How to Fix It When Your S-Pen Is Not Working

Quick fix tips for a faulty Samsung Galaxy Note stylus

As the Samsung Galaxy Note models become more advanced, Samsung's new Note 9 S-Pen features have made the accessory fragile and susceptible to malfunction. Here are some common issues that may arise on the latest Galaxy Note smartphones and easy methods to resolve these problems.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and S-Pen
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Causes of Samsung Galaxy Note S-Pen Malfunction

Many things can cause the S-Pen to not work properly. For example, faulty cases or screen protectors from unofficial third-parties affect the way the stylus works and accessories manufactured without Samsung's quality standards in mind may not work as expected.

It's also possible the S-Pen is getting old due to wear and tear of the stylus tip. This happens when the S-Pen is used frequently. Galaxy Note devices can also get system bugs that can affect the S-Pen function.

How to Fix Galaxy Note S-Pen Not Working

If your S-Pen doesn't work, try each of these troubleshooting steps in the order presented until the S-Pen works properly:

  1. Reboot the device. Sometimes it's that simple.

  2. Remove the protective case. Many third-party protective cases may have metals and magnets that interfere with the connection between a Galaxy Note smartphone and its S-Pen. This can leave blank spots on the screen when drawing with the stylus.

  3. Remove screen protectors. Some screen protectors may be too thick to detect the Galaxy Note S-Pen correctly. These can also be sensitive to hard, rubbery, and uneven surfaces that affect how the S-Pen drags on the screen.

  4. Check for a software update. On the Samsung phone, go to Settings > Software update > Download update manually. If a software update is available, it will download and install. After the Galaxy Note device has updated, you may have to restart the smartphone before testing the S-Pen.

  5. Make sure the S-Pen is connected. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the S-Pen becomes disconnected from the phone. This one's a simple fix. Open the Settings app, select Advanced Features, select S-Pen > S-Pen remote, then turn the toggle switch to the On position.

  6. Reboot the phone in Safe Mode. Similar to Safe Mode on a Windows PC, this is a minimal way to boot the phone without apps or other extras getting in the way. It will help you rule out a low-level problem and figure out what's getting in the way.

    1. Power off the phone.
    2. After the phone off, press and hold the Power button.
    3. When the Samsung logo appears, release the Power button and hold the Volume Down button.
    4. Hold the Volume Down button until the device is done booting. You should see Safe Mode in the lower-left corner of the screen.
    5. Try the S-Pen again.
  7. Replace the S-Pen tip. If the Galaxy Note device isn't able to register its S-Pen or pen strokes are inconsistent, it may be time for a new S-Pen tip. Samsung includes five replacement tips and an S-Pen tip remover tool with every Galaxy Note device. Replacing the Galaxy Note S-Pen tip is a simple process.

  8. Reset the Galaxy Note. This returns the phone to its factory settings. For safe measure, reset the S-Pen by pressing its Reset button.

    It is important to back up the information on your smartphone before performing a reset. This function returns the device to factory settings, as it was when first purchased.

  9. Replace the S-Pen. Sometimes, it's the pen that's causing the problem, but the pen can be replaced. Samsung sells replacement S-Pens, which you can find (along with aftermarket pens) on sites like Amazon.

  10. Call customer service. If your S-Pen doesn't respond to any of these methods, take the S-Pen and your Galaxy Note smartphone in for service. Samsung offers walk-in, mail-in, and at-home services.