Ahead of Samsung's scheduled August release of the Galaxy Note 9, many features and specs for the device have already leaked. So far, as noted by Russian tech reporter Eldar Murtazin, the device will look almost exactly the same as its predecessor, but with upgrades to the camera, display, battery, and storage, among other things.
However, as a recent Samsung FCC submission shows, the Galaxy Note 9 will also include a change for its S Pen stylus: Bluetooth connectivity. The filing was originally spotted by Droid-Life, which noted that the S Pen will carry the model number EJ-PN960, and will connect to the device itself through 2.4GHz Bluetooth LE.
So, what will this actually enable users to do? According to a tweet from known leaker Ice Breaker, this could allow users to remotely trigger timers, or to click the pen to control music playback. Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly has posited that it could be used "like a digital pen on other surfaces," as a clicker to advance presentation slides, or could pair with other Samsung devices.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
While the idea of an independent stylus is interesting, there are no practical use cases for it among the Note 9's target audience—power users and business professionals. Additionally, as Kelly pointed out, the connected S Pen will need its own battery, thereby adding weight to the device.
Writing on a surface and connecting to a phone seems like it would be useful, but to what end? The idea would likely be to have handwritten notes transferred to the device via Bluetooth, but a general purpose connected ink pen would work better for such a task. Or, for brainstorming, a connected whiteboard marker could share written ideas to a collaborative document. However, even this idea could be better served by connected whiteboards like Google's Jamboard.
In its currently-proposed setup, the Galaxy Note 9 S Pen could provide real value if Samsung leveraged the connectivity to add gesture control. This could be especially useful when combined with the predictive Swype keyboard in Android to help mobile professionals more quickly type out messages and work documents.
The Samsung Galaxy Note series has a die-hard following, especially in the enterprise, who live and die by the S Pen. For a Bluetooth-connected pen to be successful, it must really add value in the areas that these users need—productivity, efficiency, and collaboration.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- An FCC filing indicates that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will have a Bluetooth-connected S Pen stylus.
- A connected S Pen, in its proposed form, doesn't add enough value for core Galaxy Note users in the enterprise.
- Digital transformation: A CXO's guide (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)
- Samsung will reveal Galaxy Note 9 at August 9 event (ZDNet)
- Samsung Galaxy S9: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9's S Pen will multitask thanks to Bluetooth (CNET)
- Android privacy and security starter kit (Download.com)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.