Non-Apple users tend to criticize Apple for making “expensive” dedicated devices, like the Apple Pencil, when any $5 stylus would do the trick. That logic falls flat once those users suddenly experience the benefits of Apple’s connected ecosystem. Many third-party companies make excellent styluses, but can you use a non-Apple stylus with your iPad?
You can use any stylus with an iPad; it does not have to be an Apple Pencil. But other styluses are simply “finger replacements” and offer few, if any, added benefits. Using an Apple-branded Pencil stylus will improve precision and features like shading and letting you rest your palm on the iPad.
When it comes to choosing a stylus, there is no shortage of options. These can range from the expensive Bluetooth devices for designers to the simple “fake finger” pads you find on the backs of cheap ballpoint pens. As with anything, you usually get what you pay for. Let’s compare the different styluses available for the iPad, and see some tips on using them effectively.
Why The Apple Pencil Is The Best Stylus For An iPad
The Apple Pencil is absolutely the best stylus option for any iPad user if the iPad supports it. Modern iPads and iPad Pros have the necessary screen hardware to interact with Apple Pencil in a way that no other stylus can fully duplicate. It has a level of precision that is out of this world, allowing you to even write in small text fields and have it converted to text automatically.
The Apple Pencil also has special tilt and pressure sensors that are useful for artists and designers. Tilting the stylus at certain angles will create different shades. Pressure builds different levels of thickness. The Apple Pencil 2 also has a double-tap feature that lets you quickly switch back to the last tool you used.
Another seemingly less significant feature of the Apple Pencil is that once it’s connected to your iPad, your palm can rest on the iPad’s screen without it registering as input. This adds a level of comfort to your experience that most other styluses don’t. This may seem insignificant, but it could change your entire experience, especially if you’re taking lots of notes or drawing for a long time.
Tips For Using A Non-Apple Stylus
Impressive as it may be, not everyone can justify the expense of purchasing an Apple Pencil. Also, not all iPads are supported. Generally speaking, if you’re not using an iPad Pro or an iPad newer than Generation 6 (with a few exceptions), you’re out of luck. But there are some great alternative options out there. Here are some tips for choosing a non-Apple stylus for your iPad.
Tip 1: A Cheap Stylus Is No Better Than Your Finger
The cheapest type of stylus is simply a rubbery pad or bulb at the end of a pen. This type of stylus simulates your finger and is just as good as your finger in almost every way, except that you always have your fingers with you. The only benefit of one of these styluses is that you can use it if your fingers are dirty or while you’re wearing gloves. For any proper use, it’s simply not worth it.
Tip 2: Choose A Stylus Focused On Your Needs
We all use our iPads for different reasons. Some use it extensively for artistic expression or photo editing. For others, it’s a productivity tool, and a stylus will help with note-taking or writing.
Whatever your reasons, choose a stylus that works for what you need to do. If possible, find someone who uses their iPad for the same things you do, and find out what they love or hate about their stylus. If possible, ask them if you can give it a try. Do some of the things you do every day and play around with it. That’s the best way to know for sure before you buy a stylus of your own.
Artists may prefer a stylus with high precision, pressure sensors, and tilt sensors. A stylus like the Adonit Pixel is an excellent option for artistic types, and at a price that’s between $25 and $55 less than an Apple Pencil, it’s a bargain. Some users even claim that the Adonit Pixel is a better stylus than the Apple Pencil at a much lower price.
None of the pressure- or tilt sensors are essential for taking notes. Converting handwriting to text only requires one thing: precision. Any stylus with fine precision will work perfectly to take easy hand-written notes and convert them to text.
Tip 3: Check The Apps You Use For Stylus Support
Most of the “standard” stylus features are built into the iPad and iPadOS. These are all the features that are there whether you use a stylus or your finger. But many apps, like Photoshop and OneNote, have unique features that are designed for use with a stylus specifically, and some of those apps are created with specific stylus brands and models in mind.
Check your favorite app’s website or the website of the stylus you plan to buy to see if they’re supported. There are many benefits to purchasing a stylus that works perfectly with your choice of apps.
Tip 4: Don’t Be Cheap For The Sake Of Being Cheap
Just like a good pen, a stylus can be a symbol of your image or status. That does not have to be (or shouldn’t be) the reason why you have a stylus, but quality really does make a difference, both in experience and appearance.
It’s always good sense to look for a more affordable option, but there comes the point where it’s simply not worth it. Ask anyone who’s ever used a cheap knock-off and then bit the bullet to buy an authentic Montblanc pen: there’s no comparison. The same applies to a stylus.
We’re not saying the Apple Pencil is the Montblanc of the stylus world or that you should buy Apple specifically. But there are multiple benefits to buying a good brand name stylus rather than a $5 “fake finger.” The quality, ergonomics, comfort, and added features make it worth the price.
There are many popular brands that you can look at, like Bamboo, Wacom, Taurus, Adonit, and of course, Apple. Some of these are much more affordable than others while still offering a good variety of features and benefits. Shop around, read the reviews, talk to users. Save up for a while if necessary. It’s well worth the time and effort.
You can use a non-Apple stylus on your iPad. Though there are many advantages to using Apple’s Pencil, these are not always essential and are not necessarily worth the price difference compared with other styluses. There are many good options out there, and if you shop around enough, you will find one that’s perfect for you. Even if that turns out to be Apple’s own stylus.