Wacom Bamboo Stylus review

The Wacom Bamboo is a popular pen stylus for iPad and iPhone. It's a longtime favorite of several of iMore's editors and contributors, and comes from one of the most trusted names in digital pen technology. However, the Wacom Bamboo is facing intense competition from several other pro-level capacitive stylus companies. How does it stack up?

Decidedly middle of the road. The Wacom Bamboo isn't a bad stylus for the iPad or iPhone, but it isn't a great one either, at least not when compared to the higher-end offerings from SGP, Adonit, and Ten One Design.

In terms of style, the Wacom Bamboo looks like a typical pen, complete with feed and straight barrel. It's got a satin-textured and milled aluminum body and comes in a wide range of color options, including black, white, blue, green, pink and orange. You can also get a Duo version that has a real ink pen on the opposite end.

The Wacom Bamboo is well put together and feels like it's built to last. Even the capacitive tip, which on some pens can tear or wear down, holds up remarkably well to extended use.

The Wacom Bamboo is well built and good looking, but isn't inspiring.

Where the Wacom Bamboo suffers a little is comfort during extended use. While some people love straight barrel pens, we prefer more rounded, more ergonomic curves. The Wacom Bamboo is also shot by pro-level stylus standards, and that combined with the sharpness of the feed made it harder to get into a comfortable position and more likely to become uncomfortable over time.

Where the Wacom Bamboo suffers a lot is in its capacitive quality. In our tests it worked okay but not great across the board. The tip was the mushiest we've used and that meant we had to push more, longer before it would start to register. Once it did register, it moved well across the glass, but any time we lifted it we had to go through that sinking, mushy tip push again.

For script writing this wasn't a huge issue because the pen tip remains in contact for extended periods. For print writing, where the pen tip leaves the iPad screen more often, it was considerably more annoying. That was even more true for standard navigation and gaming, where each and every tap and swipe required pushing just a little too much to get it to sink in and register. For drawing apps it was the same story again -- okay but not great performance and too much pressure required any time the tip had to be re-introduced to the iPad screen.

While the Wacom Bamboo's tip moves smoothly, it's too mushy for serious work and the short length may be a deal breaker for some users.

The good

  • Large amount of color choices
  • Durable

The bad

  • Capacitive tip is too mushy
  • Pen design is too short and straight, feed is too sharp

The bottom line

The current Wacom Bamboo stylus for iPad and iPhone is serviceable but not inspired. In every way we measured, with the exception of shortness, the Wacom Bamboo has been eclipsed by more comfortable, more capacitive, and generally better performing competitors. If you simply want an okay general purpose stylus to keep with your for occasional hand-writing note-taking, drawing or otherwise creating art, or simply playing games, and you have to have it without any hint of a curve to its barrel, the Wacom Bamboo is a serviceable choice. Otherwise check out the other options first and make sure you don't like something by SGP, Adonit, or Ten One Design better.

$29.95 - Buy now


Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector and Isometric podcasts, follow her on Twitter @Georgia_Dow and check out her series at anxiety-videos.com.

  • That first image is killing me. Do you actually press that hard when you write?
    "we had to push more, longer before it would start to register. Once it did register, it moved well across the glass, but any time we lifted it we had to go through that sinking, mushy tip push again." -- This is never been my experience. Ever. And I've been using my Bamboo for a long time - and regularly. Several time a week.
  • Same. I've been doing doodles with it and simply caressing the glass is enough for it to register.
  • Exactly. I really disagree with this review. Bamboo is beautifully designed (subjective, sure) and feels excellent. Really uses high quality materials. The tip is soft, no question, but it's simply NOT unresponsive.
    I have been wanting to check out the SGP H10 & H12, though.
  • Dude, just wait until you try it out back-to-back with the SGP H12, Pogo Pro, or some of the other styli.
  • Oh. I don't deny that there might be a better stylus, I just think you're being mean to the Bamboo :)
  • 1, 2, 3 into the 4 haha. I wonder how this will compare with the Lunatik touch pen I supported a few months ago on Kickstarter and have yet to be shipped.
  • I've been using the Wacom stylus for my illustration work and have found it to be the best stylus I've used. Not sure about the whole pressing down thing, do you guys have a dud or something? In my experience it's the most accurate stylus I've used.
  • I've tried a few and the Wacom is the one I've stuck with. Love it.
  • Would love to see a comparison review of several styli, especially the SGP, Pogo, and Adonit Jot. I too have found the Bamboo "squishy". I long for a stylus that feels more like I'm writing with a pen than a wide-tipped magic marker. Based on the iMore review, I now use Noteshelf for taking notes. The squishiness of the Bamboo requires I write in the magnified area at the bottom. But even then, my handwriting is pretty bad because the rubber tip drags a bit.
  • Your wish is my command. http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/10/2925937/best-stylus-ipad-review
  • Thanks! And iMore now has an Adonit review. Perfect!
  • yeah the stylus is great but when it comes to getting the replacement tips they never have them in stock.
  • Try Amazon. 3 Pack for $5 and change. We're out of stock when I ordered but received them quite quickly.
  • I like the SGP H12, I have also played around with the ZooGue. It is a nice regular pen also, that takes the cross style refills. I have the aPen, where you have to plug a receiver into the iPad. The stylus has a fine tip, and uses watch batteries. It only works with three apps. With the studio basic free app, you can rest your hand on rhe screen while writing. The con of this stylus, it is not always correct where you touch the screen. You have to digitize to six points on the screen, but seems to be off on the right side when writing. The aPen would be suited for fine drawing.
  • So, if you think this isn't the best in any category - what do you guys think IS the best for each type of task?
  • I looked at the ratings and comments on Amazon before making a purchase. The Bamboo stood out so I bought one. The stylus glides very smoothly over the screen and feels great in my hand. I tried one of the others from a coworker and the Bamboo is so much better. I also just purchased some replacement nibs from the Wacom website just in case I needed one. They had them in stock. I would take exception with the screen shot where the stylus is squished on the screen. No one uses a stylus like that.
  • The Bamboo stylus is the third I've owned (including the Jot) and my experience couldn't be farther from what's described in this review. The weight feels good in my hand and I don't find it to be too squishy. Well, it's more squishy than the Jot but that's actually been a relief; the tap-tap-tapping sound of the Jot against the iPad's screen will make you lose your head after awhile.
  • We have been looking at over 16 different styluses some were not even good enough to put a review on them.
    So though the bamboo is loved it just didn't reach the top of the group but it isn't the bottom either.
    Sorry Leanna. It just isn't as sensitive as a few of the other styluses and we have to be honest about that.
  • Heya i'm for the primary time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to offer something again and help others like you aided me.
  • So you say "soon". Do you have "IDX Sync" themes available now?
  • Perfect, looking forward to the upgrade! Great work!
  • That's interesting. I've never experienced non responsiveness with the bamboo. I'm thinking your nib wasn't on right or something. shrug The Jott pro is the one that sometimes gives me trouble with initial non responsiveness. I think if it isn't perfectly flush with the screen there's issues. I'm considering ordering some replacement discs for mine cuz at first it worked great.
  • oh and I got my black bamboo for 19.95 at best buy!
  • I would like this stylus to try out for myself! It has gotten lots of good press.
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  • Spot on with this write-up, I actually suppose this web site wants much more consideration. I’ll probably be once more to learn far more, thanks for that info.
  • The Bamboo is a nice stylus, but I've found that the best stylus out there is the TruGlide from LYNKtec. I noticed that several people on here have mentioned the Bamboo's "squishy" tip, which I noticed too when I tried the Bamboo. It seems to be a common complaint with most rubber-tipped styluses, which is why I love my TruGlide so much! The TruGlide has an awesome microfiber tip that looks like steel wool, but feels very soft. And it seems to have some kind of little tiny spring underneath the microfiber, which keeps it from ever squishing down. I'm telling you, it's an awesome stylus! Definitely worth a try, I don't think you will regret it!
  • I just bought a bamboo stylus solo. I need to press very hard to write on my iPad air. I have a screen protector on it, do I actually need to remove the screen protector?