A new Ultra phone is right around the corner, and it is not the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra! Way before that, Samsung is preparing to launch the next generation of its powerful Galaxy series, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the beastly flagship in the family. Expected to come with a more powerful processor and a new 200MP camera sensor, the upcoming S23 Ultra is the most anticipated Android phone of 2023. But while Samsung is focused on improving those essential areas, I feel like the company is also making one big miscalculation . Worse yet, that miscalculation seems to be at the core of Samsung’s strategy!
There is one feature that makes this phone special, unique if you will. And that is without a doubt the built-in S Pen stylus. No other mainstream flagship has it. And for some people, the S Pen is THE reason they buy a Galaxy.
So am I suggesting to… remove it? Before you jump on me and accuse me of trying to kill that user favorite feature, let me explain.
The S Pen: a double-edged sword for Samsung
(Image Credit – PhoneArena) S Pen
The S Pen is great for SOME people, and those people have made it clear that they not only like it — they love it and often can’t live without it. All good! But what is the actual percentage of people using the S Pen on a regular basis?
Well, it turns out it’s not all that great! In a poll we conducted among our YouTube audience, when asked whether users need a stylus built into their phones, 28% responded with a ‘yes’, and 60% said ‘no’, with the other 11% unsure.
Most people don’t need a stylus built inside their phone
The numbers might be slightly different depending on the group you are polling, but you get the gist and the numbers are telling: the overwhelming majority of people don’t need a stylus!
And this is actually a massive problem for a company that insists on including it with their flagship phone!
Come to think about it, those numbers are not exactly surprising: if the majority of people needed a stylus there would be more companies offering phones with stylus, but there simply aren’t.
The S Pen is also not something exactly tiny like a headphone jack or a port: it’s a massive thing that takes up a lot of space inside the phone. Quite the waste for something the majority of users don’t need, don’t you think?
(Image Credit – Creative Electron) The S Pen takes up A LOT of space inside the S22 Ultra
And then comes the other question, how many people of those who need an S Pen, actually need it EVERY DAY? That is to say, how many actually want it to be built inside the phone, and how many would be just fine with an S Pen that you can occasionally carry in a case like was the case on the Galaxy S21 Ultra?
All of those questions lead me to one thought and that is how extremely strange it is that Samsung offers users no option! It would be nice to be able to have the most capable Samsung flagship phone without an S Pen… if you aren’t ever going to use it!
Could this be the best new Galaxy Ultra feature?
At the same time, an interesting counterpoint to the rarely used S Pen is a feature that is commonly used dozens or hundreds of times every day, yet is not included in the Galaxy. Yes, we are talking about proper 3D face recognition!
Samsung’s Galaxy phones do support image-based face recognition, but it is not as secure as a fingerprint scanner, it does not work in challenging conditions, and is overall not reliable enough to be your main biometric solution.
I imagine a lot more people would enjoy using a Galaxy with some sort of 3D Face ID, an iPhone of sorts in the Android world.
And it’s not like 3D Face ID is something incredibly complex to create: Huawei introduced its own 3D face unlock less than a year after Apple debuted Face ID (hey there Huawei Mate 20 Pro), and Huawei’s one was faster and perfectly reliable. Samsung could easily make this happen and I imagine the benefits of such a move would be great.
One caveat with a 3D Face ID solution is that you need to have a notch, which admittedly some people may not like, but judging by iPhone sales, a notch is definitely not a deal-breaker.
Removing the S Pen opens a thousand new possibilities
Additionally, a new Galaxy flagship without an S Pen might be an incredible opportunity for Samsung!
Imagine the next Galaxy having a 6,000mAh battery instead of the S Pen! In the current landscape, Apple’s iPhone Pro Max series dominate the high-end smartphone market and a big part of that dominance has a lot to do with the incredible battery life. The Galaxy has an opportunity to finally match or even outlast the best iPhone in terms of battery life. I cannot think of a better reason for Samsung to offer an S Pen-free version of the Galaxy!
But would offering a second version of the Galaxy Ultra make life harder for Samsung? Of course… slightly! The company already sells dozens of phones at all price points, it could easily make two versions of its flagship. The question is not so much about the ability to produce such a device but in the presence of two versions of a flagship… oh wait, are you saying that is exactly what Samsung was doing just a couple of years ago? Yep, you are correct, so it definitely can be done!
An S Pen-free Galaxy might use that vacated space for other creative ventures too: larger camera sensors? Another incredible opportunity! All those camera phones out of China with a 1-inch sensor are taking over the market and Samsung can finally jump on that bandwagon.
An additional, fifth camera? A crazy, but also incredibly exciting idea!
A more compact Galaxy Ultra?
Heck, all of these ideas sound way more exciting than an S Pen for a person who never uses one!
(Image Credit – PhoneArena)
For Samsung, however, the S Pen is more than a stylus. It’s a symbol of the brand. It’s nostalgic.
It would be a very difficult decision for the leadership team at Samsung to offer a flagship without an S Pen, a change of strategy maybe, but I absolutely see it as the correct one. Give users who want an S Pen, the S Pen version, but don’t force the majority of other users to get a phone with a feature they will never use.
But it might be Samsung sales that dictate this move. Recent leaks for the Galaxy S23 Ultra show an incredibly iterative update that will hardly convince non-loyal users to switch. Samsung needs to inject new life into the series, it needs to stir things up a bit. As risky as removing the S Pen might seem, this is its golden chance to do that.