Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bug Cellphones Handhelds Portables Hardware

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5 157

tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5

Comments Filter:
  • Moronic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz ( 711271 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @07:58AM (#50387011)

    This is a perfect example of over-engineering; designing something for flash rather than functionality. It reminds me of the Tesla and people getting locked out of their cars because someone thought it would be a good idea to have retracting door handles (complete with all the moving parts that can break down).

    What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism? All that does is add unnecessary parts and over complicate the design.

    • It might be over-designing, but it's a severe lack of engineering. We've had one-way insertion for a lot of things for a long time. SD cards insert and eject only one way with a similar spring lock.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism?

      The pen would fall out of a simple slot. That's why floppy drives first had little handles that closed and held them in place, and later automatic eject mechanisms. Duh.

      The flaw is not having an eject mechanism, which is necessary for any sane design. The flaw is in allowing the pen to be inserted the wrong way around.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        No it wont. Panasonic toughbooks and a gajillion other devices use a simple tapered slot with a tapered pen and work perfectly without the pen falling out. Plus it's impossible to jam the pen in backwards.

        Stop defending bad engineering, It's a bad design that had zero testing to see if the general public would screw it up.

        • He's not defending bad engineering, he attacked it too. He's attacking what he sees as a poor criticism/solution.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I have owned a few Toughbooks over the years. They all had eject mechanisms for the various PC Card and memory card slots, and the one with a pen had an eject mechanism for that too.

          Clearly a tapered slot won't prevent something falling out, only stop something going in too far or backwards. Explain how a cone going into another cone will be held in place. Where is the friction, where is the gripping force?

          • > Where is the friction, where is the gripping force?

            Seriously? Have you never seen a cork in a wine bottle? The gripping force comes from compression of the parts - push the cork/pen in just a little further than it will slide easily, and the gentle taper converts that small lengthwise force into a large radial compressive force between the sides of the cork and neck of the bottle, and with it a large friction force. So long as the coefficient of static friction is greater than the slope of the taper

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Have you ever tried to remove a cork from a bottle? You usually need a tool to apply enough force to it. Plus a cork is made of cork, a fairly soft material, not plastic.

              • Right, it's a fairly extreme example of the process. Making the required forces weaker is trivial.

      • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

        The pen never fell out of my Note2, Note4, DSLite and 3DS-XL despite all these devices being simple slot based with no eject mechanism.
        Eject mechanisms are actually worse for mobile devices : they are too easy to trigger unwillingly and once the stylus is out, it doesn't naturally come back in, making it easier to lose it or break it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      At first I thought you had to try, but from the article it requires zero force. What a horrible design, when it would have been so easy to make the top end slightly wider so you could not insert it backwards. You could retain all the rest of the design if you made the top 5mm of both the slot and the pen slightly wider, then the most you could insert the pen backwards would be 5mm.

    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @09:05AM (#50387481) Homepage

      This is a perfect example of over-engineering; designing something for flash rather than functionality. {...} What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism? All that does is add unnecessary parts and over complicate the design.

      And even last century, when Palm launched its first PDA, it featured a notch on the side (imitating the pocket-clip that actual pen have) making it physically impossible to insert it the wrong way, and making easy to extract the pen without any physical retention mechanism (no need for complex mechanism. Just push the notch that protrudes out of the PDA body).

      It's funny how more or less 20 years ago, the first PDA makers more or less got everything right.

      And suddenly, since Apple's introduction of iPhone, everyone seems to have gone stupid and needs to re-solve the same problems.

      It reminds me of the Tesla and people getting locked out of their cars because someone thought it would be a good idea to have retracting door handles (complete with all the moving parts that can break down).

      And even, in the case of Tesla, that's still semi-justified. As it is a car, and needs to optimise for drag to increase effciency and fuel (or in this specific case: battery) consumption.
      Car manufacturers have gone as far as making the 2 side mirrors differing in lenght a few milimeters, just to optimise for drag thus compensating the typically assymetric weight balance inside the car and shaving a few liters down per 100km.
      Compared to that having door handles retracting flush doesn't seem far fetched at all.

      (Tesla only need enough redundancy to be able to open it: if the retractable door handle mechanism fails, you still have several wireless way to open it - app or remote. Or if all the fancy electronics have failed - passive RRFID. In the case of electric failure in the car, the system still have a backup 12v battery to operate the doors. And in case of 12v failure, you can still charge/boost from the outside. At that point if even that fails, the event is so rare that smashing a window in an emergency [the "baby got stuck inside during a heat wave" scenario] seems acceptable)

      Meanwhile, you don't really need flush body for a smart-phone - elevating its theoretical terminal velocity doesn't serve any sane purpose. And a backup solutions whould have been completely doable (either the notch as in Palm PDAs, or having a pin hole at the opposite side to push the stylus out).
      But still, Samsung managed to create a useless feature, with no backup plan in case of failure.

      • I have used a Palm Tungsten for several years and I can tell you that even that stylus wasn't engineered all that well. More than once, the stylus fell out of its slot, and was lost. There was a little notch on the end where a spring clip held it in place, but that wasn't always enough to keep it there. This opened up a market for replacement stylii.

        The engineering fault of Samsung wasn't that they didn't anticipate the reversal of the stylus. Their fault was that they *REQUIRED* a stylus. There are hundr
        • Uh what?

          The Note series of phones SELLING POINT is that they INCLUDE a stylus. It is in no way required. The phones work fine with your finger.

          The fault of samsung is making the pen fit perfectly when inserted the wrong way, something they didn't fuck up on previous Note phones.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        And even, in the case of Tesla, that's still semi-justified. As it is a car, and needs to optimise for drag to increase effciency and fuel (or in this specific case: battery) consumption.

        Problem solved on aircraft door handles [aircraft-spruce.com] for quite some time. Sure, the automatic handles are cool. But would it have been much of a proplem to make it so puching on one end of the handle rocks the other end out?

        • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

          My car (a 1989 Subaru XT6) has flush door handles as well, but it is accomplished simply by having a spring-loaded plate swing out and take up the space under the door handle. When opening the door, this is simply pushed out of the way with the fingertips and the rest of the door handle operates like any other. It looks baffling, but it's not hard to use once you have done it or seen it done. The other controls in the car are similar, it seems like almost every accessory is moved to a strange place. Heat an

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        Oddly, Samsung's older versions of the Note (I have the Note 8) had a wider, angled end, which made it physically impossible to insert it the wrong way around. I really don't understand why they didn't just keep it.
      • And suddenly, since Apple's introduction of iPhone, everyone seems to have gone stupid and needs to re-solve the same problems.

        Actually, Apple neatly solved the whole problem in 2007 by doing away with the need for an ignorant stylus altogether.

        Everyone else is trying to solve yesterday's problems.

        • Actually, Apple neatly solved the whole problem in 2007 by doing away with the need for an ignorant stylus altogether.

          Earlier PDA *could* also be operated with fingers. Resistive touch screen doesn't *require* a stylus. (Early Tomtom GPS were entirely finger operated resistive touch screens - no stylus available at all).

          The stylus is simply an option for when you need more precision.
          (To draw more precisely sketches, or operate smaller parts of UI).

          What Apple did is doing away with the *precision*. (Hence the "on/off" sliders they've introduced in iOS. Much easier to operate than check boxes when using big fingers on a smal

          • The stylus is simply an option for when you need more precision. (To draw more precisely sketches, or operate smaller parts of UI [emphasis added]).

            Or, IOW, the stylus is needed.

            As for capacitive touch-screens being "more coarse" than resistive, I am not at all sure that is universally-true, and is belied by the fact that you can use a stylus on an iOS device for drawing, if desired. Yes, I realize that that supports your argument that stylii are more "precise" than fingers; but that wasn't actually my point, nor would I really argue that point.

    • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

      Over-engineering isn't even the right term. It's certainly underdesigned, and as part of it, it was probably under-prototyped and under-tested. Engineering is good, so over-engineering isn't the issue.

      Unfortunately Samsung just churns out stuff while other makers (Apple, and some pockets in HTC) design stuff.

    • This is a perfect example of over-engineering; designing something for flash rather than functionality. It reminds me of the Tesla and people getting locked out of their cars because someone thought it would be a good idea to have retracting door handles (complete with all the moving parts that can break down).

      What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism? All that does is add unnecessary parts and over complicate the design.

      No. It is a perfect example of UNDER-engineering.

      If the stylus-holder and/or stylus was engineered (and TESTED!) correctly/thoroughly, they would have caught this error in the prototype phase. While I understand what you are saying about "over-engineering", that is actually a false canard.

    • What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism? All that does is add unnecessary parts and over complicate the design.

      See, I was thinking the exact opposite... Have a mini-rail gun launch the pen so it can never get "stuck".
      As a bonus write an app that will use the whole battery potential to shoot the s-pen like a blowgun dart!

      Now I'm seeing a MacGyver comeback for the digital age!
      We will need the modern version of a mullet though...
      https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1293&bih=658&q=MacGyver&oq=MacGyver&gs_l=img.3..0l10.2805.2805.0.5079.1.1.0.0.0.0.213. [google.com]

  • I just got my note 3 5 a few days ago. You have to really not be paying attention to make this mistake - especially to the point of breaking the locking mechanism.

    That said, you can go into the s-pen setting and turn off the pen detection and it will work just fine.

    There is an xda thread on this.

    http://forum.xda-developers.co... [xda-developers.com]

  • TL;DR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bruno.fatia ( 989391 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @08:14AM (#50387127)

    You are holding it wrong.

  • LOL ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @08:19AM (#50387151) Homepage

    So ... "you're holding it wrong" for the win?

    Nope, not a bad industrial design, but it's pilot error.

    In the real world, humans aren't always going to do these things as you envisioned them. If you can't design to account for this stuff, you're doing it wrong.

    Like in software QA you pretty much try to do everything you shouldn't just to see what happens ... in this kind of design, you give it to someone who is going to try every thing your engineers have said "nobody would ever do that", and find out just how badly they've done.

    If it shouldn't be put in that way, you should probably ensure it physically can't be put in that way without a hammer. Because someone will do it wrong.

    Sorry, but the human monkey seldom acts according to the idealized assumptions of engineers and product designers. Which means you should be assuming your assumptions are wrong.

  • Defect SS023926: Severity 5; Priority 5:

    Status: Resolved.

    Resolution Code: User Error

    This is what we have been doing for software bugs. Almost industry standard now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I verified on my Galaxy Note 3, I am unable to insert the S-Pen backwards

  • I'm using a Note 4, so I just tried it.

    Surprisingly, yes it is possible to stick the pen in backwards. It wouldn't have been difficult at all to make the grabber nub on the top of it too big to fit down the shaft. I'm not sure why they didn't bother to do that. Of course I wasn't stilly enough to try to force it down all the way to duplicate the issue (sorry folks).

    That being said, I never use the pretend pen. I'm not even sure what apps it would work with. For taking actual notes, I use an 11 inch pad. S

    • I went with the note 5 instead of the edge + to save myself 100 dollars but don't really plan on using the pen.

      I am so used to typing that holding a pen is uncomfortable for me.

      • by 6ULDV8 ( 226100 )

        I got my Note 5 on the 17th. I didn't choose based on price. I chose the Note because I do use pen input. I work with wood as a hobby. It dries out your hands. My fingertips don't always work on touch screens. It works very well as a phone or tablet and the side buttons aren't as sensitive as my Galaxy Mega. My issue is covered in the Check Point article. I'd rather see that addressed first.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      First thing I tried too, but I was a bit less gentle than you ;)
      I jammed it backwards hard enough so that I had to use my pocket knife to take it out but there is no damage, no weird behavior and no loosening. The only problem when you force it down all the way is that it is a bit difficult to get enough of a grip to pull it out. And I tried it several times in both orientations.

      And in case you are interested : when inserted backward, the S-Pen is considered "out". The sensor is contactless and triggers whe

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @08:34AM (#50387255) Homepage

    I can see that most of the comments are referring to this as a design flaw and overly complicating the product but I imagine this was put into the Product Requirements Document as a feature that provided some benefit to the customer.

    The issue really is, what was the testing protocol put in place, I would think that with something like this, the Samsung engineers would have to check for:
    - The S-Pen being put in backwards and twisted to the preferred orientation
    - The S-Pen being damaged and put in the right way and backwards and turned away from its preferred orientation
    - Something other than the S-Pen being put in.
    - The S-Pen being inserted with the force of a jackhammer
    - The Galaxy being dropped (on all of its axis) with the S-Pen inserted correctly and incorrectly
    - etc.

    These tests should have been part of the product test and qualification plan.

    • by zx75 ( 304335 )

      It is a design flaw, but you are correct that it is also a testing failure.

      It is a simple use case that should have been discovered during testing and addressed - but that does not take away from the fact it was a design flaw in the first place. It's a chain of errors that resulted in this problem being present in production.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      You know how you do this? you hand the phone to a child.

      This emulates the typical american.

      Disclaimer, I am an american, I see the child level thought in my fellow americans every single day.

    • "These tests should have been part of the product test and qualification plan."

      I suspect that they don't test the device in their final assembled form because of the tight development and release schedule for thus kind of devices. Redesigning the spring mechanism and setting up the production lines could mean months of delay.

      They need to trust their engineers to catch this kind of problem while the design only exists as a CAD model. Unfortunately that didn't happen this time...

  • This sounds like the VP manager of the divisions yelled "Just do it!"

    That would be in keeping with what was reported by one of SF's top independent design firms (ideo?) mere days after Steve Jobs showed the iPhone in Jan 2007.

    A large Asian firm contacted the design firm asked it if it could design them a touch phone. And, they wanted the complete design in 6 weeks. The design firm said no one can do that. The Asian customer went elsewhere.

    Managers should manage the company, unless they are product designe

  • They seriously didn't see this happening? This is NOT exceeding expectations!
  • Seriously, this is beyond idiocy, and an example of brain-dead poor engineering.

    If your engineering staff can't test for simple shit like this and find this sort of problem, they should all be fired on the spot. There is NO excuse for this kind of failure to pass all of the intermediary design and testing levels and make it into live production.

    Seriously, no one ever thought, "Hey, what happens if Mr Customer inserts the pen in upside down?"

    That's a failure on multiple levels- design, prototype, initial tes

  • Thou rare, I have run into assembly instructions were I joined two one-way parts together only to later find out I picked up the wrong part because of similarities and lack of labeling from the manufacturer. Then I'm stuck with trying to figure out how to unlock the parts or mangling them to separate.

    Though the humorous laughs of "you're doing it wrong" at the users' expense if funny, I think we have all been there. Since the device in question is suppose to operate to accept the stylus pen, one would thin
  • The comments about Diesel nozzles vs gasoline nozzles for cars brought back a memory I hoped I had forgotten. Back in the 1960's an aircraft that was produced in two models -- one with reciprocating engines and the other with turboprop engines -- took off from Peachtree Dekalb airport north of Atlanta. It got airborne and just East of Atlanta the engines, which were gasoline engines, stopped since the aircraft had been fueled with Jet fuel. The aircraft made a crash "landing" on an Interstate very close
  • Engineer: We've put $x million into user interface design so that the Note 5 is usable even by idiots.

    Idiot: *Insert pen backwards*

    Engineer: ARRRRRRRGH!!

    • I dunno, I think the engineer should be proud.

      The design accommodates all use cases, including an idiot doing an idiotic thing to accomplish idiotic results.

      Mission accomplished! The ultimate in usability: our design doesn't stop you from doing ANYTHING you want to do!

  • Insert Different (tm).

    No wait, don't Insert Different (tm). Inserting Differently (tm) is the problem. Forget we said that (r).
  • You should see what inserting a MicroSD card can do to a card slot on one of these phones. And unlike a pen, it's far less obvious which way is the right way for these cards; there isn't even a lot of resistance to inserting them the wrong way compared to the right way.

  • Samsung has failed us on the Note 5.
    I have been a Note user since the Note 2.
    Every note has improved it's predecessor, although Note 3 and 4 seem very similar... but it's still an upgrade in hardware and features.

    The Note 5 had so much taken out and only a few things added with design flaws. The only advantage I see is slightly better 64bit octo cpu, slightly more memory, wireless charging, and better front and rear cameras.

    1. 1) This issue with the S-Pen enclosure.
    2. 2) Sealed non-replaceable battery, I have t
  • ... "Just don't hold it that way."
    • ... "Just don't hold it that way."

      Great with quotes, and the correct quote is "you're holding it wrong". The difference was that if you were holding your phone wrong, all you had to do was to hold it in a different way. If you insert this pen the wrong way, the damage is permanent.

      Buy the way, both non-Apple phones I owned at that time had instructions in their manual (I'm a very curious person and often read manuals) telling you that your phone reception would be bad if you hold it wrong.

      • Buy the way, both non-Apple phones I owned at that time had instructions in their manual (I'm a very curious person and often read manuals) telling you that your phone reception would be bad if you hold it wrong.

        One of my early cell phones (15 years ago? I was a late adopter because I was a broke student...) had a little rubberised pad on the back with a finger sized dimple where you could brace the phone with one finger without shorting the internal antenna.

The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is precisely 1 bananosecond.

Working...