This Apple Pencil clone offers an 80% experience for a quarter of the price
Over the past few months, I’ve been cheating on my Apple Pencil.instead of using Apple’s $129 stylus I used an iPad Mini for notes, and a replacement purchased from Amazon for about $25. It looks pretty much the same, works pretty much the same, and even snaps onto your iPad to charge it. And while this $25 stylus doesn’t quite match all the features of the Apple Pencil, it comes very close to offering a similar experience for a fraction of the price.
The stylus I’m using is an arbitrary brand called “StylusHome”, but there are many similar ones on Amazon for about the same price. It exactly mimics the style of Apple’s second-generation Pencil. Without the first party logo, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart visually. It has a flat surface that magnetically snaps to the edge of my iPad Mini (it snaps to the iPad Pro and iPad Air as well), where it charges the battery. If the original wears out, a replacement tip is included in the box.
Amazon Selling this Pencil clone for around $30, but it was about $25 when I bought it a few months ago. Compare that to the Apple Pencil’s regular price of $129, or $90-$100 at launch, and that’s a pretty big gap.
Given that price difference and the other facts logitech crayons, the world of third-party Apple Pencil options doesn’t really seem to exist. I really didn’t expect this to work so well. But the StylusHome Pencil is lag-free and responsive when writing on the screen, just like the Apple Pencil. Slightly lighter (15.2 grams vs. 17.9 grams), but otherwise exactly the same. Supports tilt shading, but does not support pen pressure. I use it only for writing notes, so that’s not a problem for me, but if you’re an artist, you might miss that feature.
What I miss more is the Apple Pencil’s double-tap feature. This allows you to switch between writing and erasing with a quick double-tap on the side of the stylus. The StylusHome, like the first-generation Apple Pencil, doesn’t support this at all, so you’ll have to use the on-screen controls to switch between pen and eraser each time.
And, unsurprisingly, StylusHome isn’t as tightly integrated with iPadOS as Apple’s Pencil. For example, if you stick it to the side of your iPad, you won’t get a small pop-up notification of battery life. However, it does support displaying battery life in Apple’s battery widget that can be placed on the iPad’s home screen or in the widget tray on the left side of the home screen. Anyway, I’ve never used the stylus long enough to completely drain the battery, so this is a good workaround for me.
The fake Pencil uses Bluetooth to communicate with your iPad. Initial pairing is required for first-time use using the iPad’s Bluetooth settings menu. Also, when I use the stylus again after a while, the stylus goes to sleep so it doesn’t write to the screen. The solution here is to stick it to the side of the tablet for a second or two, put it back, and try again. From there, it responds instantly, just like Apple’s Pencil.
For serious iPad users, perhaps creating digital art for a living, we recommend sticking with the first-party Apple Pencil. But if you’re curious if the Apple Pencil can add to your iPad experience, whether it’s casual doodling, navigating software, or taking handwritten notes, but are intimidated by the hefty cost of Apple’s version, this is the one for you. Counterfeit versions are available. It offers many of the same features for a fraction of the price.
Photo by Dan Seifert/The Verge