For the previous few months, I’ve been dishonest on my Apple Pencil. As an alternative of utilizing Apple’s $129 stylus with my iPad Mini for notetaking, I’ve been utilizing another I bought off of Amazon for about $25. It appears practically similar, works practically as effectively, and even snaps onto and expenses out of your iPad. And whereas this $25 stylus doesn’t fairly match the entire Apple Pencil’s options, it comes awfully near offering an analogous expertise for a fraction of the value.
The stylus I’ve been utilizing is from a random model referred to as “StylusHome,” however there are various related ones listed on Amazon for across the identical worth. It apes the styling of Apple’s second-generation Pencil precisely — if it weren’t for the emblem on the first-party one, I wouldn’t be capable of inform them aside visually. It has a flat aspect that magnetically snaps to the sting of my iPad Mini (and would to an iPad Professional or iPad Air, as effectively), the place it additionally expenses its battery. It even comes with a substitute tip within the field if the unique ever wears out.
Amazon lists this Pencil clone for about $30, however it was about $25 after I purchased it just a few months in the past. On the time of writing, there’s a reduction plus a ten % coupon that brings it right down to about $24. Examine that to the $129 common worth of the Apple Pencil and even the $90 to $100 it prices when it goes on sale, and that’s a fairly huge gulf.
On condition that worth distinction and the truth that outdoors of Logitech’s Crayon, the world of third-party Apple Pencil choices doesn’t actually appear to exist, I actually wasn’t anticipating it to work this effectively. However the StylusHome Pencil is simply as lag-free and responsive when writing on the display screen because the Apple Pencil. It is vitally barely lighter (15.2 grams vs. 17.9 grams) however in any other case feels precisely the identical. It helps tilt shading however doesn’t have strain sensitivity. That’s not an issue for me since all I exploit it for is writing notes, however for those who’re an artist, you would possibly miss that characteristic.
The factor I miss extra is the Apple Pencil’s double-tap characteristic, which lets me change between writing and erasing with only a fast double-tap on the aspect of the stylus. The StylusHome doesn’t assist this in any respect — similar to the first-generation Apple Pencil — so you need to use the on-screen controls to modify between pen and eraser every time.
The StylusHome additionally, unsurprisingly, doesn’t have as tight integration with iPadOS as Apple’s Pencil. You don’t get slightly pop-up notification telling you battery life whenever you stick it to the aspect of the iPad, for instance. Nevertheless it does assist displaying the battery life in Apple’s battery widget, which you’ll place in your iPad’s homescreen or within the widget tray to the left of the homescreen. It is a positive workaround for me since I by no means use the stylus lengthy sufficient to totally deplete its battery in any case.
The faux Pencil makes use of Bluetooth to speak with the iPad, and there’s an preliminary pairing you need to do the primary time you employ it by means of the iPad’s Bluetooth settings menu. And whenever you use the stylus once more after a while away, it received’t write on the display screen as a result of it’s gone to sleep. The treatment right here is to only stick it again on to the aspect of the pill for a second or two to wake it again up and take a look at once more — from there, it’s immediately responsive, similar to Apple’s Pencil.
For Critical iPad Customers, people who maybe create digital artwork for a residing, I’d nonetheless advocate sticking with the first-party Apple Pencil. However for those who’ve been curious if an Apple Pencil might add to your iPad expertise, both for informal doodles, navigating the software program, or taking handwritten notes however have been scared away by the hefty value of Apple’s model, a knockoff model like this could offer you most of the identical options for a fraction of the value.
Images by Dan Seifert / The Verge