From cell phone to smartphone, the evolution of connection continues apace. But one thing that remains the same is our dependence on pocket-sized technology.
As designs moved from touch-tone to keypad to touch screen, so did the way we interacted with our phones. If you find yourself fumbling with the touch screen all too often, there is a solution.
Enter the stylus.
A stylus gives you more control over phone navigation. You can have better accuracy with drawing, writing, and gaming.
This list of the five best smartphones with styluses offers models that will make you rethink what a stylus can do.
Table of Contents
Top Smart Phones with Styluses
Ready to edit photos down to the pixel, give your thumbs a rest, or manage your calendar like a pro?
Check out our top picks for smartphones that are either stylus-ready or have an integrated stylus.
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
- S PEN & SAMSUNG NOTES: Pen precision meets PC power with S Pen & Samsung Notes.
- INTELLIGENT BATTERY & SUPER FAST CHARGE: All-day intelligent battery learns how to optimize battery life,...
With its trademark squared corners and big 6.9-inch AMOLED screen sporting a 120Hz display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a stylus playground.
Samsung stylus devices utilize their proprietary S-Pen. It’s a digital stylus with a nine millisecond response time that goes far beyond writing and drawing. It’s also a mature product that Samsung has been slowly refining since it’s original introduction way back in 2011 with the original Note.
The S-Pen is designed to work with the Note 20 Ultra without complex pairing. The built-in technology keeps the stylus and phone connected up to 30 feet.
Hold the button down on the stylus, and it becomes a navigation tool without touching the phone. These are called “air actions.” Navigate your phone, take selfies, and control video and audio playback.
Pair it with a Bluetooth speaker, and you can lay back and watch a movie or spark a dance party hands-free.
In short, there’s a lot you can do with the S-Pen, including taking notes when your phone is powered off.
The features of the phone are just as impressive. The triple-lens rear camera takes stunning pictures and video. Even night mode looks good.
It also comes with helpful features like Bixby personal assistant and DeX, which turns your smartphone into a mobile office. Plus, Samsung Notes can sync to your PC.
This phone is an excellent choice for work or play. It is pricey for sure, but one you might keep for years to come.
4500 mAh battery | Triple-lens 108 MP rear camera with 50X zoom | 10 MP selfie camera | 12 GB RAM/128 GB storage | Octa-Core processor | Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | Android 10/One UI 2.0 | 6.9-inch edge dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O WQHD+ screen | S-Pen | 8K video | 1 TB Micro SD slot | Fingerprint unlock | IP68 water resistance | 25W rapid charger
USB C | Wireless PowerShare | Wireless charging capable
- Stylish design and choice of colors
- Qi wireless charging
- 5G capable
- Highly responsive stylus
- Expandable memory
- Won’t lay flat on back due to camera housing
- Could fatigue hands due to its weight (7.34 ounces)
- Glass housing (Gorilla Glass Victus) could make it fragile without a case
- Screen fingerprint is difficult to use with screen protectors
- Battery life could be better
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G
- S Pen & Samsung Notes: Pen precision meets PC power with S Pen & Samsung Notes; So responsive, it feels...
- Intelligent Battery & Super Fast Charge: Adaptive power that meets your needs with an all-day intelligent...
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is a scaled down version of the Note 20 Ultra, but not by much. All in all, the core specifications are close, making it a “bang-for-your-buck” choice for those in the market for a stylus-powered phone.
You’ll get a smaller screen (6.7 compared to Ultra’s 6.9). You’ll lose some pixel quality on camera and less zoom capability. The battery is a tad smaller.
Yet, you still get the benefits of the included S-Pen and a responsive design in a more lightweight phone. You also won’t get the 120Hz refresh rate of the Note 20 Ultra.
If the S-Pen is the main draw, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not a scaled back stylus on the Note 20. It offers the same robust features such as air commands and write to text with pinpoint precision.
The S-Pen functions as a wireless controller for the Note 20. That’s useful for audio and video playback, taking pictures hands-free, or just navigating apps.
Bottom line: it’s a great phone at a lesser price point.
4300 mAh battery | Triple-lens 64 MP rear camera | 10 MP selfie camera | 8 GB RAM/128 GB² storage | Octa-Core processor | Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | Android 10 | 6.7-inch flat Infinity-O FHD+ Super AMOLED+ | S-Pen | 8K video | Fingerprint unlock | IP68 water resistance | 25W rapid charger | USB C | Wireless PowerShare | Wireless charging capable
- More lightweight than Note 20 Ultra
- Less expensive than Note 20 Ultra
- Stylish with a choice of colors
- 5G capable
- Picture quality could be better
- Digital zoom falls short
- Plastic back
- Shorter battery life than Note 20 Ultra
3. Moto G Stylus 4G
- Unlocked for the freedom to choose your carrier. Compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon...
- Built-in stylus. Retouch photos, jot notes, sketch artwork, and control a growing number of games and all...
In a world of $1000+ smartphones, the Moto G Stylus is still a contender. Don’t let the price fool you.
It has a generous 6.8-inch 1080p HD+ display and a thin bezel for more screen space. This comes in handy when you are taking notes, retouching photos, or playing games.
Getting the built-in stylus out from its hiding place used to be tricky (like the board game, Operation). The updated Moto G Stylus has an easy-release stylus with a textured grip.
Bonus: when you pop the stylus out, a stylus menu also opens on the phone screen. You can leave it as is or change the app shortcuts to reflect the way you use your smartphone.
The stylus tip is more rounded than the previous one, but accuracy doesn’t seem to suffer. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done.
The camera produces good photos and video — especially with good lighting.
Overall, it’s a good phone for the money. It’s not a smartphone for a superuser by any stretch. It’s an upgraded budget buy for grown-up everyday tasks, but it’s also fun to use.
4000 mAh battery | 48 MP rear quad pixel camera system | 16 MP selfie camera
4 GB RAM/128 GB storage | Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 | Android 10 | 6.8-inch Max Vision FHD+ screen | Built-in passive stylus | Video stabilization | Headphone jack | Micro SD slot Fingerprint unlock | 10W rapid charger | WiFi hotspot | USB C
- Affordable, upgraded smartphone
- Extra stylus features
- Expandable memory
- Convenient fingerprint sensor
- Good battery life (up to 2 days)
- Robust enough to handle casual gaming
- No wireless charging capability
- Not 5G capable
- Only water repellant (consider a waterproof case)
- Stylus has no Bluetooth connectivity
- Only two years of security updates
- Hard to see display in direct sunlight
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 4G
- Connector Type: type-C
- Included Components: Screen Protector Leaflet, Smart Switch Insert, Quick Reference Manual, Terms &...
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ debuted in 2019. Years later, it is still a solid smartphone stylus combo and it comes with the coveted S-Pen.
For display comparison, it has the same screen size as the less expensive Moto G Stylus and LG Stylo 6 phones (6.8 inches). But the display specs on the Note 10+ are far more intriguing.
The dynamic AMOLED display is like an infinity pool. You can hardly see the edge. This means more screen space for gaming, streaming movies, or living your amateur photog dreams.
The rear camera system takes crisp photos, is feature-rich and fun to use. The selfie camera is one of the best we’ve seen. Video capture and features are excellent.
The main draw, as with other Notes, is the S-Pen. All of the real estate you get with the massive screen on the Note 10+ makes this heaven for stylus lovers.
The S-Pen on the Note 10+ has similar functionality, but unlocks more available features on the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. The responsiveness is a bit slower, but not enough to matter.
The stylus gives you tons of options. You can use it directly on the phone or in the air up to 30 feet away.
All in all, this is a great looking phone suitable for work or recreation. There are lots of great features to explore.
4300 mAh battery | Multi-camera system: 12 MP wide angle/16 MP ultra-wide angle/12 MP telephoto/3D depth | 10 MP selfie camera | 8 GB RAM/256 GB storage | Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Samsung Exynos 9825 | Android 9 Pie | 6.8-inch edge dynamic AMOLED infinity screen | 4K video | S-Pen | Micro SD slot | Fingerprint unlock | Face unlock | 25W rapid charger | IP68 water resistance | USB C | Wireless PowerShare | Wireless charging capable
- Choice of colors
- Despite size, comfortable to hold
- Good battery life
- Compatible with a 45W rapid charger (not included)
- Very expensive for an older model
- Phone can get slippery without a case
- Camera could be better
- Hit or miss in-display fingerprint recognition
5. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
- PRO-GRADE CAMERA: Zoom in close with 100X Space Zoom, and take photos and videos like a pro with our...
- SHARP 8K VIDEO: Capture your life’s best moments in head-turning, super-smooth, cinema quality 8K...
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t come with an integrated stylus. Yet, it’s so future-forward that we couldn’t leave it off of this list.
It’s designed to work with the celebrated S-Pen. S21 Ultra + S-Pen = match made in tech heaven.
There isn’t a dedicated cubby on the S21 Ultra to store your S-Pen, but a case can fix that.
Let’s focus on what doesn’t need fixing.
The metal camera housing is more shallow than other Samsung smartphones. This gives you less rocking when you’re using your S-Pen to write, edit photos or navigate while the phone lays flat
The S21 Ultra has an adaptive refresh rate from 10 to 120 HZ. That means the smartphone can adjust its responsiveness automatically based on your usage.
For example, watching a movie might only require a refresh rate of 25 HZ, while gaming could max out at 120 HZ. The point is, you’ll get seamless performance with efficient battery use.
This refresh rate works wonders for navigating this phone with the S-Pen. No lag means your stylus strokes are seen instantly across the generous 6.8-inch curved edge display.
From air motions to remote shutter control, you’ll get the same functionality you can enjoy on the Galaxy Note series of smartphones.
Besides that, you’ll get an excellent camera that takes crisp photos and video. Samsung has added features like scene optimization and flaw detection to improve the experience.
The S21 Ultra is a super robust smartphone in glass housing that is fun to use. Add the rich features of the S-Pen and it’s a combination that is hard to beat.
5000 mAh battery | Five camera system: 12MP ultra wide/108MP wide-angle/10MP telephoto (10X)/ laser AF/10MP telephoto (3X) | 40MP selfie camera | 100X Zoom| 12 GB RAM/128 GB storage | Octa Core | Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | Android 11 | 6.8-inch Quad HD+ dynamic AMOLED 2X | 8K | Photo scene optimizer/flaw detection | Fingerprint unlock | USB C | Supports up to 25W fast charging | Wireless PowerShare | Wireless charging capable
- Solid build, elegant design
- Excellent camera system and images
- Good battery life
- Compatible with S-Pen
- Compatible with C-band 5G and WiFi 6E
- No charger head included, only USB C cable
- Heavier than Note 20 Ultra
- Must purchase S-Pen separately
- Lack of color choices
Samsung Galaxy smartphones have the most new and ongoing smartphones with a stylus option. They are also the priciest.
The S-Pen is an advanced stylus that offers more features than most. Depending on what you are looking for, a passive stylus like the one on the Moto G Stylus may be all you need.
If you want the best of both worlds: a responsive stylus and a robust, feature-heavy smartphone, you’ll have to stretch your budget and shoot for Samsung Galaxy.
We looked at some good LG smartphones with styluses, but since LG is ceasing smartphone production, we couldn’t recommend them.
Just be sure to do your research to lock in on the features that matter to you. And, check with your network before purchase. Sometimes networks stop supporting specific unlocked phones without much warning.