Is the Apple Pencil Really Worth Buying?

Curious whether or not the Apple Pencil is worth buying?

Whether you’re a new iPad user or you’ve had one for years, you’ve probably heard about the Apple Pencil.  Since its first release in 2015, Apple’s high-tech, low-profile input device has changed the way iPad users interact with their favorite apps.

In the right hands, the Apple Pencil is more than an iPad stylus — but who fits that bill?  If you’re trying to determine whether the Apple Pencil is worth buying or if it’s just a fancy finger replacement for Apple fans, read on.

We’ll help you cover the basics of the Apple Pencil and whether it’s worth buying for your specific needs.

Apple Pencil:  The Sensitive Details

Before we talk about who uses the Apple Pencil, let’s cover the basics.  

In short, the Apple Pencil is a touch-sensitive, precision selection tool that functions as a replacement for tapping the screen when used with a compatible iPad.  Because it’s the size of an actual pencil — something everyone is familiar with — it fits easily in the hand and feels intuitive to use.  

Here are the key technical details you’ll want to know about the Apple Pencil:

  • Can be charged by the iPad via the lightning connector or via ferrite magnets, depending on the model
  • Works simultaneously with other popular iPad accessories including the Apple Smart Keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard from a third-party vendor
  • Compatible with a screen protector
  • Doesn’t require a battery pack
  • Completes software updates while charging
  • Contains no moving parts within the casing

Going beyond the technical details, the Apple Pencil offers one major advantage over your fingers when acting as an input device: Pressure sensitivity.  

Because the tip of the Apple Pencil understands how hard or soft you press against the screen, it’s possible for iPad users to create everything from handwritten text to incredible digital artwork without using specialized tools.  Many app developers have discovered taking advantage of this unique feature, so check your favorite apps to see how the Apple Pencil may change your experience.

Who Uses the Apple Pencil?

Without a doubt, there are a ton of uses for the Apple Pencil.  While it might not be a fit for the everyday user at first glance, this Apple device is a nifty little gadget when placed in the right hands.

So who thinks the Apple Pencil is worth buying?  Let’s take a look at some specific use cases for the Apple Pencil to find out.

Artists

The Apple Pencil gives artists almost everything they need to sketch, draw, and colorize artwork on their touchscreen device.  This is because the Apple iPad supports technologies like palm rejection and pressure sensitivity, both of which are fundamental to most digital artists.  

Combine that with an active imagination and a few powerful artistic apps like Procreate or Affinity Photo for iPad and you’ve got everything you need to create incredible works of art.  You can even grab a Paperlike screen protector to make the surface of the iPad feel like real paper.

This combination of hardware and software even makes your Apple devices powerful enough to compete with dedicated drawing tools like the Wacom Cintiq.  This can save iPad users from a hefty investment into specialized hardware. Why purchase a dedicated art device when the iPad can get the job done at no additional charge?  That’s especially true when you use the macOS Sidecar feature or an app like Astropad to transform your iPad into a graphics tablet anyway.

Keeping professional artists out of unnecessary investments and allowing hobbyists to improve their craft by utilizing technology that they already have makes the Apple Pencil worth buying for millions of iPad users.  Read our favorite interviews with artists on the Paperlikers Insights blog to see the Apple Pencil in action.

Students & Teachers

Digital technology may young students help them explore their creative side (similar to artists in the previous section).  For high school and college students, leveraging the iPad with productivity apps like Notability or EverNote can help learners capture detailed notes and organize their digital classwork.

But that’s only scratching the surface of what the Apple Pencil can do for students.  Many modern educational apps use advanced technologies like augmented reality and cloud computing to provide unique educational opportunities while keeping students and teachers even better connected.

A great example of an app packing this tech comes from Froggipedia which allows students to use the Apple Pencil as a scalpel to digitally dissect and explore the inner workings of frog anatomy all through the view of the high-resolution retina display.

Taking a step in the opposite direction, apps like Showbie help teachers run a paperless classroom while the Apple Pencil allows them to mark up homework and grade quizzes without leafing through sheets of paper.

Thanks to creative app developers and their initiatives in education, the Apple Pencil is worth buying for teachers and students who want the best tools possible for an efficient and immersive classroom experience.

Business People

In many office environments, laptops are often seen as a distraction — to the point that some companies have no-laptop rules for meetings because workers can conceal their screens and become distracted.  

Used for notetaking, the iPad can serve as a middle ground where notes can be made without covering the user’s line of sight.  Plus, the iPad’s lighter weight and enhanced mobility, coupled with the ability to connect to large monitors and display devices, make it an ideal candidate as a meeting presentation tool.

Where the Apple Pencil shines in a business situation actually has little to do with the technology itself and everything to do with managing the one thing that every business person hates to deal with:  Paperwork.

While file digitization has gotten more popular, the iPad boosts productivity in this area by giving iPad users the tools they need to actually interact with the documents that now exist in a digital format.  

Looking for a great example?  Check out PDF Expert.  Grab an Apple Pencil and open the app.  Suddenly it’s easy to mark up, redesign, and digitally sign PDF documents on the fly, whether you’re meeting with business partners, negotiating with clients, or trying to get a little more work done while lounging in your favorite recliner at home.

You can even take your business in an entirely new direction.  One of our Paperlike artists, Guillaume Wiatr, uses the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro to help business leaders better understand how to refine their messaging through a process known as “graphic facilitation”.  It’s just another innovation that makes the Apple Pencil worth the investment.

What if I don’t need an iPad Stylus?

So far, we’ve covered the basic use cases for the Apple Pencil based on profession and career choice.  But what about the everyday user who just wants to play with their iPad after a long day on the job?

If that’s you, we have to ask:  How do you feel about coloring? Adult coloring books took off a few years ago and it’s stronger than ever.  Thanks to apps like Pigment for the Apple iPhone and iPad, it’s possible to color while on the go.

Outside of singular use cases where your favorite apps have really taken advantage of the technology, it’s impossible to say whether or not the Apple Pencil would be a great fit for you.  That’s one reason that we recommend looking around to see if the apps you use every day are made even better by the Apple Pencil.

At the end of the day, the Apple Pencil is designed to be a precision input and selection tool.  It gives users the ability to more precisely touch, select, and interact with the surface of their iPad.  This can help when you’re taking notes with the Apple Notes app or editing photos in portrait mode.

If you’re just browsing the internet and sending the occasional email, the Apple Pencil might not be for you — and that’s okay.  There are dozens of other iPad accessories out there, from the Smart Keyboard to Smart Folio that may be better suited to your needs.

Technical Details

Before we wrap up, let’s cover a few details about the Apple Pencil that you’ll need to know before you make a purchase.  

In November 2018, Apple released the 2nd generation of the Apple Pencil.  This new version features automatic pairing, wireless charging, and magnetic storage, as well as a double-tap feature that allows users to change digital tools while using the device.  However, the 2nd generation Apple Pencil only works with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation) and the 11-inch iPad Pro.

For all other models, you’ll want to pick up the 1st generation Apple Pencil.  Be sure to check the compatibility section on the purchase page to make sure that your iPad model is compatible.

Is the Apple Pencil Worth Buying?

In short: yes.

If you were to ask us whether or not the Apple Pencil is worth the investment, we believe it is.  Anything that empowers users to explore technology in a new and exciting way is something that we support.

In our view, the Apple Pencil turns the iPad from a luxury multimedia device into a robust business tool.

The Apple Pencil isn’t for everyone, but the way that productivity apps (including Apple iWork apps) and creative apps have shifted to accommodate the Apple Pencil tells us that the device is a great fit for the right user.

It’s definitely worth a look. 

And don’t forget!  Whether you’ve got an Apple Pencil, a Logitech Crayon, or any other compatible iPad stylus, you can make your iPad screen feel like real paper with a Paperlike screen protector!