Adonit's Prime stylus review: looks great, but at $250 it's hard to justify

in iPhone edited June 2021
Adonit's new high-end iPhone and iPad-compatible stylus looks and feels great, but its high price could put off many people.

Review: The Adonit Prime stylus looks great, but the $250 price tag makes it hard to justify

The most significant selling point of the Adonit Prime stylus is the overall aesthetic. It looks like a pen, and a nice one at that -- its silver and black design gives it a high-end feel.

One of our favorite features is the clip, which allows you to hook it onto a shirt pocket, rear pocket, or into an interior pocket in a tech bag. As well as keeping it on hand for when you need it most, it also acts as a handy safety stop to prevent it from rolling off of tables and desks.

The Adonit Prime looks just like a traditional executive pen
The Adonit Prime looks just like a traditional executive pen

As far as comfort goes, it's very nice to hold, especially when writing in the Notes app on the iPad. The slightly larger diameter is comfortable in hand, and we found ourselves regularly picking it up to fidget with.

Charging and battery life

The Adonit Prime is a powered stylus, which means you'll need to keep it charged to use it with your devices.

Adonit has designed a clever charger that can be adhered to your desk and charge your stylus. It sets tip-down, which nicely displays the stylus, too.

There is a downside, of course. If you stick the charger to your desk, you'll be less likely to charge it on the go -- which isn't easy anyway.

We've moved the charger a few times, and its already having issues sticking where it needs to
We've moved the charger a few times, and its already having issues sticking where it needs to

As far as battery life goes, it's not terrible. Adonit rates the stylus for about 12 hours of continuous use before it needs to be recharged, which means that your mileage will vary depending on how often you use it.

However, keeping the charger on our desk encourages us to return it to the charger when not in use.

Performance and Compatibility

When used with the iPhone, it works like many other styluses. It's powered, so writing on your screen is significantly more manageable, thanks to the small tip the stylus has. We used it with an iPhone 11, but imagine that it would shine on any iPhone Plus lines, where you're inhabiting the area between a phone and tablet.

However, the same small tip becomes a drawback for certain activities -- such as clicking a link on a website.

When you use your finger, the iPhone anticipates a certain level of imprecision. You can select a single emoji by pressing your thumb flat against the screen of your iPhone, and even though you technically may touch more than one emoji, it's pretty good at guessing which one you want.

We found that we were significantly less accurate using the stylus for more nuanced tasks, like selecting a link. This may change with using it more, but it was somewhat frustrating to feel like we needed to try multiple times to select things we wanted.

Still, it wasn't a bad experience, and we found it was handy for signing our names on our iPhone screen, offering a far greater level of accuracy than our finger alone. We think it would be a great accessory to any retail locations that routinely need customers to sign an iPhone or iPad screen to complete transactions.

The Adonit Prime is compatible with the following iPhone models:
  • iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
When used with the iPad, it definitely works, but it isn't anywhere near as intuitive as our second-generation Apple Pencil. There's no pressure sensitivity, and there's no tap-to-change-tool feature. It also doesn't conveniently stick to the side of your iPad to charge.

That being said, it is better than not having a stylus at all, and there may be some use cases where someone could theoretically prefer it.

It's compatible with the following iPad models
  • iPad 6, iPad 7, iPad 8
  • iPad Air 3, iPad Air 4
  • iPad Pro third-generation, iPad Pro fourth-generation
  • iPad mini 5

You can use it with iPad or iPhone

Now you're thinking, "But AppleInsider, isn't this stylus for both the iPad and the iPhone? Why are you saying it needs to be used with one or the other?"

The two different barrels alongside the disassembled Adonit Prime stylus
The two different barrels alongside the disassembled Adonit Prime stylus

Let's be clear here: You can't really use the single stylus for both your iPad and your iPhone, at least not in any practical way.

To use the Adonit Prime with your iPhone, you'll need the Adonit Prime that comes with the "Dash" barrel, an iPhone-specific insert that allows you to draw on your iPhone screen.

However, to use the Adonit Prime with an iPad, you'll need to purchase the Adonit Prime that has the "Note" barrel included.

We received both for testing, but the iPad-compatible Adonit Prime Note is currently not available for sale. Adonit will eventually offer the "Note" and "Dash" barrels for separate purchase.

Still, it's not a perfect solution. Swapping between barrels isn't a simple activity, requires both hands, and for users to keep track of individual barrels. If you wanted to quickly switch between writing on your iPhone and then to your iPad, it would not be a simple task, either.

While this likely isn't going to be a problem for everyone, it is something to think about before investing in something with such a high price tag.

Speaking of the price

Apple has gotten a fair bit of criticism for the Apple Pencils' price tags, which is $99 for the first-generation Apple Pencil and $129 for the second-generation Apple Pencil before you factor in tax.

The Adonit Prime blows past that at $250, firmly seating it in the luxury item category. Primarily because it does not feature pressure sensitivity or palm rejection, requires a unique charging setup, and looks enough like a normal pen that you could -- and should -- be concerned about an office mate or client walking off with it.

Because Adonit hasn't released the individual barrels for sale, we can't comment on them. Still, we'd like to point out that unless they offer a rebate of $120-$140, they're only going to widen the gap between Adonit Prime and the Apple Pencil.


Adonit has made a perfectly serviceable iPhone-specific stylus, and it's an okay alternative to the Apple Pencil if you're not an artist. However, the high price tag and the need to swap between charging barrels are hardly ideal.

If future iterations bring the price down more into the Apple Pencil range, we think this would be a solid entry into the stylus market.

We're pretty sure that unless you're extremely concerned with a specific aesthetic for your stylus, you could skip this one. If you are concerned with aesthetics, you can pick up the iPhone compatible version of the Adonit Prime from Amazon for $250, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

  • Comfortable to hold
  • Looks nice
  • Charging setup keeps stylus secured on your desk
  • Costs nearly twice what the second generation Apple Pencil does, $150 more than the first generation Apple Pencil
  • Could easily be mistaken for a pen, leading to accidental or intentional office theft
  • Charging setup cannot be used easily on-the-go
  • Lacks features that make it ideal for iPad use

Rating: 2 out of 5


  • Reply 1 of 3
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Why is the number of sales of a product always considered THE measure of its success? Apple products are constantly trashed in these forums as being overpriced. Apple products don’t sell in the large numbers compared to other brands. So Apple is a failure and so is this stylus?
  • Reply 2 of 3
    Is this a joke?  Honestly how often do you sign you name on an iPhone?  Could maybe see people spending $50 on something like this that’s just gonna end up sitting in a drawer but $250?   You could buy a decent phone for that $$$.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    aknabiaknabi Posts: 211member
    That is one ugly, $10 AliExpress looking pen... they really did not engage with a proper industrial designer (I speak as someone who worked for one of the leaders in ID). If you're gonna charge premium pricing and least give it a premium look.
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