There are literally thousands of different styluses that work on the iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook and Kindle which you can choose from. If you search Amazon for “stylus pens for touch screens” you’ll find options ranging from 50 cents for a 10 pack for $5 to over 100 bucks each. We are here to help! The list below takes you through the best of the offerings and gives you some recommendations depending on how you want to use it as well as how much you would like to spend.
We’ll start off with the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro ($99.00 from Apple) as this is in a category all of its own. This ONLY works with the iPad Pro, and is not currently supported by any of the other Apple devices. Nor will it work with any other touchscreens (e.g., not for Android, Nook, Kindle, etc.). But if you have any model of the iPad Pro ( 9.7 inch, 10.5 inch, the first or second generation 12.9 inch) and the $99 price is in your budget, then this is the best there is. The full details on why are a little further in the article so that we can get to the non-Apple styluses / pens.
Please note that the prices provided were accurate at the time of publication. However, as with many consumer electronics these may go UP (boo) or DOWN (yay!), and should be used for reference only.
TL;DR – Here’s the quick list, with the details to follow:
#1 – Adonit Mark Stylus Pen ($9.99)
#2 – AmazonBasics Capacitive Stylus ($7.95)
#3 – Wacom Bamboo Solo Stylus (4th Generation) ($14.95)
#4 – Cosmonaut – Wide-Grip Stylus ($24.99)
#5 – FiftyThree Digital Stylus Pencil ($44.99)
#6 – The Joy Factory Pinpoint Precision X2 ($49.99)
#7 – Monoprice Aluminum Stylus ($13.00)
#8 – Adobe Ink & Slide ($19.99)
#9 – BoxWave EverTouch Capacitive Stylus with Rollerball Pen ($27.95)
#10 – Just Mobile AluPen Twist Pen/Stylus ($19.95)
#11 – Musemee Notier V2 ($12.99)
#12 – Pencil for iPad Pro ($99)
The first thing you may notice from the list is the price ranges from about $7 to $50, not counting the $99 Apple Pen. And the rankings don’t really correlate with price, since two of the lower cost styluses at $10 and $8, got our top two slots.
So aside from the price, what makes for a good stylus / pen for a touchscreen? If you are doing a lot of drawing or note-taking, comfort becomes a prime consideration. You don’t want to get a hand cramp after just a short time, or even after an hour. Most of the pens that made our Best Of list are about 5 inches long, with a 0.4 inch diameter and weigh around half an ounce. This is pretty much what you would be used to with a standard ink pen. Two exceptions to this are the FiftyThree Digital Stylus Pencil which is built similar to an artists sketch pencil and the Cosmonaut – Wide-Grip Stylus which is barrel-shaped similar to a fat-maker for dry-erase boards. Children, as well as adults with smaller hands, would likely prefer these thicker-than-pen shapes.
The next consideration concerned the type of tip on the stylus. Our preference was for the rounded rubber nub or a more traditional pen-like nib. Not favored was the circular disc tip as we found this more difficult to accurately write / draw, as well as being slightly annoyed with the clicking noises each time the disc made contact with the glass.
Let’s get to the reviews:
Pen #1 – Adonit Mark Stylus Pen ($9.99) Black, Silver
This leads our list due to it’s price, simplicity and functionality. It has all of the basic features needed for navigating, writing and drawing. It’s a passive device, meaning no power and no connection to your device. It works using the built in capacitive touch of the device. The upside is this never runs out of charge (since there aren’t any batteries) but the downside is there are no special features or software customizations for the pen itself. The Adonit Mark pen has a durable mesh tip, and a slightly rounded triangle barrel for better gripping. The Mark is compatible with all touchscreen devices from phones to tablets and is ready to go right out of the box.
#2 – AmazonBasics Capacitive Stylus ($7.95) comes in Black, Blue, Citron, Grey, Pink, Purple, Red
The AmazonBasics offering is similar to the Adonit – a passive pen that is light-weight, low-cost and gets the job done. What we liked about this one is that it comes with three different size tips (5mm, 6mm, 7mm) – there is one tip on each end of the stylus and a third on the cap. The tips are made of coated rubber, for a soft pressure on your device and easy sliding. For this price, we recommend getting a couple so you can have one in your office, you home and with you when travelling.
#3 – Wacom Bamboo Solo Stylus (4th Generation) ($14.95) comes in White, Blue or Red.
The Wacom stylus has an ergonomic triangular design and a replaceable carbon fiber tip. Like the Adonit and AmazonBasics, the Bamboo is a passive, capacitive touch stylus. Aside from the different tip/nub type, this is our first on the list to have a bundled app. Capture your thoughts and ideas, notes, sketches and drawings easily with the free Bamboo Paper app. With the “Wacom Inkspace” utilities integrated in the Bamboo Paper app, you can access and share your drawings / sketches anytime and anywhere. You get 5 GB of free storage (optional 50 GB paid plans), which equals more than 6,000 notes, and automatically back-up and restore your work.
#4 – Cosmonaut – Wide-Grip Stylus ($24.99) –
The Cosmonaut takes the approach that drawing on your tablet is like using a dry-erase white-board. They designed their stylus to mimic a marker, with a cylindrical barrel that is nearly 4 times fatter than the traditional pen type stylus. The outer grip is a medium density foam molded over an aluminum core – you can think of it as a standard stylus that’s been encased in an easy to hold foam. The rubber tip tapers to a usable diameter bubble, and the tips are replaceable. If you are using this while wearing gloves, especially bulky winter gloves, this wider, thicker stylus is easier to handle than the standard stylus.
The Cosmonaut also made is as one of the “Amazon’s Choice” products, and best rated by their research team.
Take away the wide barrel, and this is similar to the other passive, capacitive touch pens reviewed above. But if you have smaller hands, want something that’s easy for children to use or just prefer this style, than the extra cost is worth it.
#5 – FiftyThree Digital Stylus Pencil ($44.99) comes in Wood and Graphite
Taking their design cues from the artist sketch world, the FiftyThree is the only stylus we’ve reviewed that resembles a true drawing tool. The Wood version is actual wood, like a real pencil. And the metal version has an embedded magnet to attach it to your iPad when not in use. The stylus is rectangular, with easy to hold flat surfaces. Anyone whom has done art class drawings would be quite comfortable with this stylus.
The Pencil connects via Bluetooth and lets you interact with a number of applications, as well as store your work in the cloud. With Pencil you can connect to Paper by FiftyThree, Microsoft OneNote, Procreate, Sketchbook Mobile, Note Shelf, and about a half dozen other programs so far. Some additional features to note:
Surface Pressure: Pencil’s unique tip is shaped to create lines of all sizes without any settings.
Erase: Pencil’s built-in eraser lets you try anything knowing an eraser is only a flip away.
Blend: Use your finger to smooth rough edges and blend colors directly on the page.
Palm Rejection: Rest your hand on the screen and write from any angle. No calibration or setup.
The FiftyThree is the second highest priced stylus in our list; If you want this type of shape, and use these associated programs, then its definitely worth the price.
#6 –The Joy Factory Pinpoint Precision X2 ($49.99)
The Pinpoint Precision stylus comes with the smallest tip at 1.9mm, which gets in on our list. The stylus is battery powered (lasting about 15 hours before recharging with USB); The drawing thickness can be adjusted by rotating the tip clockwise for a more sensitive, thinner lines or counter-clockwise for thicker. The nib itself is carbon fiber, designed to be long lasting. It has an easy, even glide one glass surfaces, and also works well on screen protective films. For precision work, this takes the top marks.
Two drawbacks to this pen include the $50 price (highest on our list), and it is NOT compatible with iPad Pro 12.9″.
#7 – Monoprice Aluminum Stylus ($13.00)
A basic, passive, conductive stylus with a nice design feature to set it apart from the others – The stylus comes with a small loop at the end with an attached cord loop. At the end of the cord loop is a plastic plug, which is designed to fit into the headphone jack of your mobile device, allowing you to keep the stylus attached to your phone. Alternatively, the loop can be slipped onto a keying or onto a necklace.
If you like this idea, and have a device which still has a headphone plug, it’s a good fit. Otherwise, save your money and go with a less expensive standard stylus pen.
#8 – Adobe Ink & Slide ($19.99)
This pick is really designed for Adobe apps users and people that have already invested in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software tools.
This stylus from Adobe has a larger triangular shape with nicely rounded edges, which makes it easier to grip and hold for longer periods once you get used to it. The pen tip can be configured to create custom brushes, allowing you to set the amount (“flow”) and size. The pen works well for nuanced drawing and sketching, partly due to the 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity built into the stylus hardware. The hardware itself is based on the Pixelpoint technology from Adonit (makers of other pens on this list). Keep in mind that Adobe isn’t a hardware company, so outsourcing this part of the pen workings to a leader in that technology leaves Adobe to focusing on how the pen works with their tools.
The top of the pen has a multi-color LED to let you know which color ink you are drawing with. Kind of fun to have, and helps to keep down mistakes when changing colors often during a painting / drawing session.
What makes the Adobe offering unique is that there are two devices – the “Ink”, which is the stylus and the “Slide” which is a ruler type piece of hardware. With the slide, you can easily draw straight lines, create perfect shapes, and trace French curves with Slide. You can also select and add custom stamps to your library stored in your Creative Cloud. Once you have stored your work in the Cloud Clipboard or your library, you can transfer them d transfer them to other apps and devices. If you have Adobe Illustrator (AI) you can open drawings to work on them as vectorized artwork files.
The Ink and the Slide connect to your device through BLE (Blue Tooth Low Energy).
#9 – BoxWave EverTouch Capacitive Stylus with Rollerball Pen ($27.95) comes in Black and White
This is a nice dual-purpose stylus. One end is the usual rubber tip nib for the capacitive touch drawing on your device, and the other is a high-quality traditional ink pen. If you are used to writing on paper, as well as taking notes / sketching on your electronic devices, this combo stylus could be right (write?) for you.
#10 – Just Mobile AluPen Twist Pen/Stylus ($17.95) – comes in White, Silver, Black, Grey, Orange
This is available as both a slim and well as thick version, with the latter being preferred due to it’s better fit and handling. But if you have slender fingers, the slim may work better for you. Similar to the BoxWave above, the AluPen is a dual-function stylus for smartphones and tablets. Twist the bottom part (made of textured ABS plastic) to reveal a conductive rubber nib for superior control of smartphone and tablet screens. Or twist the top (aluminum) end to reveal a high-quality ballpoint pen.
The taper shape is easy to hold, and the tip provides a fine line control for both note taking and drawing.
#11 – Musemee Notier V2 ($12.99)
What makes this stylus interesting is that there is a clear plastic disk surrounding the tip at the end of the pen. The disk, along with the nib, glide along your device. The disk is they to protect the tip, as well as to provide an additional level of control for precise drawing or sketching. It may take a little time to get used to the plastic disk touch the screen every time you lift or move the stylus, but the tradeoff is a superior performance for a passive, capacitive touch tip.
#12 – Pencil for iPad Pro ($99)
We’ve saved this for last only because of it’s restriction to use with a single device family. Now back to the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro : Like most things made by Apple, the design is sleek and well thought out. It’s a simple white plastic, while also high quality and well made. What sets stylus apart from the others is that Apple is able to integrate it with their internal software (and since Apple isn’t an open-source platform, the others can’t offer similar features). For example, the closer you bring the stylus to the screen, the faster the response rate for the ink. You can double the rate of ink flow just by pressing the nib to the display. For the artists, you can draw shading on your screen by using the side of the stylus rather than the tip – same as you would with physical paper and pencil. Also, you get an automatic wireless connection between the stylus and your device when you plug into the Lightning port. Add all this in with hand-contact rejection (e.g., only your stylus registers for drawing), superb pressure sensitivity, and low-latency to mimic an actual pencil and you can justify the price for this with your iPad.