Thanks to Mobile devices, 2016 may usher in a new wave of Stylus use among both professionals and consumers. The pressure sensitive stylus in far from new. However, the stylus as well as the range of software and devices that can now support them, has seen incredible growth. It used to be that Wacom was the big kid on the block, and their core users were primarily designers and 3D animators. Mobile hardware, more specifically tablets, have kicked off a new generation of stylus options for all skill levels.

Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

As usual, Apple patiently watched as other stylus makers entered the market and then decided to join the party with Apple Pencil for iPad Pro. While Steve Jobs famously criticized the use of a stylus, his remarks were made regarding smartphones, not a tablet of the size and specs of the iPad Pro. The design is geared toward precision and specifically for the iPad. As we enter the new year, it seems clear that the Apple Pencil will be the likely choice of professionals and ‘prosumers’ who are itching to use the latest greatest Apple hardware along with the growing number of graphic design and photo editing apps that can take advantage of all the features that Apple Pencil offers. At $99 for the stylus alone (not to mention the $799 base price of an iPad Pro) it may take some time for Apple Pencil to gain significant market share.

Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

Fifty Three Pencil

Some like to refer to the FiftyThree Pencil as the original “pencil”. This particular Pencil works with iPhone, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad Pro and it is marketed as “The stylus for everyone”. FiftyThree also makes an app called Paper. Their success with Paper, led them to develop Pencil and it’s a wonderfully unique design. Since it has been out longer than Apple’s new stylus, there are a range of applications that are compatible with FiftyThree Pencil. It’s form factor is aimed at comfort and flexibility, so the design of its drawing tip makes it less precise than Apple’s offering. However, it can tackle many tasks like tilted edge shading, blending and erasing like no other pressure sensitive stylus on the market. There are three models available and all of them cost less than Apple’s.

FiftyThree Pencil is available in Walnut ($49.95 MSRP), Gold ($49.95 MSRP), and Graphite ($39.95 MSRP) but can be found for less on Amazon.

fiftythree pencil stylus

Adonit Jot Touch

Adonit is another popular option for pressure sensitive stylus. Their newest model is the Jot Touch, which shares some similarities to it’s predecessor the co-branded Adobe Ink & Slide set. While the Jot Touch supports various iPads, it does not support iPhone. Compared to FiftyThree Pencil, the Jot Touch is designed for precision and make compete more with Apple Pencil if you are looking for a fine-point form factor. Like its competitors, it works with any app, but has a nice selection of compatible apps that take advantage of its more advanced features. Jot Touch comes in black or white and has an MSRP of $99 but can be found for less on Amazon. The older Adobe Ink & Slide model has an MSRP of $49.99.

Adonit Jot Touch

Apps and Extras

None of the stylus hardware above is going to be much fun without apps that take advantage of their advanced features. Here are some lists of apps that let you get the most out of your stylus and iOS devices…

Apps With Full Stylus Support

Mirror Your Display on iPad Pro

Duet is an app, made by Ex-Apple Engineers, that turns your iPad into an extra display. It works for Mac or PC. Interact with OS X like never before, using touch or a stylus to control desktop apps displayed on your tablet.