Best cheap Apple Pencil alternatives: iPad stylus on a budget

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Best cheap Apple Pencil alternatives: iPad stylus on a budget
Without a doubt, the Apple Pencil is the best iPad stylus to get. But! Just like the $300-350 iPad Magic Keyboard, Apple’s iPad stylus is expensive. In fact, if you bought both accessories, this will mean you’d pay $430-480 on top of your already pricey iPad Pro or Air.

So, what Apple Pencil alternatives are out there? Well, let’s look at some more practical and cheaper options, and help you decide which one to go for. There’s something for those who need a stylus for drawing, business, or note-taking. Also, why not find an iPad stylus for kids…

Best iPad styluses and Apple Pencil alternatives: 

  • Logitech Crayon: Affordable. Suitable for kids. More rugged, with a unique form.
  • Adonit Note+: Affordable. Very light. Pressure sensitive. 2 programmable shortcut buttons.
  • Adonit Note 2: IP65 water and dust-resistant. Light and compact. Impressive battery life. Very affordable.
  • ZAGG Pro: Magnetic attachment (without charging).
  • Apple Pencil 1st Gen: Pressure sensitive. Questionable charging solution.
  • Apple Pencil 2nd Gen: The best iPad stylus available. Great integration with creative apps. Magnetic charging for newer iPads.

Logitech Crayon


  • Compatibility: iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (3rd & 4th Gen), iPad Pro 11-Inch (1st & 2nd Gen), iPad (6th, 7th & 8th Gen), iPad Air (3rd & 4th Gen), iPad Mini 5
  • Pressure sensitivity: No
  • Palm-rejection: Yes
  • Charging: Lightning (cable not included)
  • Weight: 0.70 oz / 20 grams
  • Size: 0.3 x 0.4 x 6.4-inches / 7.6mm x 10.1mm x 162.5mm

The Logitech Crayon comes in at just about half the price of the Apple Pencil 2nd gen, and it is by far the alternative with the most solid reputation. In fact, it is fully endorsed by Apple! Yes, you can buy one directly from the Apple store.

It features palm rejection, a tip that adjusts line weight (thickness) automatically as you tilt the pencil, and it doesn’t require pairing. Unfortunately, pressure sensitivity is not present here.

The Crayon is advertised as a sturdier alternative to the Apple Pencil, which would be suitable for kids! It won’t roll around on a table, and it should be able to withstand drops of up to 4 feet (1.22 meters). It is bulkier, but 0.7 grams lighter than Apple’s offering.

It charges via Lightning and provides about 7 hours of battery life on a single charge. We would’ve loved to see USB-C here, since the iPad is clearly transitioning to this type of port. We hope Logitech will bring USB-C to the next generation.

On the other hand, when you take off the cap of the pencil, you get a port instead of a Lightning connector. That’s much more practical than the reversed solution on the original Apple Pencil.

However, what we didn’t like is the fact that you don’t get a cable inside the box. Again, given that the newer iPads come with a USB-C cable, and the latest iPhones are transitioning to MagSafe (with no chargers in the box), having to dig out or buy a separate cable for your stylus is just not practical.

Adonit Note+




  • Compatibility: iPad Pro 3rd, 4th Gen (11/12.9 Inch), iPad 6 , 7, 8th Gen, iPad Air 3, 4th Gen, iPad Mini 5th Gen
  • Pressure sensitivity: Yes
  • Palm rejection: Yes
  • Charging: USB-C (cable included)
  • Weight: 0.50 oz / 15 grams
  • Size: 6.02-inch x 0.39-inch / 153 mm x 9.2mm

Adonit is an 11-year-old company, which is best known for their styluses. Like the Logitech Crayon, the Adonit Note+ doesn’t require pairing. The stylus offers palm rejection, an on/off button, and 10 hours of battery life, including quick-charge.

However, here is where things get interesting. This relatively affordable Apple Pencil alternative actually matches some of the features of Apple’s stylus! It features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which gives artists some great flexibility, and gives it a real advantage.

The casing is made of metal, and the whole thing weights just 15 grams. It comes with a set of 3 replaceable tips in the box. There’s a clip-free version which, as the name suggests, doesn’t have a clip.

Adonit Note 2




  • Compatibility: iPad Air (3rd/4th Gen), iPad mini (5th Gen), iPad (6th / 7th / 8th Gen), iPad Pro (3rd/ 4th Gen, 11" & 12.9")
  • Pressure sensitivity: No
  • Palm rejection: Yes
  • Charging: USB-C (cable included); 0-100% in 60 min (advertised)
  • Weight: 0.53 oz / 15 grams
  • Size: 6.16-inch x 0.36-inch / 156.5 mm x 9.2mm

The Adonit Note 2 is the successor of the Adonit Note (which is not on this list). You should go for the Adonit Note 2 if you want the convenience of USB-C (vs Micro USB on the original), 24h battery life (vs 12 on the Note), and IP65 rating for water and dust resistance! If you are clumsy or adventurous, this one's for you! It is only $15 more expensive than the Note, but that's well worth it.

ZAGG Pro




  • Compatibility: iPad Mini 5, iPad 9.7 (6th gen), iPad 10.2 (7th gen), iPad Pro 11 & 12.9 (2018 & 2020), and iPad Air 4
  • Pressure sensitivity: No
  • Palm rejection: Yes
  • Charging: USB-C (cable included)
  • Weight: 0.50 oz / 16 grams
  • Size: 9.09 x 2.76 x 1.06-inches / 231mm x 70mm 27mm

This Apple Pencil alternative offers some real bang for the buck! In fact, it does everything the more expensive styli do, AND it sticks to your compatible iPad magnetically! Yes, that’s possible even with an iPad stylus half the price of an Apple Pencil.

Again, it has palm rejection, tilt recognition for variable thickness of your lines, and it doesn’t require pairing, just like the rest of the offerings. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it can attach magnetically. Charging is done via USB-C, which is perfectly acceptable. Battery life is rated at about 9 hours, which is a lot less compared to the Adonit Note 2, but about on par with the rest of the styluses.

It has another exclusive feature - dual tip. You flip it around, and now your ‘cap’ is another stylus tip, which is much thicker, so you can easily scroll and navigate through pages. In fact, that’s the main selling point of this pencil, according to the manufacturer’s marketing material on Amazon.

Apple Pencil 1st Gen / Apple Pencil 2nd Gen




Apple Pencil 1st Gen


  • Compatibility: iPad (6th and 7th Generation), iPad Mini (5th Generation), iPad Air (3rd Generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd Generation), iPad Pro 9.7 and 10.5-inch
  • Pressure sensitivity: Yes
  • Palm rejection: Yes
  • Charging: Lightning (included)
  • Weight: 0.73 oz / 20.7 grams
  • Size: 6.9 x 0.35-inches / 175mm x 8.9mm

Apple Pencil 2nd Gen


Compatibility: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation), expected to be compatible with iPad Pro (2021)
Pressure sensitivity: Yes
Palm rejection: Yes
Charging: Wireless (magnetic)
Weight: 0.73 oz / 20.7 grams
Size: 6.5 x 0.35-inches / 166mm x 8.9mm

If you’ve decided that all of the above-mentioned options are not good enough for you, well… It is only fair to take a look at Apple’s offerings.

The original Apple Pencil looks bigger than a traditional pencil, and that’s thanks to the Lightning connector on top. The 2nd gen Apple Pencil solves that with magnets, which allow it to pair, charge, and just have a dedicated storage space.

The new model is lighter and simply smaller, which should make it easier to hold. This shouldn’t be overlooked if you’ll be using the stylus for longer periods of time.

A little bonus of the Apple Pencil 2 is that it won’t roll around when placed on a desk, since it has one flat side (for the magnets).

Apple has given the 2nd gen pencil some additional functionality when it comes to software too. You can double tap to switch between modes and tools, if the app supports it.

So with that in mind, and the fact that the price difference between the two is only around $30, it is a no brainer - the 2nd generation feels like a 4th generation product, compared to the old one. That’s not really a coincidence. The first one was released in 2015, and the second one came out in 2018. If Apple was to refresh the pencil every year, this would have made the 2nd gen one exactly a 4th gen product.

However, bear in mind that the old Apple Pencil isn’t compatible with the new-design iPad Pro models or the latest iPad Air. Likewise, you can’t use the new one with older than the above-mentioned iPads.

Before buying


Bear in mind that the 3rd generation Apple Pencil might not be too far off, now that Apple is said to release the next iPad Pro series this month. While that doesn’t mean the current model won’t still be compatible, we can’t be sure.

There are many Apple Pencil alternatives, and we think it’ll be harder to choose the wrong one than to go for the right one. In other words, they are all pretty promising for the relatively affordable prices, compared to Apple’s offering.

Before making a purchase, make sure you check the compatibility. Some are compatible with certain iPads, and even certain versions of iPadOS.

Furthermore, even if the stylus is compatible with both the old and new-style iPads, it doesn’t mean it is the best choice for both.

Finally, there are coupons, deals, bundles, student discounts, and all kinds of other offers, which you might be able to take advantage of. Make sure you don’t skip past them!

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