Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra owners are complaining the S Pen ‘smells so bad’

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra S Pen.
(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the best Android phones you can buy, featuring outstanding cameras, stellar battery life, and a slew of new AI features. But Samsung's latest flagship has one major flaw that users just can't ignore: The S Pen stylus smells rank. 

Talk of the S Pen's aroma kicked off earlier this week after Reddit user LatifYil noted in a post that the S Pen on their Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra “absolutely reeks.” "Either I have a sensitive nose or this thing is being barbequed by the internals while it's unsheathed," they said. 

The post has chalked up over 250 comments from users commiserating about the S Pen's unpleasant scent, either having noticed it already or upon taking an experimental whiff after reading the post. The top-rated comment reads: "Can confirm it's a stinky boi." Others described the smell as "burnt plastic," "like new tech with a hint of burning," or, my favorite: "smells like cybertruck." 

Some users speculated that a chemical component could be to blame for the bad smell, similar to the bitterant added to Nintendo Switch game cartridges to keep the potential choking hazard out of children's mouths. To test this theory, one brave user licked their S Pen in the name of science, but found it didn't taste as bitter as Switch cartridges (How did they know that? Don't worry about it).  

As noted by SamMobile, a moderator on Samsung's EU community forum offered this explanation for the surprisingly malodorous accessory: 

"This isn’t anything to be concerned about. While the S Pen is in its holster, it is close to the internal components of the phone, which will generate heat while in use, and cause the plastic to heat up. This can smell like burning, but it is similar to the smell you might experience after leaving your car in the sun for a few hours. The seats and plastic fittings in the vehicle might smell hot, but this will diminish after it cools."

Mystery solved! The S Pen smells that way because the heat generated by the Galaxy S24 Ultra's internals is cooking the stylus's plastic shell. The dedicated journalists over at 9to5 Google gave previous S Pen models the sniff test to see if this has been a reoccurring issue. The team noticed the same burnt plastic smell on the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra as well. But surprisingly, the S Pen on the Galaxy Note S20 Ultra was fragrance-free. The outlet speculates that may be because it's an older model of S Pen, which sports more of a glossy finish, while the latest S Pens incorporate a rubbery top coating to add more grip to the stylus.

Granted, you aren't likely to notice the S Pen's smell unless you put it right up to your nose (as no doubt a lot of folks will do after reading this article). While it's not a room-clearing stench by any means, it is odd that it's stuck around on a device that at this point is more than two years old. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.

Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.