the s pen to bring up a palette of shortcuts. So you can create new notes.
Launch apps like pen up translate, make live messages or capture a screenshot and use the s pen to mark them up. These are key parts of the note experience and those, in fact, work really well on the galaxy s21. It does everything you’d expect the classic s. Pen to do – and i do mean classic because within the last few years we’ve seen samsung styluses get really intelligent. They come with bluetooth, low energy and tiny capacitors inside, so they actually do charge and interact with the phone. So you can perform things like those weird magic wand, air gestures and move back and forth through apps and control media and even control your camera, which, unfortunately, is just not on the table here. You’Ll have to wait for a bigger, more expensive version of the s pen called the s pen pro, which is coming later this year, but i’m getting ahead of myself i’m one of those people who really feels like i kind of only process information and commit it To memory when i’m writing it down so getting used to the s pen and just sort of re acclimating to writing stuff down has been, for the most part, a pleasure on the s21 ultra and that’s partially, because in some important ways there there isn’t a huge Difference between what you get on this expensive smartphone and last year’s, expensive smartphone with the s pen, the latency samsung says, is identical between the two.
If you’re running the s21 ultra’s display at its fastest refresh rate, which didn’t always seem to be the case when i was writing our review, i was testing the s21 ultra with this lami uh s, pen, which they like gave out after an event, and i saw Moments where the strokes on screen were sort of trailing pretty dramatically behind the nib itself, which thankfully hasn’t happened with the s pen that samsung itself has made. Even if there are differences there and again, i don’t think you’re really going to notice them. But even if there are when you’re, just sort of writing stuff down when you’re taking notes when you’re transcribing documents or marking up an image, you’re really not going to see anything, the input latency seems at least to my eyes to be barely there it’s, almost instantaneous That said, if you’re an artist, you might sort of lose out on some little fine, precise motions. I certainly haven’t experienced that, but earlier versions of the s pen have tilt detection which basically allow the phone to recognize the angle at which you’re holding the pen and sort of reproduce. The way the stroke would look. If you were drawing with a pen and paper at that same angle, i did not think samsung’s new s pen would be able to do that, because there is no connection really between the pen and the s21 ultra there’s, no bluetooth, it’s. All whatever is happening through that wacom digitizer.
That said, it still does work to an extent. I, when you try out the pencil, for example, you can sort of come in at an angle and do a bit of light. Shading it’s not great, but it doesn’t seem too too different from what i saw in the galaxy note, 20 ultra. There are obviously some edge cases i’m, probably not aware of, and again completely not an artist. But if you have the opportunity, as a digital art enthusiast to try out the s pen with a galaxy s21 ultra before buying, i really strongly recommend you take that time. For the most part, though, this thing just behaves the way you would expect in s pen too, which in my book at least, is a pretty significant compliment. I’Ve used these things for years on and off, and i always really enjoy the time i spend with them, and that is very much the same here as well. I got ta say, though this case is not great, and that is where realistically 98 of my complaints lie for one it’s made of silicone, which is itself not necessarily a bad thing, but it just means that this case suffers from all the other issues that all The other silicone cases out there fall prey to so it gets kind of grimy looking really easily. It picks up finger oils and sort of doesn’t look very nice. After a while, it picks up lint like crazy too, but that’s obvious it sort of goes in and out of a pocket and sort of grips.
Everything on the way out. My bigger issue is that this thing is, i mean it’s, big that’s, a very obvious complaint, but it is one of the things i’ve really struggled to wrap my head and my hands around for the past few days. The galaxy s21 ultra is already a big phone. I’M throwing a case on it that gives it just like a couple extra millimeters of stuff on the side. Now, with that in mind, i do not know what samsung really could have done. I mean if, at the end of the day, their job was to make a case you put the s pen into so you don’t lose the s pen. I applaud the sentiment and of course, it’s gon na make this thing kind of enormous. Oh and another thing, the s pen slots into these cases left side, because the right side of the s21 ultra is just covered in buttons. My only issue – and this is a very – is very much a me thing like don’t don’t – dwell on this too much, but i i’ve not been able to just like rewire my muscle memory to be able to just like pull out the s ped. With my left hand, i just it’s it’s a total dud. I can’t do anything with it. That means whenever i am in a grocery store or standing out somewhere and want to jot something down, i have to pull out the thing.
I’Ve got to sort of do a quick, little awkward juggle and then pull the s pen out with my right hand and flip it back and then do whatever it is. I want it to do. That’S, a very specifically me thing, but i know i know a lot of other people are gon na run into that same thing. That said, if you’re a lefty good job, this one’s for you, there is one more thing i got ta say i do not like about this case. There is a bit right near the usbc charging port, where the material gets really thin and kind of moves around a lot without too much effort. I could definitely see that getting sort of stuck on my keys as i’m, trying to pull out of my pocket or or snagging on something in my backpack, just just like a little extra material samsung, just like a little bit more would have made me feel a Whole lot better. So, at the end of the day, this case and this s pen will again not magically turn your galaxy s21 ultra into a full blown galaxy note, but it does get close in some important ways if it were up to me just ditch the case entirely. Make a promise to yourself that you’re not going to lose the s pen and buy a 40 s pen, or if you really want to see what the full note experience can look like on a galaxy s phone you can wait to the s.