Best iPad pro stylus

Pogo Sketch Pro vs. Kuel H12 vs. Jot Pro vs. Bamboo: iMore compares pro-level iPad stylus pens and tells you which one is best for you

Apple might have said "yuk!" to stylus pens but users are saying "yes!" in ever greater number. Apple might have had a point, back in the days before iPhones and iPads, when pointy old resistive stylus pens had to be used just to get outdated touch screens and inscrutable interfaces to work. But now there's a new generation of stylus pens for the new generation of capacitive touch screens. These stylus pens don't have to be used -- we want to use them. We want to use them for speed and accuracy, for comfort and creativity. We want to use them for take hand-written notes, to draw and paint, and to game. We want to use them to such an extent that, for many users, it's no longer a question of whether we should use a stylus pen -- but which one?

To answer that questions, iMore took a look at four of the most popular, high end stylus pens on the market -- The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro, the SGP Kuel H12, the Adonit Jot Pro, and the Wacom Bamboo. We took a look at the build quality, durability, and capacitive performance of each one, and we tested them using Noteshelf and Penultimate, Procreate and Paper by 53, and Zuma's Revenge and Words with Friends.

And here's what we found...

Pogo Sketch Pro vs. Kuel H12 vs. Jot Pro vs. Bamboo: iPad stylus shootout

iPad stylus hardware comparison

How a stylus feels and how it holds up is as important as how it works. If its not comfortable in the hand for long periods of time, you won't keep using it. If it doesn't hold up to heavy use, you won't be able to keep using it. Now the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro, the SGP Kuel H12, the Adonit Jot Pro, and the Wacom Bamboo are all pretty much pro-level stylus pens, which implies better quality, and longer lasting materials. But how do they compare?

Wacom Bamboo stylus

The Wacom Bamboo stylus looks like a standard, straight-barrel pen with feed. It has a milled aluminum body with a satin-textured finish, and comes in black, white, blue, green, pink, and orange. The tip is completely soft to the point of being mushy, and it's the shortest of the stylus pens we tested.

We found the Wacom Bamboo to be the least comfortable of the group. The short length and the sharp feed made for a bad combination. The completely mushy tip was also a disappointment, as it provides almost no push-back without excessive pressure.

Because it's soft and oh, so mushy, there could be some concern about durability. We didn't have any problems at all, however.

Adonit Jot Pro stylus

The Adonit Jot Pro feels like a mechanical pencil or drafting pen, complete with a thin, hard metal tip... topped with a round plastic disk. There's a screw cap to protect the tip, and the The body is aluminum and steel, and will stick to the magnets around an iPad 2 or new iPad display. There's a rubber black grip area, and the metal section comes in black, silver, red, or blue.

Immediately familiar to anyone who's done technical drawing or drafting, the Adonit Jot Pro may take some getting used to for everyone else. The hard tip provides immediate pressure feedback but isn't quite as smooth as the other stylus pens. The disk provides excellent visibility for detailed line work, but doesn't feel natural for softer applications, like brushwork. It's also noisy when tapping or swiping, which can be distracting in a quiet setting.

Also, if the disc becomes damaged, the hard tip can cause scratches. As long as you pay attention, however, you can get replacement tips and avoid any problems.

SGP Kuel H12 stylus

The SGP Kuel H12 is built like a premium, high-end pen, complete with an elegant feed and a gently curved body and a tip that extends from the body with a twist. The silicon coated, high polymer tip is soft but it has a rigid insert roughly 2/3 of the way down. It comes in black, white, and silver.

Anyone who enjoys a good pen will enjoy using the SGP Kuel H12. From the weight to the material, it just feels right. The tip is soft but not as bad as the Bamboo, and quite smooth. While the width of the body can obscure the screen at times, overall it's very comfortable.

Some people have reported problems with the thinness of the tip, but ours has held up well. Just make sure you twist the pen to withdraw the cap if you intend to put it in a bag, pocket or purse. If you do have a problem with it, there's no way to replace just the tip.

Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro stylus

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro eschews the standard pen shape for a long, tapered, forward weighted design. It has a solid aluminum unibody with a black, ergonomic grip. The tip is soft but becomes rigid about 1/3 of the way in. It has small holes punctured in it which Ten One claims increases capacitive performance. It comes in any color you want as long as that color is silver.

While the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro doesn't look or feel like a traditional pen, it's still very comfortable to use. The front weighting means you can let gravity do some of the work for you, and even though the tip is soft, only the topmost part has any give. That makes for excellent performance.

Because of the perforations, the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro might be subject to wear and tear, but our review units have been fine even under heavy use. You can also buy replacements tips, should you experience any problems.

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro, the SGP Kuel H12, the Adonit Jot Pro, and the Wacom Bamboo are all well constructed and they all use high quality materials. The Wacom Bamboo is the least comfortable based simply on the short length and sharpness of the feed. The Adonit Jot Pro will appeal most to technical writers and artists. The SGP Kuel H12 is fantastic, especially if you like the feel of a real pen. My personal favorite is the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro. Then length and curve make it decidedly un-pen like, but also extremely comfortable. Replacement tips is icing on the cake.

Four way tie, with a slight edge to Adonit Jot Pro and Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro for the replaceable tips.

Note-taking stylus comparison

One of the primary uses for stylus pens on the iPad is note-taking. Whether it's simply to scribble down a few words or diagrams, or to write out long form text, a good note-taking stylus has to be comfortable and smooth, and well suited to both print and script.

The Wacom Bamboo is okay for note-taking. The completely soft tip doesn't provide the best feeling, and the capacitive performance isn't the best of the stylus pens we tested, but once you start writing script, you can keep it flowing. Print is a little more hit or miss.

The Adonit Jot Pro is good for very precise, very technical writing. The slightly rougher feel of the disk isn't the best for script, but if you're doing something very detailed or specific the accuracy could make up for it. However, and the hard metal tip creates a tapping sound when writing short strokes or block letters.

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Plus is excellent for note taking and is my personal favorite for quick note taking. The front weighting combined with the high level of capacitive performance makes it easy to start writing, and the smooth tip combined with the more solid base means it's easy to keep going. The extra length also allows for a little calligraphic flair, if you so choose.

The SGP Kuel H12 is Mobile Nations' favorite stylus pen for long form note taking. The solid, real pen feel makes it incredibly comfortable to use and the quality of the tip make note taking a breeze. If you want to write a short book with your stylus, the Kuel H12 is the one to consider.

With the caveat that the Adonit Jot Pro might better please precision note-takers, and the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro those who want a little more calligraphic flare, the SGP Kuel H12 wins the note-taking crown.

Art and drawing stylus comparison

The Wacom Bamboo is once again just okay for art and drawing. The short length and the mushy tip give less range and require more pressure to get solid feedback, which hurts the overall experience. Once you get a line going, it's fine, but putting paint on a page takes more effort than it ought to.

The SGP Kuel H12 is better for art and drawing. Its slightly longer and more curved, so it feels better, and the tip requires slightly less pressure than the Bamboo to get a good capacitive connection going. It works well for both line work and for brush work.

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Plus, by virtue of its long length, allows for really good lines and brush strokes. Again, the weighted top and the rigidity beneath the tip means it does a lot of the work for you, and it works well at almost any angle. For painting type applications, it's the best stylus we tested.

The Adonit Jot Pro simply excels at line work. Anyone who's ever done technical drawing, drafting, penciling, or inking work will feel instantly at home. The clear plastic disk at the tip lets you easily see exactly where you're working, and the Jot SDK means apps like Procreate can be especially tuned to work brilliantly with the Jot Pro. For anything detailed, the Jot Pro is best in class.

Both the SGP Kuel H12 and Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Plus are great general purpose stylus pens to use for art, and of the ones we tested, were the best for brush work as well. When it comes to any kind of line work, however, the specificity of the Adonit Jot Pro can't be beat.

Gaming stylus comparison

The Adonit Jot Pro remains accurate thanks to its plastic disk, but that same hard disk can be very annoying when tap, tap, tapping away on your iPad during games like Zuma. For Draw Something it wasn't bad, but not as good as the soft tipped stylus pens for so casual a use.

The Wacom Bamboo finishes its streak as the most consistently okay but not great stylus we tested. For gaming, the mushy tip resulted in lower registry of capacitive contact than any of its competitors. The short body was also the least dynamic and least comfortable when used for extended gaming, though the soft tip was nicely quiet.

The SGP Kuel H12 was good for gaming, though the thickness of the body obscured more of the screen than I'd have liked. It had the second best capacitive registration average, however, and was easily comfortable enough to use for even long -- long -- gaming sessions.

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Plus was excellent for gaming. Out of all the stylus pens we gamed with, it had the highest accuracy and reliability, almost always hitting what I wanted and causing the iPad's capacitive touch sensors to register that hit successfully. The long length made reaching all areas of the screen quick, and the ergonomic design remained comfortable from beginning to end. This is my go-to gaming stylus.

While the SGP Kuel H12 put up a valiant fight, the Ten One Design's combination of forward weighting, excellent range, and awesome accuracy gave it the winning score.

Cost

The Wacom Bamboo performed the least well in our tests, yet costs the most at $29.95. Conversely, the SGP Kuel H12 was one of the best, yet only costs $19.95. The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Plus and Adonit Jot Pro are in between.

Prices can vary a lot in the accessory market, and you can find sales that radically change the equation, but in general terms and unless you need something very specific, the SGP Kuel H12 is the best bang for your stylus pen buck.

Conclusion

Based on our results, and though several iMore staffers like it quite a bit, the Wacom Bamboo just doesn't match up to the other pro-level stylus pens on the market, and costs the most as well. Not a good combination.

If you're detail oriented and primarily do a lot of technical writing and drawing, the Adonit Jot Pro the best stylus for you. While it's not great at gaming, it'll do in a pinch, and note-taking works well enough when you get use to it. When our Editor-in-Chief wants to draw, he draws with the Jot Pro.

The SGP Kuel H12 is great, all around stylus pen. If a traditional pen look and feel is what you want, and long form note-taking is what you need, the Kuel H12 is the one to get. It's also a Mobile Nations favorite.

My favorite stylus of the four is the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro. It doesn't feel like a traditional pen, but it consistently produced the best results for me in general, and was the best stylus pen we tested when it came to gaming.

So this is how it plays out -- the Adonit Jot Pro is very good but is more of a specialist tool. You'll know if it's best for you. It then comes down to the SGP Kuel H12 and the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro. The Kuel H12 is cheaper, but the Pogo Sketch Pro has replaceable tips. The Kuel H12 feels more like a premium pen but the non-traditional design of the Pogo Sketch Pro has several advantages. Since they both perform so well yet look so different, you can probably tell at a glance which one you prefer. Many here at Mobile Nations love the Kuel H12. But at the end of the day, due to its excellent design and superior overall performance, the winner of our shootout is...

The Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro.

$29.95 - Buy the Wacom Bamboo now

$27.95 - Buy the Adonit Jot Pro now

$19.95 - Buy the SGP Kuel H12 now

$24.95 - Buy Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Pro

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Best iPad pro stylus

32 Comments

I have a Wacom Bamboo stylus and I like it a lot. That being said, there's one thing wrong with your review - the tips are indeed replaceable. I've bought them in the past here:
http://www.wacom.com/en/Products/Accessories/Bamboo%20Stylus%20Accessori...
Also, since the tip is removable and hollow, I've found you can adjust how mushy the tip is by putting small pieces of foam in the tip, thereby making this stylus customizable to your personal preference. This makes it really user friendly in my opinion.

Thanks for the tip on customizing the Bamboo. I have 2 of them, and I find them too squishy. I'll definitely try adding some foam!
Also, thanks for pointing out that Wacom has the replacements back in stock. I've been trying to get them since March when my daughter bit the tip off one. That's actually why I bought the second, since I couldn’t find tips anywhere.

I bought the Bamboo when it was first released and have been very satisfied with its quality of construction and overall performance. I think the tip replacement ability is essential - in fact in the early production runs, the tip was even "squishier" and wore out quickly. As a result, I bought two packs of replacement tips and discovered found newer tips to perform better and last longer. But I do agree that the Bamboo is not athe best for freehand note taking - I like your idea of inserting a small bit of foam inside the hollow of the tip - will try it to see how it works.
I like the Kuel H12 based on the reviews -except for the non-replaceable tips because they do wear out. So the Ten One Sketch Pro is interesting -might try it out.

I am doubting this string of reviews. I'll admit bias as a Bamboo owner. Please check your facts. You say if the nib on the Bamboo wears out, there is no way to replace it. Really? I just ordered three new nibs from the Wacom website. I have them now. You are very wrong about how the nib is squishy. It's not. But just about everything is squishy if you apply enough pressure.

I was interested in the SGP Kuel H12 until I looked at the reviews on Amazon citing very poor durability. There are only 3 reviews so not a very wide sample. Anyone else have personal experience with the Kuel of more than a week or so?

This series of review were nicely done. I did indeed receive a Jot Pro last weekend, and I love it for note taking. One thing not mentioned is that if you're listening to a phone call (or lecture) and need to write a lot of notes quickly, there's far less friction in the Jot Pro. Long term that means less fatigue for your hand. I just find that I can write faster with the Jot than I can the Bamboo. I do use the Bamboo as a pointer device in place of my finger, if for no other reason than it keeps fingerprints off the glass.

Worth mentioning if you are considering a Jot-Pro, if you use a screen protector on your iPad, the stylus may or may not work. I have a Jot Pro and I have a Ghost Armor screen protector installed and the stylus does not work. Other nub-type stylus work decently with the protector (ie. Griffin) installed.

That's generally true of a lot of stylus pens. Pogo has a warning on their site as well saying they make no promises it will work at all with a screen protector.

Ah, if only I'd seen this review 3 months ago! I wasted money on a couple of Bamboos hearing how great they are. They're just "meh" in my opinion. I absolutely LOVE my Pogo Sketch Pro! I don't do much line work or note taking, but if that ever changes I'm glad to know there's a stylus for that too.

Jot pro all the wy for me, I have to see what I'm writing and the jot is the only one that allows you to. Also they will release the jot touch with Bluetooth pressure sensitivity for drawing...

Oh no, Leanna must be cringing from this article! I actually got the bamboo based on her recommendation and I absolutely love it. Zero complaints here. However, I still appreciate these series of reviews and now the pogo is on my radar if and when I see a need for a new stylus. Until then I'm completely happy with my bamboo :)

I'm a fan of the Bamboo stylus and have used it in a variety of ways, including writing notes in my grad school classes. I also like the construction - feels solid in my hand/fingers when writing on the iPad screen. That all said, at least now I have more food for thought if/when I purchase a new stylus.

Thanks for the reviews you two. I've decided to get both the Jot Pro and the Pogo. Any realistic concerns about the Jot scratching my screen if my screen is kept clean and the Jot is kept in proper maintanence? Would it worry you to use the Jot a lot?

If you keep the cap on the tip and check it for defects I'd say no. Enjoy the jot but know it does take a bit of getting used to.

Thanks for the info. I'll be using the Jot for taking notes at university, after I've used it for a couple of months extensively I'll post in here or the forums what the results are in case anyones interested. It sounds like smotth sailing.

Rene and Georgia there have been some reports about the Adonit Jot Pro is likely to leave permanent scratches on the Device iPad or iPhone. Do you guys also feel so ?

We addressed that in the review. If the plastic disk becomes damaged, and the hard metal tips (or other abrasive component) gets scratched along the screen, I could imagine something bad happening.
We didn't have any problems with the disks on any of our review units, and Adonit sells replacements if anyone ever does.
So I'd pay attention but not panic.

so you are syaing nothing to worry about that will leave scratches on the iPad screen ? It does not in normal use, is that what you are saying ?

Have you used the Pogo Sketch Plus? From Ten One's website it looks like essentially the same thing as the Pogo Sketch Pro just in regular pen form. I'm just curious if the review would be applicable to the Sketch Plus.

I ave the sketch plus also but it doesn't compare to the design feel of the pro version. But if you rather the look of the plus then try it out. It's someone cheap feeling to me though like the first gen styluses

Hi. Thanks for the interesting review. I use my iPad one extensively for note taking using Noteshelf. I tried the Pogo, but as a pen lover it didn't really work for me. After testing numerous styli, I settled on the Alupen from just|mobile; I'm curious why you didn't include that in your review.

Kind of wish you tried the aPen, and similar stylus. Of course they are limited to just a few apps, and some reviews state not that accurate on the screen. I do have the H12, and Jot Flip. It ia also a fine pen for regular paper notes. The Jot is my choice when drawing out lines, or fine detail. The refil for the pen part may be hard to get. I think it is only available from Jot. As new type stylus come out, please keep up the reviews. They are very helpful. Thanks.

Fantastic web site. A lot of helpful information here. I'm sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your sweat!

I use the pogo sketch pro for art as well as note taking. I've tried several styli including the jot pro and found that the pogo sketch pro was just the right one for me. It does not look like a traditional pen be ause it is designed to look and feel like a paint brush, and for me the feel is perfect for painting. I also use this on penultimate, and I find that the jot pro is actually slightly more accurate. It has ,ore of a feel of a ball point pen, but the pogo is accurate enough for me. It's slightly sloppier than my normal writing so it doesn't bother me (I have good handwriting) but for someone who is only using a stylus for note taking and not for art, I would recommend the jot pro over the pogo, but for a person who does both and only wishes to purchase one stylus, I recommend the pogo. Thanks for the review!

this is a great post, very informative, thank you! I just got an iPad mini, my first tablet experience, after reading this post I am ready to get the SGP Kual H12, but also I would like to get a ZAGG screen protector.

Can anybody please let me know if the stylus use changes depending on the screen protector you are using? I cannot find much information about using the combo: Stylus + Screen protector. Please help! Thank you!

Thank you for a very informative post. I just got an iPad, and am thinking of using it to take my notes in college instead of notebooks and a real pen. For taking fast notes in science classes (hopefully without having to zoom in and out constantly), do you think the SGP Kuel H12 or the Adonit Jot Pro would be a better fit? I'm hoping for an experience similar to just writing notes on a notebook paper.

Thanks!

I never tried to take notes with a stylus, I use my iPad all the time at work, I take notes with Beesy and I shares directly with the people involved. I heard that bamboo looks good.