Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Does a Galaxy S8 stylus accessory make any sense?

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The rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S8 continue to pile up on the Internet like a bad car wreck. The latest such unconfirmed report claims that the company plans to offer its S Pen stylus as an optional accessory for the phone. Previously, the S Pen has been reserved exclusively for the Note family, including the recent, and later recalled, Galaxy Note 7.





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So why would Samsung add the Note’s biggest differentiator to the Galaxy S family? Does this rumor even make any sense?


The rumor in question, and why Samsung would consider such a move


Like all such rumors, a grain of salt is certainly required here. This particular report comes from a Weibo leaker account in China, and therefore is all but impossible to verify at this stage. But what motivation might Samsung have for making this move? First, if you believe certain rumors, the Galaxy S8 might offer a variant with a huge 6-inch display, which of course would make it perfect for the S Pen.


Adding S Pen support could ensure that those disappointed Note 7 owners will stick around



It’s also more than possible that Samsung might be throwing a bone to all those Note 7 owners who had to return the device with no real alternative other than the now aging Note 5. Adding S Pen support could ensure that those disappointed Note 7 owners will stick around and continue to purchase new high-end smartphones from Samsung.


What this might mean for the Note brand




In addition to the S Pen, the Note series also stands apart thanks to its special software which adds a plethora of special features that allow users to make the most of Samsung’s stylus. In order for this accessory to make any sense, Samsung would have to bring these software add-ons over the Galaxy S family as well.

Doing this would effectively render the Note series pointless. The only real difference would be if you wanted the S-Pen baked in, or as an add-on — possibly with a holder built into some kind of case. If Samsung did this, there just wouldn’t be enough of a difference to make the Note family stand out anymore.


Has the Note brand has become irrelevant?


In recent years the Galaxy S series has evolved significantly, and the line between the Note and S phones have become further blurred each year. Once upon a time they shared different key specs, different aesthetic designs, and more. Ever since the Galaxy S6, the two lines have arguably been marching towards assimilation. Maybe now is the time to finally merge the two families together?


Ever since the Galaxy S6, the two lines have arguably been marching towards assimilation.



The fact is that the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 earlier this year was one of the biggest blunders in smartphone history. Samsung has been working hard at damage control, going so far as to roll out updates to the remaining units in the US to prevent its battery from charging, making it a really expensive paperweight. As the Note and S family are already more closely linked together these days, it isn’t completely out of the quesiton that Samsung might considering simply ditching the Note brand, opting to move some of its features over to the Galaxy brand.


Again, it is also possible that adding S Pen support to the Galaxy S8 could be just a stop gap measure by the company.


As we mentioned in a recent editorial, Samsung sent out on-screen messages to Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge owners stating that their devices were safe and not a part of the Note 7 recall. That shows the company knows many, perhaps most, owners of its phones don’t know the difference between the Galaxy S and Note series. Adding stylus support for the S8 will help the few hardcore Note owners get through the gap before Samsung eventually launches the Note 8 in about a year, but everyone else will likely not really care that much.


Honestly, we really don’t know the future




It’s important to remember this is only a rumor. It’s more that possible that this S Pen story is completely off-base, and quite frankly, we would not be surprised if it turned out to be bogus.


Reasons Samsung might consider this move pretty much fall under one of the following scenarios:


  • Samsung realizes the Note brand is too tarnished to continue, but still wants a way to appease S-Pen fans.

  • Samsung plans to release a Note 8 eventually, but want to give S-Pen fans an alternative, stop gap option other than the Note 5.

At the end of the day though, Samsung continues to be a major force in the industry and recent polls suggest Samsung’s brand wasn’t as hurt by this debacle as one might assume. Note users, in particular, tend to be a very loyal breed, and so killing the line completely might really get these fanbase stirred up in a not so great way.


It’s also important to remember that many average users don’t really know the difference between the S and Note lines anyhow, so killing the brand might not make that much of difference to the company’s reputation anyhow — as we highlighted in a recent feature.


What do you think about the possibility of the Samsung Galaxy S8 getting an optional S Pen accessory? Would you buy it along with the phone if it were available, and should Samsung offer this option in the first place, or should it just wait until the next Note phone is launched? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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