No alternatives: The trials of a smartphone stylus lover
I need to get a new phone. Right now I'm using a Galaxy Note 3 which, while it has served me well, has gotten a bit like a sleepy old man. It's hard to wake up, slow to respond, and just doesn't seem to "get" all these newfangled websites that are coming out. So, I need a new phone. And you'd think with all of the choice out there, finding a new sleek piece of tech to slip into my pocket wouldn't be a problem. But, you see, I've had an affair of the heart and it's ruined me to the point that just any old phone simply won't do. I have fallen in love with my stylus.
As a writer who actually likes to, well, write — rather than type, swipe or thumb — I've come to rely on that little wondrous stick that slides in and out of my Note 3 so efficiently, so neatly, so sexily, so … well, you get the point.
I don't really use the full functionality of the plastic pen, I pretty much just use it to jot down shopping lists on the sticky note app and occasionally scribble a few lines of poetry down in a dark corner of a bar late at night, most of which no one will ever read. But still, I've come to rely on that stylus like a cop relies on his walkie talkie. It's become my pal, paramour and partner and I just can't leave it behind (I also have to admit that it's still pretty cool to slide out that impressive stick to capture someone's phone number by actually writing on my phone's face.)
Sure there are temptresses out there. The Galaxy S7 Edge with its sexy curves. The iPhone 6S Plus with all of its big and beautiful, um, Macness. The naughty leather back of the LG G4. The HTC One M9 with its talk-dirty-to-me front-facing speakers. But none of them harbor that deep internal beauty I seek — the stylus.
And yes, there are cases that hold styluses (or styli depending on your grammatical proclivities), and apps that allow input from them, but that just seems so inelegant (not to mention stylus input without an active digitizer inside the phone is just simulating finger touches). Plus, I'm not looking to make an already big phone bigger with a clunky case.
So, as much as I'm ready for a new phone — and the new Edge is certainly whispering to me through the ether — I find that I'm going to have to wait until the Galaxy Note 6 comes out later this year. Sure, I could go with the Note 5 right now, but if some of the rumors can be believed, the Note 6 will have a lot more power under its hood (and perhaps the water resistance and expandable storage from the S7 series), and the only thing I like more than a stylus in my phone is speedy performance.
And, before you accuse this article of being a commercial for Samsung, let it be known that I'd happily consider another brand of phone — any brand, in fact, that would just offer a built-in stylus with the same specs offered by the Note line.
There is, of course, the LG Stylo that came out in July of last year, but its screen resolution and camera pale in comparison to my Note that was released in 2013 — and will certainly be significantly inferior to what we'll find in the Note 6. So that's pretty much it in terms of stylus-phone competitors.
When you think about it, isn't it kind of strange that no one else has picked up on this little bit of tech? You'd think that, in an industry where brands steal from each other as frequently as The One Percent steals from the working man, surely someone else would have become stylus curious? Surely there's room to slip one in under the sleek shell of the 6s Plus? Hey, Apple already committed Steve Jobs blasphemy by making a stylus for its latest iPads (above) – Apple Pencil support for the iPhone 7 would do the trick. Or how about planting one next to the battery in that slide-out tray in the LG G5?
It makes sense that Samsung leads in this field, considering that the Note line's use of the stylus pretty much saved the gizmo from the trash heap of history, but really – no one else is interested? And considering that Samsung's stylus is still a pretty cheap-feeling stick of plastic, there is certainly room for improvement here.
There was a little bit of buzz around Alcatel's stylus-equipped Hero 2+ phone after last year's Mobile World Congress, but the makers eventually announced that they were pulling the plug on the project and would never release it. It seems that phone makers just don't seem as taken with the simple onboard stylus as much as I am. So that leaves me a single choice for my phone needs, and the Note 6 truly can't get here fast enough for me. It's more forced loyalty than a real choice, but I suppose that's the life of a stylus-obsessed writer.