+ Friday August 23rd, 2019

Note 5 Stylus popYesterday we reported on an apparent ‘issue’ with Samsung’s latest Note 5 handset, whereupon people were inserting the S-Pen the wrong way around (i.e. butt first) and discovering that it became stuck, and likely damaged parts of the phone trying to remove it. WhenI first read the headline, I must admit I had one of those “wtf?” moments, but apparently this is actually a thing.

Seemingly, when inserted the wrong way, the S-Pen becomes well embedded within the Note 5, and removing it is both difficult and can cause damage to some of the fairly delicate equipment within the handset. Some news services seem to think this is a fatal design flaw, but really, we as humans have, or should have, a fairly good idea of what goes in what, and which way it should go in. I’m sure we can all come up with fairly juvenile anatomical metaphors here, but we won’t indulge.


It seems Samsung doesn’t think too much of this issue, reiterating the importance of following the instructions when using any device, including its Note 5, in this comment offered to The Verge:

“We highly recommend our Galaxy Note5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S pen in the other way around.”

This really does seem like the utmost of common sense, however there is perhaps one criticism of Samsung’s design that’s quite fair here. In most things, where something is to be inserted into something else, there’s usually only one way to do it. Put simply, you physically cannot put your car keys in backwards, nor a USB cable, a needle, food in your mouth, or just about anything else.

Given the sensitive internals within the Note 5, you’d think – or at least, hope – that Samsung might have realised some dolt would try and put the S-Pen in backwards to see what happens, and craft it in such a way that this is NOT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE. It wouldn’t be hard; the cap at the butt-end of the S-Pen could be widened, and a small recess created in the case, such that it sits flush with the case when inserted correctly, and yet can’t be pushed in the wrong way by someone with the intelligence of a small pebble.

That the issue is so prominently discussed in the Note 5 instruction manual, as shown above, shows that Samsung is well aware of the damage that could be inadvertently (or stupidly) caused, and released the product to market anyway. It might not be a major flaw, and it might not even cause damage to too many handsets… but it is surprising that such a simple design change wasn’t even contemplated to avoid the issue.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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leetrevor81Andrew Recent comment authors
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Were human, we trip, we drop things, we have moments where we do silly things that are out of character. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, I think anyone could be capable of doing this accidentally.


Shouldn’t have been designed like this. As the author mentions, there’s an easy fix that will prevent the poem from going in backwards. What’s interesting is that Samsung knew that the pen could be inserted backwards and damage components of the phone and rather than fixing the issue, they just put a warning in the manual of which we don’t have a clue how many people would actually read.

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