Apple has embraced the stylus as an input device for its iPad range of tablet computers. Steve Jobs may have claimed no one wanted them, but he was talking in 2010, when touchscreen devices were smaller, less precise, and likely to use the stylus as their primary input method.
The Apple Pencil 1 and 2 are a precision tool sto be used alongside your fingers for those times when actually touching the touchscreen doesn’t give the required result, and has become an essential buy for anyone interested in digital painting, or those who like to paint masks and selections in photo editing software.
However, the slim, white Apple Pencil, with its idiosyncratic approach to charging, isn’t the only game in town. If you want a stylus that's got more style, some of the best Apple Pencil alternatives might be for you.
The best Apple Pencil alternatives 2023
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Like an Apple Pencil that’s going to a fancy dress party, the Logitech Crayon has a chunky orange and white look that’s reminiscent of the prison uniforms from Andor.
When painting your Death Star, however, you won’t have the benefit of pressure sensitivity. Otherwise, as an Apple-approved stylus, you get instant pairing, snappy, lag-free performance, palm rejection, and no need to mess around with settings before you get started.
As the name suggests, it’s a painting tool by design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the Crayon for handwriting recognition. It’s about half the price of the Apple Pencil, so pressure sensitivity may be something occasional stylus users are prepared to give up in order to spend a little less.
Looking like an old-fashioned fountain pen - complete with nib (though no actual ink) and a removable lid - this glossy black stylus is ideal for writing and note-taking tasks, with Scribble converting your hand-formed characters into editable text.
It doesn’t connect to the iPad over Bluetooth or offer pressure sensitivity, but does have a useful clip so you can keep it in your front pocket, plus a USB-C charging port you access by unscrewing the pen, just like you’re going to change the cartridge.
This gray aluminum cylinder takes a cue from the Apple Pencil by not being a cylinder at all. It has a flat side that can attach to the magnetic mounting point the Pencil uses, but can’t charge from it. Instead, the Zagg Pro uses a USB-C port that can fill it up in an hour and 25 minutes.
With its pencil-like size and shape, the Zagg Pro is a natural fit for drawing apps, but a lack of pressure sensitivity means you won’t be able to dynamically adjust the thickness of your lines in the same way you can with Apple’s stylus. It is accurate though, and perfectly good for note-taking with Scribble. A soft capacitive tip is included in the package, which means you can use the stylus on other devices too.
This stylus from Meko has a pointy end tipped by a plastic disc, and a blunt end that’s more like a finger. This means you can flip it over, transferring the magnetic cap to the end you’re not using, and change the way you’re drawing or interacting.
The Meko is a passive stylus that can be used on just about any touchscreen device, not just iPads. This also means it never needs charging, so there's no chance of it going flat at just the wrong moment. It’s also extremely cheap, so perfect for anyone who wants to dip a toe into the world of digital painting, but doesn’t want a large financial commitment (beyond the iPad itself, of course).
Adonit’s Note+ is a complete replacement for the Apple Pencil, offering pressure sensitivity so you don’t have to keep pausing to change line opacity, and the ability to tilt the tip against the screen for shading.
It charges via a Micro-USB plug at the top of the stylus, while further down the shaft there are two programmable buttons you can customize to access undo or any other commands you find yourself accessing frequently as you work.
Wacom’s Fineline 2 connects via Bluetooth and requires a compatible app - luckily ProCreate, Pixelmator and Adobe Sketch are on the list. It’s pressure-sensitive for drawing and painting, and looks the part too, with a fine tip and a handy clip at the top.
It’s a great stylus for writing with, thanks to the fine tip, and the pressure sensitivity comes in handy for drawing too. It also ties into Wacom’s cloud service, allowing you to back up your sketches online to access on any device.