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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Adonit Pixel is so smart it knows when you've picked it up. That's when it powers up. It works with the iPad as well as other tablets. It features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, shortcut buttons, palm rejection and offset corrections. And it connects with the tablet via Bluetooth. The 1.9mm tip will allow for super accurate drawings.