A stylus is essential if you want to create tidy written notes or handcrafted artwork on your iPad. Though Apple Pencil is arguably the best choice of stylus for iPad owners, there are alternatives you might want to consider.
What Makes a Great iPad Stylus?
The most important thing you should check before buying a stylus is compatibility. Styluses have come a long way since the days of being little more than an extension for your finger. They now pack in features, require recharging, and allow far greater control of what happens on screen. Making sure your iPad is compatible means you won’t be missing out on features and wasting your money.
The best stylus models feature instant usage so you don’t have to go through the cumbersome Bluetooth pairing process. Some even snap to the side of compatible models so that they can recharge wirelessly and are always there when you need them (plus they won’t roll off the table).
Then, there are features like tilt detection, which senses the angle at which you are holding the stylus and adjusts the thickness of the lines accordingly. It’s like shading with a pencil, where the more severe the angle, the wider your strokes. Some models also include pressure sensitivity, where the harder you press the thicker the line—somewhat similar to tilt detection.
In addition, there are quality-of-life features that make using a stylus pleasant, like palm rejection, which allows you to lean on the iPad screen to draw or write. Low latency is another important aspect since the faster the iPad responds to your input, the more “natural” your writing and drawing experience will feel.
Finally, the stylus has to be at the right price. If you’re only looking for a model to scribble notes or markup documents, you probably don’t need premium features aimed at artists. That’s a solid reason to avoid the official stylus, since the second-generation Apple Pencil costs $129. These styluses will get you the features you need at a lower cost.
Best Apple Pencil Alternative Overall: Logitech Crayon
Apple-approved using Apple Pencil technology, no pairing required
No pressure sensitivity or double-tap feature
No wireless charging or magnetic attachment
Flat shape means it won’t roll off the table
The only other stylus on the market with Apple’s tick of approval, the Logitech Crayon is a solid Apple Pencil alternative and can be found at around half the price of Apple’s official version. The broader feature set closely mirrors that of the Apple Pencil, but to cut costs down the Crayon misses out on a few features.
This stylus uses the same underlying Apple Pencil technology as Apple’s official stylus, with support officially added in iOS 12.2. Palm rejection also works since it is built into the operating system (now known as iPadOS).
There’s no pressure sensitivity, though tilt sensitivity is included. You can’t double-tap the Crayon to change tools in supported apps, as you can with the second-generation Apple Pencil. The flat shape means that the Crayon won’t roll off the table, but it misses out on wireless charging and won’t magnetically snap to the side of your iPad.
Instead, the Crayon charges over USB-C using the port on the top of the unit, with up to seven hours of usage on a single charge. You can also buy the older original 2018 Logitech Crayon, which charged over Lightning cable instead.
Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil
The Logitech Crayon is the only alternative stylus officially endorsed by Apple. Using the same technology as the Apple Pencil, you lose on a few features but save a lot on the price.
Best Apple Pencil Replacement for Artists: Adonit Note+
Tilt and pressure sensitive with palm rejection
Some features require app compatibility too
Shortcut buttons could be useful
Perfectly round shape may cause the stylus to roll
Decent battery life with USB-C charging
The Adonit Note+ is a solid Apple Pencil alternative for those who love to draw, shade, paint, and need to do more than simply scribble down notes. The Note+ features 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support, and palm rejection to make writing and drawing feel natural.
Though it misses out on the double tap functionality found in Apple’s official stylus, you do get two programmable shortcut buttons that can be used to hop between features in supported apps quickly. This allows you to quickly switch to tools like an eraser, undo a mistake, and so on.
If you’re thinking of buying the Adonit Note+, it might be worth making sure that any apps you use to write or draw are fully compatible. You’ll find a list over on the Adonit website, with big names like Photoshop Sketch, Procreate, and Zen Brush 2 listed. The stylus works with iPad models that run iOS 12.2 and later, and charges via the included USB-A to USB-C adapter.
Adonit rates the stylus for ten hours of continuous use. Be aware that the stylus is perfectly round aside from the shortcut buttons, so it may roll off surfaces when you put it down.
Adonit's Note+ stylus offers palm rejection, pressure detection, and anything else a digital artist needs to work on their iPad.
Best Dual-Tip Stylus: ZAGG Pro Stylus
Dual-nib design fuses active nib with capacitive “springy” tip
No pressure sensitivity
Palm rejection and tilt sensitivity, instant pairing
Perfectly round design may roll on some surfaces
The ZAGG Pro Stylus is an inexpensive Apple Pencil alternative with a unique dual-tip design. One side of the stylus has an active pen-like nib and can take advantage of features like palm rejection and tilt sensitivity, but no pressure sensitivity. The active stylus pairs instantly based on proximity.
The other end of the stylus has a far more basic capacitive tip, which acts as an extension of your finger. This functions just like the old-style styluses, allowing you to swipe around the OS, browse the web, tap on UI elements, and so on with a “bouncy” feeling you don’t get from a pen.
The active components are charged via USB-C at the top of the unit, with around eight hours of continuous use per charge. The stylus can magnetically attach to compatible models, which is handy since the round design may cause it to roll away on some surfaces.
The value here is good considering the features on offer, clocking in at less than half the price of an Apple Pencil and less than other alternatives like the Crayon or Note+.
Zagg Pro Stylus
The Zagg Pro Stylus is a dual-nib stylus that combines an active fine point for drawing and writing and a passive pointer for simple navigation.
Best Apple Pencil Alternative for Note-Taking: Adonit Neo Pro
Magnetically attaches to most compatible models, complete with wireless charging
No pressure sensitivity or shortcut buttons
Palm rejection and tilt sensitivity
Round like a traditional pen for a natural feel
If you intend to use your iPad for taking handwritten notes, it’s handy to have your stylus close by when inspiration strikes. The Adonit Neo Pro is an iPad stylus that magnetically attaches to compatible models of iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPad Air with wireless charging to ensure you never need to worry about plugging it in. You’ll get nine hours of continuous use from the built-in battery.
There’s palm rejection, so you can write properly by fully leaning on the screen, and tilt support is a nice bonus, too. There’s no pressure sensitivity or shortcut buttons but this is fine if you don’t need to draw or switch between tools in creative apps.
The stylus is round, so it feels more like a traditional pen than other styluses, but being magnetic should prevent it from rolling off the table when not in use. The Neo Pro is also considerably cheaper than an Apple pencil at around a third of the price. If all you need is to scribble down notes, sign PDFs, or annotate email attachments, then the Neo Pro is a great choice for saving some money.
Adonit Neo Pro
If you're looking for an iPad stylus to write notes naturally but you're not trying to spend a lot, the Adonit Neo Pro is a great bet. This inexpensive stylus supports palm rejection, and its shape makes it feel like a traditional pen.
Best Budget Active Stylus for iPad: MEKO Active iPad Stylus
A budget-friendly stylus with a decent set of features
Lacks pressure sensitivity
Palm rejection, tilt-sensitivity
Budget price usually means budget build quality
Connects magnetically to compatible models
Looks just like an Apple Pencil
If you’re on a very tight budget or are prone to breaking and losing your stylus, you want to opt for something like the MEKO Active iPad Stylus. By far, the biggest selling point here is the lower price, which is a tenth of the price of even the first-generation Apple Pencil.
For your money, you’ll get a stylus with palm rejection and tilt sensitivity compatible with iPad models released in 2018 or later. It supports fast charging in around “10-13 minutes” for nine hours of continuous usage. It also includes the same thin and accurate fine point you’ll typically only find on more expensive models.
The MEKO even magnetically clips onto compatible iPads, and it has a very similar shape to the second-generation Apple Pencil. Don’t expect wireless charging, though—you’ll need to use the included USB-A to USB-C adapter.
User reviews are very positive, though be aware that at this price point, build quality will not be the best. If you don’t intend on using a stylus very often, or you just want to test out the functionality on your own iPad then this stylus could be an ideal purchase.
MEKO Active iPad Stylus
For the price, the MEKO Active iPad Stylus is impressive. It offers many popular features at a tenth of the cost of an Apple Pencil.
Consider the Apple Pencil
If you can stretch your budget and want the best feature set around, the Apple Pencil is still worth considering. The second-generation stylus packs features like wireless charging and pairing and even clips to compatible iPad models when not in use.
In addition to tilt and pressure sensitivity, it has incredibly low input latency and pixel-accurate precision. It’s arguably the closest thing to drawing or writing on paper if you own an iPad, and the inclusion of a feature that lets you double-tap the screen to change tools while drawing can vastly speed up your workflow.
It’s harder to make a case for the first-generation Apple Pencil since, despite also being a low latency and highly accurate stylus with tilt and pressure sensitivity, it’s somewhat flawed. The round shape can be very annoying since it rolls off most surfaces, and you have to charge it awkwardly using the Lightning connector hidden on the top (and that cap is very easy to lose).
Apple Pencil 2
The Apple Pencil 2 offers enhanced improvements over the Apple Pencil 1, including improved latency and an all-new flatter side that makes it easier to grip.