Which Galaxy S21 versions support the S Pen?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with S Pen
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with S Pen (Image credit: Android Central)

Best answer: S Pen support for Galaxy S21 is limited to just the Galaxy S21 Ultra. In a fun surprise, Samsung will offer two versions of the S Pen — the S Pen and the S Pen Pro! The S Pen is available now. The S Pen Pro will come later this year.

The S Pen on the S21? It's complicated.

If you're like me, you have been using a stylus for Android phones for years. This year, Samsung did what many have speculated would eventually happen; it added S Pen support to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. However, S Pen support for Galaxy S21 is limited to just the Galaxy S21 Ultra; the Galaxy S21 and S21+ do not support the S Pen at all. But there is a lot more to the story.

The S Pen is an electromagnetic resonance (EMR) pen that doesn't have a battery and does not need to be charged. It is for writing and drawing on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Unfortunately, Bluetooth functionality such as Air Gestures will not work. However, later this year, Samsung is releasing the battery-powered S Pen Pro, which will have Bluetooth LE connectivity and support those additional functions.

Adding to the confusion, any existing S Pens, such as the one that comes with the Galaxy S20 Note with Bluetooth connectivity, will work with the Galaxy S21 Ultra for writing and drawing, but Bluetooth features will not work. Only the S Pen Pro's Bluetooth functionality will work on the S21 Ultra. You can purchase an S Pen from Samsung right now for about $39.99, or you can pick up an S View Cover for the S21 Ultra that includes the S Pen and a place to store it for $89.99.

Clear as mud?

Samsung is bringing a much-requested feature to its top-tier phone. S Pen support is awesome for those who dig the accuracy of stylus input. But it's happening in a convoluted way by dictating the terms under which your stylus will work. Plus, it's charging more for the privilege.

For those who have been clamoring to bring the S Pen to other Galaxy phones, I'm sure an extra $40 won't make much of a difference. We would have liked to see the full stylus experience (including a place to keep it) baked into the creme de la creme of phones, but hopefully, these baby steps will eventually lead to the promised land.

Adam Doud

Adam has been writing and podcasting the mobile tech space for almost a decade. When he's not writing, he hosts the Benefit of the Doud podcast, spends way too much time on Twitter, and redesigns his office space over and over.