Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will take the Note 20’s best feature… but not how you think

The Galaxy S21 Ultra apparently supports the S Pen... but it likely won't come with one.

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: Concept Creator)

It has long been rumored that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will be the first non-Note branded handset to support the S Pen stylus. But now reliable tipster Ice Universe is so certain, he’s upped his confidence rating to 100%. 

“Yes, I can 100% confirm that S21 Ultra supports S Pen,” the leaker tweeted. 

The curious thing, of course, is that we’ve seen renders of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and unlike the Note 20 Ultra, there’s no room for a stylus to dock. And that’s where semantics comes in: there’s a big difference between saying “the S21 Ultra supports the S Pen” and “the S21 Ultra has the S Pen”.  

One of the earliest sources of the S Pen rumor – Korea’s Herald Corp – seemed to claim that the S21 will recognise the S Pen, but not ship with one. The translation is pretty ambiguous, so the meaning could be lost along the way, but that combined with the above render does make it seem like Samsung will be keeping the S Pen as an optional accessory for the S series. That is, after all, how Huawei treats the M Pen – a stylus that works with a number of the company’s handsets, but isn’t bundled with any.

But it’s definitely not ideal. The S Pen works well with the Note series in part because it’s quite hard to lose: you just tuck it back into the phone’s body and forget about it. There are ways of storing a stylus without physically docking it, of course: the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 secures its S Pen to the back magnetically, and that’s an option.

The answer, ultimately, could be less technical and more obvious: if the S Pen is an optional accessory, then the storage solution could be too. Samsung already makes a bunch of first-party cases for its phones – would it really be too much of a leap to suggest versions that can hold the S Pen? Another established leaker certainly thinks that’s an option.

That does leave the question of how the S Pen’s tiny battery will stay topped up, but that’s something for Samsung’s engineers to figure out. However it ultimately works, this is exciting news for fans of the Note who can’t wait until late 2021 for a new model: with S Pen support on the S21 Ultra, you might not have to.