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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

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.

(opens in new tab)

Your source for all things Apple

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 illustrated beautifully. Thanks for taking the time to do a review like this Serenity! Waiting to see if a smaller iPad Pro 9.7-inch version will be coming out soon with Pencil support. Be sure to write more reviews like this. Would love to see an illustrated tutorial or guide for using Paper by 53.
  • Hey Seren! Thank you for the article! It was imaginatvie and insighful. Hopefully imore will do more like this in the future.
  • I enjoyed reading this comic very much - thank you, Serenity!!!
  • Doesn't the Pencil come with a connector so you can connect it directly to a lightning cable in the box? :)
  • It does! But I almost never use it. Quick-charging is my go-to, usually.
  • I hope that part about missing eraser is a sarcasm, otherwise you are Apple maniac who is blind for all usefull missing features in the name of gnawed apple. Sent from the iMore App
  • This is one of the best trolling comments I've ever gotten! Gold star. Gnawed apple is especially beautiful poetry.
  • I created an account just to say I LOVED this article/infographic! Very cool how this was done.
  • Aw, thank you! And thanks for reading!
  • I love Apple Pencil. One con you missed: you can't use it while it is charging, even with the adaptor and a USB cable!
  • True! But it charges so quickly, I don't mind that so much. (Also, ever tried to draw with a wired pen? It's like those chained bank pens, only so much worse.)
  • Great idea, loved the review!
  • Great review! What would make the iPad Pro and the pencil really great is if they would add handwriting recognition software to the iPad. Apple still owns this technology from the Newton days, and I suspect that in the 20 years since the Newton was killed, it will be vastly improved. Has anyone asked this of Apple?
  • I'm crossing my fingers for it!
  • Take a look at www.phatware.com and their app WritePad Pro for handwriting recognition; not sure whether the developers have incorporated Apple Pencil support yet.
  • Speaking of the Newton days, does anyone remember writing with "letter gestures" on the Palm PIlot and Handspring "PDAs", and doing it on those postage-stamp-sized 'touch panes'? (For years. But I still have a copy of the fold-up "full keyboard" attachment for the Palm III. Needed to add cargo pockets to my pants with some of those fabric-fabrication tools called sewing machines, zig-zag sewing machines, merrowing machines, and then CAD-CAM embroidery machines. Now of course, arthritis kicks in, so we'd be looking for adaptation to Mont Blanc "meisterstück" fountain pen, mechanical pencil and roller-ball models. And switch to "My First Pencil"/"My Last Pencil" tools. (Anyone remember/know a source for "Kem-Ruwe" super-soft (for editing newspaper copy on cut sheets of that self-same newsprint?))
  • Did you stitch together drawings from Paper or is there some sort of infinite canvas that I didn't know existed?
  • /seconded
  • 8 individual Paper drawings stitched together. :)
  • Great review idea. I really enjoyed your storytelling style and obvious enjoyment in demonstrating the functionality and fun of using the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil.
  • This is such a great review Serenity! I do hope Apple plans to make the pencil compatible with other iPads and not just the Pro.
  • Awesome review...one of my favorites so far...well done!! Sent from the iMore App
  • One of the best creative review ever of a product. Great job.
  • Great to hear Ren get a shout out for this review on MBW. Well done.
  • This has got to be the coolest review ever on iMore. Love your enthusiasm and the artwork and design is gorgeous. The Pencil simply can't be reviewed by specs - this is the only way it should be reviewed. Now can you pass some of that talent over our way?! Great work, Ren!!
  • The medium is, indeed, the message.
    Brilliant review, Serenity!
  • Awesome! I loved it. And as an iPad Pro/Apple Pencil user, I can confirm that what she says is true. I wish I knew how to draw!
  • Love the Apple Pencil ... it's the number one reason (for me anyway) to own the iPad Pro. Love handwriting. I blog about it and showcase work on my site: RichImages.net (btw, I would love to be able to gain permission to share this graphic on my iPad Flipboard channel if possible - imore doesn't seem to allow one to flip an article to flipboard).
  • Piping in! This is a great review. Very well done. And perhaps its because it takes one to know one, but all your drawings show you're a lefty, correct? I tried the Pencil at an Apple store and could *not* believe how well it worked for me. Other styli I've tried force me to raise my hand above the iPad. Is that your experience as well?
  • Who knew Serenity was such an excellent artist?! Not me. But it's not just her drawing skills on display here. The "article" was also well organized and well designed. That includes the decision to run it vertically, which enabled her to flow the story without the cell structure that sometimes inhibits a horizontal design. I wonder why she published it here rather than on Macworld.com, where she is editor in chief? Yes, I know, it was linked to there, but, well, maybe she's trying to increase readership here on iMore. Well, she succeeded in my case, since I had to sign up in order to add this post. ;-) Were it an ordinary article I would probably have demured. Ah, it just occurred to me: This blog is intended to be read on an iPhone or iPad, where vertical scrolling is more efficient than horizontal. Sorry. I don't have a smartphone or a tablet. Just a Mac. So I'm a little slow on the uptake about such things. Still, Serenity, keep up the good work. Now that we know how talented and creative you are in graphic arts, we will expect to see more from you in this vein.
  • I notice in the lead photo that you are not using an Apple case. Can you recommend any "artist's" cases that are especially well suited for use with the Apple Pencil?
  • Right now my go-to is the Logitech Create!
  • G'day from Australia again. Still loving the pencil and creating art of many subjects.
    I like the idea of an handwritten email which could be done using iPad pro saved to PDF for mailing. I must try it TODAY....
    I can also use the pencil on PAPER to add textures or notes to my photos to include in the email. I should add that I use Apple's NOTES to add comments but they are not possible to overlay. Just found another creative program - more later.
    Thanks again Serenity and iMore - you make my day.
  • Hello Serenity, I just got a Pro and Pencil... i really love them. Is it me or does it seem that if the pencil goes to a slight angle, say when using a pencil tool, it goes from a crisp line to a feathered line. I guess what I am asking... does have to be pretty much straight up and down for crisp lines. It seems sensitive... but maybe I need to take it back for a new one? Thoughts?
  • It's the shading part of the Pencil: It probably thinks you're going too close to the side of the nib.
  • Love the review, it's probably the best review for an item I've seen, in fact it moved me to order a pencil right away. Thank you.
  • Love the review!
  • Considering the fact that the Apple Pencil as of today is a first generation Apple product, I'm really impressed by it, so far. I wrote the entire review (thefrustum.com) on the iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil (using an App called Nebo). Yes my writing hand (or rather the wrist) is a little sore but for such a long review, the fatigue I feel is nothing. I'm sure that the Apple Pencil 2.0 will be thinner and lighter. But I hope it will also be a little more practical when it comes to design. Overall at least in my case, the Apple Pencil is a winner!
  • Nice review! Good info, and the visual flow and appeal are wonderful.