[Editors note: Check out the updated iPad Stylus review here]

In a previous article, I suggested improved stylus support would help the iPad gain everyday usability in the hospital and work place. The iPad already supports styluses, but the multi touch capacitative technology which makes the screen extremely responsive to human touch also makes it less sensitive to fine-tipped styluses.

As a result, the iPad currently only supports blunt-tipped styluses, much like the tip of a Sharpie marker.

For the time being, many companies sell these thick-tipped styluses that offer basic pen-like interaction for writing and drawing on the iPad. Unfortunately, there are many different form factors and designs that make selecting a stylus difficult, especially when most of these products are only available online.

This comparative review of seven iPad stylus pens will attempt to focus on the handwriting and usability of the various styluses currently available.  The iPad styluses reviewed are: Griffin Stylus, AluPen, BestStylus, Boxwave Styra, Pogo Sketch, Stylus Sock, and Dagi Stylus.


Gathered below are my thoughts on seven individual styluses, sorted alphabetically, that I’ve gathered over 2-3 months of use. For some objectivity, I ran three primary tests of handwriting that set the foundation of this review.

In the first test (The Light Pressure Test — below picture), I tried to write as quickly and as naturally as I would write, as if I was using a pen. This was by far the most sensitive of the tests.

The second (Hard Pressure Test — below picture) was where I tried to write with more pressure, in effort to improve the detection of the tip. As you can see, the quality of the writing is not particularly impressive in the first two tests, as the thickness required for the iPad to recognize the stylus leads to sloppy writing.

The third test was done using the Zoom Mode feature.  This last test looks remarkably more crisp and impressive thanks to the Zoom Mode feature.  The Zoom Mode feature is one that many of the top-tier notepad applications provide (be on the lookout for my “Handwriting Notepad App Comparison” review in the upcoming weeks).

In this mode, you write in a box at the bottom of the screen that is a zoomed in view of the writing area.  Therefore, you can write large and clearly, and when scaled back down, the handwriting is many times more legible and tightly spaced. While the end result is clean and impressive, it can become a bit clumsy working in Zoom mode.  This last test (Zoom Writing mode — below picture) showcases the writing with each stylus in this mode.