Galaxy Tab S4 firmware teardown hints at new features coming to Note 9’s S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s S Pen will be a lot more useful than most of us would imagine.

Launching just 3 weeks from now, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 has already been revealed thanks to numerous leaks with some live images revealing the design of the upcoming smartphone as well. While some of these leaks also revealed a colourful, new S Pen, there’s little known about what the new stylus would bring in terms of features… until now.

The folks at XDA ripped up the recently leaked Galaxy Tab S4 firmware for answers and they did find plenty of new features, which should technically arrive on both the tablet and the new Note 9.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

They teared down the latest version of the AirCommand app from the Tab S4 firmware and found plenty of strings (lines of code) and whole images showcasing features about the wireless S Pen.

One big detail that did get confirmed was the presence of a built-in battery, but the capacity of the same could not be confirmed. Indeed, this hints at few new advanced features, that could not be possible with previous S Pen becasue it did not come with a battery built in and worked with an electromagnetic field instead.

Other strings and images reveal that users will also be able to use the S Pen to control music playback, with the ability to play and pause music and even skip tracks.

As for more practical uses of the S Pen, it can also be used as a remote camera shutter which makes it useful in situations where you hold your phone in one hand in crowd and use the S Pen's click as the shutter button to click photos. This is also useful for smartphone photography enthusiasts who use manual features of the camera that often requires a tripod setup.

S Pen comes with new features as per the new Tab S4 firmware. Image: XDA Developers

S Pen comes with new features as per the new Tab S4 firmware. Image: XDA Developers

Another practical feature discovered in the apk teardown is the ability to unlock the device using the S Pen, even when the stylus has been removed from its slot. With the added battery we aren’t clear about whether the S Pen will function as a smart unlock feature (available using smartwatches and other accessories) or whether Samsung has included a fingerprint reader in the button of the S Pen.

While the currently available S Pen already opens up some S Pen features upon a single click, the new S Pen is also expected to feature a double click both of which are expected to be customisable letting users assign functions to both clicks.

XDA warns that since the S Pen on the Tab S3 came separately and not with the device, Samsung like Apple will have to figure out a charging method for the new S Pen that now features a battery. On the Note 9 however, we don’t expect this to be a problem as the accessory could easily be charged when docked inside the smartphone.

Previously leaked details of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 include a design that looks very similar to the currently available Galaxy Note 8 but this now includes a horizontally placed dual camera setup at the back with a fingerprint reader sensibly placed below the camera ring. Other details include a 4,000 mAh battery along with faster wireless charging, a new dual camera setup and an upgraded Bixby 2.0 experience as compared to that on the Galaxy S9+.

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