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Apple’s new iPad only supports the old Apple Pencil — and needs an adapter to do so

Apple’s new iPad only supports the old Apple Pencil — and needs an adapter to do so


$9 for a USB-C to Lightning adaptor

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USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter.
Lightning one end, USB-C the other.
Image: Apple

The base model iPad’s switch to USB-C has made using an Apple Pencil with the tablet... complicated. The new 10.9-inch tablet only works with Apple’s first-generation Pencil, which requires a Lightning port to charge. That’s a little bit of a problem when the new iPad uses USB-C.

Apple’s solution, naturally, is a dongle. A “USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter,” to be precise, although from what I can tell, it’s technically a USB-C to Lightning port adapter. Apple’s press release notes that the adapter will be included in the box with new Apple Pencils for $99 and will be available separately for $9 for existing Pencil owners. “A new USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter is required for pairing and charging,” Apple’s press release unequivocally states.

A woman uses the Apple Pencil with an iPad.
This poor iPad user has no idea what’s in store for them when their stylus runs out of power.
Image: Apple

Even with the adapter, charging the Apple Pencil alongside the new iPad isn’t as simple as plugging the stylus into the adapter and then into the tablet. This adapter is female-to-female, not female-to-male. “Your Apple Pencil plugs into one end of the adapter and the USB-C Charge Cable from your iPad plugs into the other” is how Apple’s product listing for the adapter describes the process. That’s not dissimilar from the Lightning adapters that Apple has always sold for the Apple Pencil but without the convenient alternative of being able to plug the Pencil directly into an iPad in a pinch. Instead, you’ll need to go via an adapter and cable.

If you’re wondering why this issue hasn’t cropped up with previous iPads that have made the leap to USB-C, then that’s because the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini have all supported the second-generation Pencil, which charges wirelessly while magnetically attached to the side of the tablet. Not so for the cheapest iPad in Apple’s lineup.

Update October 18th, 1:14PM ET: Updated to note that the Pencil can charge from the iPad via a USB-C cable.