The best stylus for iPads and iPhones in 2023

Woman holding a tablet and editing a design using the best stylus for iPads and iPhones
(Image credit: Apple)

The best stylus for iPads and iPhones won't cost you much, but will make it a lot easier and more enjoyable to sketch, draw, scribble, doodle and take notes on your Apple device. When it comes to art, you'll be able to make finer lines than just using your finger. And when it comes to productivity, you'll find it a cinch to annotate documents, create technical drawings, and use apps and the web; particularly when the icons are tiny. 

Not all styluses, however, are created equally. Different models vary wildly in terms of battery life. Some offer palm rejection, which means 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. So it's worth picking your stylus carefully.

To help you find the best stylus for iPads and iPhones, we've listed our absolute favourites below. The first lot are for iPads only, but if you want your stylus to work on an iPhone too, skip ahead to The best stylus for iPhone and iPad

See also: Best Wacom tablets (opens in new tab)

The best stylus for iPads only

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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. 

(Image credit: Apple)
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1. Apple Pencil (2nd generation, 2018)

The best iPad stylus overall (for newer iPads)

Specifications

Weight: 20.7g
Length : 175.7mm
Battery life: 12 hours
Compatible with: iPad Air (4th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation)

Reasons to buy

+
Intuitive and natural feel 
+
Optimised for iPad screen 
+
Optimised for iOS apps 

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t work on all iPads

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, and offers up to 12 hours of battery life. And if you have the latest M2 iPro Pro, you'll benefit from the new 'Hover' feature, which can detect the Pencil up to 12mm above the display, so you can see a preview of your mark before you actually make it.

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. 

If you have an older iPad, you can only use the 1st Generation Apple Pencil, detailed below. The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil, meanwhile, works with most modern iPads including the iPad Air (4th and 5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd to 6th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st to 4th generation) and iPad Mini (6th generation). 

The one exception is the basic iPad: for all models between the 6th and 10th (latest) generation, you can only use the 1st generation Apple Pencil. For more details, our comparison of Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Logitech)
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2. Logitech Crayon

The best mid-priced stylus for iPads

Specifications

Weight: 18.1g
Length: 163mm
Battery life: 7 hours
Compatible with: iPad 7th generation / iPad Pro / iPad Mini / iPad Air

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price 
+
Instantly connects to iPad 
+
Tilt support 

Reasons to avoid

-
No pressure sensitivity

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.

(Image credit: Apple)
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3. Apple Pencil (1st Generation, 2015)

The best iPad stylus for older iPads (and the basic iPad)

Specifications

Weight: 20.7g
Length: 175.7mm
Battery life: 12 hours
Compatible with: iPad (6th, 7th and 8th generation), iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation), iPad Pro 10.5-inch & 9.7-inch

Reasons to buy

+
Intuitive and natural feel 
+
Optimised for iPad screen 
+
Reasonably priced 

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t work on all iPads
-
Needs adapter for 10th gen iPad

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, and iPad Pro 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch (previous models). Also, if you have the basic iPad, then whether it's an old or new model, you'll need the 1st gen Apple Pencil.

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. However, note that if you have the latest basic, 10th gen iPad, you'll need to buy a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter to pair it.

iPad generations - which Apple tablet is best for me?

(Image credit: Awavo)
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4. AWAVO Stylus Pencil

The best cheap iPad stylus for note-taking

Specifications

Weight: 19g
Length: 155mm
Battery life: 24 hours
Compatible with: iPad Pro 11 & 12.9 inch/iPad 7th Gen/6th Gen/iPad Mini 5th Gen/iPad Air 3rd Gen

Reasons to buy

+
Super-cheap
+
Auto-shutdown
+
Palm rejection

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for drawing

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.

Adonit Note M

(Image credit: Adonit)

5. Adonit Note M

The best stylus for iPad that also works as a mouse

Specifications

Weight: 15g
Length: 165mm
Battery life: 10 hours
Compatible with: iPad mini (5th Generation), iPad Pro (3rd/4th Generation, 11"& 12.9"), iPad (6th/7th Generation), iPad Air (3rd Generation)

Reasons to buy

+
2-in-1 functionality 
+
USB charging 
+
Up to 10 hours battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Mouse function drains battery

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.

Zagg Pro Stylus

(Image credit: Zagg)

6. Zagg Pro Stylus

Excellent pro stylus if you don't need pressure sensitivity

Specifications

Weight: 15g
Length: 153mm
Battery life: 8 hours
Compatible with: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Gen 3,4&5), 11-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air (10.9-inch), 10.2-inch iPad, 9.7-inch iPad, iPad mini 5

Reasons to buy

+
Tilt recognition 
+
Precise lines 
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not pressure sensitive

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 it's compatible with a 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 best stylus for iPhone and 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. 

(Image credit: Adonit)
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7. Adonit Jot Pro 4

The best fountain-pen-like stylus for iPad and iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 22g
Length: 140mm
Battery life: No batteries needed
Compatible with: All iPads and iPhones

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap
+
Good looks
+
No batteries

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic

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.

(Image credit: Adonit)
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8. Adonit Mark

The best battery-free stylus for iPad and iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 22g
Length: 140mm
Battery life: No batteries
Compatible with: All iPhones and iPads

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap 
+
Nicely designed 
+
No battery needed

Reasons to avoid

-
Very basic

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.

Mixoo Capacitive Stylus Pen

(Image credit: Mixoo)

9. Mixoo Capacitive Stylus Pen

The cheapest battery-free stylus for iPad and iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 60g
Length: 145mm
Battery life: No batteries
Compatible with: All iPhones and iPads

Reasons to buy

+
Low price
+
Simple design

Reasons to avoid

-
Tip looks a bit weird

If you really want to spend as little as possible, here's the cheapest stylus we've found for iPhone and iPad that does a decent, if basic, job. Like the Adonit Mark, above, this is a capacitive stylus which means there's no battery, Bluetooth connected or specified apps required, and it's compatible with pretty much any touchscreen device. And unlike the Adonit, there's a nice weight to it (at 60g).

Note: there's a tip on the end, which looks a bit weird. But don't remove this as it's vital, creating a precise contact point with the screen to write exactly where you place it.

What we look for in the best stylus for iPads and iPhones

A stylus for either iPad or iPhone must be efficient, lightweight and strong enough to make quick notes, annotate documents, create technical drawings, or make quick sketches when you're hit by inspiration. They must hold good charge and always be ready when you are to have your back and help the creative process. So in this guide you'll find not just Apple's own products but also others that make the creative process just as exhilarating, and cover all budgets and needs.   

Read more:
Best iPads (opens in new tab)
Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 (opens in new tab)
Best iPad Pro cases (opens in new tab)
Best iPad keyboard (opens in new tab)
Best iPad stands (opens in new tab)
Best iPad screen protector (opens in new tab)
Best tablets for photo editing (opens in new tab)
Best iPhones for photography (opens in new tab)
Best microphones for iPhone (opens in new tab)
The best TikTok lights (opens in new tab)

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq (opens in new tab), and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.