The c-pen is one among a set of accessories available for the new Galaxy S3. The question is, exactly how useful is it?
Physically, the c-pen looks just like an ordinary ball-point pen. It’s nicely weighted, and has a smooth tapering barrel with metal trims. There’s also a pocket clip with the Samsung logo on it. It feels quite premium, and is just like a proper pen to hold and use. However, despite its looks, it’s not an ink pen. It’s a capacitive stylus. And what sets it apart from other capacitive styluses is its very narrow tip. When you look at the c-pen next to this Boxwave capacitive stylus, you can see the difference. The c-pen’s tip is about 3mm in diameter, much smaller than the 8mm of the boxwave stylus. Also, the tip of a normal capacitive stylus is quite soft, while the c-pen’s is much more solid. Because of it’s pen like looks, there’s a tendency to expect the c-pen to write as smoothly as a normal pen. But there’s a noticeable lag in the ink flow on screen. I feel like I need to press down on it to get a good response. And this is on a screen that doesn’t have a screen protector. It won’t be comfortable for long periods of writing. Still, I feel it’s much better than writing with the fingertip. Because the small tip lets you see what you’re writing, And there’s no drag, like there is with a finger. With the normal Boxwave stylus, I don’t need to press down so hard, And there’s very little lag. However, it’s large, soft tip doesn’t give the pen-like feel of the c-pen while writing. With the normal stylus, I can activate the capacitive keys below the screen. The c-pen doesn’t activate these keys. It’s only responsive on the actual screen area. So this can be a bit annoying, having to swap to your fingers to activate these keys. I’m assuming this is because the S3’s screen has a higher resolution capacitive sensor than normal. It would also explain why the c-pen doesn’t work on other capacitive screens, while the normal stylus does. There’s a huge difference between the c-pen and the Galaxy Note’s s-pen, and it’s not just in size. Obviously, the c-pen doesn’t have a control button, And it can’t be neatly housed inside the phone like the s-pen can. But the biggest difference is in the technology behind them. The s-pen isn’t a capacitive stylus. It uses Wacom digitizer technology. So writing with the s-pen is a smooth, lag-free experience and you get a certain amount of pressure sensitivity with it. The S3 doesn’t have a Wacom digitizer layer, so the s-pen won’t work on it. The c-pen will work on the Note, to an extent. But you’ll have to press down very hard with it. So if you’re coming to the S3 and the c-pen after using the Galaxy Note, Then you’ll probably feel that the c-pen is a major step backwards for you. But compared to other capacitive styluses, it’s not too bad. However, I don’t think it’s good enough to be a must have accessory either. Perhaps a future version of the c-pen will offer more.