Samsung on Galaxy Note 5 S-Pen-gate: You're inserting it wrong, RTFM!

Samsung on Galaxy Note 5 S-Pen-gate: You're inserting it wrong, RTFM!

Pen is stuck? You should have Read The <em>Fine</em> Manual

Samsung comes under intense criticism for Galaxy Note 5 design flaw. If you insert the S-Pen upside-down, it gets stuck. Removing it damages the phablet's motherboard -- probably beyond repair.

The damage renders useless the memo and Air Commend features, which are key differentiators for the $800 device.

Samsung's response? RTFM: It's apparently "an unexpected scenario," and you should "follow the instructions in the user guide."

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers read 'em and weep.

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Billions of blue blistering barnacles! David "captain" Ruddock curses thuswise:

It is extremely rare that a modern, expensive electronic device ships with an easy-to-encounter design flaw that can result in...damage. [But] the S Pen in the Galaxy Note 5 does suffer from a design flaw...which could permanently break a feature of the phone.

On the Note 5, inserting the S Pen the wrong way provides exactly as much resistance as inserting it the right way. Which is to say: basically none at all. Once you insert the pen far enough in the wrong will get stuck. It doesn't even have to "click" in. ... And you will try to get it out [which will] break whatever mechanism the device uses to detect whether the pen is attached.

We're really not sure how this made it past testing. ... It seems Samsung was aware of this issue when it shipped the Note 5. ... Samsung provided this statement: "We highly recommend...users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario."  MORE

And Larry Dignan is similarly indignant:

You may break the pen and possibly the device. ... The big question is whether the issue is a design flaw, overblown problem or a threat to the brand.

After reading about the hubbub I inserted the S-Pen backward. The reports are true, the pen gets stuck and you have to yank it out pretty hard. ... I got away with the mistake once, but the stylus doesn't fit into its slot flush every time like it used to.

As more people try the upside down stylus trick, Samsung's response of 'read the manual' may only look worse.  MORE

Yes, says Rene Ritchie, it's far too easy to do:

People are saying "you're inserting it wrong" in reference to an infamous email from the late Steve Jobs in response to iPhone 4 antenna issues where he asserted people were "holding it wrong." ... Apple ended up giving away free bumper cases to every...customer. [And] just this week [it] issued an iPhone 6 Plus camera replacement program for...devices suffering from a bad camera component. That's what companies do.

[But] touching the antenna gap once didn't stick, break, or otherwise render the antenna permanently unusable. Which, unfortunately, is what appears to be happening with the S-Pen.

What good design does [is] it protects customers from themselves. Even and especially when they make mistakes. It's called poka-yoke. ... I've already piled on Samsung's lack of design consideration enough for one year, so I'll leave it at that. ... I wish Samsung, and those affected, the very best of luck.  MORE

So what did Dom Esposito do? He took the device apart, of course! And he has "one or two" dire warnings for us:

Please don’t do this. It’s not a fun experiment and you will likely ruin your $800+’s not fixable. Seriously. Just don’t do it. ... JUST DON’T STICK THE DAMN PEN IN BACKWARDS. Are we clear?

Inside of the Galaxy Note 5, there’s a small little plastic lever...that lines up with two little notches...on either side of the S Pen which holds it in place [but] sticking the S Pen in backwards will cause the top end of the pen’s “clicky side” to get caught behind [the] lever. ... Your only option is to perform a delicate wiggling act to [get it] out. ... It’s really tough.

[But] Pulling out the S Pen out at this point will likely damage [another] lever. ... It’s plastic and housed inside of a component that’s soldered to the main board [and] would be very difficult to fix. ... Once that little lever is broken, there’s no restoring the S Pen detection functionality. ... Once it is broken, you’re essentially screwed [as it will] kill the Screen-off memo feature. ... You’ll also lose the automatic Air Command menu.

Avoid doing this at all costs. Don’t even test it. ... Please don’t try this. It doesn’t end well.  MORE

Meanwhile, a dismissive Meeze Tha Dabber voices the voice of experience:

Three Notes and I've never attempted to insert it the wrong way. Even if I tried I don't see how I wouldn't notice. It's slides in butter smooth.

Don't see how it's Samsung's fault. It's user error.  MORE

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by , who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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