Samsung patents S Pen featuring built-in camera with optical zoom

With its Galaxy Note 9, Samsung brought Bluetooth functionality to its celebrated S Pen, allowing users to use the stylus as a long-range shutter button – perfect for taking selfies and group photos from a distance.

Now, it appears that Samsung is looking to expand the S Pen's photo taking functionality with the inclusion of a built-in camera, according to a patent that was officially granted today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

As reported by Patently Mobile, the patent, which was originally filed in February of 2017, involves an "electric pen device" with an "optical system including a lens and an image sensor", allowing a camera to be "controlled from the external electronic device." 

You can check out the various drawings and diagrams from the submission in Patently Mobile's tidy graphic below.

Image credit: Patently Mobile

Image credit: Patently Mobile

Optical zoom functionality has long been considered an obstacle for phone manufacturers, due to the added thickness it brings to a handset's form factor. 

However, moving that optical zoom functionality to an external device (such as the Note Series' famous S Pen) would cleverly side-step this hurdle entirely. If used for selfies, it could also make pinhole cameras and notch cutouts a thing of the past, at least in theory. 

Of course, it's been two years since this patent was initially filed, so there's no guarantee that Samsung is still planning to implement a camera in its S Pen in the Galaxy Note 10 (or any other Note for that matter). Still, it doesn't hurt to dream!

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.