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When comparing the differences between the Apple Pencil vs Basic Stylus pens, it’s important to understand that Apple Pencil has improved upon all the following features: pressure sensitivity, precision, compatibility, features, shortcut buttons (gestures), tilt control, palms rejection and different ways to charge the battery. Other stylus are objectively inferior regarding these features because Apple has designed it’s products to work seamlessly together with the iPad tablets.
Since the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2 are designed to integrate with the iPad, the pen has advantages that other standard generic stylus simply can’t compete with.
For example, the Apple Pencil 1 & 2 directly communicates with the iPad, whereas other stylus either claim to be active with false pressure sensitivity controlled by softwares or are a capacitive stylus that doesn’t draw thicker or thinner lines based on how hard you press on the device.
- Related: Apple Pencil 2 vs 1 (differences compared)
- Related: Beginners guide: What stylus pen do artists use to draw on iPad?
For those that need a basic stylus to simply navigate their iPad better or just doodle and take quick notes on, then a cheap, basic, standard stylus will work well. However, for the rest who need something with pressure sensitivity, the Apple Pencil’s design can’t be beat as it feels just like writing on paper with seamless features that leave little room for frustration.
- Which is Better: Apple Pencil or a regular, generic Stylus?
- Apple Pencil vs Budget Stylus
- Comparison: Apple Pencil vs Generic Stylus
- How long will Apple Pencil Tips last?
- Should I get a cheap, basic stylus or an Apple Pencil for remote learning?
- Apple Pencil vs S-Pen
- How Long Until the Apple Pencil Battery Stops Working?
- FAQ: Apple Pencil vs Stylus
Which is Better: Apple Pencil or a regular, generic Stylus?
Compared to a standard, regular, generic stylus… the Apple Pencil models are objectively better than all capacitive stylus and most active stylus that are compatible with the iPad.
This is because the Apple Pencil has the best communication with the iPad in addition to gesture features based on double tapping that control the swapping between different art or pencils with the eraser.
This makes taking notes and animation/graphic design significantly more intuitive and is a must have feature for most professional artists that use the iPad.
The best third party alternative active style I’ve used is made by Adonit, but it doesn’t compare to the Apple Pencil in terms of design, quality, and overall feel.
Is the Apple Pencil better than a standard active/capacitive Stylus?
From a purely technical and engineering standpoint, the Apple Pencil 1 & 2, hands down, are the better series of stylus because it is designed to work seamlessly with its companion device; the iPad. Its patented wireless charging technology is something not seen in other premium stylus pens.
Is a third party, alternative stylus as good as the Apple Pencil?
Third-party styluses, since they need to accommodate tablets of different brands and engineering designs, will often have some technical shortcomings or incompatibilities. Some styluses work with both Windows and Android tablets; others work with Windows tablets only.
See 4 popular stylus compared to the Apple Pencil in create depth: Zagg Pro vs Apple Pencil vs Adonit Note+ vs Adonit Pixel (Stylus Comparison)
When it comes to the Apple Pencil vs Active stylus; the differences typically come down to the unique features of the Apple Pencil, such as gesture shortcuts, as well as it’s compatibility to the iPad. These are features that the standard, generic active stylus won’t have because it is not created and designed by Apple.
Will using the Apple Pencil over a basic stylus pen make a big difference?
Yes, the official Apple Pencil has significant feature improvements compared to other basic stylus for drawing, note-taking and overall iPad use; including navigating text and precise taps on hard to reach areas of the screen.
The Apple Pencil has numerous features over alternative stylus pens such as proper palm rejection, pressure sensitivity, superior charging vs knock off stylus, and most importantly: the overall feel of the stylus. Compared to a basic stylus the Apple Pencil on iPad has less stuttering, less delays compared to alternative stylus.
Is there a better stylus than the Apple Pencil?
For the iPad specifically: there is no stylus better than the Apple Pencil models with better features or enhanced integrations for drawing. However, certain digital drawing pen tablets such as the Wacom cintiq allow for all nearly the same features as the Apple Pencil and compete very closely with the Apple Pencil.
Its comes to no surprise that there is a bigger trend of artists moving to the Apple Pencil 2 on an iPad Pro or Air rather than a basic stylus or the Wacom. However, studio level artists that create animations and cartoons likely use the Wacom style tablets simply because that has been the norm for years.
So, unless you are using toon boom or 3d animation, then the iPad + Apple Pencil combination can create pro, studio level Art to be proud of. (Something basic stylus can’t do)
The main difference between the two is the tablet itself you’re drawing on. The Wacom uses certain shortcut buttons and dials rather than gestures (See our post: Wacom vs iPad). It is also less portable compared to the the iPad & Apple Pencil since the Wacom requires a computer to be connected to (excluding the mobile studio model).
Apple Pencil vs Budget Stylus
Apple Pencil vs an inexpensive stylus off of online market places have significant differences that vary based on the model of the stylus you are using. While the Apple Pencil 1 and 2 don’t drastically differ in terms of features and functionality; the inexpensive, knock-off stylus on amazon do.
- These stylus are much different than the Apple Pencil in design, portability, battery, capacitive/active, pressure sensitivity, tilt control, palm rejection. In most cases the cheaper stylus you find on Amazon (lesser known brands), will have a few of these features, but not all.
It’s important to be careful which you choose as many advertise pressure sensitivity and active stylus as well as instant pairing; however these features don’t always work the way they should with certain applications. This is why the Apple Pencil is use; it’s more compatible and has a full arsenal of features that work with very little room for error and frustration.
Do other stylus work as well as the Apple Pencil for drawing and writing?
In short, No, other stylus do not work as well because the feel of using the Apple Pencil is closer to an actual pencil than nearly any generic stylus you can buy.
Related: Is CleanMyMac Safe? (The Truth)
So, how is the Apple Pencil is better than a basic stylus. Apple has perfected the most advanced technology along with design experts that are able to tweak their devices to integrate more properly, more efficiently, and more smoothly with the iPad Pro & iPad Air models compared to other generic or knockoff stylus.
Comparison: Apple Pencil vs Generic Stylus
A generic stylus is very different than the Apple Pencil since it was not designed to communicate as effectively with the iPad like the Apple Pencil is. Instant pairing in combination with native pressure sensitivity amongst all iOS apps is a feat that even the best active apple pencil alternatives can’t achieve.
Here is a chart that shows all the differences between the Apple Pencil and a Regular Stylus:
|Stylus Pen Types||Pressure sensitivity||Gesture shortcuts||Connectivity||App compatibility||tilt control||palm rejection|
|Apple Pencil 1 & 2||Yes||Yes||Active, bluetooth||Yes, most apps||Yes||Yes|
|Basic Stylus (capacitive)||None||None||Capacitive||Yes, most apps||No||No|
|Basic Stylus (active)||Sometimes||Shortcut buttons||Active||Sometimes||Sometimes||Yes|
Precision & compatibility (Apple pencil vs other regular stylus)
When it comes to precision, the second generation Apple Pencil is as close to one’s experience with pen and paper. Cheaper styluses often have what is called the parallax effect. This means that the cursor tip on the screen is some distance away from the actual tip of your pen. This can be annoying and disconcerting because with normal writing, you expect the lines to start right where your pen touches the glass. The Apple Pencil’s precision is accurate down to the pixel; the line drawn on-screen starts exactly where the tip of the pencil is.
Compatibility-wise, the new Apple Pencil works only with certain iOS devices (specifically, the latest iPads) and not with Android tablets. Apple had to reengineer the entire touch system in its latest iPads for all its features to work with the newest Apple Pencil. This is also why the second generation Apple Pencil won’t work with older iPads.
The Apple iPad + apple Pencil combination works at a professional level on Adobe (In the past it did not): See the Best Stylus for Photoshop to learn about all your options and not only apple if you are a photo editor or graphic designer.
On the other hand, there are third-party styluses that were designed to work with iPads, making them cheaper Apple Pencil alternatives. However, unlike the Apple Pencil which can be detected by sensors on the iPad together with its Bluetooth connection, third-party styluses depend solely on Bluetooth connection to work on the iPad. That means less precision. For example, the Wacom Bamboo Sketch’s lines are a bit offset from the tip of the stylus and has slower tracking. You also cannot do side shading with the Bamboo Sketch.
Feature differences between the Apple Pencil and a basic stylus (Apple Pencil 2 & 1)
Premium styluses have all or most of these features:
- Programmable buttons: These are buttons on the stylus that can be predefined to execute frequently used functions, like Erase or Undo.
- Pressure sensitivity: This is the ability of the stylus to respond to pressure exerted with the pen on the screen by producing thick or thin strokes. Less premium pens would have around 2,000 pressure points while one premium pen we have seen claims that it has as many as 8,000 plus pressure points.
- Tilt technology: This is the ability of the tablet to detect different pen angles so that lines are not disrupted. This is a very practical feature since most people naturally write at an angle. Tilt technology also makes shading so much more convenient.
- Palm rejection: This is the ability to recognize only the pen’s tip and not palms or fingers
- Low latency: This is the time it takes for one’s strokes to register on the screen as you scribble. The lower the latency, the better.
- Precision: The best pens are those that register strokes exactly where the pen’s tip touches the glass. Less expensive pens tend to be less precise, with some distance between the pen tip and the cursor tip (parallax effect).
Third-party styluses would have a combination of these features but depending on the price point of each, there could be compromises like less pressure points, no tilt technology, no palm rejection (you would need to buy a palm glove), higher latency, and a parallax effect.
When comparing the Apple Pencil vs regular, generic stylus, it’s important to note that while Apple does not disclose how many pressure points its pencil has, you can tell it is very responsive to varying degrees of pressure and tilt. Once paired, the iPad senses only the Apple Pencil’s tip and nothing else, so there are no issues with palms and fingertips accidentally registering on the screen. Lastly, the Apple Pencil is precise, with your lines registering right where the pencil tip is.
In addition, the latest Apple Pencil introduced touch gestures not available on third-party styluses. Double-tapping on the pencil’s body, near the tip, allows you to switch back and forth between two frequently used functions that you pre-define at the onset in settings.
Most active styluses pair via Bluetooth. You turn Bluetooth on on the tablet, power on the stylus pen, wait for the tablet to recognize the stylus pen, and pair. The pairing process of the second generation Apple Pencil is quite different and very intuitive. Simply attach the Apple Pencil magnetically to the side of the iPad. A picture of the Apple Pencil will appear on-screen along with a prompt to complete the pairing process. Just tap “Connect” and the pairing is done.
Most third-party active styluses charge via a USB connector usually found at the eraser end of the pen. Since these styluses connect to your device using Bluetooth, they have to be recharged frequently in order for that connection to continue working, much like wireless earbuds or headphones do.
The latest Apple Pencil 2, on the other hand, is using a patented technology for wireless charging. The Apple Pencil 2 snaps into place on one side of the iPad Pro and automatically charges inductively. This is a big change, aesthetically and engineering-wise, from the original Apple Pencil’s charging mode.
The Apple Pencil is far superior and efficient compared to other styluses when it comes to charging. Compared to other styluses, the Apple Pencil charges quickly. A 15-second charge gives you 30 minutes of use. It reaches full charge in just 15 minutes and gives around 12 hours of use. With third-party styluses, we have seen stylus pens that take from 1 to 1.5 hours to get to a full charge, which gives from 10-20 hours of use.
Weight and Size differences: How Big is the Apple pencil?
The Apple Pencil 1 is less than 1 ounce: 0.74 ounces to be exact. The Apple Pencil 2 is 0.73 ounces. The Length of the Apple Pencil is roughly the same size as a non-digital pencil: 6.92” inches (Apple Pencil 1). The apple Pencil 2 is slightly smaller in length than the Apple Pencil 2 at 6.53” inches. The Apple Pencil is as big as a standard pencil and feels very similar.
Both Apple Pencils have a great feeling weight to them when they’re in your hand. I personally use the Apple Pencil 2 and can say the weight of 0.73 ounces is perfect considering I prefer accurate precise lines. Compare this to other basic capacitive stylus; which can be too light.
Too light or heavy of a stylus can feel odd, however the digital pencil from Apple allows its weight and length to create precise, brush strokes for digital painting and animation in addition to notes and navigating the iPads interface.
iPad & Apple Pencil vs Windows stylus pens (drawing & note-taking)
One Windows-compatible stylus pen that comes close to the Apple Pencil is the Surface Pen. Both are more expensive than most stylus pens. If you are looking for a Windows-compatible stylus pen, there are so many third-party stylus pens to choose from that are a lot cheaper but with some compromise in performance and features.
To compare the Apple Pencil vs Surface Pen for drawing & note taking; you’d need to know when would the Surface Pen be a consideration. If you are a fan of Windows hardware, you will want to go with the Surface Pen. The Surface Pen writes really well, has just the right amount of drag on the screen, and has over 4,000 pressure points for a very responsive pressure sensitivity experience.
Thanks to the programmable eraser button, one can open a OneNote page with one click to quickly jot something down. The eraser feature makes erasing errors quick and intuitive. It supports leading art programs like Clip Studio, Photoshop, Sketchable, and dozens more. It does stick magnetically to the Surface Pro but, unlike the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, it is just for storage and not for charging.
On the other hand, the Apple Pencil 2’s wireless charging mode and double tapping gestures to switch between two frequently used functions, on top of all the other features of a premium stylus pen, make this a solid choice especially if you already have a compatible iPad Pro to go with it.
iPad & Apple Pencil vs Android stylus pens (drawing & note-taking)
Stylus pens that are compatible with Android devices basically refer only to the Samsung brand. Because of limitations in software design and available apps, unlike Windows and iOS, most of what you can do with third-party styluses and Android devices is basic drawing and writing.
As with Windows-compatible stylus pens, Android stylus pens also have most pen features like pressure sensitivity, programmable buttons. However, the Apple Pencil really stands out in terms of performance and feels more intuitive in the hand. Pairing and charging are as natural as clamping it to the iPad and forgetting about it till you next need the pencil.
How long will Apple Pencil Tips last?
The Apple Pencil tips will last 4.5 months long with moderate amount of drawing and note taking use on the iPad Pro and Air. For heavy use of the Apple Pencil tips you can expect them to last an average of 3 months. For light use expect 6 months or longer of apple pencil tip usage.
The Apple Pencil 1 & 2 both have similar durations regarding how long the tips will last. You can tell when the tips are worn out and need replacement when you notice the pressure feeling flat, just like a real pencil. The Apple pencil beginning to lack it’s original pressure sensitivity is a clear sign it’s time to replace the tips.
Here is how long the tips of an Apple Pencil will last based on usage:
|Usage Type||Apple Pencil Tip Life Span (Average)|
|Drawing; light use||6 months or longer|
|Drawing; moderate use||4.5 months|
|Drawing; heavy use||3 months or less|
|Note taking; light use||7 months or longer|
|Note taking; moderate use||5.5 months|
|Note taking: heavy use||3.5 months or less|
Apple Pencil different Tips and Replacement Tips:
Apple Pencil has tips that are near identical to each other and are built for art, drawing, note taking and much more. These tips are replaceable and fairly inexpensive. They are designed to not scratch the iPad you’re using and do not wear out as quickly as other stylus I’ve tested and researched. There are also various third party tips you can get for cheaper depending on your replacement needs
Apple Pencil tip vs other stylus tips
Apple Pencil tip is not as fine point tip of a digital pencil as an ultra fine tip pen, however those who are experts with the Apple Pencil can get the same feel as an ultra fine tip by simply decreasing the pen size in whichever writing or drawing iOS application you are using. Over time it gets significantly easier to get the same effect.
Should I get a cheap, basic stylus or an Apple Pencil for remote learning?
For remote learning, the Apple Pencil 2 is worth it if you are on an iPad (as well as Apple Pencil 1). The reason being is that you will have a full feature digital pencil with minimal room for error. This means that the features on the Apple Pencil work as intended, whereas the features of another cheap, basic stylus often don’t work as designed or advertised.
Even big brand names like Adonit note+ or the Adonit Pixel stylus don’t natively integrate the same way the Apple Pencil does for certain apps. For example, I was very confident in using my Apple Pencil for my digital white board app, however the cheaper stylus tended to skip, stutter, lag and delay when I tested it live.
It also didn’t have palm rejection that worked consistently, which had me very frustrated. The Apple Pencil however, is designed and integrates properly with the iPAd because it is made specifically for this device and this justifies its price point for those that want a digital pencil that works with minimal issues.
Apple is known for creating products that work seamlessly together — the reason why people pay a premium for them. The Apple Pencil has undergone stringent testing in Apple’s labs to make sure there are no hiccups with the iPad.
If you already paid a premium price to get an Apple Pencil-compatible iPad Pro, it makes a lot of sense to pay a little more to get the Apple Pencil as well. They work seamlessly and will not have performance or compatibility issues like you could have with third-party styluses.
Apple Pencil vs S-Pen
Let’s compare the latest Apple Pencil with the latest S Pen, introduced with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+.
Both pens feel premium although the Apple Pencil feels more solid in-hand. Both also support pressure and tilt sensitivity. Not all apps have tilt sensitivity though so you may need to check which pen has your tilt-supported apps. Both pens also showed very low latency in tests and they have palm rejection too. There is hardly any parallax effect for both pens.
See our Post: Best Stylus for Drawing on Android
The Apple Pencil outshines the S Pen when it comes to touch gestures like double tapping and wireless charging, which are non-existent in the S Pen. On the other hand, because the S Pen is bundled with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+, it is a huge come-on for budget consumers. The Apple Pencil is another purchase besides your iPad. There are other S Pens as well for other Samsung smartphones and tablets, making the S Pen compatible with a wider range of devices than the Apple Pencil.
Which is the better stylus for drawing and taking down notes? The Apple Pencil is usually the better choice for artists because of its premium performance. However, since both have fairly similar performance, ultimately your choice of pen will depend on the operating system of your choice.
How Long Until the Apple Pencil Battery Stops Working?
The Apple Pencil battery stops holding its average charge of 10.3 hours out of the box from my tests and research. However, if you were to leave the Apple Pencil at 0% battery for longer than a few months, then the battery will either work significantly less, or not at all. There have been numerous cases of the apple pencil 1 and 2 being left under 10% battery charge just for consumers to find their Apple Pencil battery not working anymore.
Do not leave the Apple Pencil battery at 0% for prolonged periods of time since the Li-ion battery is of very small size. Like most devices with a lithium ion battery, you’ll need to keep some charge in it if you expect it to continue working as desired.
What’s the Difference between Writing on Paper and pen vs writing with the Apple Pencil
Writing on an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro or iPad Air grants you the ability to do things you can’t on a standard piece of paper or canvas. For example, you can change colors without putting the pen down, instantly erase without even a trace left, and copy/paste as well as use Apple’s ‘scribble’ to adjust certain tools.
You can animate, create and design quicker than ever before using a digital pencil like the Apple Pencil or other stylus. See the 7 best iPad Air stylus for drawing and note taking
FAQ: Apple Pencil vs Stylus
Is the Apple Pencil Waterproof?
I’ve tested this personally and the Apple pencil is not waterproof or water resistant. What happens if the apple pencil gets wet? The stylus still works in most cases, however the pressure sensitivity appears to be dysfunctional. I ran my Apple pencil through the wash by accident and there was no pressure sensitivity when I went to use it on my iPad; the lines did not get thicker or thinner based on how hard I had pressed on the display.
Will the Apple Pencil scratch the screen? What about a regular stylus?
The Apple pencil does not scratch the display of an iPad Pro or Air; however cheaper alternative stylus may do so since third-party’s design and build stylus without the technology or budget apple has provided; this allows them to create less expensive products that can sometimes, but not always, scratch the screen of your iPad.
If you’re worried the Apple pencil will scratch the screen of your iPad, then you can get a screen protector such as the paper-like protector.
Is there a Difference between a Digital Pencil and a Digital Pen?
Many consumers are confused whether it is the apple pencil or apple pen, the proper name is the apple pencil and it does not differ in class compared to a digital pen or stylus. The only small difference is that the stylus was at one point known to be a capacitive pen with no electronics inside of it such as bluetooth.
However there are now active pens and the terms have blended as slang by many users. If you are using Procreate, then you would want a Digital pen or stylus with active connectivity. For more on this, view the best stylus for procreate.
Can the Apple Pencil be used on Surface Pro
Unfortunately, these two stylus pens are not compatible with each other’s platforms. The Surface Pen will not work well with the iPad Pro; likewise, the Apple Pencil will not connect to the Surface Pro. Apple uses its own digitizer technology which makes it incompatible with Windows-based digitizer technologies.
The Apple Pencil will work well on iPad models, so if you are using Procreate, then you’ll want to get the best iPad for Procreate based on your specific requirements and needs. Getting the right fit is important and price as well as features should be considered when using different digital pens on different tablets.
Overall, the Apple Pencil 2 vs Stylus have pros and cons that differ. The Apple Pencil 2 only lacks in terms of price tag as it’s much more expensive than other stylus. The standard, regular, basic, and cheap stylus’ are able to have lower prices because their brand does not have the technology that integrates with an iPad the way the Apple Pencil does.
The Apple Pencil has superior features vs other stylus. These features include pen pressure sensitivity levels, tilt recognition technology, long lasting rechargeable Li-ion battery, Palm rejection that consistently works, and a design that allows gesture shortcuts and a simulated feeling of a real pen on paper.
Some stylus, such as the Adonit models are similar to the Apple Pencil, but even so, it lacks native iOS app compatibility and must use the third party settings in apps such as Procreate. When comparing the two, other stylus simply have objectively inferior qualities which allow them to be priced lower. The Apple Pencil on the other hand is priced higher with objectively better features that consistently work as intended when tested.