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Best Apple Pencil alternatives 2022: what stylus is for you?

A selection of the best Apple Pencil alternatives including Wacom Bamboo Sketch, Logitech Crayon and Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus
(Image credit: Wacom, Logitech)

The Apple Pencil is a lovely thing for scribbling and sketching, annotating and illustrating. Whether you’re writing notes or creating intricate artworks it delivers impressive results thanks to a combination of pressure detection, tilt detection and rotation detection. Why would you want to use something else instead?

There are a few reasons. First of all there’s price: the first-gen Apple Pencil is $99 / £89 / AU$145 and the second generation is $129 / £119 / AU$199. Many rival devices are considerably cheaper.

Secondly, there’s compatibility, because Apple Pencils only work with certain iPads (opens in new tab) (and not iPhones) and the second generation model only works with iPad Pros including the latest iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) model, along with the new iPad mini. Regardless, many rival styluses work on more devices, and some of them work on other firms’ tablets too.

There’s its charging, which requires you to stick the Pencil into your iPad in a rather inelegant way because you lost the little Lightning adapter months ago.

And finally, and possibly most importantly for artistic types, there’s personal taste. Artists care deeply about their tools, and what feels right in one hand might not feel right in another.

That’s why we’ve investigated the best Apple Pencil alternatives, ranging from the simplest, cheapest styluses for scribbling notes to serious models for professional artists.

Best Apple Pencil alternatives 2022

Wacom Bamboo Sketch

(Image credit: Wacom)

1. Wacom Bamboo Sketch

A serious stylus for artists and illustrators

Reasons to buy

+
Very sensitive and accurate
+
Wide compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill for handwriting
-
Hard to find

Wacom knows more about writing on tablets than anybody since Moses, so it’s no surprise to see two of its styluses in our top five. The Sketch is a fine-tipped, pressure sensitive stylus that works on iPad and iPhone via Bluetooth. It’s compatible with iPhones from the iPhone 6 onwards, although check the app compatibility list before buying: for example Adobe Sketch and Procreate are not compatible on iPad Pros. 

The Sketch has a choice of replaceable soft and firm tips as well as two customizable buttons to make it fit your particular preferences. Unlike the Apple Pencil it charges via USB rather than a Lightning port, and you can expect around 16 hours between charges. It’s brilliant for sketching and drawing, and it’s worth shopping around for: the Sketch can be hard to find but it’s worth tracking down.

Logitech Crayon

(Image credit: Logitech)

2. Logitech Crayon

A colorful contender with Apple approval

Reasons to buy

+
Fast charging
+
Tilt support for shading

Reasons to avoid

-
Apple Pencil is more sensitive
-
Not pressure sensitive

Logitech’s Apple Pencil alternative has something many other styluses lack: the Apple seal of approval. On paper the seven-hour battery looks a bit rubbish compared to rivals, but you can get 30 minutes of use from a two-minute fast charge so we don’t think that’s a deal-breaker.

Don’t let the cheerful, child-friendly design fool you: while the Crayon was originally intended for the education market it’s a good stylus for non-educational environments too. The only fly in the electronic ointment is the lack of pressure sensing: instead, the Crayon uses tilt detection to adjust the weight of the line you’re drawing. If you’re looking for great build quality and don’t need pressure sensing it’s a strong contender.

Adonit Note+

(Image credit: Adonit)

3. Adonit Note+

Affordable and reliable

Reasons to buy

+
Well priced
+
Extensive pressure sensitivity 

Reasons to avoid

-
Shortcut buttons only work with certain apps

The Adonit Note+ offers a lot of likeable features. That includes 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and palm rejection so there's no risk of interference. The killer feature is its two programmable shortcut buttons. While they don't work with every app, when they do work, they're brilliant. Being able to undo or redo at a tap of a button, or whatever else you need to do regularly, is very useful.

Older iPads won't work this and certain features are a little limited depending on the apps you use, but the potential is great for newer iPad owners. 

Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus

(Image credit: Wacom)

4. Wacom Bamboo Fineline Stylus

Another great Wacom, this time for writing

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Feels great in the hand

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as sensitive as the Sketch
-
Sketch is better for artists

The Fineline is the cheaper sibling of the Bamboo Sketch. Where the former was made for drawing and illustration, the Fineline is for handwriting – so while it’s pressure sensitive it only has 1024 pressure levels compared to twice that for the Sketch. It’s perfectly fine for scribbling diagrams or quick sketches but if you want to make really intricate art you’d be better with its slightly more expensive sibling. 

For note taking, though, it’s brilliant. It’s nice and chunky in the hand and it has a twist mechanism to turn it on and off, and to hide the fine tip when you’re not using it. It comes in four colors, has a single programmable shortcut button and charges via USB; expect around 15 hours of use between charges.

Adonit Jot Pro 3

(Image credit: Adonit)

5. Adonit Jot Pro 3

A simple stylus for almost anything

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
No battery to charge

Reasons to avoid

-
Nib feels a little flimsy
-
No pressure sensing

The Adonit is a surprisingly good pencil for the money: its etched aluminium body makes it look and feel more expensive than it is, it’s available in four stylish colors and it has a nifty magnetic cap to protect the stylus. It isn’t pressure sensitive, though, and you may find that the little plastic disc that surrounds the nib is a little bit annoying and doesn’t like any debris on your display.

The upside? Because it’s passive rather than active there’s no pairing or battery to charge, and it works with pretty much any kind of touchscreen. It’s not as good as a Wacom but it’s a lot more precise than any finger.

AWAVO Stylus Pencil

(Image credit: Awavo)

6. AWAVO Stylus Pencil

Cheap and cheerful for handwriting and sketches

Reasons to buy

+
Super cheap
+
Comfortable and effective

Reasons to avoid

-
Not pressure sensitive
-
Not universally compatible

The AWAVO is a capacitive stylus that operates without a Bluetooth connection, although you’ll still need to charge it because without power your iPad won’t detect it. Expect up to 24 hours from a single charge.

It works with iPads from the 6th-gen iPad, 3rd-gen Air, 5th-gen mini and the 11-inch and 12.9-inch, third generation iPad Pro. It feels a little bit like the Apple Pencil (and looks like it if you go for the white one) but if you’re drawing you’ll immediately notice the lack of pressure sensitivity, which means it’s better suited to scribbling than serious artworks. For handwriting and quick sketching, though, it’s a lot of stylus for not a lot of money.

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Carrie Marshall
Carrie Marshall

Contributor

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, will be published in November 2022. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.