A stylus is typically smaller and thinner than a digital pen and usually contains no internal electronics whereas a digital pen can often do a lot more than simple writing and drawing. Pens and styluses are designed specifically for use with tablets and other touchscreen devices. Whilst you can accomplish a lot with finger taps and swipes, if you want to create digital sketches or art or if you like to take handwritten digital notes only a pen or stylus will provide the fine control and accuracy you need. Many pens have a pressure-sensitive tip that allows you to vary the line width, and they often come with built-in software that makes them easy to use. There are a few things to consider before buying a pen or stylus for your device.
The most important thing to factor is compatibility. Not all pens will work with all devices. Check the product’s specs to see which tablets and mobile devices it is certified to work with even if the pen is made by the same manufacturer as your computing device. The Apple Pencil for example is not backward compatible; the Pencil 2 won’t work with older iPads - you’ll need to buy the original Pencil model. You can sometimes save money by opting for a universal pen or stylus from a third party manufacturer rather than sticking with the official product. These are generally compatible with a wide range of iOS and Android devices and come in a variety of colours and finishes.
A good stylus should sit comfortably in the hand for long periods of time without causing any strain or fatigue. Look for pens that provide a good grip with even weight distribution. The stylus should be slim and long enough to handle easily and precisely. Stylus nibs are available in a range of materials including plastic and rubber. Some have removable protective caps, some come with pressure sensitivity capabilities and some come with a host of features that can be managed via an app.
When picking the best pen or stylus, consider whether you want a model that’s primarily suited to writing or one that’s designed for drawing. While there are plenty of pens and styluses that will do a good job on both, some models come with features that lend themselves to artists rather than note takers. For example, the Microsoft Surface Pen features a tilt-to-shade function which mimics how you would shade with a pencil on real paper. Other useful features for artists include programmable shortcuts or buttons to store your preferred painting functions and LED status lights showing the currently selected colour.