Apple Pencil reviews: Is it worth buying?

Read reviews of the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro and find out if it's worth your hard earned money

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The Verge's review of the Apple Pencil

Carrie Ruby at The Verge did a review of the iPad Pro from a designer's perspective and noted that the Apple Pencil was incredibly precise:

On the other hand, Apple Pencil worked really, really well. I’ve tried a few different brands of styluses in the past, and never have I been wowed like I am with this one. It’s comfortable in the hand, it’s incredibly precise, and it felt natural. Using it with Apple Notes has virtually no lag. It’s fast and keeps up with my messy writing, almost making it better.

I did notice that there was a little bit more latency when writing in other third-party apps, like Paper by FiftyThree and Adobe Sketch. But overall, using the Pencil to make a quick sketch saved me time. Usually, I’ll make a sketch for one of my designers on paper, take picture of it, email it, and then explain what some tiny squiggle is. Now, I just sketch with the Pencil and instantly email it from the iPad Pro.

More at The Verge

Wired's review of the Apple Pencil

David Pierce at Wired also reviewed the iPad Pro and found the Apple Pencil to be unbelievably accurate:

The Pencil is the more important accessory. This long, white, paintbrush-looking stylus is central to the notion that the iPad Pro is for doing anything, any way you want. In apps that support it, the Pencil is an unbelievably accurate, fine instrument for creation or control. When you write or draw, it feels like ink is coming straight from its tip. You can shade with the side of the Pencil, write in beautiful calligraphy, or sketch with amazing accuracy.

The Pencil works so well because it gets special access to the Pro’s software. To set it up, just plug it into the Lightning port. After that, whenever your iPad detects the Pencil touching the display, it doubles the screen’s read rate so it checks for movement 240 times a second. That, plus pressure sensitivity and real-time measuring of the Pencil’s angle and position, means the Pencil puts out much more data than you’ll get from any other stylus. You can use others, but the Pencil is special.

More at Wired

Ars Technica's review of the Apple Pencil

Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica noted that he wasn't an artist but still found using the Apple Pencil to be eminently enjoyable:

The pencil is a shiny white plastic cylinder with a rubbery tip at the end and a small cap on top. The cap covers up a male Lightning connector, which connects to the port on the bottom of the iPad Pro for both charging and initial Bluetooth pairing (after pairing, the pencil’s battery status will show up in the Batteries widget in the Notification Center). A small adapter that ships with the pencil will let you charge it with a standard Lightning cable like the one you use for your iPhone or the one that comes with the iPad Pro. There’s one replacement tip included—Apple will sell replacement tips but we haven’t been able to get pricing information for them just yet.

You’ll want to be careful not to lose that little adapter or the cap of the pencil while it’s charging. Storage is a problem for the pencil, and it has no garage in the iPad itself and no extra loop or magnet on the Smart Keyboard or elsewhere to hang out while you’re not using it (I found myself sticking the cap to the magnetic strip where the iPad meets the Smart Keyboard, which isn’t the accessory’s intended purpose but seems to work well enough). Combined with the fact that the pencil is perfectly round and smooth and susceptible to rolling around, this means the new accessory can be hard to keep track of.

As for the operation of the pencil, I’ll start by saying that I am emphatically not an artist—Apple’s event had an illustrator doing some impressive-looking things with the pencil, but I’m in no position to evaluate its utility as a painting or drawing tool. The pencil features pressure sensitivity and will change the lines you’re drawing as you tilt if your app supports it (Notes does, but some apps like Evernote don’t seem to make a distinction). Beyond verifying that those features seem to work as advertised, I can’t really offer an evaluation of the iPad Pro as a drawing tool for people creating illustrations or webcomics.

That said, I really enjoyed the accessory when I did have a reason to use it. It’s got a nice heft to it, just a bit more than your typical pen or marker. Tapping individual cells in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel is always easier with a more precise pointing tool, and sketching out rough ideas in Notes or Photoshop is quicker and more accurate than what you could manage with your finger. Some tools (Paper is one, Adobe Comp is another) even offer to transform your rough scrawlings into decent-looking lines and boxes for purposes of laying out pages, storyboarding, creating workflow and org charts, and other kinds of business-y, publisher-y things.

More at Ars Technica

iFixit's teardown of the Apple Pencil

And last but certainly not least, be sure to check out iFixit's teardown of the Apple Pencil to see just what's inside of it:

Since the dawn of the iPad, Apple has remained resolute that the iPad is meant to be enjoyed sans-stylus. So when the iPad Pro debuted with a $99 must-have accessory in the form of a stylus, we were obviously intrigued. What makes the Apple Pencil so special? From what we've heard, it's got some nifty features, but we're more interested in what's going on inside that shiny white cylinder. Join us as we find out!

Apple's been tight-lipped on this pointer's finer points, but here's what we know for sure:

Bluetooth 4.1
Scans at twice the rate of finger inputs
Up to 12 hours of battery life
175 mm (L) x 8.9 mm (D)
Lightning connector for charging

What is this—a logic board for ants? Not quite, but weighing in at a whopping 1.0 gram it's definitely the smallest we've ever seen.

Peeling up one of the tiniest boards we've ever seen we find a set of three matching ticks. Three on the end of the pen assembly, and three on the tiny board.

More at iFixit

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