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The best stylus for iPads and iPhones in 2021

Included in this guide:

Best stylus for iPads and iPhones: Apple Pencil
(Image credit: Apple)

The best stylus for iPads and iPhones aren't just useful to artists and illustrators wanting to paint and draw digitally. They can really enhance everyone's experience of using their smartphone and tablet. 

You can use them to make handwritten notes, or dash off quick sketches when you're hit by inspiration. Plus they make using apps and surfing the web much easier, allowing you to click on the tiniest of icons without fumbling.

However, there are so many styluses on the market, it can be a little confusing to know which to pick. Some have better battery life than others. Some offer palm rejection, which means that the screen won't register if you accidentally touch it with your hand. Some styluses are perfect for notetaking, but don't offer the pressure-sensitivity needed to create detailed art, illustrations or diagrams.

To help you navigate this minefield, we've picked out the 10 choices as the best stylus for iPads and iPhones, and explain below what each has to offer. We'll start with styluses for iPads only, but if you want a stylus for iPad and iPhone, skip ahead to numbers 6-10 on our list.

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 6-10, and you'll find five great styluses that work with both devices.

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple Pencil (2nd generation, 2018)

The best iPad stylus overall (for newer iPads).

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, 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.

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple Pencil (1st Generation, 2015)

The best iPad stylus overall (for older iPads).

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

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.

(Image credit: Logitech)

3. Logitech Crayon

The best mid-priced stylus for iPads.

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: Awavo)

4. AWAVO Stylus Pencil

The best budget iPad stylus for note-taking.

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.

The best stylus for iPhone & iPad

Need a stylus that will work with both your iPad and your iPhone? We’ve got five great digital pens for you to choose from below. 

(Image credit: Adonit)

5. Adonit Dash 3

The best budget stylus for iPad and iPhone.

Weight: 12g
Length: 141mm
Battery life: 14 hours
Compatibility: iPads: 3, 4, Air, Air 2, mini, mini 2 (Retina), mini 3, mini 4, 9.7" Pro, 12.9" Pro, 10.5" Pro. iPhones: 4, 4S, 5, 5S, 5C, SE, 6, 6S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 7S, 7S Plus
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Good battery life 
Reasons to avoid
-Basic-No Bluetooth

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.

(Image credit: Adonit)

6. Adonit Mark

The best battery-free stylus for iPad and iPhone.

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.

(Image credit: Wacom)

7. Wacom Bamboo Sketch

The best iPad and iPhone stylus for artists.

Weight: 17g
Length: 142mm
Battery life: 16 hours
Compatible with: IPads: 12.9 inch iPad Pro (1st & 2nd generation), iPad Pro (10.5 inch & 9.7-inch), iPad Air 1 & 2, iPad mini 1-4, iPad (4th/5th/6th generation). iPhones: iPhone X. 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE
Reasons to buy
+Designed for artists +Intuitive experience +Great battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Overkill for notetaking

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. 

(Image credit: Adonit)

8. Adonit Jot Pro 4

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

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

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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Tom May

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, 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.