iPad Stylus Pen Review: An Updated Comparison of the best stylus for the iPad

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Our last comparison review of iPad styluses turned out to be quite popular, but since then, the second generation of iPad has arrived, and other companies have taken notice and thrown their hat into the stylus ring.

Summing up the original comparison, the consensus of top performers were those with rubber-domed tips (including the Boxwave Stylus, Griffin Stylus, and AluPen).

They were largely similar in performance, but with different shaft thicknesses and weights. The big downsides to these styluses were their large blunt rubber tips, as the iPad screen is unable to recognize fine-tip styli.

In late Spring, Wacom, the industry standard when it comes to digital pens and styluses, threw their hat into the ring by announcing the Bamboo Stylus for iPad, which featured a rubber tip that is 25% thinner than the traditional styluses.

Then, over the summer, young design company Adonit introduced the Adonit Jot Pro via the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com. The Jot implements a revolutionary new flexible transparent disc that closely mimics a natural ball-point tip. How do these new products stack up against the competition?

Methods

This review will aim to focus on analyzing how the Wacom Bamboo Stylus and Adonit Jot Pro compete against what has become the standard rubber-domed stylus for iPad. We selected the previous comparison AluPen and Boxwave Styra to represent the more traditional rubber-domed styluses. Please see our previous review for thoughts on the Griffin Stylus, Dagi Stylus, and Pogo Sketch.

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Our first comparison study was a Natural Writing Test, where I tried to write as naturally (in speed and pressure) as I would write with a regular pen. Notice that the Jot Pen allowed for the thinnest writing, while offering arguably the highest quality.

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The second test is the Smallest Writing Test, where I tried to write as small as I could with each stylus. As you can see, most of the styluses (except the Adonit Jot) merged a lot of strokes together, or missed strokes completely. Also, it’s worth noting that while the end-results of the rubber tipped styluses don’t look that much different than the Adonit Jot, the black rubber tip often obscures your vision from seeing your strokes as you write.

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The last test is the Zoom Mode Test, where I utilized a notepad app (Noteshelf) to create the cleanest sample of writing that I could. Zoom Mode is a feature in many notepad apps where you write in a box at the bottom of the screen that is a zoomed in view of the actual writing area on a page.

Therefore, you can write largely and clearly, and when scaled back down, the handwriting comes out more legible and tightly spaced. While the end result is clean and impressive, the writing experience is much different than the traditional approach of using paper and pen.

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Discussion ( 14 comments ) Post a Comment
  • These stylus reviews were well-researched and written. Nicely done!

  • Have people had any issues with the Jot Pro scratching their screen?

    • Yes — check out the support forum titled “Who is going to pay for my iPad screen”? The problem is that it’s really easy to get debris stuck between your disc and the iPad screen, which means scratches are inevitable. DEFINITELY use a screen protector.

      HOWEVER, after comparing the Jot Pro and the Wacom, I would say Wacom hands out. The Jot Pro is slow to react, slow to use, loud (the plastic makes a sound), and it’s not responsive. I am actually trying to pawn it off to someone because I don’t want it to end up in a landfill, but I also don’t want to use it.

      • J,
        Many thanks for the nudge to the thread on Adonit’s support forum. It confirmed my fears about this product and it’s enough to put me off it.
        There is the risk of scratching the screen with any stylus, but it seems to me that the JotPro doubles this risk because of the size of plastic tip and the fact that it’s flat. Also, the metal disk inside the plastic tip just looks menacing.

        I’m currently using a MediaDevil MagicWand stylus and I’m tempted by the Wacom for its smaller tip and the mesh tip. The AmazonBasics Stylus gets good reviews on Amazon as well.

        alinag Subscriber
  • I’ve been using the Jot for many weeks now, no problems with scratching at all. You have to put it down at a good angle and it works like a charm!

  • In addition to my comment above, the fine tip and clear disc make absolutely no difference for how finely you can write. In fact, because it is so slow to respond (you have to press the disc pretty hard against the screen and also get the disc to lay flat against it), I can actually write smaller with the Wacom Bamboo.

  • Great review. I agree. The Jot is a great stylus. The Jot response time or skipping can be improved by using conductivity gel such as Gardner Bender OX-100B Ox-Gard Anti-Oxidant Compound. I purchased and used a Jot mini until my daughter decided to keep it for herself. I ordered myself another but I would be interested in a review about the ifaraday rx .

  • Does anyone know of a stylus that works well for lefties? I find that my right handed colleague is doing fine with the Targus stylus I bought, but I am not. Help please.

    • I’m not a lefty, but I have both right-handed and left-handed people in my family, and we all really like the TruGlide stylus sold by lynktec.com. I haven’t heard any complaints from the lefties about difficulties holding or writing with it, so I would suggest trying one! As an added bonus, their styluses have microfiber tips, which seem to work a lot better than some of the other rubber-tipped styluses I’ve tried. It doesn’t stick to or scratch the screen, which I see a couple of the other posters on here have had problems with. So, the TruGlide would have to be my suggestion!

  • Really useful article, thanks. I see that some readers are experimenting with homemade styli so feel encouraged to do this myself. As an artist with iPad 3 looking for a drawing stylus, I’m looking for precision and ease of use and really do want to see what I’m doing as I do it. These rubber tipped domed versions seem not to be the answer. The sock solution is intriguing but only on sale from the US – it’s so expensive to import even just one item to the UK from the US! But I see I can buy the conductive e-textile material Medtex180 in the UK so will try making my own stylus

  • I was too cheap (and too prone to losing things) to buy the several styli I would need to carry around in my briefcase, purse, etc, so I looked up ways to make my own stylus(advice is profuse on the internet). In the epitome of irony, I used my old Palm Pilot stylus, which was metal, took off the plastic tip, screwed a fragment of cellulose sponge in the end and trimmed it to a fairly precise point, and presto! – a virtually free stylus. I have found it actually works better than the one rubber-tipped stylus I had been given, and I have four now scattered around my house and office. Definitely doesn’t look as cool, mind you, so if you’re all about the flashy gadgets, this is not the solution for you.

  • What about the effect of your wrist, when it rests on the iPad? Does the iPad or its apps take care of it for you? Or do you have to write the whole time with your wrist elevated?

  • why there is no such a stylus which combine the disc and rubber on each side^

  • I bought the Wacomb because it was touted to be the best. Yet when I try to write with it, the script is very thick. Is there anything I can find that can write like a pen on the ipdad?

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