Samsung users ask, “Why does the S-Pen smell so bad?“
3 mins read

Samsung users ask, “Why does the S-Pen smell so bad?“

Smells bad, tastes fine! —

Apparently the “Ultra” phone’s S-Pen often smells like burning plastic.

The Galaxy S24 line.

Enlarge / The Galaxy S24 line.


Electric design is a field full of varying opinions and trade-offs. Companies agonize over the physical shapes of their devices and the materials used, all trying to create a high-quality, premium-feeling device that fits with the constraints of mass production. Material choices usually center around cost, feeling, and durability, but how often do manufacturers take into account smell? Samsung users are finding that if you pop out the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s “S-Pen” stylus and give it a whiff like you’re huffing a marker, you’ll find that it… smells bad?

9to5Google found the following incredible post from Reddit user “LatifYil” titled, “Why does my s pen smell so bad?” The post has almost 250 comments of users all mostly agreeing with the post’s sentiment that “the S-Pen in my Galaxy S24 Ultra absolutely reeks. Either I have a sensitive nose or this thing is being barbequed by the internals while it’s unsheathed.” The top-rated, very-online comment is, “Op got me to smell my pen. Can confirm it’s a stinky boi.”

Those describing the smell all seem to agree Samsung’s stylus often smells like an electrical fire. One user writes that it’s “a very burnt and plastics smell.” Another says the S23 Ultra stylus “smells like new tech with a hint of burning.” A more descriptive commenter says it smells like “an electric mixer that’s turned on, but the beaters are jammed up and can’t turn, so the motor is overheating.” The S-Pen is mostly plastic but has a soft rubber tip, and a lot of users identify that soft bit as the smelly part.

One user baselessly suggested that the bad smell was due to a bitterant added to the S-Pen, similar to what is used on Nintendo Switch cartridges to make them taste bad, so babies don’t put a potential choking hazard in their mouths. But then another user admits to licking the S-Pen and reports that it tastes fine! Don’t you just love the Internet?

The issue of the smelly S-Pen was recently raised on the Samsung community forums, too, and Samsung employee “AndrewL” gave a statement on the issue:

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.

If you don’t like the smell of the S-Pen, you can always just not smell it. It’s not like the pen has a room-clearing stench—most users didn’t notice until someone pointed it out.