Two new S Pens coming to Galaxy S21 Ultra — what you need to know

S Pen
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S21, and with it announced that the Galaxy S21 Ultra would feature S Pen support for the first time. Interestingly, two S Pen models are set to launch, with a pro model coming later this year.

Traditionally, only the Galaxy Note line featured S Pen functionality. But with rumors that 2021 might be the Galaxy Note's last, Samsung is now shifting S Pen functionality to its Ultra line of devices. 

What's the S Pen Pro?

S Pen Pro

(Image credit: Samsung)

The S Pen Pro is a souped-up version of the standard S Pen. It's larger overall, providing a better grip and tactility. It has Bluetooth functionality, which will allow users to tap into Air Actions to swipe or snap photos remotely, control music, or click through a PowerPoint presentation. 

The S Pen Pro will work with Samsung's "latest S Pen supported Galaxy devices," Samsung said during its Galaxy Unpacked event. This probably means it works with newer Note models, but not ones from prior years. 

The standard S Pen is seeing minor improvements over last year's model too. It's slightly larger, giving better grip.

Is the S Pen included with the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Unlike the Note line, the S Pen will be sold separately from the S21 Ultra. Users will need to spring for an accompanying case if they need somewhere to stash the S Pen, as there's no way to holster it with the Galaxy S21 Ultra like there is on the Note lineup.These are all added expenses. 

There are two case models — both including the standard S Pen — and each will run for $69.99. The S Pen itself will cost $40. 

Pricing for the S Pen pro was not unveiled. Existing S Pens from the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab will work with the S21 Ultra.

But it's not just Samsung creating pens for its devices. The company announced that uni, Staedtler, Wacom, and LAMY are all making Galaxy-compatible pens.

Is the S Pen worth buying?

Fans of the Galaxy Note series swear by the S Pen. Not only does it allow users to write or take notes, it offers mouse-like precision on a touch screen device. Imagine editing a photo or video on your phone. Doing so with pinpoint accuracy allows editing minute details much easier.

But it's definitely a special use-case item, one not necessary for all users. For those in which writing or drawing on their handset is absolutely critical, then yes, the S Pen is likely an important buy. But for those that like to use their phones for more standard functions, like web browsing, music, video and games, it's likely not as necessary. 

Considering the S21 Ultra starts at $1,199 for the 128GB model with 12GB of RAM, adding an extra $70 case/S Pen expense isn't too out of the ordinary. It remains to be seen if the S Pen Pro will be worth the price when it launches later this year.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.