iPad Stylus Review Roundup: The Best Pen for Your Tablet

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There’s a reason why the stylus is one of the most popular iPad accessories. Available in all shapes, colors and sizes, these capacitive pens offer more precise control than your finger, and also work well with drawing and note-taking apps. And for those of us not yet done with paper, the styli reviewed here all have ballpoint-pen action. Yes, they cost more than a basic stick, but for the multitaskers out there, one of these might just be the perfect accessory. 

Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo for iPad ($39.95)

What We Like: Classic black-and-silver design with a textured exterior felt good in our hands. Nib is small, offering precision in writing or drawing. iPad's screen quickly responds to Stylus Duo’s touch. Easily exchangeable nib. Fine pen tip wrote smoothly without clumping. Replaceable ink cartridge. Pen cap fit on both ends for simple storage.

What We Don’t: Ink cartridge isn’t particularly big. At 0.9 ounces, slightly heavier than some other iPad pens.

Verdict: The nib size, fine print and classy design make the Bamboo Stylus Duo our favorite iPad stylus.

Griffin Stylus and Pen and Laser ($49.95)

What We Like: More than just a pen and a stylus, this stick adds a presentation-friendly laser pointer. Intuitive side button activates pointer. Ink cartridge, nib and battery are easily replaceable. Ink flowed smoothly from the medium-size tip.

What We Don’t: At 1.7 ounces, the Griffin is the largest and heaviest pen in this roundup. Tiny ink cartridge. Fat nib doesn’t offer same precision as competition. Tricky to switch modes. Expensive.

Verdict: The Griffin Stylus and Pen and Laser gets points for adding yet another feature to the traditional stylus, but it felt too heavy for us.

Hub Pen Stylus Combo ($14.95)

What We Like: Available in black or white with a simple and lightweight 0.6-ounce design. Intuitive retractable pen. Easily replaceable full-size ink cartridge. Very affordable.

What We Don’t: Nib not recognized as quickly or reliably on our iPad as other styli. Ink seemed to get stuck on the ball while writing. Nib not replaceable.

Verdict: If you didn’t know better, this could be any medium-size pen. Unfortunately, this accessory simply didn’t work as well as others.

Just Mobile AluPen Pro ($39.95)

What We Like: iPad quickly responds to nib’s touch. Replaceable ink cartridge. Comes with replacement nib and black leather carrying case. Lightweight 0.6-ounce design available in black or aluminum.

What We Don’t: Hexagon-shaped staff felt awkward. Retracting pen end was not intuitive. Turning the large nib to replace it proved more difficult than expected. Ink tended to clump a bit.

Verdict: The simplicity of the AluPen Pro’s design is interesting and very Mac-like, but in our hands, the hard angles were not comfortable.

Kensington Virtuoso Signature Stylus & Pen ($29.99)

What We Like: Most penlike design. Relatively inexpensive. Intuitively retractable pen. Screen quickly responds to nib’s touch. Full-size ink cartridge. Ink flowed smoothly from medium-size tip. Available in silver or black.

What We Don’t: Shiny silver aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and shirt clip can get in the way in stylus mode. The oversize nib is not replaceable. A bit heavier than other pens at 1 ounce.

Verdict: The Virtuoso Signature writes well and worked well on our iPad. It’s a good choice for those looking for a traditional pen design.

X-Doria Stylus Duo ($14.99)

What We Like: Simple and completely unadorned design; weighs just 0.6 ounces. Available in black or white. Replaceable ink cartridge. Cheap.

What We Don’t: Pen cap doesn’t fit on both ends, which means it will likely be lost quickly. Nib not as easily recognized by our iPad. Ink clumped a bit when writing. Stylus felt short compared with the competition. Nib not replaceable. Small ink cartridge.

Verdict: We love the price of the X-Doria Stylus Duo, but the poor pen cap design is a deal-breaker.

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Author Bio
Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking, tablets, chromebooks and accessories. She loves each of her devices equally, including the phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor on
Add a comment
  • Jeff Says:

    I never use stylus on tablet before, for taking-note I use Beesy, I take my notes quickly, I share them easier. I don't know how it is with handy, can be better?

  • katie Says:

    i got a stylus and i love it because in the classroom i use it with doceri when i did not have a stylus my fingers got blisters

  • Manus Says:

    It's nonsense for me to buy a stylus for drawing on ipad. I choose to draw on galaxy note or others to complete my job. This's not cost effectiveness to start with ipad to draw!

  • MJ Says:

    Like Tani W., I'm also not a big fan of rubber-tipped styluses. I really like the TruGlide stylus from LYNKtec! The tip on that stylus is made from microfiber instead of the usual rubber. It works very well and really does just "glide" across the screen. Great stylus!

  • Tani W. Says:

    I was looking for a stylus with dual function. My only problem is that I have tried stylus with rubber tips and very simply, they're not for me. They're too noisy, you need to apply too much pressure and their life is very short.
    I kept researching and I found a stylus called The Writers Dream from Stylus-R-Us. Even better than I was expecting. It's a pen and the stylus part, telescopes. This was a great function for me because I can use it with my iPad as well as with my touch screen computer. The best, the tip is not rubber and you do not need to use any pressure at all.

  • Herb Says:

    Disappointing review. I expected to see some others styluses here, such as Adonit (especially with their new Bluetooth model) and some interesting ones from Kickstarter in the Cosmonaut and the new HAND.

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