It's been about a year since the first edition of our Tablet Stylus Shootout and quite a few things have changed. Many of this latest crop of styli are pressure sensitive and built to complement existing popular apps and take advantage of Bluetooth 4 connectivity. Just as tablets like the iPad have grown up, so have the styli. Today we'll take a look at four of them and list our picks for writing notes, quick sketches, and more complex drawing when tested with a fourth generation iPad.
Pencil: Being a long fan of the Paper app by FiftyThree I've been eager to try their companion stylus, Pencil. The stylus did not disappoint, and it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing styli I've ever seen. Luckily it works just as well as it looks. It has the easiest pairing process for any stylus I've ever used. When paired, and palm rejection and blending mode enabled, the top of the stylus turns into an eraser. Pencil has a rechargeable battery and in a week+ of heavy testing, I've had to charge it once (note: this may have been due to not giving it a full charge before initial use). The charging mechanism is built into the stylus and is quite elegant; simply pull the stylus apart and it plugs right into a USB port. The walnut unit I tested had an excellent feel in the hand and I loved the way the flat carpenters pencil style design fit between my fingers. The flat design and the fact that the walnut version is magnetic made it easy to keep with my iPad as it stuck right on the device cover. The soft stylus tip did not bother me as much as I thought it would and this is probably due to the type of drawing I do in Paper. For quick sketches, it was a great companion and I found myself using it the most for sketching because it's so handy and easy to pair. Walnut $59.95, Graphite $49.95
Intuos Creative Stylus: Wacom is a name trusted for years by creative professionals, so it's no surprise that their new iPad stylus is a premium product targeting that market. While their high end drawing tablets like the Cintiq offer amazing stylus performance, not everyone wants to carry one around. The Intuos Creative Stylus is a similar shape and size to the Cintiq pen, but has a very different tip, a soft rubber nib. When paired with the wide array of supported apps, the stylus provides 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity in addition to shortcut buttons and palm rejection. It runs on one AAAA battery and is made out of brushed aluminum which giving it a quite nice, slightly cool feel in your hand. When I was able to get the device to pair (each app has a different pairing process and some apps required updates in order to see the stylus), it was a great stylus to draw with. While I would have preferred a finer, harder point on the stylus, I did like the pressure sensitivity and the ergonomics of the barrel. This stylus really stood out when used to work with various layers and as a selection tool. Blue or Black, $99.95
Pogo Connect: This stylus from Ten One Design has an interesting design feature that sets it apart: interchangeable magnetic tips which can be purchased separately. With several options, including two brushes and one with a smaller diameter, the tips expand the versatility of the Pogo Connect and are a smart feature choice. The standard included tip is soft and has the largest diameter at 7.3mm of the styli in this post. The larger diameter made selecting items and drawing not as precise as it was when working on the same files in the same apps with the Intuos. The stylus runs off of one AAA battery and provides palm rejection and pressure sensitivity when paired with supported apps. Important note: the Pogo Connect does not currently support the iPad Air. Additional tips start at $9.95, stylus $79.95
Jot Script Evernote Edition: With a tiny 1.9mm tip this stylus from Adonit is a favorite among fans of handwritten notes on an iPad as well as those who prefer more precision in their sketches. While not marketed as a drawing tool, I've heard that this stylus is the one preferred by several illustrator and designers for the small, rigid, point. When paired with supported apps, palm rejection is enabled, but pressure sensitivity is not. Even without pressure sensitivity, I preferred drawing with this stylus because of the precise point. While it would be ideal to have both, I'll take the smaller diameter rigid tip. Like the Pogo Connect, the Jot Script also runs off one AAA battery. The Evernote branding is limited to a green band at the top and the Evernote logo near the product name. The collaboration makes sense considering Evernote's Penultimate is a top choice for handwriting note apps and this stylus is that app's ideal companion. $74.99
Finding the the right tool for you is going to depend on what tasks you'll want to use it for and your personal preferences. There's a growing diversity in styli and they are no longer relegated to imprecise tech that's far inferior to pens. While it's not true that one must spend 1/4 of the price of the iPad on a stylus to get a quality tool, you do often get what you pay for when it comes to features such as pressure sensitivity and palm rejection, primarily thanks to Bluetooth 4..
Pick for Writing/ Precision: Jot Script
Pick for Quick Sketching: Pencil
Pick for Painting: Pogo Connect With Brush Tip
Pick for Drawing: Intuos Creative Stylus
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. These specific products were provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.
(Image credits: Joelle Alcaidinho)