The Note 5 Backwards-Stylus ‘Design Flaw’ Hubbub is Really Stupid [Updated with Me Being Wrong]

* * * UPDATE: I have largely reversed my position on this due to new evidence. So consider this post an archive of my being wrong, or at least, insufficiently informed.
From the Note 5 manual.

Apparently, some folks have decided to 1) purchase a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, 2) Stick the S Pen stylus in backward, getting it utterly stuck, and 3) Blame Samsung.


It sucks, no doubt, to have your new phone suddenly broken due to something that seems so innocuous.

But come on. You have to wonder, why in the name of sweet flappy jeebus would you want to stick your S Pen in backwards? For one thing, this particular version of the S Pen features a clicky spring-loaded nub on the end of it, which is specifically constructed to eject the stylus from its compartment. This ejector would not function if inserted backward into the phone, so by doing so, you’ve already negated (nay, violated) the whole concept of the S Pen’s design. And there is literally no reason to stick the stylus in backwards. Even if you did so accidentally, when you go to push it in and your thumb or finger feels a point instead of a flat, springy surface, that ought to be a clue that you’re about to commit an error, and so reverse course.

So, fine, I’ll grant that accidents happen. A kid could get ahold of the device and mess with it, or a person who doesn’t know any better might just find the whole “what would happen if” concept irresistible. Sure, Samsung says in the instruction manual not to ever put the pen in backward, but whatever, nobody reads those. It would absolutely been better if Samsung had made sure this kind of thing couldn’t happen by accident, and would have added value to the product.

But do we hold the manufacturers of USB devices responsible if someone tries to jam a plug into a port upside-down, damaging the connectors? If I shoved a floppy disc into a drive backward, and screwed everything up, would that be the manufacturers’ fault? In either case, would we demand a recall of these products? Of course not.

Look, Samsung is a big, rich company, and they can certainly afford to replace some devices or rejigger their design, I don’t feel bad for them or worry about them. Puh-leez. But I have to give an even bigger “puh-leez” (maybe a few more e’s, like, “puh-leeeeeeeze”) to the idea that this is some unforgivable design flaw on Samsung’s part, that they somehow blew it because a few people couldn’t help but “see what happened” if they did something obviously wrong to their expensive, delicate hardware made of super-precise, miniaturized mechanical parts. It’s an $800 piece of technology, folks. Treat it like one.

And for full disclosure: I got a Note 5, it’s amazing, and I have not been tempted to stick the S Pen in backward. Ever.

Update: Andrew Martonik sees the real design flaw.