Penghazi! Penghazi! Penghazi!

Or "pengate," or whatever you want to call it. Source: Mobile88 . A significant chunk of the Internet lost it's shit rec...

Or "pengate," or whatever you want to call it.

Source: Mobile88.
A significant chunk of the Internet lost it's shit recently over an apparently disastrous design "flaw" in the Galaxy Note 5: you can damage the phone, slightly, if you stick the stylus in backwards.

I think it's a tempest in a teapot.

The Galaxy Note series is well-known for it's S-pen, an active stylus that has found a real following among a subgroup of mobile users.  (I have a Note Pro 12.2 and I must admit, there are times when the S-pen is really, really useful.)  The Note 5 has a redesigned S-pen, intended to alleviate the fiddling about one suffers using one's fingernail/fingertip to pull the stylus out of its slot. Apparently, now, you give it a little push and it pops out, all spring-loaded and such.

As far as that goes, I think it's a nice touch, especially for people with long and/or coloured fingernails who find that using a nail to get the stylus out can damage their appearance.  It also just takes less time and attention to get the stylus out, regardless of who the user is.

The problem seems to be that the new design allows one to insert the stylus backwards, yet has sufficiently delicate innards to get ruined when one does that.

There's no question that this is a flaw, but I'm unconvinced it's a flaw as earth-shattering, mind-numbing, and apocalyptic as many are depicting it.  And a simple Google search will yield all manner of sensationalistic bunk about it - but I don't want to offer them any potential page views by linking to them here, so go Google it yourself if you must.

I don't think it's a big deal for a few reasons:

It won't break your phone.  To say that inserting the stylus backwards "breaks your phone" is a pretty bad exaggeration.  The phone will still work, the camera will still works, the apps will still work,.... The only thing that happens is that the sensor that activates certain functionality will stop working. Granted, the S-pen is the key distinguishing feature of the phone, but let's not get carried away here; the Note 5 would apparently be an awesome phone even without the S-pen.

It can be fixed. See this post. And if there's already one fix out there, there will be others eventually.

Who does that anyway? There's a fundamental question here: What would make a person put the stylus in backwards anyways?  Do you not know which end of a knife to hold?  Do you keep putting pens in your shirt pocket the wrong way round? Did you never get used to protecting the business end of any pointy instrument in your life?  Do Note 4 (or 3, or, 2, or 1) owners regularly put their S-pens in backwards?  (I cannot find any information on this at all.)  Sure, people will make mistakes, and a good design takes that into account.  But, honestly, must we blame the designer for every stupid thing a user does?

Was it a design tradeoff? It's not clear to me that this is such a black and white issue. Given the new mechanism designed into the Note 5 to make stylus easier to extract, is it not possible that the designers reasoned that something might go wrong, but that, on the whole, the net benefit of easier extraction outweighed the detriments... at least till they come up with a better design? (Remember too that competition is a bitch and that sometimes vendors must ship a minimum viable product due to factors they cannot control.)

RTFM! Samsung knew enough to make a point in their instructions about proper storage of the S-pen.  Some people see that as an admission of guilt.  I see it as due diligence.  If you can't be bothered to spend a couple of minutes with the instruction manual, then you're at least as much to blame as the designers, and probably much more so.

No one of these reasons is enough to exonerate Samsung.  However, it seems to me that they all figure into it - and possibly many other reasons that I've not thought of. And taken together, they demonstrate that "pengate" really isn't such a big deal.

Also, going a bit "meta" here, I have to wonder how much of this angst-ridden chest-beating on the part of Note 5 users isn't just an inability to accept responsibility for their own actions.  I see this a lot today: it seems that when one makes a mistake, it is politically correct to blame everyone else.  This is a bad sign, I think, as far as society in general goes. But perhaps that's best left for another post.



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The Trouble with Normal...: Penghazi! Penghazi! Penghazi!
Penghazi! Penghazi! Penghazi!
The Trouble with Normal...
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