If you’re making smartphones, and you’re not Apple, Samsung or Huawei, you really need every advantage you can possibly get to stand out from an extremely crowded marketplace. That’s why it’s slightly odd that Motorola’s Moto Z4 has a genuinely useful feature that the company hasn’t made a big deal of at all.
In fact, it took someone on Reddit to spot it. Hidden near the bottom of a page one the Moto Z4’s web page was the phrase “Stylus Compatible with Microsoft active pen protocol”. It doesn’t seem to be there any more, but some more Reddit digging found that this means that Microsoft’s Surface Pen works with the Moto Z4 – pressure sensitivity and all.
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“I have the phone and a few Surface Pens,” replied one user. “It works like you’d expect, pressure sensitivity and all. Nothing fancy with Bluetooth – the eraser button seems to work as a back button. The whole setup is pretty nice for doodling in Google Keep.”
Phones with stylus support are pretty rare outside of the Samsung Galaxy Note series. And while the Moto Z4’s support is a bit more limited than that, and doesn’t have a dock to park it when it’s not in use, this is nonetheless a very useful feature for doodlers. Especially those who also happen to be deeply embedded in Microsoft’s Surface ecosystem.
Crucially, comparisons to the Galaxy Note aren’t exactly fair: the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 would set you back £899 at launch, while the Moto Z4 is a far more wallet-friendly $499 (around £395, though there is no official UK release date).
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To be clear, this isn’t a feature you should necessarily bank on with the Moto Z4, even if it ever does come to the UK. It’s telling that the line has vanished from the Motorola website: to me, that means that at best it’ll never be officially supported – or worse that Motorola has decided it’s not worth the trouble, and is something the company actively plans to remove from the device in a future patch.
Nonetheless, it’s encouraging that a mid-range phone could pack such a useful feature without piling on the pounds (sterling). Fingers crossed that more phone manufacturers toy with adding the protocol in future.
Would Surface Pen support make you more inclined to buy a smartphone? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.