First look: Apple Pencil paired with iPad Pro is no ordinary stylus

Posted:
in iPad edited November 2015
Still a rare find, with asking prices on eBay double --?or more --?its $99 suggested price, the Apple Pencil is slowly finding its way into the hands of consumers who are early adopters of the jumbo-sized iPad Pro. AppleInsider had the chance to spend an extended period of time with the new stylus, and we offer our initial first look.




In a long, slender box somewhat akin to Apple Watch Sport packaging, the Apple Pencil immediately makes an impression, signaling that this device is unlike most in the company's recent product history.

In many ways, it feels like a culmination of many Apple products before it, from the iconic white color, the balance immediately felt in the hand (and which prevents it from rolling on a table), and the magnetic cap that covers the Lightning charger.




In the box, the Apple Pencil comes with a spare tip, though not a spare Lightning cap. It also includes a female-to-female Lightning adapter, which allows the Pencil to be charged with a Lightning cable if a user chooses.

Most charging, however, is intended to be done with the iPad Pro itself, in an ingenious design that also makes plugging it in part of the syncing process. Upon inserting the Pencil into the iPad Pro, the tablet will ask users if they wish to pair the accessory with this particular iPad.




From there, everything just works. The Apple Pencil can be used both as a stylus for drawing, and as a regular pointing device when opening apps or scrolling websites.

While we aren't artists and don't have particularly great penmanship, writing on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil is easy with minimal lag. In many ways, it really does feel like writing on paper.

After toying around in Apple's Notes app, we decided to get to work in PDF Expert and filled out a lengthy contract. The best compliment we can pay to the Apple Pencil was that what we wrote looked identical to our own (poor) handwriting as it would appear on traditional paper.

Palm rejection on the iPad Pro was also excellent, with no issues within Notes or PDF Expert in our testing. Everything just worked as expected.




Given the fact that the iPad Pro can simply be used to control regular apps and functions, we could see ourselves relying on the device as a smudge-free way to interact with our iPad Pro, having been annoyed by fingerprints on the large, gorgeous display on numerous occasions.

There are no indicators on the Pencil to reveal remaining battery life, but users can enable the iOS 9 Batteries widget in Notification Center to quickly see how much power is left in the Bluetooth accessory.




AppleInsider will have much more on the Apple Pencil in the coming days and weeks, including our full review. For a better idea of how the iPad Pro stands on its own, without any accessories, read our full review of Apple's 12.9-inch tablet.

«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    It's funny that Apple seems to have come up with a top-end pencil to pair with a new device, that beats existing ones. It's not cheap, but for those that have a good reason to use one, it looks like a winner. The best thing is that the UI doesn't require it for things that don't require a pencil.

    Now just imagine the weight-to-resale value of a semi truck full of Apple Pencils ;)
  • Reply 2 of 39
    This was a nice read. Very useful given the fact that the iPad Pro w/ Apple Pencil would be a fantastic combination to be used at work.

    Still toying with the idea of this being a nice holiday gift to myself...
  • Reply 3 of 39

    I wish Apple sold that Apple Pencil holder they use in their retail display of the iPad Pro. It's a wide, flat (but gently curved on the inside to keep the Pencil from rolling) holder for the Pencil that is really nicely designed. Why the hell are they not selling this as an accessory? I'd pay $25-30 for this thing. This is more evidence that Apple has complete tunnel vision when it comes to accessories for their own products.

     

    Please Tim, hire someone internally whose sole job it is to invent and think of creative, practical accessories for Apple products! Especially when the accessory is ALREADY BEING USED AT THE RETAIL LEVEL! Come on, man!

  • Reply 4 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Here's Serenity Caldwell's first take. Reading stuff like this just puts a smile on my face and warms my heart.

    http://www.imore.com/ipad-pro-experiment-pencil-arrives-and-its-going-change-my-life
  • Reply 5 of 39
    pistispistis Posts: 247member
    Can it be used with other iPads, for example to draw using Notability app more precisely than using the finger?
  • Reply 6 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I wish Apple sold that Apple Pencil holder they use in their retail display of the iPad Pro. It's a wide, flat (but gently curved on the inside to keep the Pencil from rolling) holder for the Pencil that is really nicely designed. Why the hell are they not selling this as an accessory? I'd pay $25-30 for this thing. This is more evidence that Apple has complete tunnel vision when it comes to accessories for their own products.

    Please Tim, hire someone internally whose sole job it is to invent and think of creative, practical accessories for Apple products! Especially when the accessory is ALREADY BEING USED AT THE RETAIL LEVEL! Come on, man!

    Well the Pencil is weighted so it doesn't really roll. But yeah I sometimes wonder if accessories are an afterthought these days or if Apple doesn't want to kill the 3rd party market so they don't put a lot of effort in to first party stuff.
  • Reply 7 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    pistis wrote: »
    Can it be used with other iPads, for example to draw using Notability app more precisely than using the finger?

    No, it doesn't have a capacitive tip so it will only work with iPad Pro right now.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    I wish Apple sold that Apple Pencil holder they use in their retail display of the iPad Pro. It's a wide, flat (but gently curved on the inside to keep the Pencil from rolling) holder for the Pencil that is really nicely designed. Why the hell are they not selling this as an accessory? I'd pay $25-30 for this thing. This is more evidence that Apple has complete tunnel vision when it comes to accessories for their own products.

    Please Tim, hire someone internally whose sole job it is to invent and think of creative, practical accessories for Apple products! Especially when the accessory is ALREADY BEING USED AT THE RETAIL LEVEL! Come on, man!

    For this one I don't see the need. The iPad Pros on display will only ever be used in that location so having a place for the Pencil makes some sense. I don't think the average person buying an iPad Pro plus a Pencil will also want to carry around another place to put the Pencil, especially since there is no threat of it rolling off a flat table.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
  • Reply 10 of 39
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    I wish Apple sold that Apple Pencil holder they use in their retail display of the iPad Pro. It's a wide, flat (but gently curved on the inside to keep the Pencil from rolling) holder for the Pencil that is really nicely designed. Why the hell are they not selling this as an accessory? I'd pay $25-30 for this thing. This is more evidence that Apple has complete tunnel vision when it comes to accessories for their own products.

    Please Tim, hire someone internally whose sole job it is to invent and think of creative, practical accessories for Apple products! Especially when the accessory is ALREADY BEING USED AT THE RETAIL LEVEL! Come on, man!
    why? This Pencil is intended for app specific. That means not everyone will buy it with iPad Pro meaning not high demand. Besides, Apple don't want you to have $100 precious hung anywhere on the tablet and get lost. Keep it with you. That is their message to you.
  • Reply 11 of 39
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Don't want to toy with your fingers? Get this $1 capacitive pen, cut the top and place over the magnetic cap.
    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/65488/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
  • Reply 12 of 39
    Does the iPad Pro hardware and/or iOS 9 allow for additional 3rd-party "pencils"? That is, are the APIs open and is the hardware accessible for other device manufacturers to leverage in their own unique ways?

    I've ordered the Apple Pencil and am looking forward to getting it, but I also wonder if Apple has left the design open for alternatives.
  • Reply 13 of 39

    And now if Apple will come out with Pencil 2 and simply put a digital "eraser" on the other end, which could work simply by turning the Pencil up-side-down, it will become fully functional...  

     

    Actually, the sensors in the existing Pencil should be able to detect if the Pencil is up-side-down, so all Apple really needs to do is make a replacement cap with a soft top so it doesn't scratch the screen, issue a tiny software update, and presto, fixed.

  • Reply 14 of 39
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    For this one I don't see the need. The iPad Pros on display will only ever be used in that location so having a place for the Pencil makes some sense. I don't think the average person buying an iPad Pro plus a Pencil will also want to carry around another place to put the Pencil, especially since there is no threat of it rolling off a flat table.



    Actually, the little holder they use at retail is really nice and would be a nice at-home accessory. Imagine it on your desk. Reminds me of nicely designed brush holders.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mytdave View Post

     

    And now if Apple will come out with Pencil 2 and simply put a digital "eraser" on the other end, which could work simply by turning the Pencil up-side-down, it will become fully functional...  

     

    Actually, the sensors in the existing Pencil should be able to detect if the Pencil is up-side-down, so all Apple really needs to do is make a replacement cap with a soft top so it doesn't scratch the screen, issue a tiny software update, and presto, fixed.




    Having used "with" and "without" eraser styli, I much prefer the "without". Having to flip the stylus to erase, then reposition to continue using it is awkward. Simply tapping on a pen or eraser icon is far better.

  • Reply 16 of 39
    I would be interested in knowing how well it works for writing long complicated equation. I frequently work out long equations on paper with a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil with integrals which often require using lots of subscripts (even subscripts of subscripts). I tried using my iPad Air to do it but I really couldn't figure out what might be the best stylus to use. I have to be able to make very fine marks, and the software was capable of doing it. But the rubber tipped type of stylus I tried was too wide to get pinpoint accuracy. I have seen other styluses that have finer tips with a transparent disc at the end but I have read that they could scratch the screen.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    "... no ordinary stylus"

    I remember the comments saying "[I]Apple is out of ideas... they're just copying Microsoft and Wacom[/I]..."

    Sounds like Apple actually did a pretty good job with the Pencil.
  • Reply 18 of 39
    "... no ordinary stylus"

    I remember the comments saying "Apple is out of ideas... they're just copying Microsoft and Wacom..."

    Sounds like Apple actually did a pretty good job with the Pencil.

    Don't forget the "If everyone else can do it with an unpowered stylus then why is Apple pointlessly over-engineering something so simply and charging so much?" Personally, I am neutral on the subject since I have no direct experience with any styluses from other platforms but my uneducated guess would be that Apple didn't make their stylus complex for no reason. I look forward to seeing the side-by-side comparisons of how these work now that both are shipping.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    virtuavirtua Posts: 207member
    fallenjt wrote: »
    why? This Pencil is intended for app specific. That means not everyone will buy it with iPad Pro meaning not high demand. Besides, Apple don't want you to have $100 precious hung anywhere on the tablet and get lost. Keep it with you. That is their message to you.

    Why not - there are loads of accessories I think are useless, but I don't go around telling people it's too costly for Apple to bother with. A holder for your pen.....in sure I'll put mine somewhere I don't remember....just like most people.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    irelandireland Posts: 17,620member

    Having used "with" and "without" eraser styli, I much prefer the "without". Having to flip the stylus to erase, then reposition to continue using it is awkward. Simply tapping on a pen or eraser icon is far better.

    Respectfully disagree, and feel it's nice to have that option. With the end an eraser I'm sure there'd be a healthy consistency across apps enabling users to not need to learn eraser location on a per app basis.
Sign In or Register to comment.