Samsung has an opportunity this year to bring more Galaxy Note enthusiasts on board with its iconic flagship series. Last month, the company went against its usual ways by launching two Galaxy Note 10 models instead of a single one. The Galaxy Note 10+ is the version towards which most existing Galaxy Note enthusiasts gravitate, while the Galaxy Note 10 is primarily targeted at newcomers to the S Pen. Technically, this could mean that the 2019 models might be adopted by a considerably higher number of first-time Galaxy Note owners compared to previous years.The S Pen is, of course, the defining feature of the Galaxy Note series, and longtime users are likely very familiar with this tool. Newcomers or new prospective buyers, on the other hand, might be wondering what the S Pen is all about. For them, we have prepared a complete summary of the Galaxy Note 10 S Pen experience out of the box.First, a brief look at the S PenThe S Pen is what makes the Galaxy Note 10 stand apart from most other smartphones. It’s a digital stylus equipped with a physical button, an internal gyroscope, and a clicker button at the top which doesn’t have any practical applications. Its main function is to make the S Pen easier to remove from its slot, and it creates a satisfying clicking sound when it’s pressed. It’s a nice detail that can muster an analog feel when using an otherwise digital tool.
The Galaxy Note 10 S Pen is Bluetooth-enabled and has a small internal battery that lasts for up to 10 hours on a single charge. It recharges automatically when the S Pen is housed inside the phone, so you’ll probably never worry that it will run out of juice. It also has a removable nib and Samsung included two extra nibs along with a removal tool in the box.The S Pen’s internal gyroscope is used for a new feature introduced by Samsung with the Note 10 series, called Air Actions. It’s a bit of a gimmick at this point and we don’t really consider it a part of the core Galaxy Note 10 experience. With that in mind, we won’t go into details about Air Actions right now but you can read more about it in one of our previous stories.Getting to know Air commandAir command is the central point of the S Pen user experience. Think of it as your dedicated apps drawer – or tools drawer – for the S Pen. By default, the Air command menu launches as soon as you remove the S Pen from its slot, presenting a list of S Pen software tools available out of the box.
The Air command menu can also be summoned by tapping the small, circular stylus icon with the tip of the S Pen. This icon, which is visible only when the S Pen is removed, can be relocated anywhere on the screen by dragging and dropping it using the S Pen.
The list of available tools shown inside the Air command menu can be customized but it is restricted to holding only 10 items at a time. You can choose which tools/apps to show up in the list by tapping the cogwheel icon in the lower-left corner of the Air command screen, then tapping Shortcuts.By default, the complete list of Air command tools should contain: AR Doodle, Bixby Vision, Coloring, Create note, Glance, Live messages, Magnify, PENUP, Screen write, Smart select, Translate, View all notes, and Write on calendar.
These are your main S Pen tools available on the Galaxy Note 10 series out of the box, and you will interact with them the most. What follows is a brief overview of each of these aforementioned features (in alphabetical order), but do keep in mind that additional S Pen functionalities can sometimes crop up when using various other apps or features that don’t reside under the Air command umbrella.An example of this is the Screen recorder tool accessible from the quick toggle menu in the notification shade. It lets you write on the screen while you’re recording it, albeit it doesn’t differentiate between the S Pen and your fingertip, while most Air command tools treat the S Pen as its own thing.AR DoodleAR Doodle is a new addition to the Galaxy Note series. As the moniker implies, AR Doodles is a camera feature, and even though it’s not accessible through the Camera app itself, it relies heavily on the smartphone’s depth-sensing capabilities. AR Doodle will start searching for a human face in the viewfinder as soon as it launches, but users can also tap the Everywhere button at the top and start doodling everywhere in 3D space.Doodles created with the S Pen will try to maintain their original location in 3D AR (Augmented Reality) space. Ultimately, the idea behind AR Doodle is to give users the ability to draw AR objects in the viewfinder using the S Pen and then record the virtual objects using the phone’s camera. It’s not quite about productivity as much as it is about having a bit of fun. You can see AR Doodle in action in our Galaxy Note 10 hands-on video (timestamped at the 3:13-minute mark).