iPad Stylus Review Roundup: Best Pen for Your Tablet

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As an infographics artist, I rely on a Wacom drawing tablet to get sketches into my computer. Drawing on the iPad has been challenging due to the limitations of the typical rubber-tipped stylus: difficulty in seeing what's under the wide stylus tip, and the headache of accidental taps caused by other parts of my hand resting on the iPad screen.

We evaluated a current crop of styluses, to see which ones are the most helpful on the iPad Air. Of course, the iPad Pro has the Apple Pencil. Unfortunately, other iPads, such as the Air and the mini, cannot pair with the Pencil, so I ruled that out.

A rubber-tipped capacitive stylus interacts with the screen the same way your fingertip does, so it is ready to use instantly. An active stylus contains a battery and must be powered on for the iPad to recognize it. Active styluses often have smaller, hard-plastic nibs in place of the rubber tip, making this type of stylus more precise.

Wacom Bamboo Fineline 2

What we like: Hard-plastic tip proved precise at everything except small-scale drawing. Particularly good in the Bamboo Paper app. Feels much like a regular pen. Pocket clip snaps securely to protect the tip. Extra nibs and battery are included.

What we don't like: Function button is located right where my fingers grip the pen barrel, causing constant mistake clicks. Lacks enough precision for satisfactory handwriting.

Verdict: Best of the active styluses.

Sensu Portable Artist Brush & Stylus

What we like: Doubles as a paintbrush, if you switch the cap. Rubberized collar near the tip offers an accurate grip. Works without Bluetooth. Very precise and accurate marks can be made with either tip.

What we don't like: Writing with a brush didn't really work for me, but with the rubber tip on the stylus's cap, the writing experience was average.

Verdict: Great for an artist who wants the paintbrush experience. 

LunaTik Alloy Touch Pen Stylus

What we like: Click-top extends an ink pen tip through a gap in the capacitive rubber tip. Firm rubber tip offers nice resistance against glass. Good precision for a standard non-Bluetooth capacitive stylus. Rubberized collar affords a precise grip. Pocket clip.

What we don't like: Potential for accidentally marking iPad screen with ink, if the pen is extended.

Verdict: Good choice for a capacitive stylus. 

AmazonBasics Mutitip Stylus

What we like: Inexpensive. Three capacitive rubber tips in different sizes included. Good ergonomics for a small stylus. Average writing experience. Good precision for a capacitive stylus. Pocket clip, protective cap covers on one end.

What we don't like: Tips are squishy, causing drag against the glass.

Verdict: Not a bad choice. 

BoxWave EverTouch Builder Stylus

What we like: Doubles as a ruler and level. Works as a pen. Feels just like a mechanical pencil. Offers good precision for a capacitive stylus.

What we don't like: Writing experience is nothing special.

Verdict: Only for people who need a ruler, level, pen and stylus on them simultaneously, and who don't mind an average writing experience. 

Lynktec Apex Rechargeable Stylus Pen

What we like: Active stylus, but no Bluetooth needed. Impressively small tip. Rechargeable through a USB port under a screw-down cap on the back. Rubber O-rings near the tip offer accurate grip. Feels like a regular fat-barreled pen with an average writing experience and precision.

What we don't like: Button on the pocket clip must be pressed for 3 seconds to turn it on or off.

Verdict: The small, hard-plastic tip is a step up from squishy rubber tips. 

Ten One Design Pogo Capacitive Stylus

What we like: Inexpensive. Smallish stylus barrel is usable. Average precision.

What we don't like: Squishy rubber tip that flattens out and drags on the glass.

Verdict: Good for a basic, inexpensive rubber-tip stylus.

Griffin No. 2 Pencil Stylus

What we like: Looks exactly like a No. 2 pencil. Average precision and writing experience.

What we don't like: Feels like a piece of plastic. Eraser on the back end is just hard plastic with no functionality.

Verdict: Really just for fans of No. 2 pencils. 

Maglus Magnetic Stylus

What we like: Magnetic body easily sticks to the iPad, or you can use the adhesive-backed mounting plate. Includes spare tip in keychain case.

What we don't like: Average all around. Neodymium magnets have the potential to damage credit card strips or other electronics. Flat spots on the barrel make it uncomfortable to hold. No palm rejection.

Verdict: I wouldn't recommend it. 

Cross Townsend Fine-Tip Stylus

What we like: Luxurious 23-karat gold plating exterior. Impressively small stylus tip. Feels much like a quality fountain pen. Extra nibs and battery included.

What we don't like: Poor writing experience and poor precision. In most drawing apps, lines became wavy, as though the tip were constantly being thrown off. Too expensive. Tip does not retract, and there's no cap to protect it. Seems effective only when used with one of two compatible apps. Cannot be paired with the iPad, and doesn't connect over Bluetooth.

Verdict: Don't buy it. 

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6 comments
  • 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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