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It took all this technology to make me fall in love with a drawing app

It’s pretty basic, but it’s my new favorite thing

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The Galaxy Note 9 can do a lot of neat things — even though its massive battery is still one of the best selling points — but I’ve unexpectedly fallen in love with the S-Pen.

That’s the goofy name Samsung gave to the stylus that is held in the body of the phone when not in use. It slides in and out with a very satisfying click sound, and the phone makes a very pleasant sound when it’s deployed. It’s like the hardware is gently whispering to you: Don’t worry, you can take notes now.

Besides the apparent erotic undertones of the whole thing, the phone comes with a coloring book app called Penup that packs in a lot of social features and art lessons that I completely ignore but offers a fairly robust take on those adult coloring books that were a big thing a few years ago. You can select your colored pencil or paintbrush or whatever, pick a color and just color. There’s a fill tool if you want to cheat, but what’s the point in that?

The virtual pen makes a lovely skritch skritch skritch sound as you color, and any mistakes can be touched up with the little virtual eraser. It’s all very calm and weirdly sensual, like I’m playing with crayons but also enjoying some ASMR. And this is on top of the podcast I’m listening to, which means my whole brain is occupied and still while being away from the laptop and social media.

None of this is new or groundbreaking when it comes to coloring apps, but the phone’s massive screen and built-in stylus elevate a pretty pedestrian app into something that feels like inadvertent meditation.

My new favorite way to relax is to color a bit while listening to true crime podcasts; the kids like to make fun of how I move the phone to the side or hold it upside-down to get the best angle on my masterpiece.

This work in progress took about a podcast and a half

And the phone has pretty good speakers, so this works a treat even without headphones. Since the pen is built in — the phone even gets mad at you if you don’t return it to its sheath and you’re not interacting with anything, sending you text messages reminding you to put it back — it’s always there and ready for 10 or 15 minutes of light coloring and background podcasts.

It’s strange to be holding one of the beefiest and most powerful phones on the market only to become obsessed with what amounts to a very mature version of Microsoft Paint, but here we are.

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