My trusty Apple Pencil stopped working and I decided to check out other available options that can quench my artistic needs.
Although I am not a great digital artist, I do dab by hand in ink a lot and I have used enough stylus pens to know which paintbrush is my ultimate preference.
So with this article, I intend to provide you with my personally curated ultimate list of the best stylus pens you can buy for your iPad Pro in 2023.
The absolute best stylus pen for your iPad Pro is the official Apple Pencil 1st Gen for iPad Pro 1st & 2nd Gen users and Apple Pencil 2nd Gen for iPad Pro 3rd Gen and above. A great third-party alternative for iPad 1st & 2nd gen users is the BoxWave AccuPoint Active Stylus. A great third-party alternative for iPad Pro 3rd Gen and above is the Adonit Pixel and the Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil.
Specifications of a Stylus Pen
Before we get down to my ultimate list, there are some important specifications of a stylus pen that you need to know.
These specifications can significantly impact your buying decision based on your use case with the stylus pen.
Depending on its capability to communicate with your iPad Pro, there are two types of stylus pens available in the market as of now: Active and Passive Stylus pens.
Active Stylus Pens
Active stylus pens are stylus pens that have some electronic component inside them to better communicate with the iPad Pro.
The primary technology used in active stylus pens is via the inbuilt digitizing sensors on the nibs that provide the required touch input on the touchscreen.
Apple Pencil, Microsoft Surface Pen, and Samsung Galaxy S-Pens (post-2018) are all fantastic examples of popular active stylus pens that cater to their specific devices.
Passive Stylus pens
Passive stylus pens don't have any electronic components in them and simply conduct the electrical charge from the screen, just like your fingers.
The primary technology used in passive stylus pens is electrostatic conductivity, which is the same technology used for touch inputs between the screen and your fingers.
Nintendo 3DS stylus pens and Samsung Galaxy S-Pens(pre-2018) are all great examples of popular passive stylus pens
Active vs Passive Stylus Pens
Since the two types of stylus pens are radically different, I have made this comprehensive chart that further differentiates between the two main types:
|Features||Active Stylus||Passive Stylus|
|Power Source||Incorporates a battery to power up the electronic components||Has no electronic components to power up and hence doesn't require a power source|
|Technology||Digitizing sensors on the nibs to communicate with the display||Electrostatic conduction, just like fingers on the touchscreen|
|Forms of communication with the device||Can communicate with direct touchscreen contact, as well as relay inbuilt sensors information via Bluetooth for better touch response and features||Only by direct contact via a touchscreen|
|Size of Nibs/Tips||Small and pointed for more precise and accurate strokes||Larger and rounded to conduct the charge for touch input.|
|Compatibility||Compatible only with select products the stylus is certified to be compatible with||Compatible across a wide range of touchscreen-enabled products, irrespective of their screen technology or operating system|
|Touch sensitivity||Can be incorporated, provided the pen has required sensors inbuilt||No sensitivity manipulation|
|Use cases||Digital art, handwritten work on a touchscreen||Daily use; a replacement for grubby finger input|
|Maintenance||Needs to be charged according to the specified power rating. Susceptible to damage via dust and water. Tips need to be replaced when worn out.||Only tips need to be replaced when worn out.|
|Life cycle||Can last only as long as the battery capacity lasts||Can last for a very long time|
More on active and passive pens here: Active vs. Passive pens.
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Apple Pencil 1st Gen & Apple Pencil 2nd Gen: Best Active Styli for Apple iPad Pro Series
As I briefly mentioned before, in terms of the features offered there isn't a better option for active stylus pens for the iPad Pro other than the ones officially available.
Apple Pencils are state-of-the-art iPad Pro stylus pens you can buy for your money. It has a suite of features and support with the Apple Ecosystem that makes it worthwhile.
The 1st Gen Apple Pencil has a great in-hand feel with its pump design and is smart enough to judge your stroke intensity and tilt shading with low latency.
It has a fantastic pen-to-paper feel, but its only annoyance is that it charges by directly plugging into your iPad Pro lightning port, which is so stupid in my opinion.
The 2nd Gen Apple Pencil improves upon the 1st gen with a better, smaller, and slimmer design, more gestures, and does not roll off the table like the previous gen.
It got rid of its main annoyance too, with a magnetic wireless charging implementation opted instead of the terrible lightning port charging.
One key thing to note is that the 1st gen Apple Pencil only supports iPad 1st and 2nd gen, while the 2nd gen Apple Pencil supports iPad Pro 3rd Gen and later.
Judging from all this, the Apple Pencils are the ultimate stylus pens for your iPad Pro provided you feel the hefty $79 and $99 are justified for your needs.
MEKO 2nd Gen Universal Disc Stylus: Best Passive Stylus for Apple iPad Pro Series
Passive stylus options are abundant as they appeal to all sorts of touchscreen users, but none stood out more than MEKO branded stylus pens.
The MEKO 2nd Gen Univeral Disc Stylus Pen is a fantastic passive stylus pen that has been raved about by customers for how intuitive it is to use.
It comes with a 6.9mm (dia) tip and the pen is built solid with aluminum, with a variety of paint jobs, and gives a fantastic in-hand feel
It has a disc-style nib, which basically is a plastic disc surrounding the actual nib so that you can precisely map your strokes.
It even has multiple tips in the box, so you can switch out to a regular round tip in case you don't need all that precision.
There is a newer and cheaper 3rd generation series, but I wouldn't recommend it as it is reported to be a bit more flimsy than the 2nd generation.
It is priced very affordably too, at just $17 for three units. The other variants are usually priced cheaper, but this is the most valuable in my opinion.
For a passive stylus, this is a phenomenal product and is a cheap alternative to an Apple Pencil.
Other great alternatives for passive and universal stylus include Adonit Mark, Lynktec TruGlide, friendly swede, etc.
Adonit Pixel : Best Active Stylus for Apple iPad Pro 5th Gen (2021)
Adonit is a very popular brand that makes some great stylus pens for different products. The Adonit Pixel is its Apple-exclusive premium lineup.
This is a full-on feature-packed stylus option for your latest iPad Pro 5th gen that comes with a lot of features to go neck-in-neck with the 2nd gen Apple Pencil.
It boasts a 1.9mm tip attached to a very sleek-looking black-coated pen body which encompasses a multitude of sensors for its workings.
It is rated to provide 14 hours of continuous use with a proprietary charging cradle that plugs in via USB.
It also has pressure sensors with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, tip tilting, enhanced palm rejection, and programmable shortcut buttons on the body.
But although it tries its best to emulate the Apple Pencil 2nd gen, it still doesn't beat it in any category in my opinion. But it comes very close.
It is priced at a premium price tag of $75, and that's asking a bit too much for a third-party peripheral. But I would say it is still a value buy for the iPad Pro 5th Gen.
JAMJAKE/ZAMZAKE Stylus Pen: Best Active Stylus for Apple iPad Pro 4th Gen (2020)
The JAMJAKE/ZAMZAKE Stylus Pen is one of the most popular stylus options on Amazon for your iPad Pro 4th gen, with over 65k ratings with an average of 4.5 stars.
Although it looks rather bland and inspired, It has a 1.5mm precision tip and also supports tip tilting for shading and palm-rejection technology.
It is rated at providing a whopping 20 hours of use on a single full charge, with a full charge taking only 90 minutes of your time.
The JAMJAKE/ZAMZAKE Stylus Pen is charged via a USB-C cable, which is provided in the box. It also has a sleep mode that turns off the stylus after 5 minutes of idling.
The reason I am calling it JAMJAKE/ZAMZAKE is that even the company is confused about its naming!
The seller on Amazon lists it as JAMJAKE while the product received is branded as ZAMZAKE. But this is just a name/branding error and nothing to be worried about.
For just $26, it is priced just over a quarter of the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, and with this, you get a fantastic deal for your Apple iPad Pro 4th gen.
Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil: Best Active Stylus for Apple iPad Pro 3rd Gen (2018)
The 3rd gen iPad Pro is the generation where Apple introduced magnetic charging by directly attaching the stylus to the side of the iPad Pro.
Hence the availability of third-party products for this specific implementation is also high. The best amongst them for the iPad Pro 3rd Gen is the Logitech Crayon.
It has a funky orange/silver color scheme on top of a rugged design while providing a great feel in the hand.
It also supports natural palm rejection and tip tilting and it requires no pairing with an iPad to work. It can just jump between screens without any issues.
The pen also provides a great 7.5 hours of battery backup on a single charge and charges quickly via a lightning port.
The only downside is that it doesn't have any pressure sensors on board, so stroke intensity manipulation is not gonna work great.
For almost half the price of a 2nd gen Apple Pencil, the Logitech Crayon provides fantastic features and is a great budget buy for your iPad Pro 3rd Gen.
BoxWave AccuPoint Active Stylus Pen: Best Active Stylus for Apple iPad Pro 1st Gen (2015) and 2nd Gen (2017)
The AccuPoint Active Stylus pen from the BoxWave Corporation is a great third-party alternative to the Apple Pencil 1st Gen for your iPad Pro 1st and 2nd Gen.
It has a 1.9mm tip attached to a brushed aluminum barrel that provides a great pen-like feel to the stylus.
It also has an led power indicator and a rounded tip at the other end for use if depletes the stylus pen completely of charge.
It shouldn't be a common issue, as it is rated for 12 hours of use on a single charge.
The only downside is that it uses a micro USB port for charging. It also has no pressure sensors or palm rejection support.
But for $29, it is a decent active stylus for your aging iPad Pro 1st and 2nd Gen.
Some Prerequisites and Precautions To Consider Before you Invest
Now that you have successfully made your decision on what type of stylus pen you want to purchase based on your needs, there are some key things to consider.
All Active Stylus Pens Are NOT Created Equal
One important factor you need to keep in mind at all costs is that active stylus pens typically only work with a specific brand and model they are meant to be compatible with.
This means that an Apple Pencil will work only for iPads and that too, only for select iPad models based on the technology and company decisions.
This might feel like a marketing tactic to boost sales for newer Apple peripherals, but new technology advancements and fresh patent implementations can be to blame too.
Each model might have screens that have different specifications based on its sensitivity and refresh, and Apple leverages this technicality to design individual custom settings.
So when in the market for an active stylus pen, make sure the brand listing specifically states it is supported for your iPad Pro model.
There will be a severe lack of features when comparing the offerings from an official Apple product third-party solution.
This is because of the specific patent rights Apple holds that other third-party companies, no matter how big, can leverage, and hence have to find other solutions
Apple also holds great power over its software, and since most stylus-related tasks are software-based, Apple will have an edge in this area.
The main USP of third-party stylus pens is that they are more cost-effective and cheap, compared to Apple solutions, and can emulate the necessary functions for most users.
Steve Jobs claiming stylus pens are a relic while launching the iPhone in 2007 is such an iconic meme at this point. Apple is ironically leading the stylus market right now.
I clearly remember the day the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil was launched and looking at the current touch technology, tech sure has come a long way.
While researching for my ultimate list, I was shocked to notice just how many iterations the iPad Pros went through to reach this stage.
It has come to a point where digital tablets are quickly being replaced by iPad Pros by digital artists, journalists, etc and Apple is one step closer to another market monopoly.
I hope my carefully curated ultimate list of the best stylus pens you can buy for your iPad Pro has been a fruitful read and helped you make a proper purchasing decision.
If you also own an iPhone 13 series of phones, you could also take a gander at this article on the best styluses for iPhone 13 PRO MAX.
Have a good day!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Do Stylus Pens Last?
Stylus Pens last as long as their tips last. A general stylus pen nib usually wears out after two or three years, depending on use.
Can I Use a completely discharged Apple Pencil as a Passive Stylus?
Apple Pencils, like other active stylus pens, don't have an electrostatic tip to conduct and provide touch input without its digitizing sensors having at least some charge
Can I use an active stylus on my iPhone?
Apple Pencils are not supported by any iPhones as of 2023, but some third-party active stylus options such as Adonit Pixel are supported on a wide range of iPhones.
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