It’s difficult to argue the iPad and iPad Mini aren’t great tablets, albeit expensive ones. However, they aren’t the most intuitive devices when it comes to quickly jotting down a Safeway grocery list or honing your canvas skills on a digital medium. While you may be able to swipe, scroll, and tap while meandering through your way through various daily tasks, investing in a tool that makes the job slightly more ergonomic and a great deal less cumbersome should be obvious. The stylus, a pen-like gadget with origins rooting as far back as the late ’50s, is one such answer — and one that has only become better as the nifty devices have come into their own at the turn of the 21st century.
Most of today’s popular styli are equipped with everything from pressure-sensitive tips and magnetized bodies to conductive brush heads and wireless, Bluetooth functionality on par with that of nearly every other electronic device on the market. Simply put, they’re sleek, useful, and relatively affordable tools designed to make the most your iPad when your fingertips just won’t cut it. The stylus is back, and bigger than every before. Eat your heart out Blackberry.
Here are our top picks for the best styli for the Apple iPad, whether you want to channel your inner Van Gogh on the fly, scribble extensive notes while lumbering through chemistry class, or simply gain the upper hand in Draw Something. Also, check out our picks for the best iPad accessories and the best iPad screen protectors if you’re in need of additional protection or a few fantastic peripherals.
Wacom Bamboo Stylus Solo ($20)
The Bamboo Stylus Solo is a great all-around option for just under $30. The pen-like device features a nice satin textured metal body and well-balanced weight that makes it feel both comfortable to hold and natural when writing. The stylus’ removable 6-millimeter tip, one of its most notable features, is smaller in comparison with other styli on the market, giving it a finer edge and greater responsiveness than its peers. The Bamboo Stylus Solo is a solid choice whether you want to scribble out notes or sketch your next masterpiece.
Best for: Everything. It’s an all-around great stylus.
FiftyThree Pencil ($50)
“Kiss to Pair” sounds far more kitschy than the usual syncing process, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Unlike most styli in the field, FiftyThree’s rectangular, dual-sided stylus features a no-fuss pairing process requiring users to do little more than press the pen’s tip upon the on-screen pairing button, automatically syncing the two devices in a matter of seconds. The gold-plated tip and eraser sensors provide exceptional accuracy, while the stylus’ robust integration with the company’s Paper app touts additional palm recognition and finger blending capabilities. The walnut build includes built-in magnets for attaching the device to your iPad smart cover or other magnetic surface, that is, if you can manage to snag one. Typically the anodized, brushed aluminum version is the only one in stock.
Best for: Durability. Drawing.
Studio Neat Cosmonaut ($25)
The Cosmonaut takes an unconventional approach to the traditional stylus of yesteryear. The thick, wide-grip design is more comparable to the classic dry erase markers of your childhood than the long-established thin pens of our modern day and age. The stylus is definitely the most sturdy and durable of our roundup, given its enormous size, and features a heavy-duty rubber grip and rigid tip that requires a bit more pressure to use than we would like. Although its compatible with the iPhone, we can’t realistically imagine using the stylus on anything other than a full-fledge tablet — or a dry erase board. It’s just too big.
Best for: Durability.
Adonit Jot Pro ($30)
The Jot Pro is the go-to choice for writing. The finely crafting stylus touts an sleek brushed aluminum and steal design, a rubber grip for comfort and a magnetic cling that easily attaches to the iPad for storage and transport. It also features a locking cap to protect the tip when not in use and a unique transparent plastic disc that allows the user to see exactly where the stylus tip is hitting the screen. The Jot Pro is tough to beat when it comes to precision and accuracy, and it even comes in four colors: gun metal gray, silver, turquoise and red.
Best for: Writing.
Sugarcoating isn’t always necessary, but acknowledging flaws should be. The Marware Capacitive Stylus is as basic as it gets, equipped with a resistant rubber tip and encased in a generic build, while reveling in an affordable price slightly below other offerings on our list. The compact, aluminum build is available in five distinct colors — black, fuchsia, orange, yellow, and purple — and each touts a silver clip for attaching the stylus to your iPad or apparel. It’s not the best, yet the coupled tip smoothly glides across the iPad’s touch-responsive surface without breaking the bank. Just don’t rely on it lasting a lifetime.
Best for: Affordability. Portability.
Appledea Maglus ($25)
Not only do the Irish know how to drink, they also know how to make a hell of a good stylus. The Maglus is a prime example, featuring a rigid, removable rubber tip that is both accurate and highly sensitive to pressure. It comes bundled with a keyring capsule to house the included spare tip, and like the Adonit Jot Pro, it also can attach magnetically to your iPad or Smart Cover so it’s never far from reach. Although the stylus is relatively comfortable to write with, the body takes a bit of getting used to since it’s constructed using machined aluminum and dons two flat sides akin to a carpenter’s pencil.
Best for: Everything. Good all-around.
Lynktec TruGlide ($15)
It may not be the most visually appealing stylus on our list, but what sets the TruGlide apart from others is its small, durable microfiber tip. Opposed to the traditional rubber stylus tips that compose the bulk of the market, the TruGlide’s microfiber tip effortlessly “glides” across the screen, effectively minimizing drag resistance and making for one of the smoothest experiences available. The stylus’ comfort and grip are nothing to write home about, but it is lightweight design and precise tip make it a stellar choice given the price tag.
Best for: Gaming.
The Sensu Brush, a born and bred product of Kickstarter, is the stylus of choice for painters and the like. The body is built using chrome-plated brass and features a standard rubber head, silicone rubber grip, and an impressive, 15-millimeter long conductive brush tip that allows users to mimic the strokes of a real paintbrush. When the brush isn’t in use, it can be safely stored in the stylus’ chamber for top-notch protection and a greater portability. The rubber tip, a general stylus that can be used for everyday activities, is even available for easy access when the brush is safely stored within the chamber. It’s a bit expensive, but it its not a bad way to go if you truly want to use your iPad as a virtual canvass.
Best for: Painting.
Hand Stylus ($30)
The Hand’s firm, retractable rubber tip is not the most sensitive of the bunch, but it is the smallest given its 4-millimieter diameter (about the size of a number two pencil). The decreased tip size allows for greater precision when writing and the works rather well, but pencil-thin strokes can prove difficult due to its less than ideal sensitivity. The Hand’s hexagonal frame is constructed using anodized aluminum and features a removable magnetic clip and an etched grip similar to that of an X-Acto knife. It also available in an array of colors – from a lime green to a rich black – and comes bundled with a carrying case if the retractable tip doesn’t cut it for you.
Best for: Everything. Good all-around.
Spigen SGP Kuel H10 ($13)
Spigen, a notable maker of electronic cases, makes one of the most compact styli available. The textured shaft is built using plated brass and is easy to grip despite its size, but it can be a little uncomfortable after prolonged periods of use. The silicon tip is not incredibly small – its about the same size as the Bamboo’s – but it’s fairly accurate when it comes to responsiveness and sensitivity. The H10 also features a telescoping rear end when you need a little extra length and a removable strap that can be plugged into your iPad’s 3.5-millimeter headphone jack when not in use. The bottom line? The stylus is a great buy given the price and ultra portability it offers.
Best for: Portability.
What do you think of our selection for the best styli for the Apple iPad? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.