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Looking for the best stylus for photoshop & illustrator? Choosing the proper stylus can be complex without the proper research we provide in this post. The stylus listed in this article are ideal for standard tablet types such as the Apple iPad, Samsung galaxy, Lenovo, Microsoft Surface Pro, and smartphones.
It’s important to note that if you’re also going to be using Procreate along with Photoshop, then you’ll be far better informed in our guide: 7 Best Stylus for Procreate (iPad Air/Pro).
Keep in mind when choosing the best stylus pens for photoshop that you indeed ‘get what you pay for’. This is because the higher priced stylus tablet pens have a bluetooth connection, allowing for true pressure sensitivity. Others rely on tilt control and advertise this feature as pressure sensitivity- so it’s important to know the difference when using photoshop/illustrator (Adobe).
- Related: Good laptops for drawing & creating digital art
- Related: 7 Best Laptops for Animation Students
Here’s a few of our Top picks we tested:
- Adonit Note+: Best Stylus for Photoshop/illustrator (Android & iPad)
- Apple Pencil: Best Overall stylus to edit photos on iPad
- Zspeed: Best Budget stylus pen to edit photos on photoshop
- JamJake: Best Cheap Stylus for photo editing on iPad
- How to Choose the Best Stylus for Photoshop & illustrator
- Best Stylus for Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator (Android & iPad)
- 1. Adonit Note+: Best Stylus for Photoshop/illustrator (Android & iPad)
- 2. Apple Pencil: Best Overall stylus to edit photos on iPad
- 3. Zspeed: Best Budget stylus pen to edit photos on photoshop
- 4. JamJake: Best cheap Stylus for photo editing on iPad
- 5. KECOW: Best Budget active stylus pen for drawing in photoshop (Android + iPad)
- 6. Wacom Bamboo: Best Stylus Pen for photoshop from Wacom (iPad)
- 7. Adonit Dash 3: Best budget stylus for Photo editing (beginners)
- 8. Microsoft Surface Pen: Best windows stylus pen for photoshop editing
- Can I use an Apple Pencil on Android?
- How does the Apple Pencil compare to other stylus for Adobe photoshop and illustrator?
- Bottom Line
How to Choose the Best Stylus for Photoshop & illustrator
Choosing the best stylus for adobe illustrator and photoshop can be simple if you’re not limited to extremely inexpensive budget stylus’. This is because many expect these low-cost, high promising pens to have extreme compatibility amongst pro level drawing and photo editing apps like photoshop. (Hint: many do not)
That being said, there are certainly fair priced, alternative stylus pens, that attempt to compete with Apple Pencil in terms of performance. I found that most stylus under $50 price-point typically don’t have true pressure sensitivity, You can tell if it has ‘true’ pressure sensitivity by checking if the pen is bluetooth compatible.
Real vs ‘fake’ pressure sensitivity
For those on iPad: The Apple Pencil 2 truly shines due to its unbeatable pressure sensitivity, instant pairing and ‘gestures’ feature. It performs flawlessly since both are created, and designed for iPad.
Note: You can not use or connect the Apple Pencil for Android as its not compatible.
Inexpensive alternatives did not have bluetooth pressure sensitivity; not allowing artists to control the thick and thin lines based on how hard the stress was pressed on the tablet screen.
Photoshop Stylus for Android, Samsung, and Lenovo
For Android tablets, third-party stylus with true pressure sensitivity appear to be extremely rare. You’ll likely need to rely on tilt support or grab a native pen replacement from the manufacturer such has Samsung or Lenovo (listed above) in order to get this pressure.
For those using a Lenovo, see our post: 7 best stylus for Lenovo Yoga, ThinkPad & IdeaPad
Best Stylus for Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator (Android & iPad)
The stylus pens listed below in this post are tested, researched and specifically chosen for Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator in mind. For photoshop, Artists favor an active stylus pen with pressure sensitivity (and not just tilt sensitivity).
The Adonit Note+ and Apple Pencil have this bluetooth feature while nearly all other alternatives do not and is a game changer for artists using photoshop & illustrator.
1. Adonit Note+: Best Stylus for Photoshop/illustrator (Android & iPad)
Who this stylus is for: Note+ is arguably the best and most reliable stylus for photoshop due to its ability to utilize true pressure sensitivity via bluetooth connection on iPad. The only other pens that have this level of communication on iPad is the Apple Pencil… and for a very important reason: Bluetooth connection level pressure sensitivity.
As mentioned earlier third party android pens don’t typically have pen pressure sensitivity for drawing outside fo the manufacturer created stylus such as the Lenovo or Samsung tablets
Why it’s so good: Adonit Note+ is one of the most premium active pens on the market. Adonit has created a pen that includes every feature a professional editor desires.
If using iPad, then you may want to view a third party stylus comparison: Zagg Pro vs Apple Pencil vs Adonit Note+ vs Adonit Pixel (Stylus Comparison)
The high-quality, 1mm tip makes it feel like a real pen and allows you to draw, sketch, and edit precisely. In addition to that, the 2048 pressure levels make the experience unique, and the pen allows for the lightest touch to be visible.
Adonit Note+ includes palm rejection and natural tilt support. Likewise, you don’t need to worry about influencing the editing process with your other hand. Moreover, Note+ allows you to draw shades precisely by using different brushes.
Additionally, it has two customizable shortcut buttons. Those can be used for ‘undo’, ‘eraser’, and ‘red’o features. Due to this pen’s fine tip, you won’t notice any scratches on your tablet.
Additionally the Note_ is compatible with iPad (6th and 7th generation), iPad Pro (3rd and 4th generation, 11 and 12.9 inches), iPad Air (3rd generation), and iPad mini (5th generation).
Adonit Note+ is the best alternative to the Apple Pencil and one of the best choices for Android tablets when it comes to Adobe photoshop.199-$499 depending on the type of iMac and the model of the year.
If you’re retouching or editing photos, see the Best MacBooks for Photoshop & Photo Editing
It is easily charged through an integrated USB-C port. Adonit Note+ is the only pen on the list that allows you to use it while it charges. When it’s fully charged, you can use it for up to 10 hours without any break.
To sum up, Adonit has included every single feature needed to make this pen necessary for every serious photographer, artist, or designer. For this reason, Note+ is a stunning tool specially created for professionals. If you’re attempting to understand all about digital art and the stylus pens that digital artists use on the iPad, visit our beginners guide:
If you’re new to which stylus pen to choose, how they work and the beginner guide artists need to know about which pen artists use, then see our highly informational post on What stylus pen do artists use to draw on iPad?
2. Apple Pencil: Best Overall stylus to edit photos on iPad
Who it’s for: Those who want the best possible stylus for photoshop and illustrator on iPad. This is for professional digital artists, photographers and professional Graphic Designers looking to create studio-level artwork.
Why this stylus is so good for Photoshop/illustrator: Apple Pencil was created to work flawlessly with the iPad and no third-party can keep up when it comes to performance. The core difference between Apple Pencil 1 and 2 is the compatibility amongst different iPad versions, the way the device charged/stored. Both work fantastic for Adobe software.
The Apple Pencil is of course created by Apple; which is a company with some of the best possible technology created due to their budget and elite product design. It’s incredibly tough to beat the Appel pencil when it comes to Pro level work on photo and illustrator for the iPad specifically.
Many other stylus as you’ll see listed in this post will work if you’re taking basic notes, but when it comes to drawing or graphic design using photoshop and adobe illustrator, the Apple Pencil has the best pressure sensitivity, easy pairing, additional shortcut buttons via ‘gestures’ and is extremely intuitive for digital artists.
The only other alternative is the Adonit note+ and pixel at the moment as previously covered in this post. From my experience, the Wacom stylus models can not handle photoshop the way the Apple Pencil does on iPad & iPhone regarding pressure sensitivity and precision.
3. Zspeed: Best Budget stylus pen to edit photos on photoshop
Zspeed has become one of the most well-known active pens, as it offers all the essential features a Photoshop user needs. Zspeed also contains more advanced singular characteristics such as touch sensitivity and input buttons at a great price.
The Zspeed, as an active pen, reduces off set and lag time between fine tip and trace. If we combine this fast-tracking with the 1.45mm fine tip, it offers excellent control and fantastic accuracy. Thus, this is ideal for numerous drawing tasks on Lightroom or Photoshop.
What this stylus is missing: Unfortunately, this stylus doesn’t have palm rejection or true pressure sensitivity via bluetooth. Therefore, if you try to rest your hand on the screen, this will probably affect your work. Nevertheless, this is the only feature missing, something justified by the pen’s low price.
Note: Every cheap stylus I’ve tested does not have bluetooth pressure sensitivity, and the Adonit Note+ (mentioned earlier) will work best if you’re on a budget.
Related: See the best apps for converting handwriting to text
Since the Zspeed doesn’t require Bluetooth or any App to connect. It’s automatically connected when you switch it on. You can use it on iPhones, iPads, Samsung tablets, and pretty much every modern phone or tablet.
Zspeed has a great battery that can last over 10 hours of constant use. However, you can also use it without any help from the battery. All you have to do is turn it upside down and continue working with the sensitive fiber mesh tip or rubber tip. You can quickly charge it via Micro USB and the charging time is around 60-80 minutes.
To summarize, the Zspeed pen is one of the best budget active styluses. Although it lacks the palm rejection feature, it is an excellent choice for both beginners and professional users.
4. JamJake: Best cheap Stylus for photo editing on iPad
In a few words, JamJake is a very affordable active pen and includes many essential and advanced features at the same time.
Considering its price range, JamJake is a highly sensitive active pen. The 1.5mm fine tip provides full control and accuracy and helps you edit any small detail quickly and efficiently. Moreover, its comfortable design it’s perfect for Photoshop or Lightroom users.
JamJake stylus has natural palm rejection that allows for a precise and effortless interaction. As an active pen, JamJake has no lag, breaking points, or skips that allow you to work continuously.
When it comes to connectivity, you can automatically connect this pen by touching the cap button. However, it works only for iOS tablet devices (iPad, iPad Air, iPad Pro), meaning it’s not compatible with any android device.
JamJake has the best battery on the list that allows you to work for 20 hours. You can charge it via USB-C cable, and it’s fully charged within 90 minutes.
According to some users, you shouldn’t use the pen while your iPad is charging, as it causes breaks and disconnection issues. It would help if you also used a screen protector on your tablet, as the nib might harm your screen.
Briefly, JamJake is an excellent active pen with massive advantages. It is suitable for any professional or beginner editor on a budget.
5. KECOW: Best Budget active stylus pen for drawing in photoshop (Android + iPad)
KECOW has created one of the best budget active pens that includes all the main characteristics a photographer or artist needs. KECOW specially made this pen to fit every feature someone needs when working on editing software like photoshop.
On the one side, this pen has a 1.45mm tip that’s perfect for detailed work. On the other side, it has a magnetic mesh end for tasks that don’t demand accuracy. Moreover, the device’s slim and delicate design will make you feel like using a real pen.
KECOW pen doesn’t support palm rejection or pressure and tilt sensitivity. This might be an issue for professional designers, but the editing experience on Photoshop is sufficient.
Using a Mac? See the best Macbook for Photo editing & Adobe Photoshop.
If you want to activate the pen, all you have to do is press the start button once. Thus, you don’t need to have a Bluetooth tablet to use KECOW. Concerning compatibility, this pen works on most touchscreen tablets and smartphones, both for iOS and Android OS.
It is easily charged via USB, and the charging lasts for 1-1.5 hours. You can continuously use it for at least 8 to 10 hours. A great included feature is that the pen automatically turns off after 30 minutes of non-use to protect the battery life.
To summarize, this KECOW pen is a great budget device that includes the most advanced features a Photoshop editor needs. Thus, if you are on a budget, you will find that KECOW is a handy Photoshop tool.
6. Wacom Bamboo: Best Stylus Pen for photoshop from Wacom (iPad)
The Wacom Bamboo is one of the most reliable pens on the market and one of the best Wacom devices. Wacom is a leading brand in the drawing tablet and active pen market.
Accordingly, the new Bamboo pen guarantees an effortless experience on Photoshop tasks.
Compatibility: The Wacom Bamboo is compatible only with Apple touchscreen devices. Thus, you can draw and edit on most iPads (from the 3rd generation) and all recent iPhones (iPhone 6 or later models).
The latest Bamboo is ideal for photographers that use Photoshop and other leading creative apps like ArtRage, SketchBook, Krita, ToonBoom and TVpaint.
It has palm rejection, a super-sensitive fine tip, and a distinctive triangular design that allows you to be more precise and accurate regarding pressure sensitivity for retouches and detailed edits.
The pen’s natural feel will allow you to work effortlessly, as the Bamboo’s design reminds us of a traditional pen. Moreover, the pen has two customizable shortcut buttons to make your life easier while editing and sketching.
It is essential to say that Bamboo’s battery life lasts up to 15 hours, and it’s rechargeable via USB. According to many experts in the digital art space that I know personally, it is a fast-charging pen, and the battery lasts for ages.
The Wacom Bamboo also comes with a delicate and light carrying case that includes space for the pen, extra nibs, and the USB charger.
To sum up, the Bamboo pen is a premium pen that contains all the features a beginner or professional photographer needs for editing through an iOS device.
7. Adonit Dash 3: Best budget stylus for Photo editing (beginners)
Adonit Dash 3 is a stylus with all the essential characteristics both beginners and pro’s needs from a tablet’s pen. It stands out due to its relatively low price and a few unique features Adonit has included.
Adonit has developed a thin, beautiful pen that provides a natural drawing experience due to its paper-like drag feature. For this reason, Dash 3 will help be precise and accurate, and it will respond immediately to your every editing gesture.
On the other hand, Adonit Dash 3 doesn’t have palm rejection, pressure sensitivity, shortcut buttons, or tilt support. For this reason, drawing and editing with Dash are more challenging than those tasks with an active pen like Bamboo.
However, Dash’s most significant advantage is connectivity. This pen doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection. Instead, it is ready to work automatically on both Androids (like Lenovo) and IOS devices. In detail, it is compatible with most touch screen devices like iPads, Android tablets, and smartphones.
When it comes to battery life, this pen with the Dash-on can last up to 14 hours of unstoppable use. You can quickly charge it through USB, with your power bank, or via your computer.
Gathering all together, although Adonit Dash 3 doesn’t have advanced features, it automatically connects to most devices. Thus, this is a suitable choice for beginners in Photoshop. However, experienced photographers could use it too, for some quick retouches on photoshop.
8. Microsoft Surface Pen: Best windows stylus pen for photoshop editing
Microsoft is one of the leading and most reliable manufacturers. Thus, the brand created one of the best active styluses, suitable for both beginners and professionals. In fact, the Surface pen was specially designed to accompany all Microsoft touchscreen tablets.
This pen has the best pressure sensitivity on the list, as it includes an enormous number of 4096 pressure levels. Thus, the Surface pen efficiently responds to the lightest touch on Photoshop. The feel is extraordinary, as it reminds you of using a traditional pen on paper.
The Surface pen has no lag or latency and has one of the most reliable palm rejection features. Also, it includes tilt support, meaning your work will be very natural, accurate, and precise.
You can connect your Surface pen through Bluetooth. Nevertheless, this pen is only compatible with Microsoft’s Surface tablets. Although some people claim that the Surface pen works on other Android tablets (or even on iPads), it’s not recommended as we cannot guarantee it will work.
You can use this pen for 15 hours of constant work. Unfortunately, the Surface pen takes AAAA replacement batteries, meaning the stylus doesn’t support rechargeable batteries.
For all those reasons, the Surface pen is one of the best drawing tools on the market, and it is ideal for every photo-editing software. Thus, if battery charging isn’t a problem for you, then Surface Pen is simply the best stylus for Microsoft’s top-tier tablets.
Can I use an Apple Pencil on Android?
No, you can not use an Apple Pencil to connect to Android or Android tablets. However, the ideal alternative is the Adonit Note+ due to its affordability, compatibility alternatives that mimic the Apple pencil. Thus, allowing you to draw on Android with fairly similar performance if you don’t value the ‘gesture’ feature of the Apple Pencil and work well with the shortcut buttons instead.
The Apple Pencil is not ideal on Android because it simply won’t pair, but there are other models to be used on Android, such as the ones found in our post: Best pens for drawing on Android Devices.
How does the Apple Pencil compare to other stylus for Adobe photoshop and illustrator?
The Apple Pencil is a significantly upgrade compared to the other stylus for Adobe photoshop or illustrator when you are using the iPad. If you are not using any iPad models you can opt for a pen tablet or drawing pad like the Wacom or XP-pen.
See our post: Which iPad is Best for Procreate?
The big difference between the two was that in the past, the apple pencil was not as strong regarding app capabilities since adobe had to catch up and create an iOS version.
Now that Apple Pencil has improved its digital pen as well as the iPad compatibility with certain apps (like Adobe and procreate), the Apple Pencil can create pro level art just like its competitors. To learn more, see our post: Apple Pencil vs other generic Stylus.
Compared to other stylus, the Apple Pencil has an overall different user experience that can be noticed when held. The Pen glides smoother then most third party pens and also has very intuitive buttons in the form of gestures.
Now that you’ve read this article, the best stylus for photoshop & Adobe illustrator can now be fully understood by knowing the proper compatibility issues surrounding the pressure sensitivity and stylus features required for both beginner and pro level retouching, artwork, photography, and graphic design.
When you’re searching for the best, most compatible stylus pen for your photoshop/illustrator tablet or device, you’ll first want to check to ensure it’s Android, Samsung or iPad compatible. You’ll also want to ensure it has bluetooth connectivity for true pressure sensitivity and is an active pen with palm rejection.
There are many models of stylus with a list of features that can overwhelm the person choosing due to a lack of knowledge. This can be avoided by fully understanding what level work you’ll be using your stylus for on photoshop & Adobe illustrator.