The stylus can sometimes feel like an outdated accessory, which only served a real purpose back when smartphone touch screens were still mostly resistive. However, devices such as the iPad Pro and the Galaxy Note series of phablets have featured fantastically precise, modern styluses perfect to use with these types of larger-sized displays.
Earlier this month, Samsung released the latest handset in the Galaxy Note series – named the Note 7 – and introduced us to plenty of new and exciting features, such as the inclusion of a futuristic iris scanner as a means of unlocking the phone. But one of the biggest upgrades the new Note phablet is getting comes in the form of its stylus, the famous S-Pen, which is now reaching magic-wand levels of performance magic (or at least, it’s almost there.)
We take a look at what makes the Note 7’s S-Pen the best stylus we’ve ever seen.
With a much smaller pen tip than the previous generations at only 0.7mm – down from 1.6mm on the Note 5, which was never released in the UK –, the brand new S-Pen is the most precise stylus from Samsung yet.
The pen’s pressure sensitivity is better than ever with 4,096 levels of sensitivity, which is twice what the Note 5 featured. This is especially useful for those of us who enjoy drawing on their phones, from doodles to oil-painted masterpieces: the updated software on the Note 7 now allows users to blend digital oil paints into each other on the screen to create beautiful paintings, and the pen’s sensitivity allows for different brushstrokes and lines.
Since the Galaxy Note 7 is waterproof (up to a certain extent – it scored an IP rating of 68, which means it’ll survive being plunged in water for up to 30 minutes, as deep as 1.5 metres), it made sense to create a new S-Pen that wouldn’t stop working if it got caught in the rain.
You can even use the stylus when the phone’s screen is wet, so you’ll be able to jot down some very important notes in the middle of a rain shower (or a regular shower – are we the only ones who always come up with brilliant ideas when we’re washing our hair?)
The new S-Pen now boasts an intuitive translation feature, which works through Google Translate. Users can simply hover their stylus over a word (or even a picture) to translate it immediately.
While it’s sure to prove very useful for travellers who might need to translate a few words at a time (like in a restaurant, for instance), the main drawback of this app is its inability to translate whole sentences or paragraphs. We’re hoping this will become a possibility with some future updates.
The new Notes app is one of the best things about the Galaxy Note 7. Described by Samsung as a way to store “everything you do with the S-Pen”, the updated version serves as a hub for every note made by the user – divided in categories such as text, handwriting, drawing, images, voice – with easier access to the content.
What’s more, it’s now possible to take note without unlocking the screen. The Note 7’s always-on screen is able to detect when the S-Pen has been taken out, and it will turn completely black to allow users to write down their notes straight away. The note will then be saved in the app as usual.
There’s no denying it: animated GIFs rule the world (no matter how you pronounce it.) Samsung understands this, which is why it’s added a brand new Smart Select feature to the Note 7, which allows users to select part of a video (like a YouTube or Vimeo video, for example) to record it as a GIF.
All you need to do is select Smart Select from the Air Command (a series of shortcuts which are automatically displayed on the screen when the stylus is removed from its hole) before starting a video, define the area you want to capture, and choose where to start and end the recording – the Note 7 will then automatically create a shareable GIF, up to 15 seconds long.