No matter what you do, whether you are someone who likes to draw for the fun of it or you like to use your tablet to take lecture notes, a stylus is a great way to go (maybe even a tablet that has one built in) with phones and tablets becoming more and more powerful and versatile, styli have become more popular. What’s more is, you’re spoiled for choice- they’re not just for artists anymore you can get whatever styli that suits your needs no problem. The apple pencil has helped put the stylus back into the public eye. We’ve gathered together a bunch of styli and tested the heck out of them – all this to help you decide which one fits your needs.
Best styli for artists
Every artist is unique. No one artist draws the exact same way. Depending on how you like to draw, you may want a specific kind of stylus. Some styli come with interchangeable tips that completely change the way they feel. Others are a one size fits all option usually designed to be similar to analog mediums
1. Apple pencil
First up is the apple pencil. The apple pencil debuted at the tail end of 2015 but since then, it has set a golden standard for digital styli. That makes it quite unfortunate that it only works with the ipad pro (12.9 and 9.7 inch versions) Performance wise, it’s the fastest, most accurate and most responsive stylus I have ever tested.
Pressure sensitivity comes from the ipad pro screen which enables it to create fine lines and incredibly smooth variations in gradient as you vary the pressure. Tilting the pen enables you to create wider strokes for shading in your art. The tip is also produce a fine point should you ever need it. I would have preferred a rougher surface (that mimics actual paper) as the smooth tablet surface gets too slippery sometimes leading to wayward strokes – you do get used to it though.
It’s also quite unfortunate that it has a charging cap in place of an eraser. It just makes it so easy to lose.
2. Adobe’s Ink & Slide stylus
If you have a workflow that features the adobe creative suite, the adobe ink & slide stylus and ruler combo may just suit you. They can connect to any iPad 4 (or later) ipad air or ipad mini via a robust bluetooth interface. You can also sync it up with the Creative cloud enabling you to store your drawings and your preferences up there in the cloud (where you can access them in your other devices later)
The ink styluse features a pressure sensitive point with a fine tip which actually feels like a regular pen in your hand. It uses the Adonit Pixelpoint tech which we found to be satisfactorily accurate. It has a status led on the stylus which matches whatever color you choose in app so you’ll never make any “mistakes” though that really isn’t an issue in the age of the ctrl-Z. The slide ruler is extremely versatile. Whether you need it to create perfect straight lines, circles or whatever shape you fancy, it just works.
It comes in at the pricier side of the spectrum but you get a lot for your money. Also, it works so well with adobe products that it’s really a no brainer for anybody who uses their products.
3. Fiftythree Pencil
The Pencil is one of the more versatile stylus on this list. Especially when used in conjunction with their own app. With the preset tools that come with the app, you can create pretty much whatever strikes your imagination. From amazing watercolor paintings, fine line sketches or even mimic comic book style pen and ink, you can do it all.
They designed the Pencil to feel great on hand. It has a similar shape to a carpenters pencil (heck it even has inlaid walnut wood) It has a built in eraser on the end which comes really handy. You can even use the stylus to smudge lines to create a nice soft blur effect.
Though it really works best with its own app, it’s compatible with other popular drawing and painting apps. It can connect to your ipad via Bluetooth (you only need to pair it once) another downside is that it requires a battery. While it’s pretty easy to charge (via usb) it’s still an inconvenience.
4. SENSU ARTIST BRUSH AND STYLUS
The artist brush and stylus combo from Sensu is one of the more unconventional stylus in this list. It has a real paintbrush tip. A paintbrush tip. You can use it for painting. However, if you want it for fine drawing, you just flip it, then you’ve got a standard stylus tip. It’s unfortunate that the sensu doesn’t have pressure sensitivity and at times it feels so sluggish that it’s pretty much unusable.
It has an aluminum finish and looks just like a normal brush. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers which are actually pretty good. The stylus tip works on most tablets ios, android, windows etc. It just works. Plus side, you don’t have to replace any battery.
5. COSMONAUT STYLUS
The cosmonaut stylus is designed to mimic a whiteboard marker. You should take not of that before complaining about its bulky appearance. It’s not going to give you the finest lines but it its robust easy to grip body feels great to work with. It feels tough enough to survive rough handling without breaking.
It features a minimalist design which I love. Externally it just looks like any other large marker which makes it perfect for those who like to diagram lectures and presentations. It works with all OS and theoretically should work with any touch screen. It has no pressure sensitive tip but it’s not really designed for that anyway.
6. ADONIT MARK
At the low end of the spectrum is the Adonit Mark. Adonit has been producing styli for a while now so they’ve certainly had it down pat. It works with any smartphone, tablet or laptop with touch sensitivity. The good thing about the mark is that it feels great on your hand. I’m not a fan of metal surfaced styli for drawing but this feels just right.
Overall, you’ll find that the Mark is a cheap workable alternative to the more expensive brands. However you cannot expect accuracy and smoothness out of it. It just works good enough that it hits a sweet spot in the price performance graph.
BEST STYLUS FOR NOTETAKERS
1. ADONIT SWITCH
The Adonit Switch is another one of those versatile styli. It’s cheap too. It doubles as a stylus and an actual pen. It features a striped grip which you can roll to reveal a ball point pen. Flip it to the other side and you can find a precision stylus.
The stylus also has a disk at the end that allows you to create precise marks on your tablet. It feels and weighs around the same as an actual pen and is slim enough to be mistaken for one. You can certainly draw with it but note taking is its true forte. The ball point pen writes ok but nothing truly fantastic.