Best Stylus for iPad iMore 2021
Using an iPad is so much better with a digital stylus. Our favorite input device remains the first-generation Apple Pencil, which supports the largest number of Apple tablets. Easy to use and offering long battery life, this stylus is beautiful and practical, although there are others worth considering depending on your needs. There are a bunch of Apple Pencil alternatives out there, and even some cheaper iPad stylus pens that you should be looking at before making your decision.
- Best Overall: Apple Pencil (1st Generation)
- Runner-Up: Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
- Best Value: Adonit Mark
- Best for Kids: Logitech Crayon
- Best Alternative: Adonit Note+
- Best During Pandemic: Adonit Note - UVC
Best Overall: Apple Pencil (1st Generation)
First revealed in 2015, the first-generation Apple Pencil is still the stylus for most iPad users even though a second-generation model arrived in 2018. The reason? The latter only works with the 2018 iPad Pro models. By contrast, this one supports the first and second-generation iPad Pro models, the sixth-generation iPad, and the 2019 iPad mini and iPad Air.
Featuring Bluetooth wireless communication, the original Apple Pencil has a removable cap that conceals a Lightning connector for charging, which you can do through the Lightning port on your iPad. It takes just 15 minutes to give the Pencil 30 minutes of charging use.
The Apple Pencil is sensitive to pressure and tilt so you can change line weight, create subtle shading, and produce a wide range of artistic effects. Best of all, it's less expensive than the newer model.
- Supports more iPads than the newer version
- Includes extra tip
- Quick battery charge
- Old design
- No wireless charging
Runner-Up: Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
The second-generation Apple Pencil is the best Apple Pencil available, but it's only the runner-up on this list because of its limited compatibility. To date, the second Apple Pencil only works with the 11-inch iPad Pro and third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The matte-finished Apple Pencil doesn't have a Lightning connector. Instead, it charges wirelessly by magnetically connecting to the iPad Pro. Because of this, the writing device is flat on one side. The model also ditches the extra tip that comes with the first-generation version. You'll need to purchase a four-pack of tips separately.
Also notable: The Apple Pencil (2nd-generation) allows you to double-tap to switch between modes, even the eraser. Different apps offer different functionality with the double-tap action. Like the first model, it provides pressure sensitivity and palm rejection.
- Pair and charge wirelessly
- Attaches magnetically to iPad
- Double-tap to change tools
- Only supports two iPads ... for now
- No extra tip
Best Value: Adonit Mark
If you don't have an iPad Pro, or you don't need pressure sensitivity and palm rejection, the Adonit Mark is a comfortable (and inexpensive) option for writing, drawing, and sketching. The mesh-based round stylus works well with most multitouch screens and provides enough resistance to write well without many aberrations. Still, that mesh tip will need replacing — perhaps often, depending on how much it's used.
The Adonit Mark doesn't require batteries, which is good and bad. It's good because there's no battery to replace or recharge. It's terrible because, without a battery, the Mark cannot offer the accuracy of other digital pencils. Nonetheless, it works well in a pinch.
- Very inexpensive
- Available in different colors
- Mesh tip can easily break from regular use
- Hard push necessary
- Sometimes loses contact with iPad
Best for Kids: Logitech Crayon
The Logitech Crayon is compatible with all iPads released in 2018 and later. The versatile digital pencil works with any app that also supports Apple Pencil. With palm-rejection technology, the Logitech Crayon includes a smart tip that dynamically adjusts line weight depending on its angle. Unlike Apple Pencil, it doesn't support pressure sensitivity.
Because it was initially only for school use, the Logitech Crayon was designed with kids in mind. Because of this, its body is flatter and broader than similar products on the market. As a bonus, this design makes it impossible for it to roll away.
To get started with Logitech Crayon, you simply press the button on the side. It connects automatically to the iPad without additional pairing. The digital pencil offers up to 7.5 hours of writing time on a single charge and turns off automatically after 30 minutes of ideal time. A two-minute charge boosts the battery by 30 minutes of writing time.
- Ready out of the box, no need to pair
- Designed not to roll
- Can charge using a standard Lightning cable
- No pressure sensitivity
- Wider and flatter body not for everyone
Best Alternative: Adonit Note+
One of the most significant benefits of using the Adonit Note+ is that it works across multiple Apple devices, including iPhones. Yes, you read that correctly! Featuring a 1.9mm so-called Pixelpoint tip, the digital pencil offers pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, shortcut buttons, and even a grip sensor that detects when you pick it up. For charging, the Adonit Note+ comes with a dongle that plugs into a USB port. It takes one hour of charging time for 14 hours of use.
As is often the case with many non-Apple Pencil stylus, the Adonit Note+ does involve some lag time, depending on the device. The unofficial rule of thumb: the older your Apple device, the more likely the stylus is going to lag. Also, be aware that the Adonit Note+ is thicker and heavier than the Pencil.
- Compatible with many devices, including handsets
- Includes pressure sensitivity, palm rejection
- Long battery
- Charging dongle weirdly designed
- Performance better on newer devices
- Thick and heavy
Best During Pandemic: Adonit Note - UVC
The Adonit Note - UVC has built-in ultraviolet lights to kill 99% of surface germs in one minute. It does so without causing environmental pollution. The UVC function offers a power-off mechanism, so there's no way the light can hurt your eyes.
Like other Adonit products, the UVC model also includes native palm rejection and pixel-perfect precision. Use the Micro USB for charging. You can 12 hours of continuous write or 30 minutes for UVC light with every charge.
You can use the stylus with the iPad Air (3rd Generation), iPad mini (5th Generation), iPad (6th / 7th Generation), and iPad Pro (3rd/ 4th Generation, 11" & 12.9").
- It includes a germicidal light
- Doesn't require a Bluetooth connection
- With native palm rejection
- Supports many iPads
- No pressure sensitivity like other options
- Micro USB, not USB-C charging
The first-generation Apple Pencil is the best stylus you can buy for your iPad, assuming you don't own the latest iPad Pro models, which only support the newer Apple Pencil.
Iconic and stylish, the first Apple Pencil offers quick charging, features an extra tip, and works with all current-generation iPad models, including the first and second-generation iPad Pro, the sixth-generation iPad, and 2019 iPad mini and iPad Air. Happy drawing!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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