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The new Apple Pencil is cheaper, gets USB-C, and is missing critical features

Apple Pencil (USB-C) using Goodnotes app.

Rumors have suggested Apple may announce new iPads soon. Before that might happen, the company has surprised us all and announced a new Apple Pencil. Its placement in the rest of the Apple Pencil lineup could cause confusion, however.

The Apple Pencil (USB-C) — that’s the official name — is a stylus that works with any iPad with a USB-C port. This includes the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation), iPad Air (4th and 5th generation), iPad mini (6th generation), and iPad (10th generation).

Apple is set to release the USB-C version of the Apple Pencil in November. The new version will be the cheapest so far, priced at $79. This is $20 less than the first-generation model and $50 less than the 2nd generation Apple Pencil. Both of these Apple Pencils will remain on the market.

Paying less for the new Apple Pencil does have some drawbacks, as the USB-C version does not have all the features that were available on other models.

A new Apple Pencil with missing features

The sliding cap being shown on the Apple Pencil (USB-C).

The Apple Pencil (USB-C) will allow you to write, sketch, and draw precisely. The Pencil has low latency, making it feel natural and responsive, just like using a traditional pencil on paper. The tilt sensitivity feature allows the creation of shading and other effects. Moreover, the new Apple Pencil (USB-C) supports hover capability on iPad Pro, enabling users to preview a mark before making it.

Like the second-generation Apple Pencil, the new Pencil attaches magnetically to the iPad’s side, making it easy to store. However, unlike the older version, this one doesn’t support wireless pairing and charging.

The USB-C version of the Apple Pencil also lacks the pressure sensitivity found in the first- and second-generation models. This means the amount of pressure you use on the tablet won’t be reflected in the line thickness. The double-tap feature found in the second-generation Apple Pencil is also missing. This feature allows you to quickly switch between tools by double-tapping the Pencil.

Apple Pencil (USB-C) being shown with iPad collaboration tools.

Although the latest version of the Apple Pencil (USB-C) may lack some features compared to earlier versions, it does support a wide range of new iPad-based features that came with iPadOS 17. These features include new tools for both the native Freeform and Notes apps and a redesigned Lock Screen that enables expressive fonts and colors for personalization, among others.

The stylus features a sliding cap that reveals a USB-C port for charging. You will need a USB-C cable to charge or pair the Pencil, which is not included in the product box. The Apple Pencil (USB-C) is priced at $69 for those in education. For existing Apple Pencil (1st generation) users, Apple offers a $9 USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter.

Undoubtedly, Apple anticipates attracting new users to the Apple Pencil due to the latest model’s more affordable price. However, with all three models bearing a striking resemblance to one another, it could be confusing to determine which Pencil is compatible with which tablet for some users. Fortunately, the Apple website offers guidance to help users identify the correct Apple Pencil for their device.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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