The best stylus for iPads and iPhones isn't just useful for digital art. It's something that can really enhance everyone's experience of using their smartphone and tablet on a daily basis.
You can use a stylus to make quick notes, annotate documents, create technical drawings, or make quick sketches when you're hit by inspiration. Plus they make using apps and the web much easier, letting you click on tiny icons without fumbling around with your fingers.
Not all styluses, though, are equal. They vary wildly in terms of battery life. Some offer palm rejection, which means that the screen won't register if you accidentally touch it with your hand. Others offer pressure sensitivity, making them as responsive as a real pencil on real paper; ideal for artists.
Below you'll find the best stylus for iPads and iPhones, and discover what each has to offer. The first are for iPads only, while numbers 7 onwards also work on iPhone.
See also: Best Wacom tablets
The best stylus for iPads only
We’ll start by listing the best styluses for iPads only. However, if you're looking for a stylus that works on the iPhone as well, then scroll down to number 7, and you'll find some great styluses that work with both devices.
What’s the best stylus for iPad available today? Quite simply, it’s the one Apple makes itself. The Apple Pencil is optimised for the iPad's screen, and works beautifully in use, whether you’re sketching, drawing, or just scribbling down some notes. You won’t experience any lag, and it’s the closest you’ll get on a iPad to the feel of a real pencil on real paper. As you'd expect, it plays nicely with all approved iOS apps, too, and offers up to 12 hours of battery life.
Be aware, though, that there are two versions of the Apple Pencil: this one, aka 2nd generation or 2018 version, and the Original version, aka 1st generation.
The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil works with modern iPads, namely the iPad Air (4th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation) and iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation). However, if you have an older iPad, you'll need the 1st Generation Apple Pencil, detailed below.
If you’re still using an older iPad, then the best stylus is still the Apple Pencil, but you’ll need the Original, aka 1st Generation, 2015 model. This version is compatible with the iPad mini (latest model), iPad Air, iPad (6th Generation), and iPad Pro 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch (previous models).
The original Apple Pencil isn’t quite as swish as the newer version, but don't worry: it still offers a very natural feel and lag-free responsiveness, not to mention being optimised for the screen and iOS apps. It’s a fair bit cheaper than the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, too.
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The Logitech Crayon isn’t produced by Apple, but it is officially approved by them, and it shows in its superior build quality. Originally developed for schools and educators as a cut-priced alternative to the Apple Pencil, it’s now available to the rest of us too.
Suitable for iPads from 2018 and later, the Logitech Crayon connects to your iPad instantly and boasts palm rejection and tilt support. The main way it differs from the Apple Pencil is the absence of pressure sensitivity and the shorter battery life, but that’s reflected in the lower price. And overall it still does a decent job for anyone who’s not worried about absolute artistic perfection.
Another very cheap option when it comes to iPad styluses is the AWAVO Stylus Pencil. There’s no Bluetooth, and the lack of pressure sensitivity means this isn’t any good for drawing. But for notes and sketches it’s perfectly fine. It also offers palm rejection, 24 hours of battery life based on 90 minutes of charging, and the pen automatically shuts down after five minutes of non-use. Not bad at all for such a low, low price.
If you’re an artist looking to get expressive with your strokes, you’ll need your stylus to offer pressure sensitivity. However, if you’re not producing nuanced art, and just need a stylus for making quick sketches, notes and/or precise drawings, that might not be so important. In which case, the Zagg Pro Stylus is an otherwise high quality stylus at an affordable price.
This stylus comes with not one but two tips. A universal capacitive backend tip helps you scroll through pages easily, while the active tip on the other end lets you draw smooth, precise lines. You also get tilt recognition so you can vary the width of your stroke, and the stylus is compatible with a wide range of iPad apps.
The Zagg Pro Stylus offers up to eight hours’ battery life. It automatically pairs with any iPad 2018 or newer, and attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro 11 & iPad Pro 12.9.
The Adonit Note M isn’t just a great stylus, you can use it as a mouse as well! Specifically, it features a mouse sensor for moving the cursor on the touchscreen, left and right click buttons, and a mouse wheel sensor. You just need to be running iPadOS 13.3 or above.
It’s a pretty great stylus too. With a fine 1 mm-thin, pressure-sensitive and replaceable tip, you can use it to create very precise lines, and the inclusion of palm rejection helps your workflow run smoothly. You get up to 10 hours’ battery life using at a stylus, and up to 5 hours using it as mouse, and USB charging means it can be fully charged in just 60 minutes. Plus you can attach it magnetically to the side of your iPad Pro or iPad Air.
The best stylus for iPhone & iPad
Need a stylus that will work with both your iPad and your iPhone? Here are some great digital pens for you to choose from.
If you’re looking for the cheapest stylus for iPad that still provides a good experience, we recommend the Adonit Dash 3. Offering up to 14 hours of battery life, fast charging times and a good drawing experience overall, this stylish-looking stylus offers very good value.
There are compromises, of course, most notably the lack of pressure sensitivity, Bluetooth connectivity, and palm rejection. But if a basic stylus is all you need, and you don’t want to spend extra cash on fancy features, this is a robust and reliable alternative.
The simplest stylus on our list, there are two great things about the Adonit Mark. One is the price, which is super-low. And the second is the fact it will never run out of battery… because it doesn’t actually have one.
Yes, the Adonit Mark is a very basic pointing device that’s not hugely accurate, so wouldn't be a good choice for drawing. But it’s nice-looking, with an triangular anti-roll design that feels good in the hand. And for simple notetaking, or just pointing and clicking, it will do the job well.
There’s one brand that most artists and illustrators hold in higher esteem than Apple. Wacom has cornered the market in high-end drawing tablets, and its styluses are first-rate, too. Our pick of the bunch is the Wacom Bamboo Sketch, which unlike the Apple Pencil works on both the iPhone and iPad.
This fine-tip, pressure-sensitive stylus connects to your devices automatically via Bluetooth, and provides a very natural and instinctive drawing experience. The ergonomic triangular design provides a lovely feel in your hand, and two customisable shortcut buttons and two exchangeable pen nibs allow you to customise your experience. Plus the generous battery life of up to 16 hours means you’re less likely to break your flow during a long drawing session.
Like the idea of a stylus that looks and feels like a fountain pen? Then check out excellent budget buy from Adonit. Made of lightweight aluminum with a copper twist cap, the Jot Pro 4 not only looks good but offers excellent value for money. There's a inbuilt clip to make it easy to carry, and it doesn't require batteries either. Be aware this is another very basic stylus, so it's no good for accurate drawing or design work. But for handwriting, note taking and quick sketches, it does the job well.
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