The iPad is a capable device for both art and productivity, but it becomes a stronger proposition in both areas if you have a good stylus on hand.
Whether you’re sketching a new building project, taking notes during a business meeting, or sketching graphics, a stylus is a game changer. But with so many to choose from in nearly every shape and size, which one is best for your needs? Everyone has heard of the Apple Pencil, but there are plenty of great alternatives that cost a fraction of the price.
Here are the best iPad styluses available right now.
Apple Pencil (2nd generation) – Best ever
Price at time of review: $129 Best Prices Today:
THE Apple pencil it’s an obvious choice, what’s not so obvious is which Apple Pencil you should choose. There are two Apple Pencils. The first generation Apple Pencil is still being sold despite launching in 2015, and there is a second generation Apple Pencil, launched in 2018. The first generation Apple Pencil, which will be introduced later in this roundup, works with current 9th and 10th generation iPads as well as a number of older iPad models. The second generation Apple Pencil works with 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation and up), 11-inch iPad Pro (1st generation and up), iPad Air (4th generation and up), and iPad mini (6th generation).
When we reviewed the second generation Apple Pencil in 2018, we gave it 5 stars. It’s shorter than the original, and Apple has given the second-generation pencil a flat edge that you can tap to activate specific app functions. This actually makes Apple’s stylus easier to hold and prevents it from rolling off the desk. The second-generation pencil is also magnetically attachable to the iPad, which also helps with rolling.
Another major change is that the 2018 Pencil doesn’t have a Lightning connector for charging, instead it charges wirelessly when connected to the iPad, which is much neater. The second-generation Pencil is matte white instead of the original’s glossy white (which might be a bit dazzling). You can also tell the two apart because the original had a metal ring next to the charging cap.
Both first and second generation Apple Pencils are equally responsive and sensitive to pressure. You can tilt the stylus to create different textures, making it a great tool for handwriting, drawing, note-taking, and illustrating.
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Price at time of review: $49.99 Best Prices Today:
If you want something that looks more like a real pen, a fountain pen, then Adonit Star will be a breath of fresh air. The classic design is reminiscent of a Mont Blanc, but without some of the bulkiness and most of the price. Removing the cap reveals a fountain pen style nib, filled with ink feed on the reverse, but on closer inspection you’ll see the metal soon cuts, with a fine black rubber 1mm point that will actually touch the screen .
As you might expect, the star is meant for those who want to take notes and generally write on their iPad only. It has no pressure sensitivity, so you can’t have thicker or thinner strokes depending on how hard you press, which would rule it out for most artists. That’s okay though, there’s the Apple Pencil for that. Instead, you get a balanced and very comfortable writing experience, aided in no small measure by Adonit’s excellent palm erasing feature.
Pairing is simply a matter of pressing the little button on the star, then when the blue light comes on you should be good to go. If it starts flashing red, it means it’s time to recharge, so unscrew the bottom of the pen and there’s a USB-C port. The star takes about an hour to charge and then will run happily for about 10 hours or so.
Adonit has come up with something truly unique in the Star. Classy looking, nice to write with, and it’s sure to look great when you take it out in a meeting to take notes. If there is a Stylus connoisseur, then you can bet the Adonit Star would be a premium part of their collection.
Zagg Pro stylus
Price at time of review: $69.99 Best Prices Today:
THE Zagg Pro stylus allows users to take precise and quick notes, draw, mark up documents and more.
It features a capacitive rear tip for fast, easy gliding and an active tip for smooth, crisp strokes. A tilt sensing system also allows you to create thick or thin lines.
This stylus connects automatically and is compatible with all apps that support Apple Pencil.
It is compatible with iPad (6-9th generation), iPad mini (5th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1-3rd generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3-5th generation), iPad Air (4-5th generation).
Apple Pencil (1st generation): Best for older iPads
Price at time of review: $99 Best Prices Today:
The second generation Apple Pencil is featured at the beginning of this roundup, but we still recommend the first generation Apple Pencil, which is still on sale. The older Apple Pencil works with current 9th and 10th generation iPads, as well as a number of older iPad models including the 6th generation and later iPad, iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation). generation) and the original iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation). If those are the iPads you have, this is the Apple Pencil for you. Unsure – check which iPads work with which Apple Pencil. Let’s compare the two generations of Apple Pencil in Apple Pencil (2018) vs. Apple Pencil (2015).
One benefit of the older Apple Pencil, assuming it works with your iPad, is that it’s cheaper than the second-generation version at $99 / £109 rather than $129 / £139.
The original Apple Pencil is almost entirely white, with just a metal band at the unwritten end near the refill cap. This cap hides a Lightning port for charging and syncing. When you want to charge the pencil, you can simply plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port or use an adapter if your iPad has a USB-C port (as is the case with the 10th generation iPad). There is one downside to charging this way: you can’t use the pencil while it’s charging, and it looks pretty ridiculous. Here you are how to check apple pencil battery percentage.
The pencil feels quite good in the hand, with a nice weight to it. The Apple Pencil and compatible iPads have sensors that can detect the pressure you’re using and the angle you’re holding the stylus at, making it easy to create lines of different thicknesses. In the tip of the pencil are two tilt sensors that the iPad display will track to calculate the exact orientation and angle of your hands as you draw. For example, you can use the tip side of the pencil for realistic shading as you would a real lead. The Apple Pencil knows how to ignore the wrist and palm
In the package you will find a spare point, but it is identical to the one attached to the pencil.
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Price at time of review: $69.99 Best Prices Today:
While the Pastel Logitech was originally conceived as an educational tool, the affordable alternative to the Apple Pencil is now available to anyone who wants it.
In many ways, the Crayon works the same way as the Apple Pencil, complete with easy pairing, reliable palm rejection, and tilt support, but there’s one major omission: There’s no pressure sensitivity here. It’s likely to be a deal breaker for charts, but if you’re just trying to use a stylus for note-taking, it’s unlikely you’ll notice a difference in performance.
You also get seven hours of battery life on offer, which should be more than enough for most consumers, and it’s topped up via a hidden Lightning port. It’s not as premium as the second-generation Apple Pencil’s wireless charging, but it’s definitely better than the original Apple Pencil.
It is compatible with iPad (6-10th generation), iPad mini (5-6th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1-4th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3-6th generation), iPad Air (3 -5th generation).
Bargains Depot B&D Stylus 2 in 1
Price at time of review: $6.99 Best Prices Today:
The B&D stylus is a real bargain at under ten pounds.
It is made completely of aluminum and comes with twenty extra rubber tips in two different sizes so you can adjust the accuracy of your lines. It’s also double ended, so you can use a different size on both ends.
No need for Bluetooth or charging with this stylus.
B&D Stylus is compatible with all iPads, iPhones and other touch screen devices.
Meko capacitive stylus
Price at time of review: $13.95 Best Prices Today:
The Meko stylus can be used for note-taking, drawing, writing, and of course basic selecting and navigating, and like the B&D option, it’s also made from aluminum with no plastic parts. It uses a disc tip like few other options on this list.
For one affordable price you get two Meko styles, two fiber tips and four replacement disc tips.