Ask any tech enthusiast for a recommendation for a good stylus pen, and the two main answers you receive will be the Apple Pencil and the Samsung S-Pen.
They are well deserving of such recommendations too, due to their sheer dominance in their respective markets.
I own both Apple Pencil and S-Pen, and I am constantly flooded with questions regarding which is the best overall stylus pen.
Well, I seek to put an end to that and compare both the Samsung S-Pen and Apple Pencil and see who comes out on top: Experience or Tech prowess.
S-pen has a slight edge over the Apple Pencil due to its extra features and compatibility. Judging purely on capabilities, the Apple Pencil has great software support and reliable hardware.
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Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Design and Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a key area to consider when you are in the market for a stylus pen. The in-hand feel, weight, and material of the product make a significant impact on its utility.
Apple Pencil has a cylindrical pump design with a matte white finish all around that gives it a rather majestic feel and look.
Although the 1st generation Apple Pencil had a fully rounded design, the 2nd Gen fixed that issue with a flat side that provides better grip and doesn't roll off the table.
The first generation also had a cap on the other end that housed the poorly implemented charging port.
The 2nd generation replaced that design with magnetic charging on its flat side, thus making it much sleeker and easier to charge.
The tip is also a blunt tip that prioritizes touch sensitivity and is perfect for sketching.
Although Samsung has multiple models in its S-Pen range, most of the aesthetics try to be consistent.
It features a rather glossy body slightly smaller than the Apple Pencil, splashed with a rainbow of colours with respect to its parent phone/tablet body.
Their S-Pen for their Note series (and more recently their foldable lineup) also has a spring-loaded cap bottom that locks itself securely inside its dedicated phone slot.
The tip is more pointy compared to Apple Pencils and hence, is more accurate by hardware.
Design is always a personal preference, and if you ask me I slightly prefer the Samsung S-Pen over the Apple Pencil in this area.
Samsung S-Pen is a bit handier and feels much like a pen or pencil, while the Apple Pencil can be a bit too thin for me at times.
Just recently, I did my research and wrote a comprehensive guide on Apple Pencil vs other styluses. This might give you a different perspective on the Apple Pencil.
Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Performance
Depending on your utility with the stylus pen, there will be a certain performance benchmark that you might need to judge by.
Performance is also seriously impacted by the operating system and software they use to register the touch input.
Although Apple doesn't disclose its specs, by user experience it's safe to say it is one of the best-performing AES-based stylus pens in the market right now.
It has great pressure sensitivity, very low latency at just 9ms, and very good natural palm rejection.
Although there is a slight reported issue with parallax errors, it is barely noticeable at all and I wouldn't consider it a deal-breaker at all.
iOS has also vastly adapted to the Apple Pencil and hence provides a much more integrated and seamless experience.
Samsung has done a great job in relating as close of performance as Apple has done, without having remotely as much freedom with its software.
Samsung S-Pen also boasts great pressure sensitivity with 4096 levels (which I assume is the same with Apple Pencil too) and has the same latency numbers at 9ms too.
S-Pen also doesn't suffer from as great of a parallax error issue as Apple, which was already negligible.
These parallax errors are more to be blamed on the smart device touchscreen rather than the pen used to input touch information.
But unfortunately, Android is still not that great with stylus features and hence Samsung has to do extra work to make everything perfect, and you can only do so much.
Both are very similar in terms of the performance offered, but the software experience for stylus pens on iOS/iPadOS is far better than any android skin in the market right now.
For that specific reason, I would go with the Apple Pencil for sure.
Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Features and Connectivity
Stylus pens usually improve upon their USP status by including features that appeal to a broader range of audience for maximum sales.
This also requires them to have solid connectivity functionalities to pair with the broader audience with different smart devices.
Apple pencil incorporates only the bare necessary features, such as palm rejection, tip-tilt shading, etc.
It relies mostly on iOS software for most of its extra functionality and features.
Connectivity is great with iPads as it automatically connects to the device when you detach the pen from the magnetic charging side of the iPad.
But compatibility is a whole other issue, as Apple Pencil is only supported by select models of the iPad lineup. It won't work with android or any other operating system.
Samsung S-Pen is completely different from what Apple has done, in that it is loaded with a bunch of features.
S-Pen has dedicated shortcut buttons that can be custom configured for multiple use cases.
It has a lot of gestures supported, and the sole reason it has a battery is to juice up for the extra functionality it boasts.
Connectivity is also great as it automatically connects to the Samsung device. It additionally also has Bluetooth for other devices.
This helps incompatibility with both iOS(with restricted features) and other Android devices without issues.
This is an easy choice for Samsung S-Pen.
Even if Apple adds more gestures and device support, chances are it will be from their next-gen Pencils and the current-gen won't notice the benefits.
If you are using the S-Pen with a Galaxy A series tablet, you can find some great alternatives to the S-Pen here- Best Styluses for Galaxy Tab A series.
Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Battery and Pricing
Battery life is very important when considering any active stylus pen. Thankfully, newer gen stylus pens excel in battery life with respect to continuous usage.
Apple pencil lasts a very long time from a full charge. It is rated for 12 hours of use and Apple's battery stats are always real-life stats and in my usage stand true to themselves.
It also supports fast charging and fills up the pen in just 15 minutes.
Charging is also very convenient by just magnetically attaching the pencil to the side of the iPad Pro. This helps in making the battery life just a non-factor in general.
The Apple Pencil is priced at a hefty $99 for the 2nd gen and $79 for the 1st gen.
This is a high premium to pay for a stylus pen, considering third parties are available at half the price of these.
But then again, they don't offer the same functionality and features as the official Apple Pencil, so I guess the pricing is justified as per the brand.
Samsung pens are also fantastic with their battery management.
The phone lineup of S-Pens still work on their respective device, even if they are devoid of charge (only the extra features will be shut down)
The recent pro lineup of S-Pen boasts 16 days of battery life on normal use, with a full charge taking 50 minutes.
They also conveniently attach magnetically to charge, and also have an additional USB c port, making charging much of an afterthought, just like the Pencil.
The price of S-Pens varies across devices, from as much as $99 for their S Pen Pro to as little as $30 for their note series S-Pens.
Although battery charging speeds are technically better on the Apple Pencil, Samsung does keep up with Apple by earning points lasting 10x longer than the Pencil.
The pricing is also a similar affair, but considering Samsung's extra features, the S-Pen does take the cake in this category.
Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Miscellaneous Specifications
There is a lot more stuff regarding a stylus pen to look at, especially while comparing two different products.
I have made a simple chart for easy understanding that will help greatly differentiate between the two products while refreshing the information we have learnt.
For the sake of proper and accurate classification, I will be comparing the Apple Pencil 2nd gen with the Samsung S Pen Pro.
|Features||Apple Pencil||Samsung S-Pen|
|Body material||Plastic; matte finish||Plastic; glossy finish|
|Tip||Blunt; Made of soft rubber||Pointy; Made of Plastic|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth (restricted to supported devices)||Bluetooth|
|Pressure levels||4096||Not specified, but judging by usage it should be 4096|
|Initial Activation Force (IAF)||0g||0g; higher on older stylus pens|
|Latency||Very low||Bit higher comparatively|
|Response time||Great, considering iPad Pro's 120Hz display refresh and 240Hz touch sampling||Spectacular, considering Galaxy Tab S7+'s 120Hz display refresh and 360Hz touch sampling|
|Touch tracking||Great, due to the 3ms response||Good, due to the 9ms response|
|Charging implementations||Attaches magnetically to iPad Pro to charge||Can attach magnetically to tab S7+, and can also charge with the inbuilt USB-C port|
|Charging time for a full charge||15 minutes||50 minutes|
|Battery life and standby||12 hours of continuous use||16 days standby with 1-hour use per day|
|Dedicated custom buttons||No||One|
|Gesture controls||Restricted gestures with respect to the app in use||Yes; can be used to trigger various tasks such as controlling apps and using the pen as a shutter button while taking pictures amongst many things.|
|Hardware Compatibility||Only compatible with select iPad models.||Compatible with a wide range of galaxy products, as well as restricted compatibility with iOS and Android devices|
|Software Compatibility||Features compatible across a wide range of Apple apps and pro-grade tools||Features are compatible mostly with only Galaxy apps.|
Apple Pencil vs Samsung S-Pen: Final Verdict
Apple Pencil and the S-pen trade blow spectacularly with each other in all the categories we analyzed them in.
This shows the sheer competition amongst the brands in the market, hoping to one-up every time they get the opportunity.
By sales figures, Apple Pencil beats the S-Pen by a whole mile and some. But S-Pens has more users than the Apple Pencil.
But Apple selling the Pencil as an extra peripheral rather than the pen being with the device, like Samsung does, could be the reason for such figures.
They are the best when it comes to the operating systems they natively are compatible with, and this could be the point of contention regarding what your preference could be.
In my personal opinion, I would give the Samsung S-Pen a very slight edge just due to its compatibility, features, and design aesthetics implemented.
I hope this article gave you a proper insight into the differences to make out your best decision too when it comes to the Pencil vs S-pen debate.
Have a good day!
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
How long will an Apple Pencil tip last?
Depending on how much and how long you use the Apple Pencil, it will last at least 4 to 6 months.
Do Apple Pencils work on iPhones?
As of 2023, Apple pencils are restricted to only select iPad Pro models. Support for iPhones is only rumoured with the 3rd generation Apple Pencils.
Can I use a completely discharged Samsung S-Pen as a Passive Stylus for drawing?
S-Pens on the note and fold lineup will work on their respective supported screens with only certain gesture features disabled if the pen doesn't have any charge.
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