Skip to main content

The best stylus for iPad: we review the hits and misses

The stylus is making a comeback, but which one is best?

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Until Paper for iPad launched, we didn't know many people who were clamoring for a stylus to use in conjunction with their iPad. And now, the Best Buy around the block from us is sold out of styli, and Amazon's in-house stylus has reached #1 on the sales chart for tablet accessories — ahead of smart covers, screen protectors, cases, and stands. Well OK, maybe it was Draw Something that spurred the rush, but if it's not completely evident, the stylus is making a bit of a comeback.

While no iPad stylus is perfect (how much fun is drawing on glass using a pen, really?), we've thrown together our favorites and given each a run with Paper, our new go-to scribbling app, to present you with the best stylus for iPad, once and for all. Check out the Verge Scores beneath each stylus, and then refer to the Wrap Up section at the bottom of the page to see complete Score breakdowns.

Update: On May 31st, eight new styli were added to the post (beginning with the Monoprice 8843), and are included in a brand new "Part II" Video Review about halfway down the page. Since this second round of styli were deliberately chosen after hearing recommendations from readers, the results tend to be a bit better.

Update: On July 14th, four new styli were added, beginning with the LYNKtec TruGlide. There is no video review for these four styli.

Wacom Bamboo Stylus

The Wacom Bamboo is highlighted by FiftyThree (the company behind Paper) in its website and video for a reason: it’s the best stylus you can buy for your iPad. It’s beautiful in a modern yet understated way, only taking what it needs from the conventional idea of a “pen.” For example, the shaft of the Bamboo is a touch girthier than a Bic pen, but it’s also about an inch or so shorter than a Bic. The Bamboo is light enough to toss in a pocket, but heavy enough to feel substantial. I just slightly prefer the Kensington’s height to weight ratio, but the Bamboo is close. The tip of the Bamboo, which is smaller in diameter than its peers, is the killer feature here. The Bamboo’s smaller tip (which is removable, in case you need to replace it) makes it the second most agile of the rubber-tipped styli I tested — only the Kuel H10 managed to beat it in this department. Also, you can even remove the pocket clip if you want. Like the rest of the rubber tips I tested, this one’s mushy and doesn’t provide the hardness I’m looking for from a writing utensil. But ultimately, it’s the most precise and more importantly the most predictable stylus of the group. The Bamboo’s going to cost you, though, checking in at just under $30.

Pogo Sketch

NERF dart foam tip = must miss

With its slender metallic body and straight-up cylindrical shape, the Pogo Sketch is the most traditional looking “stylus” of the bunch. The Sketch sets itself apart because its tip isn’t a round piece of rubber like most of its peers, but is instead a cylindrical block of black conductive foam. The closest thing I can think of that it resembles in consistency is a dart from a NERF gun. The flaky foam just feels cheap — like it’s not going to last very long, especially since the foamy material compresses as you press down it.

Because of its tip, the Pogo was unresponsive and only registered touches with the iPad if I pressed it hard against the screen. And because the Pogo’s tip is flat on top and shifts in position as your write, it can be near impossible to make a mark on the page exactly where you intend to. The Sketch will cost you $14.95.

Studio Neat Cosmonaut

Studio neat cosmonaut

Fast, simple, low fidelity

Cosmonaut and marker for comparison

“The problem is, all the styluses on the market are designed to look and feel like a pen. But why?” This is the question Studio Neat asked when it designed the Cosmonaut, a heavy duty wide grip stylus wrapped in rubber for your iPad. Apart from its size and appearance, the most remarkable feature here is a rigid tip that isn’t at all mushy like the other rubberized stylus tips I tested. This means that despite the Cosmonaut’s weight, in order to make a mark on your screen, you’ll have to press down harder than if you were using the Bamboo or other rubber tipped styli. With the Adonit Jot Pro (reviewed below) on the other hand, you don’t need to press down at all.

In this way the Cosmonaut achieves its goal completely by emulating a dry erase marker—a pen that requires some force to use and is easy to hold. Whereas other styli tips compress when you push down to write, the Cosmonaut inks out smooth curves and very straight lines when you press down. The Cosmonaut, while expensive (at $24.95) and not very dynamic, is the least fragile of all styli I tested. It’s nice to be able to toss it in your bag and not worry about puncturing its tip or snapping it in half. Studio Neat’s goal with the Cosmonaut was “fast, simple, low fidelity,” and to that extent, they have succeeded, but don’t plan on doing any extended note taking or precise drawing with this one. Fine details are near impossible to produce, and it can be tough to see exactly where you’re drawing because the Cosmonaut is so big.

Amazon Stylus

AmazonBasics Stylus

Believe it or not, Amazon’s stylus is actually pretty decent. Leaving out the tacky lanyard string attached to its top, the stylus is very similar in looks to the Kensington. It doesn’t have nice details that evoke quality on the Kensington like the sense of weightiness, soft-touch grip, length, and pocket clip, which is sacrificing a lot physically considering it’s just $4 less. The AmazonBasics stylus has a rubber tip that is longer than the one on the Kensington, which means you can hold the pen at a slighter angle while using it. Yet, this stylus’ tip is not as firm as the ones on the Kensington or Wacom. This means it’s a good deal less accurate when making precise marks on the screen. For $5-7, the Amazon stylus would be a great bet you wouldn’t be sad to lose, but for almost ten dollars, it feels cheap.

Kensington Virtuoso Stylus/Pen

Kensington Virtuoso stylus

If you want a stylus that feels like a pen, the Virtuoso is near-perfect

The Kensington Virtuoso is the businessman’s stylus, decked out with chrome accents and a fancy ball-clip to ensure it doesn’t fall out of your breast pocket. Its pen-length shaft is coated with a soft-touch rubber finish that makes it easy to grip. Perhaps the Virtuoso’s best feature is its cap that pops off to reveal a plenty good ballpoint pen. While I really like the overall heft and balance of the Virtuoso, its rubber tip is larger and not as precise as the tip on the Bamboo or Kuel H10. I found that while using the Virtuoso, I wrote on sharper angles and changed direction mid stroke more abruptly, which I would attribute to the weight of the product. If you want a stylus that feels like a pen, the Virtuoso is near-perfect at $15. If you want a more upscale and modern take on the stylus/pen combo, check out the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo, available April 24th for $39.95.

SGP Kuel H10

The H10 has a small tip like the Bamboo, and is even more accurate

Kuel h10 ipad

The Kuel H10 looks and feels a lot like those micro Sharpie markers kids used to carry around in middle school, and that’s kind of a good thing. The H10 looks cheap but is actually heavy and feels solid. The H10 has a textured shaft to prevent slippage, and even has a dongle that pops into your iPad’s (or iPhone’s) headphone jack so when you remove the stylus’ cap, you won’t lose track of it. At the same time, the headphone-jack attachment can’t be removed which makes it a nuisance if you aren’t planning on using it. Performance-wise, the H10 has a small tip like the Bamboo, and is even more accurate because you can feel a hard nib inside the tip touching the screen as you write. Still, the stylus is too short for any lengthy periods of sketching or writing, even if you extend the stylus using its telescoping rear end (the little chrome accent you can see in the image). If you need ultra-portability, the H10 $12.95 is a great bet.

Adonit Jot Pro

The Adonit Jot Pro looks like a finely crafted industrial tool an architect might use. It’s made out of aluminum and steel — one end is a tip attached to a plastic disc that glides across the surface of your iPad. The other end has a screw-off cap that covers the stylus’ fragile tip when you’re not writing or sketching. A couple other nice features include a rubber grip and magnetic insides that stick the stylus to to the top of your iPad so it doesn’t roll off the table. The magnetic cling bit is gimmicky, but it works.

This is the most precise iPad stylus money can buy

But ultimately, the Jot Pro is about writing and drawing precisely. The transparent tip of the Jot Pro (which is replaceable if you break it) enables you to see down to the exact point where the stylus hits the screen — something no other stylus can boast — and also lets you hold the stylus at the angle you’re accustomed to. In my tests, holding the stylus upright worked almost flawlessly, but holding it at a canted angle proved to impact where the stylus actually contacts the screen. As is evident by the image at right, the Jot Pro is quite precise but skews whichever direction the stylus is leaning in. The Bamboo is less precise, but is on average more even no matter which way you hold it. Still, the Adonit is unparalleled when it comes to making a mark exactly where you want to while drawing or writing.

The Jot Pro isn’t for tapping around and using other apps like you might while using the Cosmonaut. In fact, the Jot Pro makes an audible tap on the screen whenever you press it down to the screen to write. It sounds almost like if you were to tap your fingernail on the iPad’s screen. At $29.99 (the same price as the Bamboo), the Adonit is a quality piece of hardware that’s tough to beat. One thing to note is that while we didn’t experience many issues, several customers in the Adonit forums complained about “skipping” — Adonit products not maintaning contact with their replaceable discs after a few days/weeks of use. Apparently, a new disc and/or “one small squirt in the swivel joint” of conductive grease from RadioShack fixes the problem.

Griffin GC16040

Griffin stylus

Griffin’s GC16040 is an overpriced and mediocre stylus. It’s essentially the AmazonBasics stylus, but with a cheap-feeling pocket clip and a worse quality tip. While I like the tapered chrome bit surrounding the tip that enables you to hold the stylus at a more severe angle, that’s about the Griffin’s only redeeming quality. The junky pocket clip gets in the way of writing but is removable, except once you’ve removed it, it’s tough to get it back into place. For $19.99, this one’s a skip.

Monoprice 8843 Stylus

The cheapest stylus that’s still worth buying

The $2.97 Monoprice aluminum stylus is likely the cheapest stylus that’s still worth buying. For everyday games of Draw Something or quick sketches, the Monoprice does a bang up job, but it feels like a piece of junk in your hand. The stylus is pretty poor for writing, because it has a short and squishy tip that compresses underneath you as you use it so the contact point with a screen is very difficult to infer. While the product is essentially a hollow aluminum tube with a pen clip and the Monoprice logo on it, it’s a pretty amazing value for under three dollars. Add on shipping costs and you’ll be setting yourself back closer to $5.50, but that’s still a good six dollars cheaper than the AmazonBasics stylus, the next-cheapest entry. In comparison with the Amazon, the Monoprice is about a quarter of an inch shorter, but is a whole lot lighter. It’s light enough that it feels like it’s going to fall out of your hands if you don’t death-grip it. And as I mentioned, the tip of the Monoprice is shorter and mushier than the Amazon’s tip, which means it’s less precise. But overall, this stylus is a great deal.

Pogo Sketch Pro

One of the least consistent styli I tested

Some we’ve talked to swear by the Pogo Sketch Pro, but in my tests, it performs incredibly poorly, and doesn’t look great either. The aluminum unibody design isn’t up to snuff with other aluminum styli, and the rubberized grip covering its midsection feels junky. The tip Ten One Design stuck on the Sketch Pro isn’t great either. It’s perforated with circular holes that don’t seem to have any real utility, and the rubber material used for the tip isn’t anywhere near as conductive as other tips I tested. In fact, sometimes it can be downright difficult to make contact with the iPad’s screen unless you press down pretty hard, and sometimes that doesn’t even work. I realized that for the Sketch Pro to work, you must be making very solid contact with its aluminum upper shaft.

Even if you’re resting the stylus on the side of your hand as you draw at an angle, it still doesn’t always work. The Sketch Pro does come with a replaceable nib, but it’s made of the not-too-durable foamy stuff the company used for the tip of the original Pogo Sketch. The Sketch Pro looks handsome in pictures because of its inspired design, but in real life is one of the least consistent styli I tested. For $24.95, you can do much better, including its cousin the cheaper Sketch Plus.

Cregle iPen

It’s the most popular digitizer, but is it any good?

The Cregle iPen is a “digitizer” for your iPad that aims to make writing and drawing much more accurate. Setting aside the drama Cregle created on Kickstarter, does the iPen digitizer actually work? Not so well, unfortunately. The iPen works using a receiver that plugs into your iPad’s dock connector by “gathering iPen’s ultrasonic and infrared signal” to determine its location. The iPen only works within the boundaries of specific apps — none of which are very good. Within each app, you must calibrate the iPen using small targets onscreen. You’ll actually be able to see a cursor onscreen directly beneath where you’re holding the stylus. I tested the app using Ibis Paint (updated April 17th, 2012) and Ghostwriter Notes (updated May 2nd, 2012), and had poor results with both. Despite several tries at calibrating the iPen, it just isn’t as accurate as either the Adonit Jot Pro or any of the rubber-tipped styli. There’s also a noticeable delay between the iPen sliding across the screen and the line that follows it. And the iPen does slide — to the point where it’s tough to keep it in one place. It’s at the very least nerve-racking to drag a pointy piece of plastic across your screen. Press hard enough (since the iPen clicks in to register a press), and you could even scratch your screen. I swear I did accidentally one time.

The iPen doesn’t live up to its promises

The iPen essentially a hollow-feeling white piece of plastic about as thick as a Sharpie marker. The casing around the tip of the iPen cracked within a week of using it, and the rest doesn’t feel like great quality. Compared to some of its very sturdy (albeit capacitive) competitors, the iPen feels like junk. Using the iPen allows you to rest your hand on the screen, which is nice, but this also means that you’ll have to turn off multitasking gestures, one of the most useful iPad-exclusive features in iOS. I left multitasking gestures turned on. Cregle claims that the iPen receiver will last for 100 hours of continuous writing on two watch batteries, but we doubt you’ll be able to survive using it for that long. At the end of the day, the $89 iPen doesn’t live up to its promises, and is much more of a hassle than its worth. Perhaps with a better selection of compatible apps, the iPen could be a good match for some people, but for now, it’s a definite skip — especially considering it will only work on your iPad.

Applydea Maglus

This is your next iPad stylus

The Maglus from Irish design firm Applydea not only has an awkward name, but also has an awkward grip. It’s shaped like a carpenter’s pencil, bearing two flat sides and two rounded edges. If you hold a pen normally, the Maglus should be very easy to pick up, but if you hold your pen in any alternate fashion, this stylus might take some getting used to. And you’ll want to get used to using this thing, because it performs better than any other stylus I’ve tested. While its tip isn’t as narrow as the tips of the Wacom Bamboo or Kuel H10, it’s just as precise because it combines firmness with very high sensitivity. We’re not sure what kind of rubber Applydea is using, but the Maglus requires almost zero exertion to use and is very predictable. You can really feel the Maglus touching your screen, unlike with mushier-tipped (yet still good) styli like the Wacom Bamboo. The only potential negative here is that the Maglus produces rigid lines since its tip isn’t as cushy as many of its competitors. It’s not as great for artistic flourishes and flicks of the wrist. The line rigidity and sharpness might be intimidating at first, but then you realize that this stylus is just producing more accurate lines on the screen.

The Maglus’s stellar tip makes it stand out the most

Also, like the Adonit Jot Pro, the Maglus is magnetic and clings nicely to the side of your iPad — even if you’re using a Smart Cover. Since the Maglus is flat (an intentional design decision), the stylus lays flat against your iPad for a tighter magnetic seal. The magnets are contained inside the rubber midsection of the Maglus, which actually adds a nice visual touch to the stylus. The rubber spots help grip, but also help the Maglus transcend the “aluminum bar” look you’ll find with the AluPen, Architect, and Adonit Jot Pro.

At the end of the day, the Maglus’s stellar tip makes it stand out the most. It’s ultra conductive, and since the Maglus is heavy to begin with, it requires the bare minimum amount of exertion to make a mark on your screen. Most styli I tested require you to press down, which can get tiring — especially since apps don’t respond to a soft press versus a hard one. The tip is a bit larger than I’d like, though it’s still average in size. At €20 (about $26), the Maglus is near impossible to beat — assuming your hands can endure its somewhat odd shape.

AluPen Pro

The Just-Mobile AluPen Pro is a thinner and more dynamic take on the AluPen, and it also includes a pen to boot. Twist the stylus’s tip to extend the pen, and twist the opposite direction to retract it. Twist further and the tip comes off so you can replace the stylus’s ink cartridge. The aluminum AluPen Pro is built incredibly well and feels quite solid in the hand. It’s much thinner than the AluPen, and is feel much more natural to hold for extended periods. Unfortunately, while the AluPen Pro is a great size and weight, its rubber tip is large and mushy, and overall less precise than the AluPen. Perhaps this is because the Pro’s tip is replaceable, and is thus less embedded in the product’s design. It comes with a replacement tip in case something happens to the existing one. The AluPen Pro is your best bet if you’re looking for a pen/stylus combo, but is pretty pricey at $39.95 plus shipping. Well, at least you get a nice leather slip-case out of the deal.


The Arctic Architect is a thin cylindrical anodized aluminum stylus — the antithesis of the hexagonal AluPen Pro. While I like the screw-off top on the Architect, I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting time constantly screwing and unscrewing it. The tip on the Architect is less fragile than many (like the Adonit Jot Pro, which has a screw-off top), and is thus more durable, yet I’m protecting it to an even greater extent. It ends up being a hassle, and the lanyard loop isn’t nearly as handy as a clip to attach it to your pocket. Additionally, the stylus is a bit too light in the hand, and ends up feeling like it’s not made out of durable aluminum at all.

The twist-off top is a beautiful hassle

The Architect performs very well, but the tip is a bit grippy, which makes it tough to slide across your screen. The tip also doesn’t protrude much from the shaft of the stylus, so it’s tough to hold it on an angle. Ultimately, the matte aluminum body of the Architect leaves something to be desired (versus competitors like the AluPen Pro and Maglus), and its tip is a little too grippy. It’s still a great stylus, but there are better options at the same price point of $24.95.

Pogo Sketch Plus

It’s the same stylus as the Pogo Sketch, but with a rubber tip

The Pogo Sketch Plus is the same stylus as the Pogo Sketch, with the addition of one detail: a rubber tip perforated with small circular holes. To reiterate, the stylus has a sleek metallic body that reminds me a lot of old Palm Pilot styli — which is not a good thing. Since it’s so thin, it’s not particularly comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. The Pogo Sketch Plus is also short enough that its pen clip gets in the way unless you deliberately position it a certain way in your hand each time you use it. The rubber tip I touched on earlier isn’t made out of the same rubber you’d find in other stylus tips. It’s thinner, and seems to be a lot less durable. The holes in the tip are also of mysterious value, and didn’t seem to affect the stylus’s performance one way or the other.

Somehow, the Pogo Sketch Plus performs better than its more expensive sibling the Pogo Sketch Pro, which features the same perforated tip but with more oval-shaped holes. Since the Sketch Plus has a not only thin but shallow rubber tip, when you press down on it, you can feel the plastic nib inside it. This is a good thing, because you can feel the stylus pressing against your screen, but once again, the rubber doesn’t seem all too durable. At $14.95, the Pogo Sketch Plus is just OK. The Kuel H10 is a much better bet for the price range, especially considering it too has a shallow nib that provides hard contact with the screen.


Just Mobile AluPen

The AluPen is a great looking hexagonal aluminum prism of a stylus that feels almost like a thicker Dixon Ticonderoga pencil in your hand. The body of the AluPen is a matte aluminum that’s heavy enough to evoke quality without weighing down your hand as you write. Because of its chunkiness, the AluPen inevitably falls into the same category as the Studio Neat Cosmonaut, which is a hair better because of its embedded tip and soft feel. Using the AluPen (or Cosmonaut) for extended periods is difficult because of its girth, and while its aluminum edges are sanded down, they are larger and than those on a Ticonderoga pencil, and are thus a bit uncomfortable to deal with. The tip on the AluPen is very good — it’s large, which obstructs your view a bit, but is firm, which means its simple to write with. Combined with the inherent weight of the AluPen pressing down on the screen, it’s a very easy stylus to use.

So, is the AluPen an “essential accessory for creative tableteers” as its makers pronounce? If you want a flashy stylus without any fluffy features, the AluPen ($24.95) won’t disappoint. Yet, given it inhabits the same category as the stellar Cosmonaut, it will have to settle for second place.

LYNKtec TruGlide

Looks like steel wool, feels like a t-shirt

The TruGlide may sound like a sexual lubricant, but it’s actually a new stylus for your iPad featuring an odd but effective microfiber tip. The TruGlide feels light in the hand and is pretty ugly, but boy does it perform well. In fact, it’s perhaps the most conductive stylus I tested. The TruGlide’s tip looks like steel wool, but feels as soft as a t-shirt. The tip is about the same size as the small tip of the Bamboo, and feels a touch firmer. It does indeed “glide” across the screen, unlike many of its rubber-tipped counterparts, which makes it simple to make wavy lines but harder to make lines with sharp corners. It’s an odd feeling — the TruGlide exhibits almost zero resistance from the screen, which is ideal for games like Fruit Ninja or for watercoloring on screen.

Plus, Lynktec claims that the microfiber tip on the TruGlide is ten times more durable than rubber tips, but I didn’t test it long enough to find out. At $15.95, the TruGlide is a great deal for a person who cares more about silky smooth performance than looks. Just watch out for the clip on its side: it’s attached tightly enough that it nearly ripped my shirt pocket open.

Sensu Brush

The definitive paintbrush for iPad

The Sensu Brush looks like a Space Pen, but when you pull off its cap, it reveals itself as a paint brush / stylus hybrid. Attach the cap to the stylus’ other side, and the tool instantly becomes the longest entry in my stylus round up. Even if you hold the Sensu by its rubber grip, it still works (unlike with the Pogo Sketch Pro).

As promised, the brush head on the Sensu is highly conductive and requires little exertion to use. Since iOS recognizes a touch input as a circular mark and not a brush stroke, using the brush feels a bit odd, but it’s still a lot of fun to use in specific scenarios (like shading or filling in a background). Since you can extend the Sensu using its cap, holding the stylus at an angle feels great. With a conventional rubber-tipped stylus, shading or filling in can be tiring, and will likely wear down a the tip much quicker.

The Sensu Brush is exactly what it sounds like — a brush. While its rubber tip is decent, you should buy this thing if you want a paint brush for your iPad. To that extent, the Sensu Brush is a killer solution, but at $39.99, it’s definitely not for everyone.

Hand stylus

“The world’s smallest tip”

Aesthetically, the $29.95 Hand blends the good looks of the Bamboo with the nostalgic and comfortable pencil-like hexagonal shape of the AluPen — and adds in a great retractable tip that makes you feel a lot better about tossing the stylus in your bag. The Hand’s tip is exactly what I’ve been looking for: a tiny and firm rubber nib that enables me to make more precise marks on the screen. While large stylus tips are plenty responsive, their size can make it hard to see exactly where you’re drawing unless you crane your neck down to the screen’s level. The Hand promises “the world’s smallest tip,” and from the outside, it seems perfect. There’s even a magnetic and removable pen clip, that when combined with the Hand’s just-right length (unlike the Lunatik), makes it easy to clip in your breast pocket.

Despite the Hand stylus’ flawless design and ideal tip diameter (4mm), it’s ultimately held back by the tip’s less than perfect sensitivity. Unlike with many of its competitors, dragging the stylus across the screen sometimes doesn’t make a mark. “For any size tip to work on a capacitive touch-screen it has to be compressed until the tip forms a circle on the screen’s surface that measures approximately 4mm in diameter,” designer Steve King told me. He’s right — press down, and the Hand works perfectly. Yet, one of my favorite things about the Maglus (my overall winner) or TruGlide is that they require such little effort to use. When you’re meticulously shading a man’s mustache onscreen, you want to make light pencil-like strokes.

If the Hand’s tip were more reliable in making marks on the screen without you actively thinking about it, it would be the perfect stylus — but it looks like we’ll have to wait for version 2.0 for that. If you’re cool with pressing down a tad as your write (King admits that people have various preferences for tip firmness), then the Hand is impossible to beat.

Lunatik Touch Pen

Its dynamic tip isn’t precise enough for serious sketchers

Unlike other stylus / pen combination tools, the $39.99 Lunatik Touch Pen requires only the press of a button to switch between pen and stylus modes. It’s the best execution I’ve seen so far, but this design does come with its share of sacrifices.

The body of the Lunatik is made out of durable matte aluminum alloy that feels great in the hand. The Lunatik has a nice heft to it but is long, and most of its weight lies in its upper alloy part. Interestingly, while the Lunatik is meant to be the one tool you keep in your pocket all day, it doesn’t even fit comfortably in a conventional shirt pocket. Because of its very tall stature, the tool’s clip hardly makes contact with the front of the pocket. Yet, it’s heavy enough that it’ll stay put wherever you decide to toss it. The Lunatik also comes in a totally plastic variety for $19.99 dollars cheaper. The tip works the same, but the stylus’ shaft (and especially its clip) feel substantially less sturdy. I’d definitely recommend springing for the alloy version if you want a TouchPen.

The tip on the Lunatik is one of then most conductive I tested, and is very responsive on the iPad’s touchscreen. You hardly need to exert any pressure to make marks on the screen, and since the tip is embedded in the grip, you can hold the stylus at almost any angle and it still works (like with the Cosmonaut). But, despite the tip’s great conductivity, it isn’t anywhere near as precise as its competitors by virtue of its combination pen/stylus design. There’s a hole in the stylus’ tip where the pen cartridge pops out, so it’s hard to determine exactly where the Lunatik is contacting your screen. In the end, the very handsome alloy Touch Pen is quite well-built and easy to use, but its dynamic tip just isn’t precise enough for serious sketchers or writers. Making precise marks is too frustrating to justify recommending its $39.99 price tag.

The Verdict

If you’re purchasing a stylus so you can write notes on your iPad, you’re going to be disappointed. None of the styli I tested had narrow enough tips to provide the agility to scrawl anything but quick notes, doodles, and scribbles. But, if you’re interested in drawing with apps like Paper, you can’t go wrong with a few of these options. The Applydea Maglus, with its combination of good looks, durability, excellent responsiveness, and magnetic capabilities is our winner for everyday use. It just edges out the Wacom Bamboo, my original winner, because while the Bamboo is exceptionally well-rounded, its mushy tip doesn’t deliver anywhere near the responsiveness or feedback you’ll get from the Maglus. Additionally, the Maglus sticks to your iPad, which is a lot more useful feature than you’d expect.

If you’re serious about writing on your iPad, the Adonit Jot Pro is the clear choice, while you’ll have to be pretty careful with it. If you break the plastic disc on your Adonit, you’ll have to wait for a replacement. The Kuel H10 is a fantastic and tiny won’t-mind-if-you-lose-it stylus, while the Cosmonaut is unbeatable for diagramming or writing flash cards. These styli will do you just fine — at least until the Blue Tiger comes out.

Writing: adonit jot pro
Diagramming: studio neat cosmonaut
Quick scribbling: SGP Kuel h10
Painting: Sensu Brush
All-around: Applydea Maglus