Best pencil or stylus for iPad, iPad Air, Pro and mini

Macworld

The iPad is a capable device for both art and productivity, but it becomes a stronger proposition in both areas if you have a good stylus to hand.

Whether you’re sketching a new building design, taking notes during a work meeting or designing graphics, a stylus is a game-changer. But with so many to choose from in just about every shape and size, which is the best for your needs? Everyone has heard of the Apple Pencil, but there are plenty of great alternatives that cost a fraction of the price. 

Here are the best iPad styluses available right now.

Updated November 27 to add Adonit Note+ 2 and the Apple Pencil USB-C

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) – Best overall



The Apple Pencil is an obvious choice, what isn’t quite so obvious is which Apple Pencil you should choose. There are two Apple Pencils. The Apple Pencil 1st generation is still on sale despite launching in 2015 and there is an Apple Pencil 2nd generation, which launched in 2018. The first generation Apple Pencil, which features later in this round-up, works with the current 9th and 10th generation iPads as well as a number of older iPad models. The second generation Apple Pencil, works with the 12.9in iPad Pro (3rd gen up), 11in iPad Pro (1st gen up), iPad Air (4th gen up) and iPad mini (6th gen).

When we reviewed the Apple Pencil 2nd gen back in 2018 we gave it 5 stars. It’s shorter than the original and Apple has given the 2nd gen Pencil a flat edge you can tap to trigger app-specific functions. This actually makes Apple’s stylus easier to hold and it stops it rolling off your desk. The 2nd gen Pencil is also magnetically attachable to the iPad, which also helps with the rolling.

Another major change is that the 2018 Pencil has no Lightning connector for charging, instead, it charges wirelessly when connected to the iPad, which is much neater. The 2nd gen Pencil is matt white rather than the glossy white of the original (which could be a bit dazzling). You can also tell the two apart because the original had a metallic ring next to the charging cap.

Both the 1st and 2nd generation Apple Pencils are equally responsive and pressure-sensitive. You can tilt the stylus to create different textures, making it a great tool for handwriting, sketching, note-taking and illustration.

Read our full

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) review

Zagg Pro Stylus 2



We loved the original Zagg Pro Stylus so we were happy to hear that there was a new model.

The Pro Stylus 2 is a good alternative to the Apple Pencil with many of the same features including wireless charging, a replaceable tip and attaching magnetically to the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

One advantage is that unlike the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil the Zag Pro Stylus 2 can be used with any iPad since 2018.

The Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is comfortable to hold, has a matt coating, and comes in a selection of colors.

There are two tips: a replaceable stylus tip and a capacitive rubber tip which can be used for scrolling and also functions as the power button. To save power, the Pro Stylus 2 switches off automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity. The battery should last for around 6.5 hours.

We tested with a number of creative apps and found the experience akin to the Apple Pencil 2, however, it didn’t work well with Adobe Photoshop due to significant delays. If you are using Photoshop then stick with the Pencil 2.

Read our full

Zagg Pro Stylus 2 review

Adonit Note+ 2




Best Prices Today:



$69.99 at Adonit

The Adonit Note+ 2 is a slimline stylus that features an impressive amount of versatility. Housed in an aluminum body that weighs only 14g, it’s comfortable to hold and use for longer writing or sketching sessions.

On the body there are two buttons, one is for the standard power and pairing features, but once connected to Bluetooth they can both be programmed in a variety of supported apps to execute commands. So, you might set one for Undo and the other for Redo which enables you to quickly fix mistakes in your note or illustration without having to access menus.

In the box you’ll find three different replacement tips – soft, medium and hard – allowing users to tailor the physical experience to their personal preferences. The Note+ 2 supports palm rejection and pressure sensitivity, so long as the app you’re using does too (the list of compatible apps covers pretty much all the big hitters for notes and art). Adonit has also built-in an angle detection technology which means you can have thicker or thinner pen-strokes by simply tilting the stylus.

Writing and drawing with the Note+ 2 is smooth and reliable, with the slim profile nestling into the hand. There’s a flat side opposite the buttons which provides a steady grip and is also home to magnets that mean you can attach the stylus to the edge of your iPad when you’re taking a break.

Battery life tops out at eight hours, which takes one hour of charging through the USB-C port to achieve. But, if you run out of juice while in the midst of a creative frenzy, five minutes of charging will keep you going for another hour.

Apple Pencil (1st generation) – Best for older iPads



The second generation Apple Pencil features earlier this round-up, but we still recommend the first generation Apple Pencil, which is still on sale. The older Apple Pencil works with the current 9th and 10th generation iPads as well as a number of older iPad models including the 6th generation iPad and later, the iPad Air (3rd gen), iPad mini (5th gen) and the original iPad Pro (1st and 2nd gen). If those are the iPads you have that this is the Apple Pencil for you. Unsure: check which iPads work with which Apple Pencil. We compare the two generations of Apple Pencil in Apple Pencil (2018) vs Apple Pencil (2015).

One benefit of the older Apple Pencil, assuming it works with your iPad, is that it is cheaper than the second-generation version at $99/£109 rather than $129/£139.

The original Apple Pencil is almost entirely white, with just a metallic band at the non-writing end by the charging cap. This cap conceals a Lightning port for charging and syncing. When you want to charge the Pencil you can just plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port or use an adapter if your iPad has a USB-C port (as is the case with the iPad 10th gen). There is a downside to charging this way: you can’t use the Pencil while it is charging and it looks pretty ridiculous. Here’s how to check the Apple Pencil’s battery percentage.

The Pencil feels pretty good in the hand, with a nice weight to it. The Apple Pencil and compatible iPads have sensors that can detect the pressure you’re using and the angle you’re holding the stylus at, making it effortless to create lines of different thicknesses. In the Pencil’s tip there are two tilt sensors which the iPad’s display will keep track of to work out the exact orientation and angle of your hands as you draw. For example, you can use the side of the Pencil’s tip for realistic shading like you would with a real pencil lead. The Apple Pencil knows to ignore the wrist and palm

You get a spare tip in the box, but it’s identical to the one that comes attached to the Pencil.

Read our full

Apple Pencil (1st generation) review

Apple Pencil (USB-C)



The Apple Pencil (USB-C) is a slightly confusing entry to Apple’s range of Pencils. It isn’t as good as the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil from 2018 and doesn’t even have all of the same features of the 1st-gen Apple Pencil from 2016. It includes some of the same features as the prior models (including low latency and tilt sensitivity) but is also missing pressure sensitivity and wireless charging – in fact, it is the only model with a port for charging.

It attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad for storage, like the 2nd-gen model. It is also shorter than both the 1st-gen and 2nd-gen models (6.10 inches vs 6.92 inches and 6.53 inches). You can’t engrave it.

It isn’t compatible with the entry-level iPad.

But, at $20/£20 less than the 1st-gen Pencil and $50 less than the 2nd-gen model, it’s cheaper than both.

Adonit Star

If you want something that feels more like a real pen, a fountain pen at that, then the Adonit Star will be a breath of fresh air. The classic design is reminiscent of a Mont Blanc, but without some of the bulk and most of the price. Popping off the cap reveals a fountain-pen style nib, replete with the ink feed on the back, but on closer inspection, you’ll see that the metal cuts off early, with a black rubber 1mm fine tip being what will actually touch the screen.

As you might expect, the Star is very much intended for those who want to make notes and generally just write on their iPad. It doesn’t have pressure sensitivity, so you can’t have thicker or thinner strokes depending on how hard you press, which would rule it out for most artists. That’s fine though, there’s the Apple Pencil for that. Instead, you get a balanced and very comfortable writing experience, aided in no small measure by Adonit’s excellent palm cancellation feature.

Pairing is simply a matter of pressing the small button on the Star, then when the blue light comes on you should be good to go. If it starts flashing red, this means it is time for a recharge, so unscrew the bottom of the pen and there’s a USB-C port. The Star takes around an hour to charge and will then work happily for around 10 hours or so.

Adonit has come up with something genuinely unique in the Star. Classy looking, nice to write with, and it will definitely get some looks when you pull it out in a meeting to make notes. If there’s such a thing as a Stylus connoisseur, then you can bet that the Adonit Star would be a prizes part of their collection. 

Logitech Crayon



While the Logitech Crayon was originally framed as an education tool, the cheap Apple Pencil alternative is now available to anybody that wants it. 

In many ways, the Crayon functions in the same way as the Apple Pencil, complete with easy pairing, reliable palm rejection and tilt support, but there’s one big omission: there’s no pressure sensitivity available here. That’s likely to be a dealbreaker for graphic designers, but if you’re only looking to use a stylus for note-taking, you’re unlikely to notice a difference in performance.

You’ve also got a seven-hour battery life on offer, which should be more than enough for the majority of consumers, and it’s charged up via a hidden Lightning port. That’s not quite as premium as the wireless charging from the second-gen Apple Pencil, but it’s certainly better than the original Apple Pencil.

It’s compatible with the iPad (6-10th gen), iPad mini (5-6th gen), 11in iPad Pro (1-4th gen), 12.9in iPad Pro (3-6th Gen), iPad Air (3-5th gen).

Bargains Depot B&D 2-in-1 Stylus




Best Prices Today:



₹2,498 at Amazon

The B&D Stylus is a bargain at under a tenner.

It’s made fully of aluminum and comes with twenty extra rubber tips in two different sizes so you can adjust the accuracy of lines. It’s dual tipped too, so you can use a different size on either end.

There is no need for Bluetooth or charging with this stylus.

The B&D Stylus is compatible with all iPads, iPhones, and other touchscreen devices.

Meko Capacitive Stylus Pen




Best Prices Today:



₹2,472 at Amazon

The Meko stylus can be used for note-taking, drawing, writing, and basic selection and navigation – and like the B&D option, it is also made of aluminum without any plastic parts. It uses a disc tip like a few other options in this list.

For an affordable price, you get two Meko styli, two fibre tips, and four replacement disc tips.

For more advice about accessories for your Mac, iPad or iPhone see all our Best Picks.

Accessories, iPad, Tablet Accessories

​Macworld Macworld

The iPad is a capable device for both art and productivity, but it becomes a stronger proposition in both areas if you have a good stylus to hand.

Whether you’re sketching a new building design, taking notes during a work meeting or designing graphics, a stylus is a game-changer. But with so many to choose from in just about every shape and size, which is the best for your needs? Everyone has heard of the Apple Pencil, but there are plenty of great alternatives that cost a fraction of the price. 

Here are the best iPad styluses available right now.

Updated November 27 to add Adonit Note+ 2 and the Apple Pencil USB-C

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) – Best overall

The Apple Pencil is an obvious choice, what isn’t quite so obvious is which Apple Pencil you should choose. There are two Apple Pencils. The Apple Pencil 1st generation is still on sale despite launching in 2015 and there is an Apple Pencil 2nd generation, which launched in 2018. The first generation Apple Pencil, which features later in this round-up, works with the current 9th and 10th generation iPads as well as a number of older iPad models. The second generation Apple Pencil, works with the 12.9in iPad Pro (3rd gen up), 11in iPad Pro (1st gen up), iPad Air (4th gen up) and iPad mini (6th gen).

When we reviewed the Apple Pencil 2nd gen back in 2018 we gave it 5 stars. It’s shorter than the original and Apple has given the 2nd gen Pencil a flat edge you can tap to trigger app-specific functions. This actually makes Apple’s stylus easier to hold and it stops it rolling off your desk. The 2nd gen Pencil is also magnetically attachable to the iPad, which also helps with the rolling.

Another major change is that the 2018 Pencil has no Lightning connector for charging, instead, it charges wirelessly when connected to the iPad, which is much neater. The 2nd gen Pencil is matt white rather than the glossy white of the original (which could be a bit dazzling). You can also tell the two apart because the original had a metallic ring next to the charging cap.

Both the 1st and 2nd generation Apple Pencils are equally responsive and pressure-sensitive. You can tilt the stylus to create different textures, making it a great tool for handwriting, sketching, note-taking and illustration.

Read our full

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) review

Zagg Pro Stylus 2

We loved the original Zagg Pro Stylus so we were happy to hear that there was a new model.

The Pro Stylus 2 is a good alternative to the Apple Pencil with many of the same features including wireless charging, a replaceable tip and attaching magnetically to the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

One advantage is that unlike the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil the Zag Pro Stylus 2 can be used with any iPad since 2018.

The Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is comfortable to hold, has a matt coating, and comes in a selection of colors.

There are two tips: a replaceable stylus tip and a capacitive rubber tip which can be used for scrolling and also functions as the power button. To save power, the Pro Stylus 2 switches off automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity. The battery should last for around 6.5 hours.

We tested with a number of creative apps and found the experience akin to the Apple Pencil 2, however, it didn’t work well with Adobe Photoshop due to significant delays. If you are using Photoshop then stick with the Pencil 2.

Read our full

Zagg Pro Stylus 2 review

Adonit Note+ 2

Best Prices Today:

$69.99 at Adonit

The Adonit Note+ 2 is a slimline stylus that features an impressive amount of versatility. Housed in an aluminum body that weighs only 14g, it’s comfortable to hold and use for longer writing or sketching sessions.

On the body there are two buttons, one is for the standard power and pairing features, but once connected to Bluetooth they can both be programmed in a variety of supported apps to execute commands. So, you might set one for Undo and the other for Redo which enables you to quickly fix mistakes in your note or illustration without having to access menus.

In the box you’ll find three different replacement tips – soft, medium and hard – allowing users to tailor the physical experience to their personal preferences. The Note+ 2 supports palm rejection and pressure sensitivity, so long as the app you’re using does too (the list of compatible apps covers pretty much all the big hitters for notes and art). Adonit has also built-in an angle detection technology which means you can have thicker or thinner pen-strokes by simply tilting the stylus.

Writing and drawing with the Note+ 2 is smooth and reliable, with the slim profile nestling into the hand. There’s a flat side opposite the buttons which provides a steady grip and is also home to magnets that mean you can attach the stylus to the edge of your iPad when you’re taking a break.

Battery life tops out at eight hours, which takes one hour of charging through the USB-C port to achieve. But, if you run out of juice while in the midst of a creative frenzy, five minutes of charging will keep you going for another hour.

Apple Pencil (1st generation) – Best for older iPads

The second generation Apple Pencil features earlier this round-up, but we still recommend the first generation Apple Pencil, which is still on sale. The older Apple Pencil works with the current 9th and 10th generation iPads as well as a number of older iPad models including the 6th generation iPad and later, the iPad Air (3rd gen), iPad mini (5th gen) and the original iPad Pro (1st and 2nd gen). If those are the iPads you have that this is the Apple Pencil for you. Unsure: check which iPads work with which Apple Pencil. We compare the two generations of Apple Pencil in Apple Pencil (2018) vs Apple Pencil (2015).

One benefit of the older Apple Pencil, assuming it works with your iPad, is that it is cheaper than the second-generation version at $99/£109 rather than $129/£139.

The original Apple Pencil is almost entirely white, with just a metallic band at the non-writing end by the charging cap. This cap conceals a Lightning port for charging and syncing. When you want to charge the Pencil you can just plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port or use an adapter if your iPad has a USB-C port (as is the case with the iPad 10th gen). There is a downside to charging this way: you can’t use the Pencil while it is charging and it looks pretty ridiculous. Here’s how to check the Apple Pencil’s battery percentage.

The Pencil feels pretty good in the hand, with a nice weight to it. The Apple Pencil and compatible iPads have sensors that can detect the pressure you’re using and the angle you’re holding the stylus at, making it effortless to create lines of different thicknesses. In the Pencil’s tip there are two tilt sensors which the iPad’s display will keep track of to work out the exact orientation and angle of your hands as you draw. For example, you can use the side of the Pencil’s tip for realistic shading like you would with a real pencil lead. The Apple Pencil knows to ignore the wrist and palm

You get a spare tip in the box, but it’s identical to the one that comes attached to the Pencil.

Read our full

Apple Pencil (1st generation) review

Apple Pencil (USB-C)

The Apple Pencil (USB-C) is a slightly confusing entry to Apple’s range of Pencils. It isn’t as good as the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil from 2018 and doesn’t even have all of the same features of the 1st-gen Apple Pencil from 2016. It includes some of the same features as the prior models (including low latency and tilt sensitivity) but is also missing pressure sensitivity and wireless charging – in fact, it is the only model with a port for charging.

It attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad for storage, like the 2nd-gen model. It is also shorter than both the 1st-gen and 2nd-gen models (6.10 inches vs 6.92 inches and 6.53 inches). You can’t engrave it.

It isn’t compatible with the entry-level iPad.

But, at $20/£20 less than the 1st-gen Pencil and $50 less than the 2nd-gen model, it’s cheaper than both.

Adonit Star

Best Prices Today:

$49.99 at Adonit₹8,505 at Amazon

If you want something that feels more like a real pen, a fountain pen at that, then the Adonit Star will be a breath of fresh air. The classic design is reminiscent of a Mont Blanc, but without some of the bulk and most of the price. Popping off the cap reveals a fountain-pen style nib, replete with the ink feed on the back, but on closer inspection, you’ll see that the metal cuts off early, with a black rubber 1mm fine tip being what will actually touch the screen.

As you might expect, the Star is very much intended for those who want to make notes and generally just write on their iPad. It doesn’t have pressure sensitivity, so you can’t have thicker or thinner strokes depending on how hard you press, which would rule it out for most artists. That’s fine though, there’s the Apple Pencil for that. Instead, you get a balanced and very comfortable writing experience, aided in no small measure by Adonit’s excellent palm cancellation feature.

Pairing is simply a matter of pressing the small button on the Star, then when the blue light comes on you should be good to go. If it starts flashing red, this means it is time for a recharge, so unscrew the bottom of the pen and there’s a USB-C port. The Star takes around an hour to charge and will then work happily for around 10 hours or so.

Adonit has come up with something genuinely unique in the Star. Classy looking, nice to write with, and it will definitely get some looks when you pull it out in a meeting to make notes. If there’s such a thing as a Stylus connoisseur, then you can bet that the Adonit Star would be a prizes part of their collection. 

Logitech Crayon

While the Logitech Crayon was originally framed as an education tool, the cheap Apple Pencil alternative is now available to anybody that wants it. 

In many ways, the Crayon functions in the same way as the Apple Pencil, complete with easy pairing, reliable palm rejection and tilt support, but there’s one big omission: there’s no pressure sensitivity available here. That’s likely to be a dealbreaker for graphic designers, but if you’re only looking to use a stylus for note-taking, you’re unlikely to notice a difference in performance.

You’ve also got a seven-hour battery life on offer, which should be more than enough for the majority of consumers, and it’s charged up via a hidden Lightning port. That’s not quite as premium as the wireless charging from the second-gen Apple Pencil, but it’s certainly better than the original Apple Pencil.

It’s compatible with the iPad (6-10th gen), iPad mini (5-6th gen), 11in iPad Pro (1-4th gen), 12.9in iPad Pro (3-6th Gen), iPad Air (3-5th gen).

Bargains Depot B&D 2-in-1 Stylus

Best Prices Today:

₹2,498 at Amazon

The B&D Stylus is a bargain at under a tenner.

It’s made fully of aluminum and comes with twenty extra rubber tips in two different sizes so you can adjust the accuracy of lines. It’s dual tipped too, so you can use a different size on either end.

There is no need for Bluetooth or charging with this stylus.

The B&D Stylus is compatible with all iPads, iPhones, and other touchscreen devices.

Meko Capacitive Stylus Pen

Best Prices Today:

₹2,472 at Amazon

The Meko stylus can be used for note-taking, drawing, writing, and basic selection and navigation – and like the B&D option, it is also made of aluminum without any plastic parts. It uses a disc tip like a few other options in this list.

For an affordable price, you get two Meko styli, two fibre tips, and four replacement disc tips.

For more advice about accessories for your Mac, iPad or iPhone see all our Best Picks.

Accessories, iPad, Tablet Accessories 

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