There’s a new Apple Pencil in town. This stylus is not only the cheapest Apple Pencil currently available, but it also has USB-C charging. That low $79 price comes with some trade-offs, but the peripheral still retains many features you’d expect. For some — especially those who own the iPad 10th gen — the new Apple Pencil seems like a perfect fit.
I review the best tablets and the best iPads, so I’ve tested various digital pencils over the years. While the best Apple Pencil alternatives are great, I still prefer Apple’s styluses due to their balanced weight, comfortable feel and precision. The $129 Apple Pencil 2 is my personal favorite, but the new Apple Pencil isn’t far behind, despite some of its drawbacks.
Here 3 things I like about the new Apple Pencil and 3 I don’t. Also, be sure to check out our Apple Pencil (USB-C) hands-on preview to read our initial thoughts on the new stylus.
Apple Pencil (USB-C): 3 things I like
USB-C charging is a huge boon for iPad 10th gen users. Instead of using an awkward USB-C-to-Lighting adapter, you can now simply use any USB-C cable to charge the digital pencil. Note that the new Apple Pencil doesn’t come with a USB-C cable.
A sliding cap covers the USB-C port when you’re not charging. This was a smart design choice since some users complained about losing the cap for the original Apple Pencil. Also, sliding the cap up and down is fun. This small design choice makes a big difference. It's as satisfying to play with as a fidget spinner.
Same great design
One of the reasons I like Apple Pencils is because of their design. The all-white styluses feel smooth to the touch and have a good amount of weight to them. That last point is important since a lighter stylus would have felt like a cheaper product. I like using Apple Pencils as much as I do real pencils — which says a lot.
The new Apple Pencil has many of the hallmarks I enjoy. It’s elegant and feels good to hold. There are some differences, however. Besides the aforementioned sliding cap, the new pencil is both shorter and lighter than the Apple Pencil 1 and Apple Pencil 2. Other than that, the new Apple Pencil looks and feels as great as its predecessors.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Apple Pencil (USB-C)||Apple Pencil 2nd gen||Apple Pencil 1st gen|
|Works with||iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th gen), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gen), iPad Air (4th and 5th gen), iPad mini (6th gen), iPad (10th gen)||iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th gen), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gen), iPad Air (4th and 5th gen), iPad mini (6th gen)||iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd gen), iPad Pro (10.5-inch), iPad Pro (9.7-inch), iPad Air (3rd gen), iPad mini (5th gen), iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th gen)|
|Dimensions (inches)||6.1 (long), 0.29 )diameter)||6.53 (long), 0.35 (diameter)||6.92 (long), 0.35 (diameter)|
Right now, the $79 Apple Pencil is the cheapest stylus Apple offers. But with Black Friday deals going strong, the Apple Pencil 2 is currently $89 on Amazon — arguably making that pencil a more tempting offer. Still, the new Apple Pencil is the most affordable stylus from the Cupertino-based company.
Apple Pencil (USB-C): 3 things I dislike
No wireless charging
While the new Apple Pencil can magnetically attach to compatible Apple tablets like the iPad Air 5, iPad Pro and iPad 10th gen, it won’t wirelessly charge. This is a feature that’s fairly ubiquitous nowadays for tablets with styluses, so it’s disappointing the new Apple Pencil lacks that capability.
Perhaps as compensation, Apple made it so the new Pencil turns off whenever you attach it to an iPad. This helps to preserve battery life, according to the company. And if you own an iPad 10th gen, there’s less chance of you losing the stylus when it’s magnetically attached — which can’t be said about the Apple Pencil 1.
No wireless pairing
Just as you can’t charge the Apple Pencil when it’s magnetically attached to an iPad, you also can’t pair it to the tablet by attaching it. To pair the accessory to an iPad, you’ll need to connect it via a USB-C to USB-C cable. If you own several iPads, you’ll need to pair them like this every single time.
Similar to when you pair an Apple Pencil 2 to an iPad, you’ll get a notification displaying the stylus’ current battery status when you connect it. This doesn’t make up for the lack of wireless pairing and charging, but at least you’ll know how much juice the Apple Pencil has before you need to recharge it.
No pressure sensitivity
Unlike the other two Apple styluses, the new Apple Pencil doesn’t have pressure sensitivity. If you’re an artist, that means you can’t make lines thicker or thinner, depending on the amount of pressure applied. However, the pencil does feature tilt sensitivity, which is useful for shading when drawing.
I’m not an artist, so the lack of pressure sensitivity isn’t a big deal for me. I mainly use the Apple Pencil to more easily scroll through web pages or select YouTube videos. If you are an artist, no pressure sensitivity could be a deal breaker.