While we have a pretty good idea of how the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 will look and perform at this point, one of the big known unknowns is the S Pen. We know that it’s going to have a faster response time than ever, which should make it feel more like pen on paper, but does it have any new tricks up its sleeve?
Well, according to a new video from YouTuber Jimmy is Promo, the answer is yes. The leaker seems to have got his hands on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and gives us a quick tour around the S Pen menu in the clip embedded below.
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The main addition is the ability to use the S Pen as a pointer with a long press of the button and a shake of the stylus. You can then navigate the screen from a short distance, interacting with items by pressing the button, kind of like you would with a mouse pointer on a desktop PC. Scrolling down pages is handled by holding down the button, and then physically moving the S Pen up and down.
Double pressing and holding the button will switch it into ‘spotlight’ mode, where the whole page goes dark and your pointer becomes a large circle of light, letting you highlight key parts of the page you’re on. There are additional options to change the tracking speed, the icon size and to make it one of eight colors.
How useful is this? Well, not hugely for the vast majority of the time. It’s not clear how far away the pointer will work from, but it’s kind of a moot point: the Note 20 Ultra’s screen is big, but it’s not that big. Bluntly, if you’re close enough to see what’s going on, then you’re close enough to touch the screen yourself like you do with every other smartphone out there.
Where it will come into its own is when it’s combined with the previously leaked upgrade to Samsung DeX (the somewhat awkwardly named “Desktop Experience”). That feature is reportedly going wireless, meaning you’ll be able to output your screen to nearby TVs and monitors.
At that point, being able to use your S Pen as a pointer becomes a game changer. Presentations in meetings — especially with the spotlight mode — become much easier to deliver. Even if the controls sound a little tricky to remember for a feature that you won’t be committing to muscle memory by using every day of the week.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is set to launch in just over a week’s time at the company’s next Unpacked event on August 5. While we’re expecting different versions, all will be powered by the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus (or Exynos 990 in non-US regions) backed by 8- to 12GB RAM. While the regular version likely will have a plastic back and be limited to 60Hz, the Ultra model will come with a 120Hz screen and all the usual trimmings you’d expect from a high-end Samsung flagship.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.