Samsung earlier this week acquired a patent for an intriguing S Pen featuring its own a camera. The patent application was published on February 5 and the concept is described as an "electronic pen device having optical zoom", suggesting that future Samsung Galaxy Note devices could be paired with a new generation of the S Pen offering additional camera-related features – or indeed become a camera in itself.
A schematic attached to the patent discovered by PatentlyMobile reveals an S Pen that is equipped with an image sensor, optical lenses, an integrated circuit board, and controller, as well as a control key. Interestingly, this isn't the first time Samsung has considered equipping its S Pen stylus with lenses. A patent application published as early as August 2013 includes a sketch for such a device described as a pen-like peripheral for mobile phones, featuring a camera sensor and camera lights, along with other components such as a temperature sensor, a speaker, and even a display.
The newly-patented S Pen doesn't seem as complicated as the stylus patented half a decade ago, but this makes it that much more achievable in the form of an actual end product. Samsung already enriched the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 S Pen with a shutter button allowing users to capture images remotely, so the next evolutionary step could very well be the addition of an actual camera. The S Pen would be large enough to accommodate a more powerful sensor compared to what resides on the smartphone's back panel and would allow Samsung to implement features such as optical zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy Note series is one of the very few in the mobile world to include a stylus, and while other OEMs have attempted to create competing devices, direct competition hasn't been something that Samsung's lineup has been faced with most of the time. The series continues to get better with every new generation and has always covered the second half of the OEM's yearly flagship launch schedule, complementing the Galaxy S.
It's too early to tell what the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will have to offer later this year, as the main focus right now is the launch of the Galaxy S10 on February 20. But a new S Pen equipped with a camera would likely be accompanied by new software features, pertaining to the camera app, in particular.
If the next-generation S Pen will indeed feature a camera that would prove to be more powerful than the usual smartphone sensor, the question remains whether the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 would still feature a camera on the rear panel? Possibly yes, as Samsung might not feel like it would be appropriate to abandon this proven design, considering that smartphone screens double as viewfinders.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will likely be unveiled in August 2019 following a yearly launch schedule, so there is plenty of time ahead for leaks and rumors. But as usual, patent applications don't necessarily confirm the imminent release of a new product or features, only that the OEM is considering them, and the S Pen 2013 patent application included in the image gallery below is proof of that.