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Apple Pencil review: Is this the best iPad Pro accessory you can buy?

Curtis Moldrich
2 Feb 2017
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
86.91

The Apple Pencil changes the iPad forever

Pros 
Amazing design
Cons 
Quite expensive
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First launched alongside the original Apple iPad Pro in 2015, the Apple Pencil has since become ever-present on the Apple Store. Rather than retiring it when the third-generation iPad Pro was launched at the end of 2018, the company has widened its compatibility to take in the sixth generation iPad, the iPad Mini 5 and the 2019 iPad Air.

But just how good is the Apple Pencil, and is it an essential product accessory if you own one of these tablets already? Read our review of the Apple Pencil to find out.

Apple Pencil review: Design

At first glance, the white Apple Pencil looks relatively simple but, take a closer look, and you’ll notice some interesting design touches. It’s slim and elegant, but it’s also perfectly weighted so it’s easy to control – it feels much like a normal pencil. Look at the business end of the Apple Pencil, and you’ll also see a nib that’s much smaller than most other styluses.

Two things about the Apple Pencil clearly show the amount of thought that’s gone into it. The Lightning charger cap has a small metal ring, and clips onto the top of the pen without feeling remotely flimsy. In addition, leave the Apple Pencil to roll on a flat table, and it will land the same way up each time, with Apple branding on show. This neat feature also means the pencil stays put when you leave it lying on a table and won't roll away and fall on the floor.

Apple Pencil review: Performance and battery life

Unlike like some styluses from Wacom and N-trig, the Apple Pencil includes sensors that recognise pressure, altitude and angle. And although Apple hasn’t revealed how many levels of pressure the Pencil can spot, it has a satisfyingly realistic feel to it. Hold the Pencil normally and it acts like a regular digital pen; tilt it on its side, however, and it allows you to shade, just like using a regular pencil and a paper pad. 

This would all be useless without smooth reactive drawing, but the Apple Pencil does that well, too. Latency is, according to Apple, under 20ms – which in the real world means that you don't notice it at all. It’s firm, too, which is unusual for a stylus of this size, which helps make the whole experience more tactile, and closer to writing on physical paper with a real fountain pen.

The Apple Pencil is good for around 30 of minutes use and, crucially, it charges quickly. But make sure you keep it topped up regularly if you want to continue to use it because if you leave it too long without charging, it can affect the battery inside's ability to hold onto a charge.

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Apple Pencil review: Verdict

The Apple Pencil is not original, nor is it the first stylus by any means, but it pulls together all the functions we’d expect in one sleek, mature package. It’s quick, intuitive and simple to use, meaning it feels like less of a gimmick than many other styluses, too.

In many ways, the Apple Pencil is what you’d expect from Apple’s take on the stylus. It’s slightly more refined than other products on the market, and it opens up an entirely new dimension of the iPad – and one seems to fit seamlessly with the rest of the device. If you’ve got an iPad Pro, and you’d like to take handwritten notes in meetings – or if you want to uncover your artistic talents – the Apple Pencil is a must-buy.

The Apple Pencil is not original, nor is it the first stylus by any means, but it pulls together all the functions we’d expect in one sleek, mature package. It’s quick, intuitive and simple to use, meaning it feels like less of a gimmick than many other styluses, too.

In many ways, the Apple Pencil is what you’d expect from Apple’s take on the stylus. It’s slightly more refined than other products on the market, and it opens up an entirely new dimension of the iPad – and one seems to fit seamlessly with the rest of the device. If you’ve got an iPad Pro, and you’d like to take handwritten notes in meetings – or if you want to uncover your artistic talents – the Apple Pencil is a must-buy.

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