In recent years, the world of phones has become quite boring. While waiting for the arrival of folding smartphones, we were able to get our hands on another peculiar phone: the Zanco S-Pen. This product combines the features of a phone, a stylus, a voice recorder, a laser pointer, and even a camera. Here are our impressions on the device.
A Kickstarter project that has become a reality
As surprising as it may seem, it is thanks to crowdfunding site Kickstarter that this device was created. It only took a few hours to raise enough money to start production ($10,000). In total, $67,735 has been donated for the Zanco S-Pen at the time of writing.
Project participants can purchase the Zanco S-Pen by pledging $49. Delivery is scheduled for April 2019.
A truly original phone
It's hard not to smile when you first hold the Zanco S-Pen. The device takes the form of a large pen with a keyboard and a whole host of features from smartphones. Thus, the Zanco S-Pen offers a SIM card slot, a microSD slot (required if you want to use the cameras), a micro-USB socket and even a 3.5mm headphone jack! A small color screen is also available to help you navigate through the menus.
Clearly, the phone looks like a gadget that James Bond, in the Sean Connery era, could have used on one of his secret missions. Its certainly portable and light, and the camera is very discreet despite its unusual format. The device is made entirely of plastic. The finish quality is what you would expect, but the Zanco S-Pen seems to be resistant to falls.
At the moment, however, using the Zanco S-Pen as your main smartphone seems almost impossible. Fortunately, its designer does not plan to replace your smartphone. The Zanco S-Pen is indeed a device that can be coupled via Bluetooth to your smartphone and thus become an extension of your main phone, or a secondary smartphone, similar to the Jelly Pro.
Don't take it too seriously
As with any phone, it is possible to make calls. You can either do so via Bluetooth with your main smartphone or directly from the device by inserting a SIM card. I must admit that the sound quality has convinced me that you can converse in a completely normal way using this pen phone. A voice changer function is also included, just for fun. Its usefulness is debatable, but the Zanco S-Pen is a fun phone that isn't supposed to be taken too seriously. It is also possible to send messages too, but its keyboard (using number keys, the old-school way) is not the best or quickest way to write message in 2019.
In addition, despite its small size, the Zanco S-Pen also offers some extra features. The phone does not allow external applications to be installed, however, it does have two cameras (one on the front and one on the back) just in case. I say just in case, because the VGA resolution of the sensors will not provide high-quality results, even under excellent lighting conditions. Photos can be stored using an SD card, as well as videos, which are also quite unreliable. In the absence of quality, using the camera of this pen phone is quite amusing, if nothing else.
Of course, as its name suggests, the Zanco S-Pen can also be used as a tablet or smartphone stylus. In practice, this works well. Just like the laser functionality that can be used during presentations (or to annoy your colleagues, as it tended to be in my case). The terminal is equipped with two microphones to support a voice recorder, FM radio and remote capture.
Finally, on the battery life side, it has a 400 mAh cell. That's enough battery life to last up to six days, according to the manufacturer. In reality, this is quite true since the device is only used in few cases. If it becomes your main phone, its battery would be reduced and you would have to get the charger out after 2 or 3 days.
A useful device or a novelty gadget?
After the curiosity wears off, the Zanco S-Pen remains a niche phone and a rather special object. It can convince those looking for a second smartphone or a smartphone to use on an occasional basis, such in the evening, at the beach, on vacation, or at the office. Those looking for a true spy gadget will be a little disappointed. The device, although small, will easily generate more attention and questions than your regular smartphone, which likely offers the same (or even more) spy features than the Zanco S-Pen.
In the end, this Zanco S-Pen is not very useful, but its affordable price and wow factor will certainly help it find an audience.
What do you think of this Zanco S-Pen? Let us know in the comments.