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The best iPad stylus in 2020: top iPad pen for drawing and note-taking

The best iPad stylus
(Image credit: dejanj01 from Getty Images)

You'd be forgiven for thinking the best iPad stylus is the Apple Pencil. And while there's no denying it's an impressive piece of kit, there are other worthy options available. If you're currently without an iPad pen, rest assured, you'll find all the information on which stylus to chose, no matter what iPad you have. 

But which one is right for you? While Apple's own Pencil might be an obvious choice, there are plenty of third-party styluses (or stylii, said no one ever) that offer similar levels of functionality and cost significantly less. We've put together a guide to the best of the different iPad pens that are compatible with Apple’s iPads, depending on your user level, drawing needs and budget. Whatever kind of user you are, we're confident that you'll be able to find the one that’s right for you. 

If you're not totally convinced an iPad is the way to go, you can always check out our guide to the best tablets with a stylus. Read on to find out exactly what stylus for your iPad you should buy – and where to buy it for the best price. 

The best iPad Stylus: Apple Pencil

(Image credit: iamskylineex on Getty Images)

01. Apple Pencil

The best pen for iPad overall (if your iPad is compatible with it)

Pressure levels: 4096 | Weight: 20.7g | Length: 175.7mm | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 12 hours

Really natural to use
Gets the best out of iOS apps
Great for both writing and drawing
Can only be used on some models

The new Apple Pencil (2018) works with the third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro or the 11-inch iPad Pro. The original Apple Pencil works with iPad Pro 12.9-inch (second and first generation), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch and iPad (6th generation).

The Apple Pencil is, of course, the natural choice of stylus for iPad – but only if you own one of the two iPad models that are compatible with it: an iPad Pro or sixth-generation iPad (2018). If you do, there isn't a better stylus to write and draw with on the market. Not only is it exceptionally comfortable to use, Apple has eliminated many of the issues that can dog other styluses – such as inadequate palm rejection and clear lag that instantly makes you feel disconnected to what you're producing on the screen. The astonishing pressure levels mean that the Apple Pencil reproduces your movements perfectly, at even the most acute angles, and it enhances all your favourite creative iOS apps. The bottom line is that if you've forked out the cash for an iPad Pro, you'd be daft not to swallow the extra expense and go straight for an Apple Pencil.

Also read: Apple Pencil review

Wacom Bamboo Sketch

02. Wacom Bamboo Sketch

The best stylus overall for all other iPads

Pressure levels: 2048 | Weight: 17g | Length: 142.2mm | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 16 hours

Ideal for drawing
Svelte dimensions
Perfect partner for Wacom pads too
Specialised nib for sketching

Wacom boasts an industry-leading reputation thanks to its fabulous range of dedicated drawing tablets. So it's only natural that the company produces an attractive line of styluses as well. As well as being our favourite iPad stylus for artists, the Wacom Bamboo Sketch also takes the plaudits for general use on the iPad Air and iPad Mini series thanks to its compatibility with iOS devices. Rather than trying to exactly mimic a traditional rounded pen, the Bamboo Sketch favours an ergonomic triangular design for better grip. It's an excellent all-rounder, but its fine tip and pressure-sensitive nibs make it just about as close an experience to sketching on paper as you can get. With an epic battery life (recharged via USB) it uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPad, which brings the integrated shortcut buttons into play, too, enabling you to set up handy shortcuts within your chosen iOS apps.

(Image credit: Adonit)

03. Adonit Dash 3

Simple but effective, with a long-lasting battery

Pressure levels: n/a | Weight: 12g | Length: 141mm | Connectivity: Wireless | Battery life: 14 hours

Stylish look and finish
Long battery life
No pressure sensitivity
No Bluetooth

An affordable and simple choice of stylus, the broadly compatible Adonit Dash 3 works well on most iPads and provides a straightforward, stylish drawing experience. The different choices of finish are a nice touch (we like the bronze colouring in particular, though they all look good), and the long-lasting battery combines with fast charging times to ensure that you'll be able to keep on drawing for longer. The lack of Bluetooth connectivity means a lack of features like palm rejection, which is a shame, but for an affordable and reliable basic stylus, the Dash 3 ticks all the boxes and more.

Hahakee iPad Stylus

04. Hahakee iPad Stylus

An impressively well-made budget option, with generous battery life

Pressure levels: N/A | Weight: 159g | Length: 144mm | Connectivity: None | Battery life: 40 hours

Long-lasting battery
Feels like a real pen
No connectivity

Despite the fact that you can snag one for less than £30, the Hahakee iPad stylus does a good job of feeling like a premium product, thanks to an aluminium alloy build with a polished finish. It's pleasant to hold and use, and thanks to the healthy forty-hour battery life, you'll find yourself easily getting lost in your projects before it needs a charge. Charging is accomplished via the micro-USB port concealed in the top. With a fine tip, the Hahakee stylus is pleasingly precise, and spare nibs in the box ensure it'll keep on being usable for a long time (indeed, probably considerably longer than the iPad you're drawing on). It's no Apple Pencil, but for the money, it's a great buy.

Adonit Pixel

05. Adonit Pixel

A top-quality third-party stylus for drawing and note-taking

Pressure levels: 2048 | Weight: 20g | Length: 150mm | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 15 hours

Pressure sensitivity
Compatible with lots of apps
Buttons can be over-sensitive
Palm rejection is spotty

Adonit has been refining its stylii for more than eight years now, and the Pixel is still one of its best for drawing on iPad. Bluetooth enabled and compatible with many of the sorts of apps creatives will likely be using on their tablets, the Pixel boasts 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and a range of function buttons on its body that can be assigned to the user's preferred tools (though be warned these can be easy to knock accidentally if you're not paying attention). The battery should last for about 15 hours of use, allowing you to get really stuck into your projects, and the sleek design makes the Pixel stylus genuinely enjoyable to use.

(Image credit: Logitech)

06. Logitech Crayon

A cheap and cheerful Apple Pencil alternative

Pressure levels: n/a | Weight: 18.1g | Length: 163mm | Connectivity: Wireless | Battery life: 7 hours

Very affordable
Instant connectivity
No pressure sensitivity
Useful palm rejection

While Apple originally announced the Logitech Crayon would only be available for schools and educators, it later changed its tune and made this cheaper Pencil alternative available to everyone (albeit at a slightly inflated price point). The lack of pressure sensitivity does hurt this one a little when weighing it up against other options, however it does pack in plenty of useful features such as palm rejection, instant wireless connectivity to compatible iPads and tilt support, which lets you adjust the thickness of a line by altering the angle at which you're using the Crayon. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's affordable and reliable, with a decent 7-hour battery life.

Adonit Mark

07. Adonit Mark

The best cheap iPad stylus

Pressure levels: N/A | Weight: 22g | Length: 140mm | Connectivity: None | Battery life: N/A

The price!
Comfortable to use
Very basic
No actual connectivity

If you're not sold on the idea of spending upwards of $20/£20 on a simple pointing device, and don't need the specialised functioning of the iPad styluses above, then Adonit's budget option – the Adonit Mark – is worth considering. Despite its cheap price tag, this stylus has been designed to feel as comfortable as possible in your hand, with its triangular anti-roll design. It retains the precision you'd expect from the sole-purpose stylus manufacturer, largely thanks to its smudge-free mesh tip. The Adonit Mark won't win any innovation awards, but if you just want a stylus for navigating around your iPad, you won't find a better cheaper iPad stylus than this. 

Wacom Bamboo Fineline

(Image credit: Wacom )

08. Wacom Bamboo Fineline

Precision tipped, affordable Wacom stylus

Size: 10mm x 142mm | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Weight: 20g | Nibs: Fine and firm | Power: Micro USB

Programmable side button
Great quality
15-hour battery life
Comfortable to use
Side button can be pressed accidentally 

While Wacom's Fineline stylus is well suited for detailed writing, with its fine tip, responsive pressure sensitivity, and ergonomic design, it's also one for the creatives too. The stylus connects wirelessly via Bluetooth and has a 1.9mm nib that offers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity in compatible apps. For context, the Fineline's bigger brother, the Bamboo Sketch, has 2,048, but is also considerably more expensive. Like the Sketch, the Fineline is also compatible with palm-rejection apps. 

The stylus responds quickly and smoothly, and is extremely comfortable in hand. For those that like a little weight to their stylus, this might be right for you as it comes in at 20g. On its clean, sleek shaft there's a single button to switch on and off, and with Wacom’s free Bamboo Paper app, you can customise the button to do different tasks.

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