The stinky stylus in question. | Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

I smelled the S Pen, and the reports are true: it kind of stinks.

The S Pen is one of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s signature features — it’s a stylus that lives in the phone. A report from Reddit user LatifYil kicked off the S Pen aroma discussion earlier this week, noting that the S Pen on their Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra “absolutely reeks.” Dozens of commenters with S24 Ultras (and earlier stylus-toting Galaxy phones) responded in affirmation: their styli stank.

As noted by SamMobile, a moderator on Samsung’s EU community forums offered a reasonable explanation for the smell:

This isn’t anything to be concerned about. While the S Pen is in its holster, it is close to the internal components of the phone, which will generate heat while in use, and cause the plastic to heat up. This can smell like burning, but it is similar to the smell you might experience after leaving your car in the sun for a few hours. The seats and plastic fittings in the vehicle might smell hot, but this will diminish after it cools.

Being a very serious reporter, I conducted my own exhaustive research: playing Pocket City 2 for 20 minutes in free roam mode. That really heats a phone up, and the S24 Ultra was quite warm to the touch by the end of my gaming session. I popped the S Pen out of its silo and gave it a sniff.

It’s a kind of industrial aroma to me, and I think commenters who called it a “burnt plastic” smell are spot-on. My husband’s description was less charitable: “It smells like [expletive] farts.” I also surveyed a friend who owns an S24 Ultra. His response when I texted asking him to smell his phone’s S Pen: “Excuse me?” We’ll call that one inconclusive.

The forum moderator who explained the S Pen’s smelliness mentioned that the odor diminishes over time. I can confirm that after sitting outside of the phone for about an hour, the stylus is less stinky than when it first came out. And if nothing else, at least now we know what the S in S Pen stands for.


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