Samsung's S Pen makes the Galaxy Note 8 a truly portable artists' tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the only current-gen smartphone that packs an S Pen. This tool, when combined with the Wacom digitizer under the curved Gorilla Glass 5 screen, supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That’s the same kind of tech found in most graphic designer tablets. 

But while specs, numbers and tech is all good, what’s it like in real life?

The design of the S Pen is small, slotting into the bottom-right of the phone. Despite the S Pen’s size, it’s comfortable to hold for bouts of about one to two hours thanks to the fact it’s a bit flat. Holding it for much longer may result in hand cramp, especially for larger hands.

Perfect precision

The 0.7mm tip is also precise, with a guide dot appearing on the screen as you hover it lower than 1cm above the display. This is incredibly useful, and shows off the incredible precision of the screen’s pen calibration as the pen tip homes in on the dot guide.

As for sketching, the out-of-the box app, S Note, is multi-purpose, but limited for artists. 

Downloading a third-party app like Autodesk Sketchbook or Infinite Painter through the Google Play Store is the way to go. 

These apps add priceless features like layers and a range of brushes and tools, not to mention multiple export settings to the mix. You can even export your drawing as a PSD file and edit it in Photoshop at your computer.

The caveat

It isn’t perfect, though. 

The Galaxy Note 8 has curved edges, so when the S Pen reaches the sides of the screen, pressure sensitivity shifts and the experience suffers. That quibble aside, there really is nothing out now that fits in your pocket and can do what this can. 

Check out the speed sketch above for a real-world example of exactly what Samsung’s latest smartphone can do.

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.