Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra Will Reportedly Get S-Pen Support

Illustration for article titled Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra Will Reportedly Get S-Pen Support
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Samsung’s mobile chief recently said the Korean electronics giant wants to bring the Galaxy Note experience to more phones, and now a new FCC filing seems to have confirmed that at least one model of the Galaxy S21 is getting S-Pen stylus support.

In a new FCC filing first noticed by Android Authority, a device with the model number SMG998B (which is suspected to be the Galaxy S21 Ultra) has appeared alongside a report that says: “The EUT can also used with a stylus device (S-PEN). The EUT operates with the S-PEN in two different inductive coupling modes of S-PEN motion detection (Hover and Click) operating in the range of 0.53–0.6MHz.”

This means that in addition to the Galaxy S21 supporting the S-Pen for general sketching and note-taking, it would also allow users to hover the S-Pen over certain UI elements to get additional information or function similarly to a traditional mouse pointer when browsing the web.

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In addition to S-Pen support, the FCC filing also includes info on a number of wireless features, such as support for ultra wideband communication (listed as UWB), wireless and reverse wireless charging, NFC, and Wi-Fi 6E.

However, while this FCC filing seems to confirm S-Pen support for the Galaxy S21 Ultra (which has been widely rumored to be launching sometime in January), it’s unclear if the S21 Ultra will come with a built-in garage to store the S-Pen like you get on a traditional Galaxy Note. It’s also unclear if Samsung will bundle the S-Pen with the S21 Ultra, or if it will be available as a separate add-on.

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However, when it comes to the S-Pen in general, the bigger question still remains: What’s going to happen to the Galaxy Note line as a whole? Previous rumors from leakers such as Ice Universe and others claimed that Samsung currently has no current plans to release a new Galaxy Note phone in 2021, and will instead opt to add S-Pen support to a wider range of Galaxy phones.

On a broad level, that move makes a lot of sense. The S-Pen is really the Galaxy Note line’s only defining characteristic now that phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra have screens that are just as big and cameras that are just as good (if not better) than what you can get from the most expensive Galaxy Note. And if you look outside of phones, Samsung has already started adding S-Pen support to other categories of devices, including its tablets and laptops like the Galaxy Book Flex.

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However, it might be somewhat foolish to completely discount consumer sentiment. The original Galaxy Note basically started the trend towards larger and larger displays, making the Galaxy Note line unquestionably iconic and one of the few phone brands that people outside the tech world can easily recognize. Recently, it seems these considerations may have caused Samsung to at least reconsider its plans, when an anonymous Samsung official defied rumors and told Yonhap News last week that Samsung is indeed “preparing to release the Galaxy Note series next year.”

So while the fate of the Galaxy Note line is still very much undecided, at the very least, it seems stylus fans may not have to wait until the next Note to pick up a new handset with S-Pen support.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

Prediction: It will not have a built-in holder for the pen. Instead, Samsung’s proprietary cases will store / recharge the pen.