The best stylus for iPads and iPhones opens up exciting new ways to interact with your screen. After all, using your fingers is fine for swiping through the interface, but when it comes to sketching, drawing, scribbling, doodling and taking notes, it's quite limited.
A stylus, however, allows you to create artwork in a much more natural way than using your mouse or a finger. You'll also find it a cinch to annotate documents and create technical drawings. Even just navigating apps, the web and the iOS interface becomes super-easy, allowing you to hit those tiny icons perfectly.
So what's the best stylus for iPads and iPhones today? That partly depends on what you're looking for. Some models offer excellent battery life, while some don't need power at all. 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.
To help you find the best stylus for iPads and iPhones, we've listed the finest models on the market today, including both official Apple styluses and third-party ones. We'll start with pens for iPads only, but if you want yours to work on an iPhone too, skip to The best stylus for iPhone and iPad.
See also: Best Wacom tablets
The best stylus for iPads only
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Our first section features 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 6, 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, 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, which is number 3 on our list. The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil, meanwhile, works with 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.
Finally, take note that neither version of the Apple Pencil will work with the iPhone, nor any MacBook.
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, it’s now available to the rest of us too. And it's a lot more affordable than the Apple Pencil.
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.
This updated version of the Logitech Crayon is also officially endorsed by Apple, and the main difference for 2023 is that it now recharges via USB-C rather than Lightning, making it compatible with more recent iPad models. We love the fact that the new version has been redesigned to get rid of the childish rubber grips, and getting a sleeker look that is much more in keeping with the Apple design ethos. Another thing we liked about the newer version is that you now get three battery power lights, rather than just the one, which gives you a better idea when you're running low on charge.
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, which has better ergonomics, is easier to charge, boasts double-tap functionality, and works with the hover feature on new iPad Pros. But these are mere details. Overall, 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.
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A 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 our guide to the best stylus for iPads and iPhones (above), 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.
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