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In drawn form, here's what we think about the first-gen Apple Pencil

The original Apple Pencil has come a long way since it first launched. It's still a great stylus thanks to its compatibility with most iPads released in the last couple of years years. And while there are many Apple Pencil alternatives out there, including some great lower cost options, nothing has really managed to take its place as the best stylus for iPad that you can get right now.

It turns out, our thoughts on the Apple Pencil from its initial launch hold up all of these years later. Check out our hand-drawn first look of the original Pencil below and be sure to check out our full Apple Pencil review as well.

On a mobile device? Rotate your screen to view this comic full-size.

A digitally drawn review of the Apple Pencil by Serenity Caldwell. Spoiler: This is the best iPad stylus I've ever used. Combine it with an iPad Pro and you have a top-tier drawing tablet to rival Wacom.

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First: Build Quality. The Good: Well-balanced, comfortable to draw with for hours, smooth on the screen, not too click. The Bad: Still slippery on glass, no clip option -- though you can steal a clip off a Micron pen, and no digital eraser.

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The Lightning charger is awkward, but it charges quickly. Five minutes will get you 20-25 percent battery life. As for the no eraser thing, I've used Wacoms for years, and it took me just a day to get used to it. Quick-charging is a much more useful feature.

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Second: Writing. My writing is terrible, but the Pencil renders it almost perfectly. I can write big, I can write small, and it looks great. The Pencil succeeds where other styluses fail: It has little to no lag, great precision, and excellent palm rejection.

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The first thing I tell people who try out my Pencil and iPad Pro: You can put your hand on the screen. It just works.

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Third: Drawing. It probably comes as a huge surprise, but I love drawing with this thing. The precision is incredible, as is pressure sensitivity. And my favorite part: Shading.

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It's such a nice option to shade your drawings or comics. It gives added depth. Bonus fun Pencil feature: It works at any angle, like a NASA space pen. So you can turn your iPad Pro canvas any way you want.

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I drew this review in Paper, but the Pencil works just as well making pro-level work in Procreate and Pixelmator, or even as a navigational tool in GarageBand or iMovie. It may be called a Pencil, but the stylus is an all-purpose tool. It's the best digital one I've ever used, and I hope this comic helps you understand why.

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103 Comments
  • I think your handwriting is rather beautiful. But unfortunately it seems unlikely that I'll be able to use the Pencil anytime soon, as I bought an iPad Air right before the Pro came out, and I won't be replacing it anytime soon :(
  • Just a recommendation: check the resale value of the Air, better to sell it while it's still got a high value. That way you only need to cover the difference between the resale value and iPad Pro+Pencil.
  • Unfortunately it looks like you'll only get up to $250 for a used one, based on Amazon and eBay prices (maybe $270, but those don't seem to be selling well since you might as well just buy a refurb for $330). Gazelle will only give you $130 - $180. That's not a lot off the $900 iPad Pro + pencil. I agree you should sell now while the value is still relatively high (especially if Apple is about to release an iPad Air 3), but only if you know you absolutely have to have an iPad Pro and you'll probably end up buying one soon regardless.
  • LOL, why are you telling us what kind of iPad you have?
  • Have you tried the Pencil with note taking software like OneNote or Notability? This could be a real breakthrough if they bring the Pencil to the 9.7" iPad Pro (PS - Apple, let's simplify matters and just call them iPad Pro 13 and iPad Pro 10).
  • Handwriting in OneNote, Notability, and GoodNotes is wonderful. Super precise, and pressure sensitive.
  • Yup! I've used both, but really like Whink.
  • huh! I had never heard of it. Looks very interesting. What makes you prefer it over Notability?
  • I believe it's by the same folks who do Notability — simpler, better tools for my personal taste.
  • Hi Serenity. Firstly, thanks for that really excellent review of the Pencil. According to the App Store Notability is made by Ginger Labs, whilst Whink is made by someone else. How well does Whink integrate with Evernote? Thanks again. Martin
  • Thanks Ms. Caldwell. Since I have such an ancient archive of OneNote notes (going back to 2008) I think I'm "locked-in" - and they say Apple has a walled garden...
  • I've been a Noteshelf user since 2010 (really!) when I had an iPad 1. Now, with the Pro, I'm loving the Pencil. I've got a bunch of stylii including the Pencil from 53 (the folks who make Paper) and I'm using the Apple Pencil all the time now. I love Noteshelf...it's allowed me to stop using marble notebooks! I have a new notebook for each month and a separate notebook for each project/client. I also sync Noteshelf with Evernote so everything is available wherever I am. Nice review, Serenity. I concur!
  • I am using the Apple pencil with notability and I can highly recommend it for note taking being able to draw mind maps at will while using a keyboard for note typing is a God send as a student. Handwriting looks great as well though not as great as in Notes but the problem with notes is that you get a blank page every time you activates the handwriting feature which means you have no idea how you handwriting Or drawing will be placed in relation to the text in your note. Notability does not have that problem.
  • I wish I had your talent, you're a fantastic artist.
  • Gotta say I love this article.
  • Really great article! Speaking of magnets: The Pencil sticks quite nicely on the right side of the closed Smart Cover.
  • I'd love to see more articles just like this. One of my favorites so far.
  • Am I missing part of the image, or does the title state "Apple Pencil Reviev" at the top?
  • HA! I can't believe how many people proofed this comic and didn't see that. Thanks for the catch! I'll fix.
  • sorry to pile on, but I think SECOND: Writing is missing a cross on the T. really beautiful review!
  • It's a very nice review — if you want to send me an Apple Pencil for the catch, I am happy to accept. :)
  • You can solve your Apple Pencil docking problems here: http://www.steelconnect.co/category-s/1820.htm
    with the Quarter Holder and Quarter Cap. It was a Kickstarter campaign and they told us they're shipping this week!
  • Or with this: http://www.moxiware.com/collections/apple-pencil-accessories/products/ap... - I have one and it works really well, though does impact the aesthetic of the pencil a bit...
  • Great read Ren...
  • That handwriting is not bad at all. I know bad handwriting. Doctors gasp in disbelief at how bad my handwriting is.
  • Wow! This review is as great as the pencil itself. (Note: I LOVE that "NO ERASER" girl. Ha. Ha.)
  • The most enjoyable review I've read of any item.
  • Shame we can't post a reply with a drawing - though mine would be nowhere near the beauty of yours Serenity! My question: Do you know anywhere that sells replacement caps? I lost mine :(
  • Oh no! I'd contact Apple Support and see what they can do.
  • Thanks Serenity - just did that. They can send one but you have to pay (as you would expect). £15.44+VAT in the UK. I ordered. Apparently you can also purchase in store (but not online)
  • Great! Great Article! Easy to follow. Right on!! George Rubin Naples Mac Users Group
  • VERY well done. Enjoyed the review and the artwork. Now if only I could afford to get one. Saving up for a new Macbook Pro while working on my 17" Macbook Pro from 2006. Pretty beat up but still works.
  • Beautiful, Serenity.
  • An amazingly to the point, extremely well done review. It was a joy to read/view. Thank you
  • What a wonderful review!!!
  • Wow, the most natural and straight to the point and beautiful review ever. Thank Ren Sent from the iMore App
  • I've wanted a decent stylus for my iPad for years, but I'm torn on getting such a large tablet. It's not necessary for my work, and I think on a personal level I'd prefer a smaller tablet. I know Pencil doesn't work on regular iPads or minis, but if the next generation of those tablets include Pencil support, I'd be interested to know your opinion of the drawing experience on a smaller tablet. By the way, I love your illustrations. I wish I could draw like that!
  • You can get a smaller ipad pro that is 9.7 inches instead of 12
  • I'd love to see if I could replicate this on my Surface Pro, but two things get in the way. Neither my handwriting or drawings are anywhere near as nice as yours. :p
  • I really enjoyed this article. Probably the best reviews I have read yet. One thing I am hoping for in Apple Watch 2 is Apple Pencil support. Sounds crazy, but just think, sitting there writing or sketching on the iPad and then an sketch comes through on your watch. With the fine tip of the Apple Pencil, it would be perfect to use to reply back by drawing an sketch on the watch face instead of using an finger.
  • I too am loving my iPad pro and pencil. It is hard to use anything other than procreate now as other apps seem to have more lag with drawing. Is there a case you can recommend? I have been looking for something that will work well for drawing on the go but haven't found any yet.
  • This is one of the best reviews I think I've ever seen for a product on any tech website. Absolutely brilliantly done! If I didn't already have a Pencil you'd sold me on one.
  • That was a lot of fun to read. All reviews should be done in comic book style!
  • Wow! Thanks so much for the great review. It is simply wonderful. I very much appreciate your time and creativity in making it. It was MUCH more helpful than any other review I have seen.
  • Utterly charming! Thanks.
  • I love this Serenty! Great job :)
  • Without a doubt, one of the coolest reviews ever.
  • Serenity, this was both cool and funny. I love it! Thanks fur the smiles you brought me this morning. :-)
  • I'm interested in buying a Pencil (as soon as they make regular iPads compatible), and I would like to suggest that iMore try some articles about what apps are available that specifically don't have anything to do with Adobe. Like a lot of folks I just don't like Adobe as a company and I certainly don't trust them to have my drawings (which tend to be very personal) in their faulty and expensive cloud. After testing some apps with the Pencil at the App store it seems that for today, the only ones that don't have significant lag are the Adobe apps. "Paper" is great but for the moment it has noticeable lag. What about Procreate and the other third party apps? Is pixelmatr going to make an app? Concerned people would like to know. Thanks for considering this idea if you do.
  • I did a pretty detailed roundup here: http://www.imore.com/best-apps-drawing-ipad-pro-apple-pencil
  • Absolutely love your review. Hope that Apple begins to incorporate Apple pencil compatibility with all of its iPad devices.
  • BRILLIANT!! The medium is the message - as a Mc-Canadian once said.
  • The bad news is that to meet my demand, you will have to do this at least once a month. The worse news is that I suspect most readers will now demand this once a week. You have only yourself to blame. :) No matter what you write next, if it is not a comic, we are already disappointed.
  • Best way to review this accessory! I tried it with my daughter and we enjoyed the experience immensely! Sent from the iMore App
  • This review is a fantastic example of how blogs can utilize creative content to change things up, and give their readers a fresh experience. It's important to note that although I come here daily; I have never posted a comment on this site and in general, rarely comment online! This is worthy of a first comment. Kudos to Serenity and the iMore Team! Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm so glad you commented. Thank you for reading and supporting iMore!
  • Absolutely! Next you guys should do a review of PlayGround. As a musician or "band geek" my whole life I can say that it lays the foundation for how music could evolve in the future. I could rant for hours, but to sum it up, it's what this app doesn't do - allow users to create - that makes it so special. PlayGround • Music At Your Fingertips by HLO S.A.
    https://appsto.re/us/BxBC5.i
  • Another delightfully clever article from Serenity! Nice work!
  • Serenity - Thank You for such a creative way of reviewing the  Pencil. Brilliant !! I can't wait to get one.
  • Awesome review! I'm strongly considering the upcoming 9.7" iPad + pencil if they add support as rumoured! Any thoughts on that size as a drawing tablet? I've also owned some Wacom tablets over the years, but I've never been able to fully adapt to the hand/eye disconnect. I'm hoping this will help me finally embrace digital painting!
  • I think it could be good! I embraced the 12.9-inch size fairly early on, honestly, but for those who don't want something so gargantuan a 9.7-inch tablet should be perfect.
  • Great article. I support all the comments as they all seem to be so supportive.
    I love my iPad and pencil and can't draw as often as I would like. You have re energised my need to express my self and in realising that my handwriting has deteriated and should be practiced more, I shall, promise!
    One side issue is that no one has mentioned the essential charging adapter included in the pencil box, the two 'female' ended short device which means you can attach the charging lead to the end of the pencil while you are using it!
    It is an easy way to keep the pencil charged and the adapter can be left on the pencil, afterwards as mine is.
    Keep drawing and writing everyone. iPads are fun again.
  • Great article! Please use the same approach for future reviews of other products!
  • The only thing missing in your article is the possibility of sending you comments drawn the same way you did your review! :-)
  • excellent review, creatively written and i