Here's everything new with the Note 10's S Pen

Samsung has a lot of competition when it comes to most features in its smartphones, but one area where the company continues to be the market leader in the S-Pen. A staple of the Galaxy Note since the beginning, the S-Pen (and the Galaxy Note range) has carved out a unique position for the company in that whether it innovates or not, if you want a stylus, you're mostly limited to buying a Galaxy Note.

For years, the S-Pen has been a source of being creative and different. Take Pen-up: Samsung's collection of drawings is ideal for adults wanting to revisit their youth coloring books but in a digital way. Or the Live Message feature which showcased a new way to interact – I still get birthday and celebratory messages from my brother-in-law using this feature almost two years after its release in the Galaxy Note 8.

Yet for all the good, Samsung hasn't yet found the magic answer to unlocking all of the S-Pen's use cases. As our digital habits continue to evolve, some of the new S-Pen features in the Galaxy Note 10 could reignite the Note's fire and make the series Note-worthy again.

Air Actions: Control your camera and more with the S-Pen

Why are selfie sticks so popular? They let you show off your good side when taking photos and mean you don't need a second person. Now imagine the selfie stick, and taking those controls to another level thanks to the S-Pen.

That's what Samsung is aiming for with Air Actions. Undock the S-Pen and it becomes a controller for your camera, a scroller for your gallery or a remote for your music or video. Hold the button down, point the S-Pen at your screen and most of the time, you can flick through your items, easily switch camera modes or to selfie mode, take photos or video, or even zoom in or out in the camera.

I love the concept of Air Actions – I can already see a Galaxy Note 10+ paired with the S-Pen and Samsung's kickstand case could make for a great portable media experience. In practice, it works pretty well and it's relatively straight forward to flick between the camera menus, but the Note 10 seems to struggle between distinguishing air actions and that you want to take a burst shot. Also if your phone is rotated, you need to rotate the Air actions otherwise up equals right.

That said, this is a great first step from Samsung and the 3rd-party SDK should result in new use-cases and features being added in the future.

Get creative and use the S-Pen with the new video editor

The mobile industry is fiercely competitive, and just occasionally, some companies and devices don't get the credit they deserve. The LG V-series is one of these, as they've been geared towards creators and capturing life's moments for years. The V20 was excellent at capturing video, with the ability to control which of the several microphone arrays were used to record audio in video capture.

AR Doodle taps into your heart like never before.

The Galaxy Note 10 takes some steps towards establishing itself as the new V series. There are multiple new microphones – although you can't control audio just like the V-series yet – which focus on the subject of the frame and can be controlled while recording. There's also live focus video which adds AR effects – using the Snapdragon 855 chipset – in real-time in the video.

Samsung has also created a new native video editor, and the S-Pen is central to this. Why are desktops so popular for video editing? Power and the accessories you can use, like a mouse for scrubbing between frames. The S-Pen brings this to the Note 10, letting you splice and rearrange your timeline, scrub to a very specific frame, layer in text, add in images, create a title card and much more. When you're done, you can export it in multiple different formats, and with Adobe Rush optimized for Galaxy, this works with DeX mode and supports HDR10+.

Have some fun and spread joy with AR Doodle

Ok, so I deliberately saved my favorite feature until last. I love AR Doodle. Usually, when I'm introduced to a new feature, it doesn't excite me. AR Doodle did the opposite. As soon as I saw what it could do, I was in the mood to have some fun!

What is AR Doodle, I hear you ask? Snap a frame of somebody and the Galaxy Note 10 uses facial coordination algorithms to map out the frame, and features of the person. Then you can doodle away, adding wigs, facial features or anything you heart desires. Once you save it, you can add it to that person when recording a video and it'll track all of their movements. This feature is perfect if you live far away from loved ones – as I do – and I can't wait to send these to my family.

AR Doodle can also be used in Live Messages, so it's not just video files you can send. It's ideally focused on movement, and instead of just sending a video message, you can showcase your personality.

What else is new with the S-Pen?

Those are the big new features in the S-Pen but there are also a few other little tweaks worth mentioning.

Tweaked design

A new Note usually means some tweaks and refinement – large or small – to the design of the S-Pen and the Note 10 is no different. The new S-Pen is more balanced and ergonomic, and also feels lighter in the hand. The limitations of its design – it is housed inside the phone, and not magnetically connected on the back like the Galaxy Tab S6 – mean its small and doesn't feel like a pen, but it feels great to use nonetheless.

Convert-to-text can export to Word

This is one of those features that you won't use... until you need it. The S-Pen has always been great for signing documents, or "hand-writing" a document, but now you can also hand-write something and ask Samsung Notes to convert it to text and export it to Microsoft Word. We've had convert-to-text before, but exporting to Word is new and useful if you need productivity on the go.

Six-axis of motion

There's not a lot we can say about this other than the S-Pen has gained an accelerometer and gyroscope, allowing it to detect six-axis of motion. What is this going to be used for? That's unknown, but it provides exciting possibilities in the future. Imagine being able to implement Motorola's gestures – like flicking your phone to turn on the flashlight etc – or better yet, being able to use all of the air actions with the S-Pen by your side. It will be very interesting to see what Samsung does with the additional hardware and possibilities here.

With each new generation of the Note, Samsung adds more to the S-Pen and in doing so, reduces the chance of its rival companies replicating its success. The S-Pen in the Galaxy Note 10 continues this, appealing to a loyal audience of Note lovers, whilst bringing new features that ensure its more than a Galaxy S10 Plus with a stylus. Samsung is the only company to persuade people that – despite Steve Jobs' best efforts to argue otherwise – a phone with a stylus didn't blow it and the Galaxy Note10 continues this trend.

Get your Doodle on with this Galaxy Note 10 starter kit

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 (Image credit: Samsung)

Galaxy Note 10 / Note 10+ (From $949 at Samsung)

AR Doodle is so fun with the new S-Pen – when you're amongst your closest friends and family, you can unleash your inner wild side and send creative messages and animations. Make your dearest ones laugh and spread joy, or get things done with a suite of productivity features.

Anccer Clear Case ($13 at Amazon)

If you know you need a case but aren't ready to hide the Note 10's incredible design, another great option is the Anccer Clear Case. Measuring in at just 0.33mm thick, this super-thin case fits the Note 10 like a glove, has a completely clear design, and comes with a money-back guarantee.

Whitestone Dome Tempered Glass screen protector ($60 at Amazon)

The Galaxy Note 10 is a big phone, so it's worth protecting the gorgeous screen. Whitestone dome made our favorite screen protector for the Galaxy S10 Plus, and their tempered glass product will help protect your screen if it does make an untimely drop onto the floor.

Nirave Gondhia

Nirave Gondhia has been writing about the mobile industry for over a decade and began his career selling and fixing phones in the UK. He's used every flagship smartphone over the past five years and carries at least two phones at all times - currently, he's using the iPhone 11 Pro, [Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola RAZR. Say hi to him on Twitter at @nirave.