Best Stylus Pen
$110.89 at Amazon
$69.99 at Amazon
$31.99 at Amazon
$64.98 at Amazon
$29.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Seamless operation, pressure sensitive, wireless charging||Excellent writing feel, outstanding features in compatible apps||Palm rejection keeps lines precise, great price||Smooth writing feel, accurate with palm rejection and tilt sensitivity||Fun and whimsical with many tip options|
|Cons||Expensive, can squeak, tilt sensitivity seems finicky||Limited compatibility with art apps, more lag than best options||No pressure sensitivity, screen protector recommended||Lines lag in third-party apps, not pressure sensitive||Apps don't recognize the subtleties of a brush|
|Bottom Line||With top-tier technical features, this model offers the most accurate writing and artistic freedom available today||A great option for newer iPads, if you use one of the art apps that it's optimized for||With excellent accuracy and palm rejection technology, this pen gives you almost all the goods at a great price||The great writing feel and palm rejection are wonderful on this device-specific model, with only minor drawbacks in lag time||This is a novelty option that lacks polish but may delight artists anyway|
|Rating Categories||Apple Pencil||Adonit Note+||JamJake Palm Reject...||Samsung Galaxy Tab...||The Friendly Swede...|
|Writing Feel (20%)|
|Specs||Apple Pencil||Adonit Note+||JamJake Palm Reject...||Samsung Galaxy Tab...||The Friendly Swede...|
|Supported Devices||iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation) iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation)||iPad Pro (3rd Gen 11" & 12.9" / newer), iPad Air (3rd Gen / newer), iPad (6th & 7th Gen / newer), iPad mini (5th Gen / newer)||iPad 2018 & 2020: iPad 6th Gen(9.7_), iPad 7th Gen(10.2_), iPad Mini 5th Gen, iPad Air 3rd Gen, iPad Pro(11_/12.9_)||Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite||All capacitive touch screens|
|Pressure Sensitive||Yes in some apps||Yes in some apps||No||Yes||No|
|Tilt Sensitive||Yes in some apps||Yes in some apps||No||Yes||No|
|Passive, Active or Bluetooth||Bluetooth||Bluetooth||Bluetooth||Active||Passive|
|Charger||Wireless||USB cord||USB cord||None||None|
Best Stylus Pen Overall
The Second Generation Apple Pencil is a joy. Using it to swirl vibrant, smudge-proof colors across the screen in Adobe Illustrator Draw is hypnotic. It's a cinch to pair with your iPad, and a magnetic docking strip on the right stores the pen while charging it, so you never run out of power. It's slick. You can easily convert your handwriting to text in Notes or use Apple's Scribble feature to have any text field decipher your handwriting. The Pencil soared in our precision tests, and the rigid nib makes it easy to place your lines and shapes just where you want them. Apple touts the Pencil's imperceptible lag, and our testers agree. It also responds to pressure, pooling more "paint" or ink in its wake when you press down and leaving the faintest trace of color with a light touch. Featuring excellent palm rejection, the Pencil also allows you to rest your hand on the screen while writing or drawing. (It shares this feature with the JamJake, Adonit Note+, and S Pen). All told, its performance is nearly flawless.
Our biggest problems with the Pencil are that it's expensive and only works with newer iPad versions. And, while Apple claims that it is tilt sensitive and that laying the stylus nib over will create broader strokes, like an actual pencil would, we couldn't get it to work during testing. At this task, It's finicky at best. The nib can also squeak disconcertingly during some tasks, like rearranging app icons. Still, if you want a top-of-the-line pressure-sensitive stylus pen that is always at the ready (and you have a compatible iPad), the Pencil is for you.
Best Budget Choice
JamJake Palm Rejection Stylus
While it's not as streamlined and sophisticated as the Apple Pencil, it is hard to argue with JamJake's value proposition. It does almost everything the Pencil does, nearly as well, for a fraction of the price. It's easy to pair with your iPad and, after you set it up, all you have to do is tap the top to turn it on. (That can also make it easy to turn off inadvertently, but we only did that a few times before learning to avoid it.) The pen's palm-rejection technology lets you take advantage of its precision, and we never noticed much of a lag between its tip and the lines or letters we were drawing. All told, the JamJake makes it easy to take clear notes and create detailed artwork.
We did notice its lack of pressure sensitivity when comparing it to the Apple Pencil and Adonit Note+. The only way to change the thickness of a line with this stylus is through the settings of whatever app you're using. That means you can't vary the line thickness within a single stroke, robbing you of the nuance you can achieve with a graphite pencil or the top-tier stylus options. It doesn't magnetically attach to your device either, and you have to charge it with a USB cord. It's also rigid in a way that feels harsher than the Pencil and much less forgiving than the Note+. Even the company recommends using a glass screen protector to reinforce your iPad. Still, the JamJake offers a killer value for a wider range of iPad devices than the second-generation Pencil. It's an excellent option for anyone who doesn't need a pressure-sensitive stylus.
Basic Performance at a Good Price
Mixoo Capacitive Pen
If you don't need the extra features that a synced Bluetooth stylus can provide and just need a tool for navigation and rough writing or doodling, the Mixoo is a solid option. While the Meko Universal stylus pack below offers a better overall value, if you don't need two of them, the Mixoo will do the trick for less. Though the lines you draw do lag behind the pen on some devices we tested, the two-sided Mixoo faithfully tracks your movements across the screen. It doesn't help your screen ignore your palm though, and it's hard to write clearly without bracing your hand against the screen. Fortunately, its mesh nib provides enough traction to support passable legibility. It works just as well as the other generalist styluses reviewed here.
We appreciate that the Mixoo comes with two replacement disks since they seem fairly fragile, and we found ourselves tightening them often. (It also comes with one extra mesh nib.) We also find it harder to control the low-friction plastic disks on the screen, making for sloppier notes and less precise drawings. The pen gives you a nice rubber grip when you're using the disk nib. Since we usually use the mesh option, we'd like enhanced traction on that side as well. The Mixoo is a straightforward, low-tech navigation stylus for those on a limited budget.
By the way, a capacitive touch screen is one with the ability to respond to the light touch of a finger. They include most modern touch screens, including the iPad, iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy screens we used in our tests.
Best Writing Feel
The Adonit Note+ combines a normal-pen feel with a precision nib and excellent features to offer outstanding performance. Both the Apple Pencil and the JamJake are rigid. The Adonit bucks the trend with a softer, replaceable nib that feels more like your favorite ball-point pen. The result is one of the best writing experiences in the test. And you can easily convert your handwriting to text in apps like Evernote or Apple's Notes. It even worked with Apple's Scribble in our tests, letting you write in text fields like the Google search bar. Its technical features are also top-notch. Palm rejection, pressure and tilt sensitivity, and two programmable shortcut buttons give you a lot of artistic control and convenience, and we didn't notice any line lag.
Unfortunately, while the palm rejection works across apps, the other three features only work in a handful, and none of them are Adobe. The Note+ will work as a Bluetooth or non-Bluetooth stylus. To take advantage of all of its features, you'll need to sort through Adonit's Recommended Apps webpage and then sync it with whatever drawing app you choose. We linked it up with the Concepts drawing app to take advantage of the pressure and tilt sensitivity. Its shading capabilities and depth of color control pulled us right in. We don't love how easy it is to press the shortcut buttons accidentally. It doesn't improve your handwriting or snap shapes together like a Second Generation Apple Pencil either. You also have to plug it in for a charge, making it easier to run out of juice than the Pencil. It is much less expensive though, and offers a softer touch. Still, we think it's an exceptional option if you are flexible about your art apps or already use one that supports the Note+'s most impressive features.
Best Option for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite S Pen
Each S Pen is device-specific. The one we tested works only with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. It is accurate, with a pleasantly responsive nib that glides over the screen easily without slipping. It's also the only stylus we tested that tracks the nib's location as you hover over the screen with a small hollow dot. This nifty feature helps you navigate your notes, pick up lines in drawings, and generally promotes precision. The S Pen works wonderfully with the tablet's included Samsung Notes app, where it writes and draws without any lag. The lines track your movements perfectly, and you can angle the pen to increase the line's thickness, making your drawings that much more intuitive. The app easily and accurately converts your notes to text. The stylus also attaches to your device magnetically, making it a cinch to stow and go.
Unfortunately, the S Pen has a noticeable lag in the other apps we tested. It's particularly apparent in Adobe Illustrator Draw, where we observed lines trailing behind the pen's nib by as much as a quarter inch. We saw this same issue in the Evernote app. While the letters appear quickly enough to almost fool your eye, not being able to see the shapes as you create them can make a difference in legibility. Still, the S Pen has less lag than any generalist stylus did when we tested them with the Galaxy tablet. (These same styluses show very minimal lag when used on the iPad.) It is also the only pen that works with the Adobe Illustrator app on the Galaxy. We do like the writing feel of the S Pen, but it is thin and tiring to hold for longer periods. If you own the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, this stylus pen will provide you with the best possible performance.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead stylus pen tester, Clark Tate, is a writer who has begrudgingly morphed into a typist to keep up with our digital times. As an elder millennial, she grew up taking notes by hand, doodles and all. From the etiquette of keeping quiet during a conference to the memory benefits of writing with a pen, Clark is a big believer in upholding the legacy of the quill. In today's world, that translates to a stylus. Clark works as a freelance writer and also helps environmental nonprofits with their communications. That means constant note-taking, photo editing, and digital artwork to keep websites and social streams compelling.
Our editorial team worked with Clark to research the current stylus market for the best options to test, investigating more than 60 unique models before buying the selection presented in this review. To test these styluses, we set up an Android Pixel 3a, iPhone SE, iPad Pro 12.9" (4th gen), iPad Pro 10.2" (8th gen), and Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite with three apps — Evernote, Adobe Illustrator Draw, and Concepts. We also scrolled around the devices for daily use and completed standardized writing and drawing tasks with each stylus on every device they work with. Clark also passed them around to friends and family to get an array of opinions on performance.
Analysis and Test Results
A great stylus pen can help you get the most out of your touchscreen devices. They can discreetly take notes in a meeting, create digital art on a whim, or keep your screen clean while navigating quickly and accurately. Below, we discuss the performance of each stylus in each of our testing metrics.
We love the Apple Pencil and would pretty much recommend it every time, except that some darn good options cost so much less. The Adonit Note+ doesn't integrate quite as smoothly into Apple's iPad world, but it's not far behind, feels better in hand, and will save you some serious dough. The JamJake has an even more tempting price tag, though you lose key features like pressure sensitivity.
You can also, of course, spend very little to get a passive stylus that will help you navigate your device, jot a note or two, and draw rough (rough) drafts. Of these, we think the Mixoo and Meko options give you the biggest bang for your buck.
All of the styluses tested are capable of fine lines and following your pen strokes dutifully. They diverge greatly from there. There are four things to consider when it comes to how precise you can expect your stylus to be — how easy it is to grip, what kind of nib it has, how much lag time there is between your pen stroke the line that follows it, and whether or not you can rest your hand on the touchscreen while you write or draw.
Palm rejection technology is one of our favorite features. It lets you rest your palm on the screen to steady your hand as you scribble away. Only four styluses we tested have it, the Apple Pencil, Adonit Note+, JamJake Palm Rejection Stylus, and the S Pen. It's the main reason why they are our favorites.
Of these, the Apple Pencil earns the highest precision marks. The Pencil has what Apple calls imperceptible lag time between its movements and when the resulting mark appears on the screen. We noticed a similar lack of lag when using the Adonit Note+ and JamJake, but neither is quite as flawless. The S Pen is similarly seamless when paired with Samsung Notes but suffers from significant lag in third-party apps.
Lag seems to be a function of how well the stylus, application, and tablet communicate. This communication works much better when the stylus and app are connected via Bluetooth. Still, the rest of the styluses in the test (all passive/non-Bluetooth options) also displayed very little lag time with the Apple iPad. The same pens lagged significantly when paired with the Samsung Galaxy.
The rest of precision comes down to nib type and grip. The Apple and JamJake both have a rigid pencil-like nib that supports excellent precision. The nib on the Adonit Note+ is similar but with a gentler, almost flexible feel. It is our favorite to use by far. The S Pen has a soft nib tip that calls to mind a fine tip marker. It works well but may wear more quickly. All of these pens are easy enough to hold onto.
Our next favorite nib type is the metal mesh versions on the Friendly Swede, Meko, and Mixoo pens. They work similarly to the soft rubber tips on the Libberway options but glide where the rubber tends to drag.
They preserve just enough friction to help you control your pen strokes and slide out much less often than disk nibs that the Swede, Meko, and Mixxo also employ. These glide so little friction that penmanship suffers greatly. The Adonit Pro4 has a higher quality disk nib that is easier to use with less lag.
Precise lines are essential for a stylus to excel at creating, but art-friendly features are also a big part of the picture. Pam rejection, pressure sensitivity, and tilt sensitivity give you far more control over your creations. So far, Bluetooth styluses like the Apple Pencil, Adonit Note+, and S Pen are the only options that offer them.
These styluses provide consistent palm rejection across every app we tested them with, letting you steady your hand on the screen while you write or draw. Tilt and pressure sensitivity only work with some applications and only when your stylus is paired with them via Bluetooth.
The Pencil seems to offer pressure sensitivity in the greatest array of apps, including the Adobe Suite. However, we had a hard time getting its tilt sensitivity to work consistently. The Note+ offers both features in a select number of apps but not in Adobe. The S Pen seems more limited, working best in Samsung's Notes app.
Though we prefer the feel of the Note+, having to learn to navigate the less familiar Concepts app to unlock its best artistic features was disappointing. In the end, the seamless integration of Apple's Pencil with Apple's iPad made it our favorite combination for creating.
The Note+ provides our favorite writing feel in the test, feeling just like a normal, lightweight pen, with a bit of give in its precise tip. The Apple and JamJake options also stand out due to their functionality and easy-to-use nature.
Their rigid nature does cause them to squeak on occasion. And the JamJake is clunky. So much so that JamJake recommends adding a glass protector before using it on your device. The S Pen is very pleasant in hand, offering a soft tip reminiscent of a fine point sharpie.
Of the rest, we like the options with mesh nibs. They are smooth enough to slide but offer enough friction to make them easy to control. The rubber nibs are fine though very imprecise. We found that the disks glide a little too easily. They can feel like you're writing with a Zamboni.
Good grip means you can hold onto a stylus. Comfort means you want to. Of these pens, we reached for the Adonit Note+ and Apple Pencil the most. The Pencil feels like one, with no flexibility, while the Note+ feels more like your favorite, easy-rolling pen. Both are a very pleasant size and weight.
Length and balance also make a big difference. The Meko, Mixoo, and S Pen are all the same length, about the size of a regular pen. That's where the similarities end. The S Pen is very thin and light, whereas the Meko and Mixoo have normal pen proportions and weigh more. Both tactics work fine, but the S Pen does feel tiring after a while. The Meko and Mixoo have some hard ridges that aren't the most comfortable in hand.
What doesn't work as well are styluses like the Liberrway, which are so short and light that they take more work to hold on to.
Versatility refers to how many devices and apps each stylus is compatible with and how many tasks it can complete.
The Pencil is very versatile within the realm of the most recent iPads. It works with a wide range of apps, though some of its functions don't translate to all of them. It doesn't do anything for anyone outside of the Apple Universe or those with older products, though.
Similarly, the Adonit Note+ works on a limited array of iPads, and its best features are only available in a narrow range of apps. While it can accomplish many tasks and even works with the iPad's Scribble function, you may have to try a new app to get the most out of the device.
The JamJake works on a wider range of iPad devices but offers fewer features. The S Pen only works with one device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. It can complete all of the tasks you'd expect of a stylus and pairs well with Samsung's free Notes app.
The S Pen, Note+, and Pencil all make it easy to convert your handwritten notes into text using the Samsung and Apple Notes apps, respectively.
The rest of the pens have fewer features and are capable of less. They work with all capacitive touch screens, more or less. There are some sneaky compatibility holes here and there. For example, none of the generalist pens can draw on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite using the Adobe Illustrator app. Though all of them can take notes and navigate, only the S Pen can draw on the device. Of these wide-ranging pens, the Friendly Swede is the most versatile since it offers four nib types.
After our extensive testing, we're impressed with the high-tech capabilities of the top-tier stylus pens. But we found a wide range of performance between different models and at different price ranges. We hope that our deep dive into the wild and artful world of styluses has armed you with all the information you need to buy your perfect touchscreen companion.
— Clark Tate
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