Touchscreen technology has evolved remarkably since the invention of the first finger-operated capacitive model by E. A. Johnson. Throughout the years, there have been many revolutions in this industry such as the resistive touchscreen, which did not use any electrical impulses from the outside.
The active stylus has taken this invention up a notch. With this device, you can easily and quickly navigate capacitive screens. And this is not the only benefit that this gadget has to offer. It also serves as an excellent substitute for your fingers when you want to operate a touchscreen device. Although you can use your finger to perform basic functions on a touchscreen device, it falls short in several ways. Graphic designers and digital artists can also use active styli to imitate the fine strokes of brushes and pens.
The Best Active Stylus
What’s the Best Active Stylus?
The best active stylus can be used to perform an array of functions; from taking notes to digital drawing, electronic document annotation and accurate object selection. You can use this digital pen to navigate your tablet, smartphone or Ultrabook. Find the perfect stylus from our detailed selection of top-rated models.
1. Active Stylus for iPad – Longogo Stylus Pen
If you’re looking for a stylus pen to use with your iPad, Longogo stylus pen for touchscreens is an excellent option. It features an exceptional design of an adsorption charging adapter that works in conjunction with the citizen magnetic switch. In addition to the stylus and charging adapter, the manufacturer also provides a micro USB cable, a manual to guide you on how to use it and 4 Nib.
The replacement tips are also incredibly useful, allowing you to replace the tip instead of purchasing a completely new stylus. Longogo is a user-friendly gadget that does not even require pairing. It’s compatible with both the iPad and iPhone series. Its 0.79-inch sensitive pen guarantees you comfortable writing. The tip is also ultra-soft so that it doesn’t damage your touch screen.
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2. Active Stylus for Android – Ciscle Active Stylus Pen
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The perfect stylus to use with your android is the Ciscle electronic stylus. It’s well-suited for use with Samsung tablet, Android phones, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and LG. The only device that it cannot work with is windows system.
Available in an outstanding black color, this stylus is great for taking notes, drawing as well as writing. It has a 2-in-1 design featuring a copper tip and a fiber tip. If you want to be accurate and flexible when drawing or writing, the copper tip will come in handy. The fiber tip is recommended for use when the power is off. When you’re done using your stylus, you can keep in in the provided case for protection.
Ciscle electronic stylus also boasts effective power management. When fully charged, the stylus can work for 12 hours. When it runs low, you’ll need to charge it using the micro USB cable for at least 1 hour.
3. Active Stylus for Windows 10 – BETOP Active Stylus
Unlike the Ciscle active stylus that can’t work with windows, the BETOP model can. More specifically, this digital pen is designed to work with the Microsoft Surface family. This includes the Surface Pro4, Surface Pro3, Surface laptop, Surface 3 and Surface studio. Other gadgets that the stylus is compatible with include the Asus Transformer3 Series and Sony VAIO Duo 11.
The way BETOP stylus works is by responding to the sensitive pressure that you apply when using. With 1024 pressure levels of sensitivity, this stylus is great for sketching and writing. It also serves as an eraser and it does not cause any lag between the tip and surface.
Another plus of this stylus is its durability. Featuring an aluminum construction coupled with sandblast anodizing finish, the stylus delivers a stellar performance. Contrary to most styli, this BETOP model does not need to be recharged. Instead, it comes with an AAAA battery that provides about 1 and a half years of battery life.
4. Active Stylus for Surface – Heiyo Microsoft Certified Stylus Pen
If you want a stylus that you can use with your Surface Pro 3, Surface Laptop, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book 2, New Surface Pro or Surface Studio, the Heiyo Surface pen is your best bet. This stylus has already been approved by Microsoft certification, meaning that it performs exactly as advertised.
Another area where Heiyo stylus pen excels is in the duration of operation. The stylus offers a whopping 500 hours playing time, which is no doubt one of the longest continuous uses on the market. It also offers 3-month stand by for 5V/4h charging period. Plus, the stylus automatically switches off when not in use.
Users also like that this stylus is rechargeable. Heiyo surface pen has an inbuilt battery and a USB charging cable has been provided to enable you charge it. The recommended duration for charging this stylus is 4 hours.
For accuracy, the tip of the Heiyo Surface pen is crafted from anti-friction plastic. The 1.5mm diameter of the tip also helps to produce accurate text or graphics. This stylus even has an erase button, which you simply press if you want to erase the text you’ve written. Also, this stylus offers 4096 pressure sensitivity levels, giving you full control of the lines.
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5. Active Stylus for Iphone – TRIOFFER Active Stylus
TRIOFFER active stylus is compatible with a wide range of touchscreen devices including the iPad series- iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad mini; the iPhone series- iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus; all of Samsung galaxy tablets and phones; Notebooks and most smartphones.
The stylus features a 1.9 mm adjustable fine tip, which is great for note taking. In fact, this stylus works well with a variety of apps; be it note taking applications, drawing apps or Adobe.
Included in the package is one AAA battery, which you’ll need to put inside the housing to get it working. This battery can work continuously for 10 to 12 hours. In case you find defects on the stylus, the manufacturer has provided a 1 ½ -year warranty.
6. Active stylus pressure sensitive – Tesha Surface Pen
Tesha is another stylus designed for the Surface series. It can work with most Surface touchscreen devices except the Surface RT, Pro1 and Pro2. But the crowning glory of this stylus is the provision of up to 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. This allows you to write, take notes, sketch and draw with such a high level of precision.
Since Tesha Surface stylus runs on N-Trig technology, you don’t have to look for any special drivers or Bluetooth settings to operate it. All that is required is an AAAA battery, which has already been provided by the manufacturer. However, you’ll need to replace it after one and a half years. In addition to the 1-year warranty offered, the manufacturer provides 100% money back guarantee if you return the stylus within 3 months.
7. Active stylus Bluetooth – Dell Active Pen
Whether you want to take notes, sketch or draw, the Dell active pen will be a great option. Some of the features that make this stylus a favorite are its small size and comfortable design. These traits also make Dell one of the best stylus to take on the go. Available in a stylish gray color, Dell Active pen works well with tablets and 2-in-1 notebooks.
8. Active stylus Ciscle – Ciscle Active Stylus Pen
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Ciscle is one of the best standalone active stylus pens on the market. It simply means that it does not require Bluetooth connectivity or apps for it to function. Made from a blend of copper and stainless steel, this stylus is compatible with android tablet, iPhone and iPad1/2. However, it cannot work with windows system.
The tip of this stylus is about 1.6 mm; hence, providing you with precision, control and excellent traction against your device. Ciscle stylus comes with a micro USB cable and supports a one-month standby time. We also like its power saving feature, which automatically switches the stylus off following 5 minutes of inactivity.
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What is a Stylus?
Also referred to as a touch pen, a stylus is a stick-shaped device used in operating touch screens. This could range from the touch screens for laptop to hand-held gadgets like PDAs, tablets and obviously, smartphones.
Styli feature soft, plastic-made cores with the outer shells made of tough materials so that they’re easy to hold. At the end of the soft core is a uniquely designed tip, which has to be placed on the touch screen so as to operate. The tip is also soft, a factor that prevents the stylus from damaging your screen. Put simply; a stylus serves as a substitute for your fingers. You can input commands or text without necessary using your fingers.
Advantages of Using a Stylus
A majority of individuals navigate their gadgets using finger gestures. This group of people consider using their fingers a highly intuitive process. However, using a stylus is a better choice in some instances.
For starters, using a stylus provides a high level of accuracy and precision. Sure, you can use your fingers, but they often touch too wide an area on the screen. In contrast, the fine tip of a stylus touches a very precise and small section. This way, you’re able to navigate your device with ease, especially when it comes to selecting the small-sized symbols on your screen. The precision that comes with using a stylus is particularly handy for artists and graphic designers who use sophisticated editing programs. Styli make it incredibly easy to move brushes among other tools, which would otherwise be difficult to navigate using an ordinary mouse.
With a stylus, you can perform a ton of functions on your screen including painting and drawing. In fact, it’s even possible to trace a paper directly onto your smartphone’s display. And if you’re using the stylus in conjunction with a graphics tablet, you’re free to adjust the size of your brush by altering the amount of pressure you exert with the stylus.
Another plus of a stylus is the fact that it will never leave the unsightly fingerprints that are left on your screen when you navigate using your fingers. Without a stylus, the display becomes covered in fingerprints so quickly that it becomes difficult to read. This is an important feature, particularly for persons who use their smart devices outdoors.
Also, fingerprints make it harder to view text and graphics in bright daylight. With a stylus, the screen will always be sparkling, allowing you to navigate your device at any time; be it in the wee hours of the night or daytime.
Resistive or Capacitive Display?
Before you rush to the store to get yourself an active stylus, there is one thing you need to account for. Does your iPad or smartphone have a resistive or capacitive display?
The distinct feature of a resistive display is the fact that it has two overlying see-through foils. There are numerous gaps in between these foils causing the two layers not to come into contact with each other. Whenever you exert pressure on the screen using the stylus, the two foils are compressed together in one area. This pressing allows your smart device to establish the coordinates of the section touched, and subsequently, execute the given command. Resistive displays are mostly incorporated in heavy-duty and rugged gadgets.
A capacitive screen is different in that it’s made of a glass plate, which has been coated on either side to facilitate the creation of an electrical field. Whenever an individual places his finger on this display, he alters the electrical field. The smart phone or tablet then uses the coordinates of where the change has occurred so as to respond to your input.
So, why did we have to highlight the differences between resistive and capacitive displays? Well, devices that have capacitive touchscreens require special types of styli, which can influence the electrical fields in ways that prompt a reaction. Alternatively, you should go for devices with resistive displays as they are compatible with nearly all styli.
Active Stylus vs. Capacitive Stylus
If you have tried to shop for a stylus, it’s likely that you came across hundreds of them. However, all these styli can be classified into two main types: the active and capacitive styli. For your investment to last a long time, you should be cautious when choosing between these two models.
How does a capacitive stylus work?
As explained earlier, the key highlight of a capacitive screen is the electrostatic field. If you touch the display with your fingers, you interfere with this electrostatic field. The processor then determines the exact location of where the interference has occurred and responds to your command.
For this reason, the stylus tip ought to be wide so that it can produce capacitance for the touchscreen to detect. It explains why most styli come with big-sized tips.
How does an active stylus work?
An active stylus works hand in hand with a digitizer display. Put simply; a digitizer is a unique type of sensor that is integrated into touch screens. Its purpose is to detect the presence of a compatible stylus.
This digitizer technology comes with features that cannot be found in capacitive stylus. For instance, when you place your stylus on the display, a cursor will pop up. Clicking the side button on your stylus prompts it to open the document, if the cursor is positioned over a file. Also, if you flip your stylus around your touch screen, it will automatically activate its erasing mode.
Pros and cons of capacitive styluses
If you’re looking for flexibility and versatility, a capacitive stylus, which can work any type of touchscreen is the best choice. It works efficiently whether you have an android, iOS or windows system. In contrast, no active stylus can work with an iPad.
Another advantage that capacity styli have over the active models is that they’re economical. Capacitive styli are not equipped with any sophisticated technologies that warrant high pricing.
Also, these styli don’t use any batteries. Ideally, your capacitive stylus can function as a digital stylus. A digital stylus uses its battery power to generate capacitance using the soft tip of your stylus. Digital styli can only connect to your device through Bluetooth, especially if you want additional features such as the ability to use shortcut buttons found on the side of your stylus.
On the flipside, the tip of a capacitive stylus is often too big; hence, blocking off the lines found beneath. Also, the tip of a capacitive stylus does not offer the precision you get with an active stylus. The problem of having such a big tip is that it makes it difficult to see the line of sight due to the lines produced. If you want to avoid this, you can for advanced styli like the Adonit Jot Pro, which is equipped with a plastic disc, allowing you to see through the line.
If you’re looking for a stylus with palm rejection, the capacitive type is not your best bet. Put simply; this means that your tablet will have a hard time differentiating the stylus tip from your fingertips. It also implies that your smart device will not have any capability to execute palm rejection. So far, the only stylus equipped with palm rejection capability is the Apple pencil. However, this capacitive stylus is not entirely perfect. For drawing purposes, you’ll be forced to raise your hand from the display so as to avoid stray strokes.
Another drawback of using capacitive stylus is that it does not have pressure sensitivity. Typically, it does not have digitizer technology, which helps in detecting the amount of pressure you exert with your stylus.
Many users have also complained of parallax error when using their capacitive styli. The position of where the lines appear below the tip depends heavily on the angle at which you hold your stylus. It explains why a couple of drawing apps have a feature that lets you pick your preferred hand posture. Occasionally, parallax may be seen, especially if your display is set in portrait mode.
Jitter problem is pretty common among capacitive styli. The major drawback of using digital capacitive styli occurs when you’re drawing diagonal lines. These lines are affected by jitter causing them to appear wavy. This jitter problem may be more common in some styli than others. Considering the level of accuracy required by some professionals such as graphic artists, this jitter problem is often a deal breaker. On the bright side, you can only encounter this problem if you’re using a digital stylus, and it’s usually designed for select devices.
Pros and cons of active styluses
Unlike capacitive styli, active styli will give you that accuracy that you need in your drawings sketches and writings. With an active stylus, you’re guaranteed that the cursor is always below the tip, and this helps to prevent parallax error. Nonetheless, the accuracy of an active stylus can be compromised by the diagonal-jitter-line problem that plagues digital capacitive styli.
Another benefit of using an active stylus is the fact that it has pressure sensitivity levels. Thanks to the digitizer technology, your touchscreen is able to determine just how much pressure you’re exerting with your stylus; hence, generate the exact thickness for the stroke.
Active styluses have excellent palm rejection. One thing you’ll note when using an active stylus is the hover mode whenever your pen is on the screen, which prompts a cursor to pop up. This way, your device can determine that a stylus has been placed on the screen; hence, treat any other contact as foreign and unwanted. This process guarantees flawless palm rejection. But for this to work without any hitch, the stylus should always be in close proximity to the touch screen.
We also like that active styluses may have additional features. With some models, flipping the stylus prompts it to switch to eraser mode.
Given the extras that active styli offer, it’s not surprising that they’re more expensive than their capacitive counterparts. Another drawback is the fact that this stylus needs to be connected to an app so you can get fully customized features.
To have full control of the stylus features, the stylus will need support from the OS and relevant programs. For one, only the OS can provide the drivers that let you regulate the level of pressure sensitivity or to tailor the stylus shortcut buttons.
Another grand disadvantage of active styli is that they’re only compatible with the specific devices that they are designed for. Basically, you cannot use an active stylus with a gadget that it’s not meant to support. The Samsung Tab As are a perfect illustration for this. The Samsung Tab A is not compatible with the S pen while the Samsung Tab A with S Pen can work with the stylus. Even though they belong to the same series, the Samsung Tab A has no inbuilt digitizer; hence, hindering it from working well with the stylus.
Things to Look For In the Best Stylus
If you look for active styluses on Amazon or any other retail site, you will find tons of options. This can make it difficult to decide on the particular type that meets your needs. Luckily we have narrowed down these options by recommending an active stylus for every need. More specifically, we choose these top-rated active styli based on the following factors.
Different users will have different needs when it comes to the type of comfort and grip offered by a specific stylus pen. Some individuals prefer rubberized grips while others like angled grip surfaces.
But there are a couple of pointers that can help you find the perfect stylus. For one, the stylus should not cramp your hand or dig into your skin. Also, when you’re holding your stylus, you shouldn’t have to drag your hand on the display during use. Overall, you ought to find a stylus that feels comfortable to grip.
The best stylus is one that has the correct amount of resistance. By resistance we mean the friction that occurs between the stylus tip and the tablet’s screen. If the nib is too soft, you will have a difficult time controlling how you draw lines. On the other hand, if it’s too sticky, you’re likely to make errors or end up with sore hands because of gripping your stylus too tightly.
Balance and weight
The best stylus is one that has its weight distributed uniformly along its body. Even if it’s a regular stylus, it shouldn’t have more of its weight at the nib and less of it on the other end. It is this uneven weight distribution that makes it uncomfortable to grip for extended periods. It also makes it challenging to control the text or graphics that one is creating. This problem is particularly common among styli that don’t support palm rejection. With such a stylus, you have to keep your hand upright over the stylus.
The weight is another crucial aspect to account for. If the stylus is too bulky, it will end up cramping your hand. Similarly, a stylus that is too light will cause the same problems that would arise when using a soft nib, that is, poor control over your text.
With regards to accuracy, you should find a stylus that allows you to write consistently whenever you’re handwriting text. This means that there shouldn’t be any overlapping letters or uneven vertical spaces. On the same note, the best stylus for drawing is one that allows you to ink over the same line with precision.
The design of a stylus does not have a significant impact on how it works. The most important thing to consider is whether it can work well with your touch screen device. This is particularly so if you plan to use the stylus for office or career purposes. In such instances, you need to find a professional-looking stylus. Luckily, there are hundreds of flashy designs to choose form including office-themed styli.
As mentioned earlier, some styluses are specifically designed for particular devices. So before rushing to pay for your stylus, read the product description and determine the specific devices that it’s compatible with. If you’re buying a stylus for your Chromebook, first ensure that it can work with such devices. Also, you shouldn’t go for stylus pens advertised as universal because they don’t always work well with some gadgets.
Ideally, your stylus won’t require any advanced technology just so it can connect with your smartphone or iPad. Nonetheless, some styli are designed in such a way that they can make radio contact with your touchscreen device. Such styli utilize tiny transmitters that are directly connected to the smart gadget. There’s just one caveat with this stylus, that is, having to carry the transmitter wherever you go. On the bright side, transmitters let you use your stylus with devices that lack touchscreens.
Styluses designed for compatibility with capacitive displays require electricity. There are a couple of models that use rechargeable batteries. Others have disposable batteries, which need to be replaced once they run out. The power supply you pick will depend on your personal taste. However, it’s good to point out that an integrated power supply eliminates the need of constantly replacing or disposing of batteries.
Styli that use disposable batteries also offer one advantage, which is the fact that you can easily replace them and get your device working again even when there’s no outlet nearby.
If you don’t have one already, you should consider getting an active stylus. This device makes it easy to draw, sketch, doodle and take notes. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about leaving oily stains and fingerprints on your touch screen.