Is the Apple Pencil Worth It?

Many people who use an iPad wish they could write on it as easily as using a pen or pencil on paper. Some people get a stylus for just this reason. But the typical stylus can feel laggy, not slide smoothly over the screen, and leave much to be desired. 

The Apple Pencil isn’t your typical stylus, though. It is a much improved version, with features you won’t find on many other styluses.

Palm Rejection Technology

With Palm-rejection, you no longer have to hold your hand above your iPad while writing or drawing. You can now rest your hand directly on your screen, like you would if using a sheet of paper.

Pressure Sensitivity

The pressure-sensitivity lets you draw or write thick or thin lines based on the pressure you place on your Apple Pencil.

Pixel-Perfect Precision

The pixel-perfect precision makes the Apple Pencil the most accurate stylus available. This allows you to write small or draw very fine lines and have it show up exactly where you intended. 

Tilt Sensitivity

With the tilt-sensitivity of the Apple Pencil, you can lay the stylus at an angle for shading or to get a wider line. This means the Apple Pencil works on your iPad like a real pencil would work on paper.

Low Latency

Have you ever written something with a stylus and have it lag behind you? The Apple Pencil gets rid of that almost completely, with a response time of less than 1/100th of a second from when you start writing.

Wireless Charging

With the second-generation Apple Pencil you now have wireless charging. Just attach it magnetically to the side of your iPad and make sure you have Bluetooth enabled. 

Magnetically Attaches

Second-generation Apple Pencils connect to your iPad magnetically. This means no more digging around in your bag for your stylus. 

Few other styluses can boast such features. Those that do are often inferior in their implementation.

Who Uses the Apple Pencil?

The Apple Pencil is a great all-around stylus, which anyone can use in place of a lower quality option. A lot of apps use it in creative ways. It’s great for writing notes or doodling, but really shines when used by the right user.

Artists

If you use your iPad for digital art, the Apple Pencil is a great choice for you. With the palm-rejection technology, you can concentrate on your art, and no longer need to worry about accidentally touching the screen with your hand. Pressure sensitivity lets you create lines that taper to a point and vary the width of your lines as you draw. The tilt-sensitivity is great when you need to shade areas of your drawing.

A variety of apps, such as Procreate or Linea Sketch, allow you to create art that is limited only by your skill and imagination when you use the Apple Pencil. And there are apps available that will let you use your iPad as a graphics tablet for your Mac, meaning you don’t have to buy additional hardware if you use a combination of iPad and Mac for your art.

Business People

The Apple Pencil lets you easily scribble down notes during meetings. This may be faster for some people and lets you avoid the distraction of a laptop screen poking up between you and the others in the meeting.

You can also avoid a lot of paperwork by switching to a digital format. The Apple Pencil makes it easy to capture signatures on forms.

If you have a TV that works with AirPlay then you can hook your iPad up and use it as a digital whiteboard. This makes sharing information during a meeting a snap.

Editors

You can easily make notes in the margins and markup the text quickly. If you edit long documents and need to cross off some of the text, leave editing marks, or add hand-written notes, you can do that.

Students

If you are a student and have a teacher who can talk faster than you can type, the Apple Pencil may work well for you. At times paying attention as a teacher talks is hard to do when you’re concentrating on typing, but a lot of people can jot notes without the same level of distraction. 

Parents

Got a little one learning letters, numbers, or shapes? There are apps that can help, and using the Apple Pencil will make it much easier for them to practice and learn the fine motor control skills they need.

Everyone Else

Even if all you do is poke around in apps, look up things on the internet, or view documents, many people find using the Apple Pencil better than using their finger. It gives you more precise control than you typically get with your finger or with other styluses.

Uses Besides Drawing

Not everyone uses their iPad and Apple Pencil for drawing. Even those who do may want to know some of the other uses. 

Note Taking

As mentioned above, the Apple Pencil makes taking note a breeze. Because of the pressure sensitivity, tilt sensitivity, and precision, your handwriting looks more like it would on paper than you usually get from a stylus.

Photo Retouching

The Apple Pencil makes it easy to touch up your photos. You’ll find that you have better control for finer work than you would if you used your fingers or another stylus.

PDF Markup

Whether it’s a business document, a contract, or a list of household chores, an Apple Pencil makes marking things up easy. Cross laundry off your list, rewrite that troublesome paragraph in a contract, scribble notes in the margins, and much more.

Add Captions To Images

Have you ever wanted to place a note along the bottom of an image? How about thought bubbles to that picture of your uncle with the weird look on his face? The Apple Pencil makes it easy, and the iPad has built in support in its operating system to make this work right out of the box.

Games

Some games require you to select a character, building, or item before performing an action. There are times when the image representing the object is very small on the screen, making it difficult to select. The Apple Pencil’s precision can make it much easier.

Accessibility

For iPad users with motor or visual impairments, the Apple Pencil makes a good choice. It can help them have more control than using their fingers alone.

Tips and Tricks

As discussed above, there are a great many uses and features for your Apple Pencil. But there are more tips you may find useful.

Which Generation Is My Apple Pencil?

Both the generation one Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil 2nd generation are similar looking, but there are a couple of easy ways to tell which you have.

If your Apple Pencil has a glossy finish, no flat sides, and a metal band all around its circumference, you have a first-generation. 

If your Apple Pencil has a matte finish, a flat side, and no metal band around the circumference, you have a second-generation.

How To Charge

The method of charging your Apple Pencil depends on whether yours is a first-generation or second-generation.

First-Generation

If you have a first-generation Apple Pencil, you charge it with either a USB power adapter or by connecting it to the Lightning connector on the iPad. To use the USB power adapter you need the Apple Pencil Charging Adapter, which comes with the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Second-Generation

You charge your Second-generation Apple Pencil by attaching it to the magnetic connector on the side of the ipad, near the volume buttons. Bluetooth must be on for it to charge properly.

How To Check Battery

Checking the battery on an Apple Pencil is a simple process. If you have an Apple Pencil second-generation, you will see the charge status on the screen for a short time when you first attach it to your iPad. With either generation you can swipe right from your Home screen to check the Today View on your iPad. You should see a battery indicator widget. It will show the battery status of your iPad and any paired devices. 

You may need to swipe down if the battery indicator widget doesn’t appear on the screen. If you still don’t find it, you may need to add the widget. Do that by tapping Edit at the bottom of the Today View list of widgets, which will take you to the Add Widgets page.

How To Replace The Tips

Over time the tip of your Apple Pencil may become worn. When that happens, you can change out the tip for a new one by firmly gripping the tip of your Apple Pencil and rotating it in a counter-clockwise motion until the tip is free. Install the new tip by placing it onto your pencil and rotating it in a clockwise direction until snug.

The first-generation Apple Pencil comes with an extra tip, while the second-generation does not. Apple sells replacement packs of tips for these pencils.

Instant Notes

You can add a new note without ever unlocking your iPad. All you do is press the Home button to activate the display and tap the screen with your Apple Pencil. That will open the Notes app, which will allow you to create a new note.

Tracing

If you have a drawing you want to copy all or part of, you can lay it over your iPad and use your Apple Pencil to trace it. Your iPad will still pick up your Apple Pencil through the paper in most cases.

Apple Pencil Alternative

While there aren’t many styluses out there that have the full set of features the Apple Pencil has, there are a few worth mentioning.

Logitech Crayon

The Logitech Crayon is a strong contender for the Apple Pencil in some ways. It automatically supports the same palm-rejection technology the Apple Pencil does, for one thing. It’s cheaper, typically costing $65-$70. While it doesn’t support the pressure sensitivity like the Apple Pencil, it does support the tilt-sensitivity, which is something many styluses can’t. It is flat on two sides, and chunkier than the Apple Pencil, which some people find produces less hand strain over time.

Wacom Bamboo Sketch

The Wacom Bamboo sketch has a pressure-sensitive tip, which is good for drawing and artwork of all kinds. It features two shortcut buttons, which you can customize to fit your needs. The design is an ergonomic triangular shape for a comfortable grip. While the $80 price tag is getting close to the price of a first-generation Apple Pencil, which is an overall more feature-packed stylus, the Bamboo Sketch will work on older iPads and iPhones, and the Apple Pencil will not.

Adonit Pro 4

The Adonit Pro 4 doesn’t have palm-rejection, pressure-sensitivity, tilt sensitivity, or pretty much any of the other fancy features the Apple Pencil has. What it does have is a very smooth disc tip that glides over the surface of nearly any touchscreen without scratching. It is a very accurate basic stylus. But it’s also just $30. If all you need is a basic stylus, the Apple Pencil may be overkill for you. The Adonit Pro 4 is probably a better choice, and it’s one of the most well-regarded basic styluses available.

Is It Worth It?

The big question is whether the Apple Pencil is worth the price tag. That’s going to depend on your uses. If you are an artist, mark up a lot of documents on your iPad, or like to take a lot of handwritten notes, you’ll likely find that it is a good investment, and will make using your iPad much easier. But if all you do with your iPad is stream videos or read books, you will be much happier with no stylus or with a more budget-friendly option. 

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