Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 differences compared 2

Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: What is the difference? (Compared) | 2021

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There are a several very clear differences between the Apple Pencil 2 and the Apple Pencil 1. When comparing the Apple Pencil 2 vs 1, you’ll find these differences do not consist of pressure sensitivity or functionality, but rather design and comfort.

When choosing between the two, the main differences between the Apple Pencil 1 and apple pencil 2 are the following features: magnetic caps, doesn’t roll off desks as easily, one extra shortcut button, and a charging position that is far less awkward to insert.

Outside of these differences, the functionality stays quite the same between the Apple Pencil 1 & 2: instant pairing, seamless integration with the iPad and iOS apps, above par drawing pressure sensitivity matched with paper-like drawing and note taking.

In this post i’ll be going into further detail on the differences between the Apple Pencil 2nd gen vs Apple pencil 1st gen discovered by personally testing the two devices side-by-side.

What’s the difference between Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2?

What’s the difference between Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2_

The difference between the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2 is which generation iPad it connects to, an additional gesture feature of double tapping the flat part of the pencil with the tip of your finger; this allows you to swap between the eraser and current drawing tool on drawing apps. This also works with the color palette. 

The Apple Pencil 1 is also different from the Gen 2 Apple Pencil as it does not have magnetic pen caps (the caps get lost easier). It also doesn’t have a flat end that presents the pen from rolling off a desk. 

Based on extensive research, here is our chart that compares the differences between the Apple Pencil 1 vs Apple Pencil 2:

Apple Pencil ModelPressure sensitivityChargingMagnetic CapsAnti-RollGestureInstant PairingWeightLength
Apple Pencil 1st GenHigh (Active)HorizontalNoneNoYesYes0.74 ounce6.92 inches
Apple Pencil 2nd GenHigh (Active)VerticleYesYesYes (1 extra)Yes0.73 ounce6.53 inches

The Apple Pencil 2 has very well designed charging, whereas the Apple Pencil 1 sticks out awkwardly on the iPad, the same way a phone cord does. (it’s less awkward to charge the Apple pencil 2.)

The charging is an important feature to note because its vastly different, but poses no true benefit for note takers or artists outside of comfort from my experience. However, it is nice to see the Apple Pencil 2 evolve and not roll off the desk like its previous model.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Is the Apple Pencil 2 or 1 better for Drawing? 

Is the Apple Pencil 2 or 1 better for Drawing_ which is best for digital art

In regard to Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 for drawing, there is a clear winner: The Apple Pencil 2 is better. However, if you’re an Artist and you’re drawing, animation, or graphic designing, then both pencils have what appear to be equal precision, accuracy and drawing capabilities outside the single shortcut button mentioned.

Aside from these differences, the compatibility amongst the Apple Pencil 2 v 1 is what will dictate which pen you get. If you don’t have an iPad yet, then you’re in luck as you can choose the newest apple pencil rather than the first gen. 

Drawing requires the pressure sensitivity which both Apple Pencils have and shortcut buttons are created to make the experience of digital painting and animating much easier. The Apple Pencil 2 simply has a few small extras like the shortcut gesture that allows you to switch between tools and eraser mode.

Apple Pencil 2 vs Apple Pencil 1: Compatibility Comparison

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 compatibility comparison

Compatibility is the major difference between the original Apple Pencil and the second generation one so your choice of pretty much which pencil to buy actually depends on which iPad you have right now.

The Apple Pencil 2 will work only with certain iPad Pro and iPad Air versions:

  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)

The Apple Pencil 1 is compatible with older iPad versions:

  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st or 2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Obviously, the original Apple Pencil gives you the broadest range of options for iPads that come in different screen sizes and budgets. In the end though, your pencil choice is dependent on the iPad you own. That can be a bummer if you were eyeing the newer Pencil.

However, if you are already planning to upgrade your iPad or, better still, if you still do not own one and are planning to buy, then your options are wide open to choose which iPad and matching Apple Pencil to buy.

Let’s look at some of the other differences between the two regarding the different model iPads the Apple Pencil 2 & 1 models connect to:

Apple Pencil ModeliPad Compatibility
Apple Pencil 1st GenerationiPad Air 3rd gen iPad 6th, 7th and 8th gen, iPad mini 5th gen, iPad Pro 12.9 inch 1st and 2nd gen, iPad Pro 10.5 inch & 9.7 inch
Apple Pencil 2nd GenerationiPad Pro 11-inch 1st and 2nd gen, iPad Pro 12.9 inch 3rd and 4th gen, iPad Air 4th gen,

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2: Price differences

Is Apple Pencil worth its price_ is it worth getting_

The Apple Pencil 2 has an increase in price compared to the Apple Pencil 1 by $29. The improvements you gain from the higher price tag of the Apple pencil 2 outweigh the price difference for most who are creating studio level digital art, but it is not in any way essential and the edge it provides is not substantial. 

For those writing notes for school these differences likely won’t matter at all as their mostly comfort improvements rather than functionality changes, and the price accurately reflects this in my opinion as I’ve personally tested both on the iPad Air and Pro.

The Apple Pencil 2 is worth the extra money if you are an artist, but not if you are note taking for school or work because you could grab the Apple Pencil 1. Alternatively you could even grab a windows based stylus with the surface pro as an alternative.

Related: Apple Pencil vs Surface Pen for drawing & note taking

Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: Charging differences

charging differences between Apple Pencil 1 vs 2

Both Apple Pencils give a charge warning when the battery hits 20%, 10%, and 5%. However, their charging modes are totally different.

The shaft of the Apple Pencil 1 is slightly larger and longer than the Apple Pencil 2 because it has a removable cap at one end.  When the cap is removed, it reveals a lightning connector that plugs into the lightning port of the iPad. This is also how you pair the pencil with the iPad the first time you use it. 

When plugged into the iPad, the Apple Pencil 1 actually looks quite awkward, jutting out of the lightning port; in fact, it is a challenge to charge the Apple Pencil while stored inside a bag. There is also the danger that, while plugged to the iPad, it could get knocked off, snapping the lightning connector. A charging adapter that comes with the Pencil 1 allows charging with a normal lightning cable. This is probably the better (and safer) option. You just have to remember to plug in the Pencil 1 every now and then to keep it charged.

On the other hand, the Apple Pencil 2 charges inductively (or wirelessly). Apple designed the pencil to have one flat side that clamps magnetically to the side of the iPad, which initiates charging. This technology solves the issues found with the Pencil 1. There is no more cap to lose. The magnets in the iPad that hold Pencil 2 are so strong that in tests where vigorous shaking was done, the Pencil 2 remained attached to the iPad. There are no more problems with storage or drained battery too. Because the Pencil 2 is almost always attached to the iPad when not in use, it will always have enough charge any time you need to use it.

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2: How long does Apple Pencil 2 battery last?

how long does the battery last on the Apple Pencil 2

The Apple Pencil 2 battery lasted 10.3 hours out standard use of the box-on a full charge. The Apple Pencil 1 is said to last just as long, however when I tested it- my tests indicated it lasted 10.6 hours total. Most pencils will vary depending on how long you’ve been using it. In our tests; I charged the pen right out of the box and it was not used previously.

Apple themselves do not give exact battery life estimates but some users of the Apple Pencil 1 claim it could last about 12 hours on a full charge based on their experience. 

All in all, there should be no battery issues with the Apple Pencil 2 since it inductively charges when attached to the iPad. Even if you forget to connect the Pencil 2 to the iPad for charging, no worries! Even a 30-second charge can already give you around 30 minutes of use.

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2: Button & features (comparison)

comparison of buttons gestures and features of Apple Pencil 2 & 1

Aesthetically, it is easy to spot the differences between the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2.

As already mentioned, the shaft of the Pencil 1 is thicker and longer than the Pencil 2’s. Now that the Pencil 2 charges inductively, the Pencil 2 no longer has a cap, solving the risk of losing or misplacing it. 

The Pencil 1’s shiny body gave way to a matte finish on the Pencil 2, which is now more tactile and feels less plasticky. The Pencil 2 also has a flat side, preventing the pencil from rolling off the desk. The Pencil 1’s branding is located on a silver band that circles the pencil near the cap while on the Pencil 2, the branding can be found on the flat side. 

Programmable buttons? You won’t see any in both pencils. Unlike other brands’ styluses that have buttons to turn them on/off or programmed to represent frequently used functions, the Apple Pencils rely solely on the tip to access app functions.

There’s one difference though in the Apple Pencil 2. It has a virtual button of sorts – a double-tapping feature. This can be activated in the iPad settings to allow you to switch back and forth between two functions or simply bring up a color palette. These are predefined in the settings. All you need to do is double-tap the pencil near the tip to switch back and forth between the two predefined functions. How neat is that!

Related: Top 3 MacBooks for Music Production [Buyers guide]

Storage location also differentiates the two pencils. The Apple Pencil 1 does not have anywhere to store it unless you get third-party cases and folios; however, users have said that these cases’ magnets are often not strong enough to keep the pencil from falling off when sudden movements are made.

Apple made some iPad sleeves with a storage slot for the Pencil 1 but some users found these too large and unwieldy.

The Pencil 2, on the other hand, has no such issue because the Apple Pencil sticks firmly to the iPad and many third-party cases include the iPad (with the Apple Pencil 2 attached) in the design.

Apple Pencil 1 vs Apple Pencil 2: Replacement tips

replacement tips differences between 1 and 2

The tips of both pencils are hard. This makes tapping on the screen a bit louder compared to other styluses. If you have used other styluses with softer tips, this could take some adjusting to; however, the hardness is also the reason why you will not need to change tips for a long time.

The Apple Pencil 1 does come with an extra tip; the Apple Pencil 2, on the other hand, does not. While that may seem like a cheap deal from Apple, users of the newer pencil say that there was hardly any sign of wear and tear, even after a year of regular use. Replacement tips for both pencils are readily available.

Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: Pressure sensitivity & tilt sensitivity

is the pressure sensitivity different between Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2 gen 1 and 2

When it comes to drawing performance, both pencils are neck and neck. Apple does not disclose the level of pressure sensitivity of its pencils but anecdotally, artists who have used them say they are just as good as the best premium styluses of other brands, which can have as low as 2,048 pressure points to as high as the top-of-the-line Wacom stylus at 8,192 pressure points.

In real life, the harder you press on a pen or pencil, the stronger the mark you make on paper. Pressure sensitivity is the ability of the stylus to sense the amount of pressure you place and translate that into the thickness of a line. The more sensitivity levels you have, the finer is your control over your pen strokes. Both Apple pencils have been shown to be very responsive and accurate when registering your strokes. They also demonstrated very low latency (time between writing/drawing and seeing it register on screen).

Another feature in both pencils is tilt sensitivity. That is the ability of the stylus to recognize tilt angles other than just straight up. Now, you can write fine lines with the stylus straight up, or tilt it at a more natural angle for a wider, softer stroke. Shading, by tilting the pen as you would with a real pencil, feels very natural.

Apple Pencil 1 & 2 vs Wacom

apple pencil 1 and 2 vs Wacom tablet and Wacom pen

Unfortunately, one feature that both pencils lack is rotation sensitivity. This means that angled brushes will only be able to flow in a single direction unless you physically rotate the tablet. It is easy enough to rotate an iPad but still, it can be a bit annoying. The Wacom Art Pen, on the other hand, has rotation sensitivity.  Professional artists will need to decide if this lacking feature on the Apple Pencils is a deal breaker or not.

To learn more on Digital Art and which device works best vs Wacom and other digital art tablets, then you can visit our article: iPad vs Wacom: Which is best for Digital Art

Which Apple Pencil is better: Apple Pencil 1 or 2?

is the Apple Pencil 2 better than 1

Just based on technical and functional merits, without the compatibility factor, the Apple Pencil 2 is definitely superior to the original one. It did away with that awkward way of charging the pencil and introduced an innovative and practical technology – wireless or inductive charging. The double-tapping feature also enables one to do what physical buttons on other styluses did. The Apple Pencil 2 is just better and addresses issues found with the first generation one.

Is the Apple Pencil 2 better than 1? 

That said, the bottom line is this – the Apple Pencil that will work best for you boils down to what iPad you already have or which iPad you are planning to buy. It is the iPad model that will drive the Apple Pencil choice and not the other way around. But because both Apple Pencils’ features and performance are at the level of most premium styluses, we think either of these pencils will be well suited not only for professional artists, illustrators and designers but also for office people, teachers, students and virtually anyone.

Is one better than the other for taking notes?

The Apple Pencil 2 is better simply because it has the extra shortcut button, however the difference is not major for those making notes for high school, work, college or presenting on a digital whiteboard. 

Both the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2 are fairly close in functionality regarding note taking, writing notes and handwriting on the iPad Pro and Air if the stylus pen is compatible.

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2: Which Apple Pencil is better for Procreate?

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 Which Apple Pencil is better for Procreate_

The Apple Pencil 2 is technically and objectively better for Procreate because it has one extra shortcut button in the form of what apple calls a ‘gesture’. This means that by double tapping the top of the flat pencil you can switch between brush tools, color palette and the eraser depending on how you set up the pencil in the Procreate & iPad setting; which is really quite easy to navigate.

See our full review on the Best Stylus for Procreate (iPad Air & Pro)

However, this does not mean that the Apple Pencil 1 is significantly worse for Procreate, because the two are both functionally adequate for creating professional level digital art, drawing, animation, and graphic design. In fact, the Apple Pencil excels at Procreate no matter which of the versions you choose and both generations/models are significantly better than other general stylus for procreate.

Apple Pencil 2 vs Apple Pencil 1: Software and App compatibility

Apple Pencil 2 vs Apple Pencil 1_ Software and App compatibility

Both Apple pencils are compatible with all Apple Pencil-compatible apps. The built-in Apple Notes on the iPad is great as a quick, note-taking app. Just tap on the Lock screen with the Apple Pencil and the Apple Notes app opens with either a blank note or the last note you accessed (whichever one displays can be defined in your settings).

Here also are some of the more popular third-party Apple Pencil-compatible apps. We have broken them down into three categories: Free, Paid and Free to Paid.

Free Apps the Apple Pencil 1 & 2 are compatible with:

  • Adobe Comp CC
  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch
  • Autodesk SketchBook
  • Nebo

Paid Apps the Apple Pencil 1 & 2 are compatible with:

  • Adobe Illustrator CC (with free trial)
  • Adobe Photoshop (with free trial)
  • Affinity Designer
  • Affinity Photo
  • Astropad
  • Forger
  • GoodNotes 5
  • Graphic
  • Inspire Pro
  • Notability
  • Noteshelf 2
  • Pixelmator
  • Procreate
  • Sketch Club
  • uMake (with free trial)

Freemium Apps Apple Pencil 1 & 2 are compatible with (‘Free to paid”):

  • Adobe Fresco
  • Clip Studio Paint
  • Concepts
  • Evernote
  • Flow by Moleskine
  • Linea Sketch 3
  • LiquidText
  • Paper
  • Pigment
  • Shapr3D

FAQ: Apple Pencil 1 vs 2

Apple Pencil 1 vs 2 faq

Apple Pencil (1 & 2) vs real pencil: what is the difference?

The Apple Pencil models, both 1 and two, are able to create digital Art that can be transformed and used as a tool online. The uses for this in regards to art is virtually limitless as you’re able to design anything from blueprints, to sketches, to animation, cartoons (think toon boom), and do so very effectively, quickly and easy. 

Another big advantage is that the format of the digital Art the Apple Pencil creates can be used online effectively.

As far as the difference in feel, you may want to experiment with a screen protector to see how it feels. In my experience I noticed it felt and drew on the screen just like a real piece of paper. Screen protectors such as ‘paper-like’ can also help improve this to make it feel even more like a real pencil.

Can the Apple pencil 1 or 2 be used on the iPhone?

Neither the Apple Pencil 1 or 2 can be used on the iphone. These two digital pencils can not be used on any device outside their compatible iPad. The iPhone can however be used with a capacitive stylus; which is significantly less costly than the price of the Apple Pencil 1 & 2.

How does the Apple Pencil 1 & 2 compare vs other stylus?

how do other stylus compare to Apple Pencil 1 and apple pencil l2

The Apple Pencil 1 and 2 models compared to other stylus does quite well. Other stylus just can’t compete for the Apple Pencil on the iPad since they are considered third party stylus by apple and don’t have the proper integration from my testing. Many of the cheap options stutter and lag and theres much delay as well as incompatibility amongst iOS apps.

However the adonit models appear to compare and perform the best if you aren’t choosing either the apple Pencil 1 or 2 for the iPad. You can always go with a non active stylus instead of the active Apple Pencil stylus. The non-active, capacitive stylus are significantly cheaper, but pose no pressure sensitivity or can mislead consumers.

Other stylus that work very well as a alternate, third party stylus for the iPad:

  • Adonit Note+
  • Zagg Pro
  • Adonit Pixel
  • Adonit Pro 4

See our post for a more in-depth comparison: Zagg Pro vs Apple Pencil vs Adonit Note+ vs Adonit Pixel (Stylus Comparison)

Conclusion: Which Pencil should I get?

In this article I’ve reviewed and covered all the differences between Apple Pencil generation one and generation two Apple Pencil. I was able to do this by extensively researching the two pens side-by-side. The Apple Pencil 2 has a slight technical benefit of the extra gesture shortcut button at the top of the pencil. 

As mentioned in this article there are other differences between the two that vary depending on which ipad you have and which it is compatible with. Both pencils have precision, pressure sensitivity, and work the same with screen protectors.

As far as size, weight and length the pencil vary slightly, if at all. The design of the later Apple pencil generations allow for the digital pen to not fall off the desk by rolling, which was a common problem with the first generation Apple pencil and has evolved in later models. 

After vigorous amounts of extensive testing and research I found that the Apple Pencil 2 is better than the Apple Pencil 1, but only slightly. These differences appear to favor those who are artists; those drawing, painting digital Art on their iPad.