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Top 3 Best Stylus: Graphic Artists’ Pick

When it comes to selecting the best stylus, the market is congested. It’s easy to think that you can just pick the most expensive and get the most features but as we all know, that is seldom the case. Today, we’re going to explore some of the best stylus options out there to help you decide which model will be the best fit for you.

We’ll tell you the features, cost, and any aspects of the products that you might not like, and in the end, you’ll be well-equipped to find your best stylus.

 Let’s start with…

What you need to look for when selecting a stylus

If you want the best stylus you will need to decide what is essential for you. Some primary factors you want to consider are:

  • Weight and ease of use.
  • Battery life if it is electronic.
  • Compatibility with your device.
  • Durable construction.
  • Intended use (Mostly graphic design or a little doodling here and there?)

If you haven’t used a stylus before, drawing is typically done by pressing your stylus to the device, as you would with a pen or a pencil. The pressure determines how thin or thick are the lines you produce. Depending on the software that you are using and how it pairs with the stylus, you can also select ‘effects’ such as filling an area in with paint, selecting specific line styles or fonts, or making specific shapes you can ‘stretch’ or ‘shrink’ to size.

While most of the best stylus options have only a ‘pointy head’ for use, some models come with a set of heads, enhancing your experience and sometimes offering additional detailing options that you might not get with a standard head. We include one of those in our selection, so you can see what we mean and pique your curiosity a little. 

After all, the best stylus needs a good mix of form and function.

Our top 3 picks for the best stylus

Without further ado, here are our favorite stylus models for Graphic Artistry on your touch device. Each brings a little bit to the table, as you will see, and we have got a summary of pros and cons following the main review for each product just in case you’re in a hurry.

Let’s break down the features of each of our 3 best stylus contenders.

Create detailed sketches with the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline

Best stylus - Wacom Bamboo

Artists like Eli Hyder of Venamis Arts have expressed a fondness for the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Fineline, and they produce nothing less than fantastic Star Wars style art! Let’s take a look at the features of this contender for the best stylus.

Product Highlights:

  • Triangular ergonomic design.
  • Skidproof to protect your device.
  • The adjustable button allows custom settings.
  • Requires batteries: uses USB rechargeable batteries rated for 26 hours.
  • Weight: .7 oz.
  • Works with: iPad and iPhone.
  • Price: Around $110.
  • 2-year warranty.

What we liked:

The Wacom Fineline is light and easy to use, being constructed of aluminum coated in ABS thermoplastic polymer. This stylus works with Bluetooth and the palm rejection on iPad is superb. If you aren’t familiar with it, Palm rejection allows you to write naturally like you would on paper. This feature is refreshing and doesn’t come with every stylus on the market.

The battery life is about 26 hours with this model, with charging performed from a magnetic USB attachment which you uncap at the top of the pen. Twisting the pen retracts the tip to protect it when it’s not in use and we love that you can customize the Bluetooth sync button, as it allows you to set up personalized functions such as switching from sketch to paint.

We liked this stylus’s weight, as some are too heavy to use fairly regularly, and this was not the case with the Wacom. It performs as well as the other Wacom stylus pens in that it delivers 1.204 pressure sensitivity levels. This gives you a great amount of control when you sketch and makes the Wacom a pleasure to work with.

What could use improvement:

With Procreate, when tested on an iPhone 11, curves were not as smooth as would like, but overall we loved the sketch qualities of the Wacom. The Bluetooth disconnects quickly if you discontinue use; however, reconnection requires a mere click of the button.

Pros and Cons at a glance

As a quick summary, here is what the Wacom Fineline stylus brings to the table:

Pros:

  • Lightweight but durable.
  • 1,204 pressure sensitivity levels for good detail work.
  •  Magnetic USB charge keeps the pen in place while charging.

Cons:

  • Curves were not as good when using Procreate software.
  •  Bluetooth disconnects quickly to save battery.

The Friendly Swede 4-in-1 — a sleek and versatile aluminum stylus

With the 3-in-1 version of this stylus praised by Beret Nice Illustration and Design in a recent review, we wanted to see how the latest 4-in-1 model from ‘The Friendly Swede’ performed. As it turns out, this stylish stylus proved quite versatile and as a bonus, getting one definitely won’t break the bank.

Product Highlights:

  • Requires batteries: No batteries required.
  • Weight: 1.12 oz.
  • Works with: Compatible with most touch devices, except for iPad Pro 12.9 and Microsoft Surface.
  • Price: Just under $30.
  • Lifetime warranty.

What we liked:

The Friendly Swede 4-in-1 Stylus is solid aluminum and designed to work with just about every touch device that you care to use it on. It has four types of heads for different types of detailing:

  • Precision disc tip – A Clear disc implemented into the design helps you to see exactly where you will be making your marks. Great for fine detail.
  •  Microfiber tip – Perfect ‘all purpose’ head, for general use, writing, or sketching. Friendly Swede produced the first replaceable microfiber and included it in this design. It doesn’t slip or stick like a rubber stylus tip and this makes it a pleasure to work with.
  • Ballpoint pen – Perfect for when you simply need a pen to write notes or create lists.
  • Paintbrush – When you feel like painting the Friendly Swede 4-in-1 has a capacitive brush tip that allows you to do just that, as long as your software supports it.

We liked the wide range of tips available with this very affordable stylus, and Friendly Swede has seriously sweetened the pot by including replacement tips (two discs, two fiber, and one brush) as well as a lifetime warranty.

While it lacks Bluetooth, being able to use your stylus with just about any touch device is an excellent trade, and this model is affordable enough that you can simply get one for a ‘spare’ to keep around the house or for use with other devices.

What could use improvement:

Brushes are replaceable, but you may want to get spare paintbrushes, as these can get used up fairly quickly. That said, it is still fairly unique, and some users like being able to use new tips when they feel like it. Lack of Bluetooth, however, does make this a passive, non-programmable stylus, and some users may not like this about the product.

Pros and Cons at a glance

Summing everything up, here is what you get with The Friendly Swede 4-in-1:

Pros:

  • Unique 4-tip stylus with replaceable tips (and spares).
  • Full-aluminum design is a pleasure to touch and use.
  • Usable on just about any touch device.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  • Disposable heads need to be replaced periodically.
  • No Bluetooth.

Apple Pencil Generation 2 ups the stylus game for iPad users

Best Stylus - Apple Pencil Generation 2

Artists like Chicago’s own Maggie Sichter like to use Zoom-features that are easily done with Apple’s Pencil Generation 2. Apple seldom disappoints, and we are glad to report that their Apple Pencil lets you do the kind of work you’d expect with an Apple product. We’ll show you what we mean in this breakdown. 

Product Highlights:

  • Wireless charging; magnetically snaps into place and charging progress displayed on the widget.
  • Efficient double-tap from draw to erase or to access additional options.
  • Quick response for almost flawless user experience.
  • Palm rejection for easy use.
  • Requires batteries: includes lithium polymer rechargeable and charge rated for 12 hours.
  • Weight: .73 oz.
  • Works with: iPad, iPad Pro, and iPad Air.
  • Price: $129 (with free engraving courtesy of Apple!).
  • 1-year warranty.

What we liked:

One of the great things about purchasing Apple products for use with Apple devices is the functionality. Even with something as seemingly simple as a stylus, you get a lot more functionality, which is the case with Apple’s Pencil 2. The palm rejection works wonderfully, allowing you to hold the stylus the way you would a market, and it’s light as well, so you can use it as much as you would a pen.

The pairing with the product produces a 20-millisecond latency, which is very, very fast. Thus, drawing and erasing is almost exactly like doing it with a real pen or pencil. This effect is impressive and, coupled with Apple’s handwriting recognition and the addition of ‘Scribble’ software compatible with this stylus, you can take notes with ease when you aren’t drawing.

It’s also compatible with any program that requires text entry.

While it doesn’t have changeable differently-styles heads like our ‘Friendly Swede’ contender (replacement tips are all standard), with the double-tap function, we were able to switch tools with relative ease. You can easily use the built-in drawing features such as the ‘ruler’ and combine it with your freehand to produce serious detail. It’s the priciest of the bunch we’re reviewing today, but Apple brings a lot of innovation for your investment, and that makes this stylus well-worth considering.

What could use improvement:

While the magnet attachment is pretty good, there is still a chance of knocking off your pen if you aren’t careful, and that gets us to our second caveat – the pricing. While it’s undoubtedly the best stylus for using an iPad, its price very much reflects that. While it might not be a big deal if you are working with art daily or only pair Apple peripherals with your Apple device, this can be a little daunting for the casual user. It doesn’t seem designed for casual disassembling, so it may require replacement if it develops issues.

Pros and Cons at a glance

For those who like to skip ahead or get a quick reminder, here is the good and the bad for the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation:

Pros:

  • Lightweight and product-specific to Apple.
  • Magnetically affixes to iPad.
  • Adds double-tap functionality.
  • Supported by ‘Scribble’ app to add text-writing functionality for all apps.
  • 1-year warranty.

Cons:

  •  A bit on the pricey side.
  • Currently supported by the most recent (and expensive) iPad models: the new iPad Air (2020), the first generation 11-inch iPad Pro (2018) and later, and the iPad Pro 12.9-inch third generation (2018) and later.
  •  Plastic construction that does not appear designed for repair and disassembly.

So, what was our favorite stylus?

Each of these models scored high in their areas, so it’s only up to you which one is the best stylus. That said, our favorite was The Friendly Swede 4-in-1 model. It’s durable, and with all those different heads to work with, we found it the best stylus for adding function and flavor to the overall experience.

Second and third for best stylus will be a matter of interpretation, so while we were able to tell you our favorite, you’ll have to decide with the remaining 2. The Apple Pencil 2 is the best stylus option for the most functionality, but the Wacom is the best stylus for the most durable build and superior battery life.

Now that you have the facts, the rest is up to you!

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