Here are all the S Pen features and functions on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Here are all the S Pen features and functions on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S Ultra lineup officially succeeds the Galaxy Note lineup, meaning that the S Pen is here to stay. In fact, we can even hope to see Samsung’s foldables come with S Pen support and even an integrated S Pen if space allows for it. The Galaxy Note series has its fans who know all about the S Pen and its features. But an integrated S Pen is still new for the S series, and Samsung provides a fair few features that take advantage of the active stylus. Here are the features and functions of the S Pen on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

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S pen features being shown off the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Overview of the S Pen on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

One of the big talking points for the S Pen specifically on the Galaxy S22 Ultra is that Samsung has reduced the latency down to 2.8ms, down by almost 70% from the previous 9ms latency on the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This is the closest Samsung has come to simulating the pen on paper feeling with the S Pen. Samsung has even added artificial “scribbling” sounds that originate from the phone’s speakers (and that you can turn off), further adding to the pen-on-paper experience.

Beyond that, there aren’t any further talking points for this generation itself — they come carried from previous S Pens. The S Pen integrates within the chassis of the Galaxy S22 Ultra and recharges itself wirelessly when in there. Note that this charging is different from Qi wireless charging, so you can’t just place your S Pen on a wireless charger to charge — you have to place it back inside the phone to charge. It connects via Bluetooth to the device, which is how it can communicate with the device for battery status and for functions such as remote shutter. If you manage to drain out the battery of the S Pen, it will still work as a dumb stylus, but you will lose out on remote functions until you get some charge back in it.

Samsung doesn’t want you to leave behind the S Pen. So there is an option in the settings that lets your phone alert you with audio and vibration if the S Pen isn’t in the phone and it gets disconnected (i.e. you move far away from the S Pen). If you lose your S Pen, you can buy a replacement S Pen. Just know that at $50, the replacement S Pen isn’t exactly what I would consider cheap. So take good care of this stylus.

    If you have lost or damaged the S Pen included with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, you can buy this as a replacement unit.

As for the Pen itself, it comes with a non-replaceable 0.7mm nib/pen tip with 4,096 pressure level support. S Pens in the past have come with replaceable tips — I am not sure why Samsung went back to a non-replaceable tip as a replaceable tip would have given some more peace of mind in case you managed to damage just the tip of the pen. You get a pack of 5-10 replaceable tips for about $7, but that’s unfortunately no longer an option.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra' S Pen on a wooden table

For the shape, the S Pen has a thin and somewhat flat body, much thinner, flatter, and smaller than the usual ballpoint pen and other S Pens like the S Pen Pro. There are two tiny indents someways down the tip, which is used to sense when the pen is placed back inside the phone. There is a flat button on one side, which is the button you need to press for remote functions. The top of the pen has a clickable button — this has no other functions apart from helping you remove the pen from the phone, and accidentally acting as a fidget toy (the clicks are very satisfying).


S Pen Features

Samsung’s latest One UI 4.1 update on the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with the following S Pen-related functionality. The popup that opens up when you remove the S Pen is referred to as the Air Command menu, and it comes with a few default selected functions. In the image below, you can also see the Air Action commands, as well as the other options that you can enable within the sidebar.

Note that you can also add any other app to the Air Command menu. So if you have an app that you usually use with an S Pen, you can have it placed here so that you can open it easily whenever you pull out the S Pen.

Screen Off Memo

One of the first S Pen related features you will encounter on the Galaxy S22 Ultra is Screen Off Memo. Essentially, as soon as you pull out the S Pen from your device, you can start writing things down, without even needing to switch on your screen.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - Screen Off Memo

You get a few basic color options for scribbling here (red, green, blue, yellow, gray), five different stroke sizes for the digital pen, an eraser, an option to pin a note, and buttons to scroll up and down. The note that you create is saved automatically in the Samsung Notes app when you place the S Pen back inside the phone.

Samsung Notes App

Further conversation about the S Pen will remain incomplete without talking about the Samsung Notes app. It’s the app where you will be doing your jotting down outside of Screen Off Memo. By itself, the Samsung Notes app is a great note-taking app that competes against the likes of Google Keep. But pair it with the S Pen, and the Samsung Notes app unlocks a new level of note-taking.

In addition to the usual text-based notes, the Samsung Notes app also lets you continue using the S Pen for handwritten notes. You can also import images and PDFs to it, and then use the S Pen to draw, highlight, and many other actions. You can even handwrite text and the app will let you convert it into typed text.

Air Actions

Air Actions take advantage of the Bluetooth functions on the stylus as well as the other sensors to detect movement. With Air Actions, you can use the button on the S Pen for various tasks on single and double click, as well as for hold-down movements. You’re almost waving the S Pen like a wand for certain hold-clockwise actions.

Air Actions are neat. You can set the defaults for navigation, and then enable certain options for certain specific apps. You can even enable/disable Air Actions on a category of apps, namely for camera apps and media player apps. All of this is rather neat, but mastering it and remembering the actions takes some practice. You also cannot set actions on any additional apps that aren’t listed, nor can you modify the preset commands within the apps (you can only modify the general presets). I like the idea of Air Actions, but I find remembering the commands a bit tedious.

Smart Select

Smart Select is an extension of Screenshot functionality, supercharged with the presence of the S Pen. With Smart Select, you can screenshot a rectangular, circular, or freeform shape. This way, you go beyond the regular screenshots that Android provides. You can choose to just save and share the smaller screenshot that you just took, or do further actions such as removing the background from the image, adding drawing and text, or even inserting this subset-screenshot over another screenshot. Further, you can even create a GIF screen recording of a rectangular subset area.

This is a lot of screenshot overkill, and photo editor apps also let you accomplish similar results by taking different routes. But Samsung has built all of this functionality into the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and you can access it by just pulling out the S Pen and choosing the Smart Select option in the Air Command menu.

Screen Write

If Smart Select felt too overwhelming to you, Screen Write is a simpler way to screenshot. You can take a screenshot of the screen, and then scribble on it to save and share further.

Screen Write on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

There’s fairly limited functionality over here, and that is intentional to keep the process simple and quick.

Penup

Penup is the app where you get really serious about having fun and creating art with the S Pen and sharing it with other members in the app community. Penup comes pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and other S Pen supporting devices and can be uninstalled and reinstalled from the Google Play Store. You can sign in with your Samsung, Facebook, Google, or Twitter account, or use the app as-is without needing to log in.

There’s a fair bunch to unpack in the app, but some of the key highlights of the app are finding art outlines that you can then color in, and finding tutorials (called as “Live Drawing”) that handhold you through creating art. There are challenges and other competitions thrown into the mix to keep it lively for the community.

I’ve used Penup on Samsung tablets briefly, and my nephews adore the coloring functions. On a bigger screen, it’s almost like giving them a coloring book. On a smaller device like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the experience is admittedly a little cramped, but still entirely serviceable to show off what you can do with the S Pen.

Coloring

Coloring gets its own submenu within Air Commands. But it just opens up the Coloring tab within the Penup app. The functions remain the same as within the Coloring tab within the Penup app.

Live Messages

Live Messages lets you create videos and GIFs with scribblings on them. You can choose to scribble over an image, video, or colored background.

This feature is intended to be used as a fun extra. As long as you have some creativity, you can get some good results.

AR Doodle

The AR Doodle feature can be accessed through the Air Command menu that pops up when you remove the S Pen, as well as through the AR Zone app. As the name implies, AR Doodle lets you doodle in Augmented Reality. This feature works only with the front camera.

AR Zone AR Doodle on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Essentially, the phone camera recognizes the objects in your viewfinder as faces and environmental surfaces. You can doodle over a video and have the doodle “stick” to its position relative to the object it has been stuck on. So you can draw on the people present within the front camera view and the environment around them. This is another one of those fun implementations of the S Pen, that isn’t productivity-focused.

Translate

Samsung offers Google Translate-powered translation with the S Pen, and you don’t need to have the Google Translate app installed for it. You can choose to translate between practically all the languages that Google Translate offers, and you can choose to either translate it on a word-to-word basis (helpful if you are a proficient speaker and just get stuck on some words from time to time), or select longer sentences and paragraphs. Just hover over the text with the S Pen, wait for a second, and the translation will appear.

Magnify

As you would expect from this feature, Magnify lets you magnify the content on your screen. You can choose from two preview sizes, and from four magnification options: 150%, 200%, 250%, and 300%.

This is a nice accessibility feature to have, providing an alternative to zooming in, especially for content that does not support native zooming in.

Glance

Glance is a tool that flies under the radar for many S Pen users. The concept of Glance is that you can peek into an app while using a different app. It’s a different take on multitasking, one that rests on quick app switching instead of side-by-side multiwindow.

Open any app, pull out your S Pen and start Glance. In the above screenshots, I opened Twitter and started Glance. The app then minimizes into a small thumbnail that can rest on any corner, and stays in this minimized state while you use the rest of the phone. When you hover your S Pen over this thumbnail, the app returns to its normal state, and you can interact with it normally. Pull the S Pen away from the display and the app minimizes back and you can interact with the rest of your phone. To exit the Glance session, drag the minimized app to the trash icon and leave Glance mode.

This is a nifty feature and can work out in certain scenarios. For instance, the Calculator app is a good candidate for this, letting you navigate through multiple notes and spreadsheets and pulling open the calculator only when you need to make a calculation. A Notes app also works in the same situation. Samsung should have done a better job at promoting the existence of this feature (it’s not even enabled on the Air Command menu by default) as it can be rather nifty.

Bixby Vision

Bixby Vision is like Google Lens, but with Samsung’s virtual assistant instead. And since this is S Pen related functionality and not something that makes use of your camera (as it otherwise would), you get a limited set of features. Bixby Vision identifies things on your phone screen.

For text, you can select text and do actions like translate it. For images, it performs a reverse image search, but for some reason, it searches on….Pinterest? The feature would have been far more useful if it could do a Google Reverse Image Search instead.

Write on Calendar

Write on Calendar lets you…write on the Samsung Calendar app. This isn’t creating an entry within Samsung Calendar (and synced across to your other calendars). Instead, this is just a scribble that is displayed as a layer on top of the Calendar view within the Samsung Calendar app. The layer is mapped to the Month, but other than that, I could not notice it affecting the Calendar in any way. When you enter the Write on Calendar action, you enter the view that was open in Samsung Calendar — you can’t switch to any specific day or month view. So this feature is quite frankly, useless and rightfully not enabled within Air Commands by default.


Other S Pen Settings

S Pen gets its own submenu within Settings > Advanced Features. Within this, you get access to toggles and other parameters for a bunch of additional settings.

Of these, I recommend familiarizing yourself with Air Actions, taking some time out to configure your Air Command menu shortcuts, and turning off the S Pen system sound (or don’t, if you like the squiggly sounds that come from the speaker to give a more pen-on-paper feeling). The Air View features are neat too, but they work within Samsung apps only from what I have observed so far.


    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the top flagship for 2022, bringing over top of the line performance, display and camera capabilities alongside S Pen capabilities to deliver an ultra experience for power users.

The S Pen on the Galaxy S22 Ultra is practically just the same as the S Pen on the last few Galaxy Note devices. With the stylus getting integrated within the body of the device, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is practically a Note now. Many people will be picking up the device for its overkill cameras, and likely be oblivious of what all can be done with the S Pen. We hope this article is helpful in letting you know all that you can do with S Pen. If you’re looking at picking up this stylus flagship, you can check out the best deals for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. And if you’ve already bought it, you can check out some of the best cases for the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

A journalist at XDA-Developers and the current Editor in Chief, I have been writing for XDA since 2015, despite being a qualified business-litigation lawyer. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news and tutorials, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected] And my Twitter is @aamirsidd94.

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