Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 5 smartphone has a big screen, a speedy processor, and 4GB of RAM. But what really makes it stand out from most phones on the market is the S Pen, which lets you write or draw on the screen or perform other actions.

Unfortunately, it looks like the Galaxy Note 5 has a major design flaw: There’s a slot in the phone where you can store the pen when it’s not in use, but it’s easy to slide the S Pen into the phone the wrong way, causing the pen detection mechanism to fail, or even worse, causing the stylus to get permanently stuck.

Android Police published a video showing how easy it is to replace the stylus backward into its slot. During the video, the S Pen gets jammed and seems to get permanently stuck inside.

The flaw stems from the fact that the stylus requires no resistance when inserted backward. The pen has the same thickness throughout. It even clicks into place, as seen in Android Police’s video.

But if the pen is inserted backward, the spring mechanism that holds the S Pen in place grabs onto the blunt end of the stylus, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

Even if you can successfully remove the stylus, both Android Police and Ars Technica report that the pen detection feature (an alert sound and vibration) stopped working. Ars Technica noted that the feature began working again after mucking about with it a couple of times. However, Android Police’s pen detection feature never worked properly again.

By comparison, Android Police points out that Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge has an S Pen that cannot be inserted backward without force. The blunt end of the stylus is slightly larger than the pointed end. It is not likely that a user would accidentally slide it in the wrong way.

So what’s Samsung doing about the problem? Not much.

Galaxy Note 5 User Manual

Samsung is already aware of the issue, and even included a warning (on page 25) of the user manual, as noted by The Middle Ground (via reddit).

Warning: Be sure to insert your S Pen with the nib pointed inward. Inserting the S Pen the wrong way can cause it to become stuck and can damage the pen and your phone.

When asked for comment, a Samsung representative told the BBC that the company recommends users “follow the instructions in the user guide.”

So it doesn’t sound like there are any plans to update the hardware.

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9 replies on “Insert the Galaxy Note 5 S Pen backwards and you may break your phone”

  1. I once bought an external HDD adapter from Fry’s to help transfer large amounts of data onto a spare drive or two. It came with a 4-pin MOLEX power connector for powering a bare drive — the type where two of the corners are cut off to (supposedly) prevent you plugging it into the drive the wrong way round.

    Except, the plastic it was made out of wasn’t rigid enough, so when I plugged in my drive with little force required I only discovered I had plugged it in the wrong way around after I had fried my HDD and the motherboard of the laptop it was connected to.

    Yeah, it was my mistake, but my unconscious assumption was that if I was able to insert the connector easily, it was correctly connected. Credit to Fry’s, they removed the product from their shelves after I went back and demonstrated the problem to them.

  2. “So it doesn’t sound like there are any plans to update the hardware.”

    I wouldn’t say that, just that they have no intention of -recalling- the already shipped hardware. They have done the math and decided in-warranty replacement of the few units that users destroy won’t cost more than a full recall. And yes they will replace them in warranty, because the retailers will be making that call and we all know how that will work out.

    Odds are probably good that a b version quietly appears that includes some sort of fix. The other thing we can count on is that in six months there is going to be an abundant supply of refurb units on the market as these come on, get that mechanism replaced and then sent back out into the market.

  3. C’mon Lilliputians. Where are all the “Slid it in backwards and…” comments? U Peeps != Fun 🙁

  4. Samsung representative told the BBC that the company recommends users “follow the instructions in the user guide.”
    Wow. Samsung playing troll again.

  5. The Note 2 has a similar issue, but I wouldn’t call it a flaw, because it requires alot of force to make the mistake.

    1. Nevermind, I watched the video. I was assuming this was meaning if the stylus was rotated 180 degrees, not flipped backwards. The Note 2 did not have this problem.

  6. But hey, at least you can insert the USB cord either way, right? 😉

    Hard to believe they didn’t discover this before finalizing the product. Samsung has really lost its way.

      1. I’d like to see how easy it would be to make this mistake, but in general designers should not underestimate the stupidity of the people who buy their products.

Comments are closed.