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The 5 best iPad styluses

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Studies show that writing things down by hand may boost cognitive performance — and since your iPad is basically your own personal digital notebook, it’s important to invest in a stylus that will make jotting down important information and thoughts as easy as possible. The best iPad styluses allow you to perform a wide variety of tasks using either built-in electrical components or the pressure of your hand. Some are designed with narrow tips for greater precision while drawing or writing, while others have wider tips for casual scrolling and clicking.

What to consider when shopping for the best iPad styluses

Styluses are available in two variations — active and passive — and your choice will depend on your needs. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the two options, with a few more details to follow.

Cheat sheet

Active styluses: These rechargeable styluses cost a bit more but have upgraded accuracy and precision — perfect for drawing and writing extensive notes.

Passive styluses: Also known as capacitive styluses, these budget-friendly options don’t require charging, and while they’re less precise, they work well for casual scrolling and clicking.

Active styluses

Rechargeable, active styluses are designed with electrical components that directly interact with your iPad’s screen. Some acive styluses — like the Apple Pencil — use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly communicate the location and pressure of the stylus to your screen, rather than through physical pressure exerted by your hand. Active styluses feature narrow, hard tips — ranging from 0.8 millimeter to 1.5 millimeter — made from either plastic or copper, and they can produce precise lines that are ideal for drawing and writing. Just note that while copper is more sensitive than plastic, it has the potential to scratch your screen, so you’ll want to place a screen protector on your iPad first.

Higher-end styluses also include an added feature: palm rejection. This means that the stylus uses something called “inductive resonance” to detect pressure and translate it into strokes on your screen, while any contact from your fingers or palms won’t register. This is particularly useful when it comes to taking a full page of notes or adding shading to artwork. In general, active styluses tend to be more expensive than passive styluses, and you will need to recharge them every so often. But if sketching, taking notes by hand, and gaming are your priority, the increased precision is worth it.

Passive styluses

Also known as “capacitive” styluses, these operate a lot like using your own finger, which means they typically require a little more physical effort on your part than rechargeable styluses. The tips are generally wider than active styluses, usually measuring between 5 and 6 millimeters, and they’re either made out of fiber mesh or rubber, materials that tend to be less sensitive than copper. Some capacitive styluses are designed with narrow rubber tips (around 2 millimeters) that are surrounded by clear plastic discs, which helps increase accuracy.

While they may not be cut out for elaborate drawings or serious note-taking, they’re perfect for casual scrolling and web browsing — plus, they tend to be more budget-friendly.

Whether you plan on taking extensive notes, honing your drawing skills, or simply surfing the web, you’ll find the best iPad styluses here — and they’re some of the most useful tablet accessories you can own.

Shop the best iPad styluses

In a hurry? These are the best styluses for iPads:

  1. The best active stylus at a budget price: JAMJAKE Stylus Pen
  2. The best active stylus that’s worth the splurge: Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
  3. The best passive stylus: Mixoo Capacitive Stylus
  4. The best combo active & passive stylus: KECOW Active Stylus Pen
  5. The best multipack of passive styluses: METRO Universal Stylus Pens (4-Pack)

1. The best active stylus at a budget price

Pros:

  • Palm rejection
  • Impressive 20-hour battery life

Cons:

  • Not pressure-sensitive

Boasting a 4.5-star overall rating on Amazon after 75,000 reviews, this rechargeable active stylus pen is a great pick for multiple reasons. The 1.5-millimeter tip is fantastic for drawing precise lines, and since it’s made from plastic, it won’t scratch up your screen the way copper might. It doesn’t use Bluetooth to communicate with your tablet — all you have to do is touch the top of the pen to turn it on, which makes operation a cinch. This fine-point stylus for iPads is not pressure-sensitive, but it does feature palm rejection, so your hand can rest on the surface of the screen without causing interference.

It has an impressive battery life of 20 hours and can easily be recharged with the included USB cable. It’s also magnetic, so it’ll fasten to the side of your tablet for easy storage when not in use. All in all, it’s a wallet-friendly alternative to the Apple Pencil that offers the same basic features — minus the pressure sensitivity.

According to a reviewer: “Been using this for a couple of weeks, and I love it. If you're like me and your primary use for this is to take notes and draw quick sketches, then this is the perfect tool for the job. It's affordable, and weighs about the same as an old-school premium fountain pen. I'm using it with the iPad mini 5th Generation, and it just works.”

Type: Active | Palm rejection? Yes | Pressure-sensitive? No | Tip: 1.5-millimeter plastic | Battery life: 20 hours

2. The best active stylus that’s worth the splurge

Pros:

  • Near-perfect overall rating on Amazon
  • Palm rejection
  • Pressure-sensitive

Cons:

  • Higher price tag

With a 4.8-star overall rating after 65,000 reviews, the Apple Pencil is the top-of-the-line active stylus pen that lives up to its respected brand name. It has an ultra-thin plastic tip that measures just 0.8 millimeter, allowing you to achieve the most precise lines out of any pick on this list. The stylus pencil features palm rejection and uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with your iPad, which means it’s pressure-sensitive. The stylus runs up to 12 hours before needing to be recharged — which you can do wirelessly, of course. When you’re not using it, the Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to your device.

While it might be significantly pricier than the other options on this list, it’s a great investment for brand-loyal Apple fans, and it’s the best choice if you want to create intricate drawings or take extensive notes. One reviewer described it as “the fountain pencil of iPads,” which pretty much sums it up.

According to a reviewer: “I've been getting into digital art lately, and it's perfect. The accuracy is amazing, the pressure sensitivity is spot on, and the battery lasts for hours on end! Not only that, but they integrated a magnetic connector onto the tops of the newer iPad Airs and Pros, so all you have to do to charge it is pop it onto the top of your iPad, and you're ready to go!”

Type: Active | Palm rejection? Yes | Pressure-sensitive? Yes | Tip: 0.8-millimeter plastic | Battery life: 12 hours

3. The best passive stylus

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • 2 tip options

Cons:

  • Less accurate than active styluses
  • No palm rejection
  • No pressure sensitivity

Those looking for a simple but reliable capacitive stylus will find everything they need in this stylus pen for iPads. It comes with three tip options you can swap out: a 6-millimeter fiber mesh tip for scrolling and web browsing and two 2-millimeter rubber tips with plastic discs for more precise tasks. Since it’s a passive stylus, it’ll offer less accuracy and you won’t get benefits like pressure sensitivity or palm rejection. That being said, you’ll never have to remember to recharge.

Available at a wallet-friendly price in a wide range of colors, this pen is a solid choice if you’re looking for something basic, and you can pick up a pair of palm rejection gloves from the same brand if you plan on drawing or taking extensive notes.

According to a reviewer: “The design is incredible. The stylus has a good weight to it, like a really good pen. Smooth design, I was really impressed with the disk. Very responsive, easy to use. Doesn’t require a battery and doesn’t need to be linked up to your device. Overall I was very impressed and highly recommend this stylus for drawing on a touch screen device.”

Type: Passive | Palm rejection? No | Pressure-sensitive? No | Tip: 2-millimeter rubber disc tip, 6-millimeter fiber tip | Battery life: N/A

4. The best combo active & passive stylus

Pros:

  • Works as both an active and passive stylus
  • Highly accurate copper tip and mesh tip included

Cons:

  • No palm rejection
  • Not pressure-sensitive

If you can’t decide between an active or passive option, you should check out this combination stylus that gives you the versatility of both. The 1.45-millimeter tip is made of copper, which offers optimal accuracy in active mode, but if you find yourself stuck with a dead battery — or simply feel like using a wider tip — this stylus comes with a 6-millimeter fiber mesh tip that can be used in passive mode. (One thing to note: When using the copper tip, you should use a screen protector as the material could scratch the screen.)

This stylus doesn’t utilize Bluetooth technology, nor is it pressure-sensitive, but you can invest in a pair of palm-rejection gloves if you plan on resting your hand against your tablet screen. The USB-rechargeable stylus has a battery life of up to 10 hours, and when you’re not using it, the magnetic caps keep it secured to your tablet.

According to a reviewer: “It's very well-balanced and feels very natural to hold. Even if it dies you can use the alternate back that they provide, which can honestly be more accurate sometimes. [...] I'd say it's good for the price...”

Type: Active and passive | Palm rejection? No | Pressure-sensitive? No | Tip: 1.45-millimeter copper, 6-millimeter fiber mesh | Battery life: 8 to 10 hours

5. The best multipack of passive styluses

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • 8 tips included

Cons:

  • Less accurate than active styluses
  • No palm rejection
  • Not pressure-sensitive

If you frequently misplace small items and aren’t in the market for fancy features, this multipack of capacitive iPad pens is a great deal. The set includes four stylus pens and eight replaceable fiber mesh tips: four 5-millimeter tips and four 6-millimeter tips. These styluses are simple in construction; they don’t have palm rejection technology or pressure sensitivity, nor do they come with fine rubber tips like the other capacitive option on the list. However, with multiple in the pack, you can keep them in different locations so you always have one on hand. Each stylus also includes a protective cap with a clip for attaching the pen to your bag or folder.

According to a reviewer: “It came with 4 pens, but soooo many replacement caps! The tip is small and accurate, which I love and does not scratch up my iPad like previous ones I have bought. Definitely recommend.”

Type: Passive | Palm rejection? No | Pressure-sensitive? No | Tip: 5-millimeter and 6-millimeter fiber mesh | Battery life: N/A

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