/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNet ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

The 5 best stylus pens: For artists and notetakers

What is the best stylus? ZDNet's top pick is the Apple Pencil (second generation), although it's meant for Apple products. So, we analyzed battery life, features, integration, and more to come up with a list of the best five stylus pens.
allison-murray-2.jpg
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Even though the tech world is mainly touchscreen-based, sometimes it just feels good to hold a pen in your hand to create something. That's where a stylus comes in handy.

Styluses work with touchscreen devices to write, draw, sketch, and more. The technology and features of styluses have come a long way since the PalmPilot days. For example, some styluses now have palm-rejection technology, tilt sensing capabilities, or shade like a real pencil.

Depending on what you need a stylus for and what device you plan to use it with, there are many options on the tech market today. We've rounded up the best styluses to help you choose which one is right for you to create with.

Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)

Features: Double-tap function | Palm-rejection | Charges wirelessly

The best overall stylus is the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation). If your tech devices are strictly within the Apple ecosystem, you'll probably benefit from an Apple Pencil. This Apple Pencil builds on the first-generation model with a double-tap function that you can customize to switch between pencil and eraser, show the color palettes, and more, as well as attach to the side of the iPad Pro and charge wirelessly.

The Apple Pencil is super responsive and has pixel-perfect precision with industry-leading low latency to write, markup, or draw. It also has tilt sensitivity and palm-rejection technology, so the screen only recognizes the Apple Pencil and not your hand or finger.

However, this stylus is the most expensive option on this list at $129. Also, it only works with specific iPad models, so be sure your device is compatible before purchasing. 

Pros:

  • Magnetically clips to the iPad Pro and iPad Air to charge wirelessly
  • Intuitive touch surface that supports double-tapping  
  • Palm-rejection technology

Cons:

  • Most expensive option
  • Only works with certain iPad models 

Also: The best stylus phones: Take note of these top picks

Microsoft Surface Pen
Microsoft

Features: 4,096 pressure points | Tilt support | Palm-detection

For Microsoft Surface users, the Microsoft Surface Pen is a no-brainer when buying a stylus. The Surface Pen has 4,096 pressure points for ultimate precision in whatever you do.

Thanks to tilt support, Microsoft compares the Surface Pen to a graphite pencil that lets you shade during sketching. Like the Apple Pencil, the Surface Pen also attaches to your tablet magnetically and has similar palm detection technology.

One of the few cons of the Surface Pen is that it isn't rechargeable and only takes batteries, which can be cumbersome when it's time to replace them. 

Pros:

  • Palm Block feature
  • Comes in different color options
  • Attaches to your Surface device magnetically 

Cons:

  • Only works with certain Windows devices
  • Isn't rechargeable -- takes batteries 
Elzo 3 in 1 Stylus Pen
Elzo

Features: Compatible with all touchscreen devices | 3 tip styles | Also functions as a regular pen

Those looking to spend less on a stylus should consider the Elzo 3 in 1 Stylus Pen at just $10.99. While this stylus isn't as high-end as others, it is 100% compatible with all touchscreen devices, even smartphones.

The pen comes with three different tip styles: a durable mesh tip for daily use or playing games, a disc tip that enables you to draw, take notes and create anything with precision, and a gel tip that turns it into an actual pen when you need to write something down on paper -- making it the ultimately all-in-one tool.

Some downsides to the Elzo Pen are that it doesn't have palm detecting tech, and screen protectors on devices may reduce the pen's sensitivity. Also, it is the heaviest pen on our list at 25.6g. 

Pros:

  • Compatible with all touch screen cell phones and tablet devices
  • Different tip sizes to customize how you want to use it, as well as replaceable parts

Cons:

  • Heaviest penat 25.6 grams
  • Screen protectors may reduce the sensitivity of the touch screen
  • Cannot rest your hand on the screen since it doesn't have palm detecting tech 
Meko Universal Stylus
MEKO

Features: Replacement tips | Compatible for any touchscreen device | Mesh tips and precision tips

Another great option compatible with all touchscreen devices is the Meko Universal Stylus. This product does everything a stylus should do, including writing, drawing, and just using the pen as a replacement for your fingers.

The stylus comes with mesh tips and precision tips with a transparent disc at the end to see exactly where your mark is being made. It also comes with replacement tips to easily swap in when you need them.

While the clear disc on the precision tip is meant to increase precision, it can be annoying to get used to and work with. Also, the fiber tip tends to wear after using it for a while. 

Pros:

  • Compatible with any touchscreen device
  • Comes with replacement tips 

Cons:

  • Clear disc can be annoying to get used to and work with
  • Fiber tip tends to wear off quickly after a lot of use 

Also: Best stylus tablet: Top picks for content creation

Adonit Note+
Adonit

Features: 2,048 pressure points | Tilt support | Charges via USB

The Adonit Note+ is a stylus for Apple devices that comes at half the price of the Apple Pencil. Like the Apple Pencil, the Adonit Note+ has palm detection technology and programmable shortcuts to use as the eraser or to undo or redo a stroke.

This stylus has 2,048 levels of pressure as well as tilt support. You can work with various apps like Procreate, Concepts, Zen Brush 2, or make notes directly onto PDF files. A great feature of the Andonit Note+ is that you can charge it via USB and still use it while it's charging.

However, the pen's pressure sensitivity doesn't always work across all apps. Its compatibility is also limited to Apple iPads.

Pros:

  • Includes programmable shortcut buttons
  • Has palm-rejection technology
  • Charge while you use it with the USB port

Cons:

  • Only compatible with iPads
  • Pressure sensitivity is wonky and doesn't work across all apps

What is the best stylus?

The best stylus is the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) based on our analysis of battery life, features, and its integration with Apple products.

Stylus

Price

Pressure Points

Palm Rejection?

Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)

$129

N/A

Yes

Microsoft Surface Pen

$48.99

4,096 pressure points

Yes

Elzo 3 in 1 Stylus Pen

$10.99

N/A

No

Meko Universal Stylus

$13.95

N/A

No

Adonit Note+

$69.99

2,048 pressure points

Yes

Which stylus is right for you?

The best stylus to buy will depend on your exact needs, budget, and which device(s) you plan to use with it. For Apple users, it's probably best to go with the Apple Pencil since it's made to work seamlessly across various iPad models. On the other hand, if you're on a budget, the Elzo 3 in 1 stylus or the MEKO Universal Stylus are both great picks that do the primary jobs of a stylus for a lower price.

Choose this stylus...

If you want...

Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)

The best overall option

Microsoft Surface Pen

A stylus for the Microsoft Surface tablet

Elzo 3 in 1 Stylus Pen

A budget-friendly stylus

Meko Universal Stylus

A stylus compatible with any touchscreen device 

Adonit Note+

A stylus for drawing and notetaking 

How did we choose these styluses?

Since the stylus market is so large with so many options to choose from, we looked at many products before choosing the ones on this list. We considered known tech brands, the number of positive reviews from retailers, compatibility with devices, and price points to satisfy any budget.

What is the best stylus for drawing?

The Adonit Note+ is the best stylus for drawing since it has 2,048 pressure points and tilt support. It also has programmable shortcuts to make drawing and erasing easier. 

Why do I need a stylus?

You might need a stylus for creative purposes like drawing or sketching, or to use as a replacement for your fingers so your touchscreen doesn't get fingerprints all over it. A stylus also greatly improves the accuracy of whatever text you're working with, making it easier to precisely highlight and copy something, or swipe between pages easier. 

Do stylus pens work across all devices?

Unless the stylus you purchase says it is 100% compatible with all touchscreen devices, be sure to read the fine print for what devices each stylus works with. Some are more obvious than others—such as the Apple Pencil and the Microsoft Surface Pen—while others may seem universal but only work with one brand of product. 

Are there alternative styluses worth considering?

Here are a couple of other stylus options to look into: 

Related

Scribble me this: The uncertain future of note-taking apps
digital stylus

Scribble me this: The uncertain future of note-taking apps

Tablets
iPad Air (2022) vs iPad Pro (2021): What's the difference?
2022-ipad-air-fifth-generation-1.jpg

iPad Air (2022) vs iPad Pro (2021): What's the difference?

Mobility
The 5 best Peloton alternatives of 2022
2019-09-24-at-3-08-09-am.jpg

The 5 best Peloton alternatives of 2022

Fitness