An Apple Pencil update is coming soon -- what you need to know

Posted:
in iPad edited February 29

Beyond the sideways path that the Apple Pencil with USB-C took, the Apple Pencil hasn't seen an upgrade since the second generation launched in 2018. Here's what to expect from the Apple Pencil 3, with new iPads coming up fast.

An Apple Pencil is laying on top of an iPad
A new Apple Pencil is imminent



There are three Apple Pencil models on sale today -- Apple Pencil, Apple Pencil 2, and Apple Pencil with USB-C. The lineup is a little convoluted since it relies on customers to figure out which Pencil goes with which iPad and what benefits they offer.

Apple generally launches products with good, better, best tiers that customers can easily discern, but that isn't the case with Apple Pencil. That's why a third-generation Apple Pencil is due.



The new product would shake up the lineup, replacing Apple's first two generations, leaving only the new and USB-C models.

Apple Pencil 3 rumors



Apple Pencil 2 is already quite the powerhouse with 9ms latency, pressure sensitivity, angle detection, Hover, and a double tap gesture. It's hard to imagine precisely how Apple could upgrade its popular stylus.

Why a new Apple Pencil is needed



The overall design needs an upgrade, especially given the odd design corner Apple has painted itself into. The Apple Pencil 2 is charged via two magnetic conductors on the side when attached to an iPad, which requires plenty of internal space.

Apple's 10.9-inch iPad sits on a table next to a purple light, AirPods Max, an orange HomePod mini and a plant.
The new iPad has a landscape-oriented selfie camera



That long side of the iPad was otherwise unoccupied until iPad 10 when Apple shifted the selfie camera to the landscape side. This move is better for video conferencing when using an attached keyboard but eliminates the ability to charge the Pencil with inductive charging.

Simply moving the charging point wasn't possible since the conductors are spaced a certain distance apart on the Apple Pencil. Moving it to any other side would interfere with speakers, buttons, charging ports, or the smart connector.

There was space for magnets to keep a pencil attached, but the components needed for charging took up too much space.

Instead, Apple opted for a dongle to let the USB-C iPad connect to the Lightning first-generation Pencil. Later, the Apple Pencil with USB-C was introduced to solve the odd problem.

A white iPad sits next to a Lightning to USB-C adapter and an original Apple Pencil
Apple's 10th-generation iPad requires a dongle to attach the original Apple Pencil



The Apple Pencil with USB-C isn't a true third-generation model, and lacks some features to keep its cost down. It isn't a suitable substitute for the Apple Pencil 2, so a new model is needed.

Rumors haven't been clear about how the new Apple Pencil would charge, but it could offer both induction and USB-C to ensure universal compatibility. However, that would disrupt the elegant design introduced with Apple Pencil 2.

Apple Pencil with USB-C sits on an iPad's orange magnetic cover
Apple Pencil with USB-C is a stopgap



So, there is a chance Apple will rethink its induction charging to require less space in a smaller Apple Pencil. That would allow attaching the device in the space between two speakers on the short side of iPads.

If it lacks a port, it will be incompatible with the 10.9-inch iPad unless Apple allows wireless pairing without a connector and charging via an inductive dongle.

Interchangeable tips



Outside of figuring out the new charging situation, Apple could revamp the Apple Pencil with new functionality based on interchangeable tips. Which tip is in use would affect the physical feel and how the software reacts.

The tips could attach via a magnetic connection. However, it would introduce complexity in the hardware and require users to keep up with tips not in use.

It also isn't clear how Apple would market and sell the tips. It could prove to be another revenue opportunity by selling tips separately and introducing new tips occasionally.

Third-party manufacturers could also make new tips for use in specific apps. For example, Adobe could sell a line of Apple Pencil tips that activate functions in its suite of apps.

Other features



Rumors also suggest Apple could introduce Find My functionality to Apple Pencil. It's doubtful this would include a speaker that can chirp, but that does spring an idea to mind.

A person walking with an iPad in hand looking for an Apple Pencil in the Find My app
Find My functionality could help users find the small Apple Pencil



Perhaps Apple could go the AirPods route and introduce an Apple Pencil Case that holds the magnetic tips and can charge the Apple Pencil separately from an internal battery. The case would have USB-C for charging and pairing, plus space for Find My speakers.

That previous paragraph is pure speculation, but many rumors are.

Patents also show what Apple is considering for future Apple Pencil models. One suggested Apple could introduce removable sleeves that can provide haptics or more battery life.

Apple Pencil 3 release date and price



Whether Apple calls this product an "Apple Pencil Pro" or "Apple Pencil 3" is entirely a marketing choice -- we expect the latter. But that choice could determine where it lands with price.

Apple Pencil, Apple Pencil 2, and Apple Pencil with USB-C against a white background
Apple's new Pencil would simplify the lineup



The Apple Pencil 3 could easily be priced identically to Apple Pencil 2 at $129. A price bump is also possible at $149 to bring it closer to double the Apple Pencil with USB-C price.

If Apple pushes this product as Apple Pencil Pro, it could easily reach $199.

Apple is expected to announce new iPads and accessories for them during a probable event in March. Invites haven't been sent yet, so everything is still in question.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    It would be nice if it could hold a charge for a longer period of time. It's always seemed like the 2nd gen version is worse than the 1st gen in that regard.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    It would be ridiculous to create a new stylus that “needs” backward compatibility… it didn’t happen with #2 or the new usbc version. 

    If it’s gonna be new it should only work on the upcoming iPad Pro.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 11
    I wouldn’t want to have to plug it in. I feel very happy with the magnetic induction model.
    williamlondoniOS_Guy80entropysdrdavidbyronl
  • Reply 4 of 11
    As long as it sticks to my iPad Pro, I’am good.
    Did not see any compelling reason to upgrade from Apple pencil 2.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 11

    Why a new Apple Pencil is needed

    The overall design needs an upgrade, especially given the odd design corner Apple has painted itself into. The Apple Pencil 2 is charged via two magnetic conductors on the side when attached to an iPad, which requires plenty of internal space.

    That long side of the iPad was otherwise unoccupied until iPad 10 when Apple shifted the selfie camera to the landscape side. This move is better for video conferencing when using an attached keyboard but eliminates the ability to charge the Pencil with inductive charging.

    Simply moving the charging point wasn't possible since the conductors are spaced a certain distance apart on the Apple Pencil. Moving it to any other side would interfere with speakers, buttons, charging ports, or the smart connector.

    There was space for magnets to keep a pencil attached, but the components needed for charging took up too much space.

    Instead, Apple opted for a dongle to let the USB-C iPad connect to the Lightning first-generation Pencil. Later, the Apple Pencil with USB-C was introduced to solve the odd problem.

    This is a bizarre way to frame the iPad lineup and issues with the various Pencil models. It makes it sound like the Pencil 2 previously worked with the base iPad lineup until the 10th gen model, when in fact it has only ever worked with the Pro, Air, and mini models, none of which have changed designs yet.  The dongle and subsequent USB-C model purely exist due to the change to USB-C on the 10th gen iPad and have nothing to do with inductive charging getting moved due to the camera placement, since that didn’t happen. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 11
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,116member
    I wouldn’t want to have to plug it in. I feel very happy with the magnetic induction model.
    I agree. I could never use a model that had to be charged by leaving it sticking out the end of the iPad. Apart from the danger of it inadvertently being bumped and the end breaking off, where do you leave it while it’s charging? I’ve never understood why it doesn’t come with a flexible connector so you could at least leave it laying across the back of the iPad while charging. This, to me, is almost as bad as the Apple mouse being charged from underneath.
    byronl
  • Reply 7 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,956member
    Apple Pencils have probably been the single most messed up line of accessories Apple has ever created. The first gen was functionally fine but crap for design. I saw one review describe the charging setup as a ‘digital lollipop.’ Seriously, Apple! That’s the best you could come up with? And then you’re stuck trying to keep track of a 1cm adapter if you want to charge it with a lightning cable. 

    Then they come out with Pencil 2. Except it’s not backward compatible. And Pencil 1 is not forward compatible. Now we also have Pencil 3 (USB C) that’s also not backward compatible. But at least 2 and 3 don’t roll away like 1 does. There’s really no reason they couldn’t have better compatibility across their iPad lineup. Can you imagine if they came out with AirPods that were compatible with an iPhone 12 an 13 but then you needed AirPods 2 to use with your iPhone 14? 
  • Reply 8 of 11
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,194member
    Very happy with pencil 2. I have an ESR case that covers both the IPP and the pencil and still induction charges. Job done, the same case would also work without having to worry about alignment issues with a landscape camera.
    edited February 29
  • Reply 9 of 11
    leesmithleesmith Posts: 121member
    I want an Apple Pencil that has an eraser
  • Reply 10 of 11
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,405member
    Innovation!!!!
  • Reply 11 of 11
    leesmith said:
    I want an Apple Pencil that has an eraser
    Seriously. If it’s a ‘pencil’ it should have an eraser 
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