This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Motorola has announced the moto g Pro for Japan. This is the Japanese version of the moto g stylus, which is already on sale in the US. As its original name suggests, it's a stylus pen-ready smartphone. It's targeted at the business market, but the ability to write small notes with a pen is something that would be useful for the average user to have as well. The pen is capacitive and doesn't need to be recharged, so it doesn't seem to have pressure sensitivity, but it seems to be very convenient to use right out of the device. We'd really like to see it sold in the SIM-free market.
When it comes to pen-enabled smartphones, Samsung's Galaxy Note series has been a long-selling product with a 10-year history. During this time, smartphones with QWERTY keyboards disappeared one by one, and most smartphones were operated by fingertip touch on the display. However, Samsung has been introducing new pen-based smartphones every year without fail.
LG also launched the Vu series in competition, but it ended up with three models. There was a time in 2013 when ASUS also asked for marketability with the Fonepad Note FHD6 with a pen, which had a 6-inch display, which was large for the time. Incidentally, the name "Phablet" was in use at the time. LG later developed the Stylus and Stylo series, which had a simple slim pen built into the body, in the US and other countries.
In this way, the Galaxy Note was the only smartphone that could use a pen for a long time, but recently, rival companies have been coming out with competing products one after another.
For starters, LG released the V60 ThinQ this year, which is compatible with a dedicated stylus pen. In Japan, the pen was only offered as a sample to a limited number of purchasers of Docomo models sold in Japan, but it is sold separately overseas. The pen uses Active Electrostatic Digitizer (AES) technology, so other companies' pens with the same technology can also be used with the V60 ThinQ. The successor models, VELVET and WING, also support the same pen input.
And Huawei's Mate 40 series, announced on October 22, is also now compatible with the new M-Pen2 stylus pen. Like the original Apple Pencil, charging is done by plugging directly into the unit's Type-C port, so there's less worry about running out of battery power. It's also compatible with Huawei's tablets, so you can use it seamlessly with your smartphone.
In contrast to the stylus pens from these companies, the latest model from the originator Samsung, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, has Bluetooth built into the stylus pen, allowing you to remotely control the device. This means that you can use the pen not only as a pen but also as a remote control. The software has also evolved over the years, with features such as the ability to take notes right out of the pen and convert handwritten letters into text.
There aren't many people who currently use smartphones who think that they need a pen. On the other hand, with tablets such as the iPad Pro, there are many tasks that can be done more efficiently with a pen. In other words, a pen is not an easy device to use on a small screen, but on a tablet with a larger screen, it can be used like a paper notebook, which is why a pen can help you get more done.
So why is there a sudden increase in the number of smartphones that can use a stylus pen? It's probably because the display size of smartphones is getting larger. The Mate 20 X, the first pen-enabled smartphone announced by Huawei in October 2018, had a 7.2-inch display. With such a large display, Huawei must have decided at the time that the pen would be comfortable to use. Even though the display of modern smartphones is in the 6-inch range, it is wider, with an aspect ratio of 19:9, so you can hold it in one hand and write with a pen-like a small paper diary, without any difficulty.
The display of the moto g PRO is 6.4 inches and the body size is 158.55x75.8x9.2mm. It is slightly smaller than the bible size of the organizer, which is 171x95mm. However, it is large enough for you to hold the phone in your hand, pull out a pen from the bottom right corner of the device, and write on it by hand. We were shown a demonstration of handwriting with the pen by a Motorola employee, and although it is not very good at writing in detail, it is good enough for taking notes.
It's also even more convenient to use the moto experience, which you control by shaking the Motorola device. If you see something you're interested in, shake the moto g PRO and the camera will activate. You can continue to search for products with Google Lens, take a screenshot of the result page that comes up, add handwritten notes to it, and then send it to email or social media, and so on, and the pen makes it easier to gather information on a daily basis.
Building a pen into the body of a device can be complicated, but Samsung, with its years of expertise in pen smartphone development, has even built a battery and Bluetooth into the slim pen. In the latest Galaxy Note 20 series, the pen has been moved from the bottom right to the bottom left due to the larger camera size of the body. Storing a pen inside a smartphone like this requires careful internal design, and this may be one of the reasons why we haven't seen many smartphones with built-in pens. The moto g PRO easily stores the pen in the lower right corner of the camera unit because it doesn't require charging and the camera unit is small.
LG and Huawei, on the other hand, have chosen to make the pen easier to grip by making it thicker, similar to a commercial ballpoint pen, and have given up on storing it in the body of the device. The pen is more comfortable to grip, although there's a chance you could lose it. Several third parties have released flip cases for the Mate 20 X that can hold a pen, and we may see a variety of such cases in the future.
In addition, Samsung has teamed up with major pen maker LAMY to release a stylus pen that is the same size as the company's ballpoint pen and a flip leather case for the Galaxy Note 10 series that can hold the pen.
Even if you think you don't need a pen on your smartphone, using a stylus pen on today's large-screen smartphones may change your mind. If the Apple Pencil becomes available on the iPhone, we might see a surge in pen-enabled smartphones. I'd love to try out the writing experience of the moto g PRO pen.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.