Everyone understands the basic concept of a stylus. But the Apple Pencil is more than a flimsy wand with a rubber bumper on the end that makes clicking small buttons easier.
And because Apple wouldn’t be caught dead giving free Apple Pencils away with an iPad, a sale on these immaculate tools is always a big deal. Amazon is currently sporting a rare discount on both models: Grab the first gen for $79.99 or the second gen for $99. (The newer model isn’t in stock until Dec. 29, but can be ordered now to lock down the sale price.)
The sheer precision is a game-changer for artists of all sorts: any type of designer (from graphic to fashion, and even architects), photographers and videographers who spend hours retouching, illustrators, or even those who doodle for fun. Different brush strokes, gradients, and shading can be achieved through tilt, rotation, and pressure detection, offering hyper-accurate portrayals of lines that look like you’re actually using a pencil or marker.
People who prefer handwritten notes over typed ones can still do so with the same gratification of crisp handwriting without lugging paper around (and without smudges — looking at you, lefties.) Marking up a PDF is significantly easier when it doesn’t require printing, editing, and re-scanning. An Apple Pencil can also turn an iPad into a makeshift whiteboard that can be cast onto a bigger screen through AirPlay.
The second-gen sees a few improvements that mostly affect convenience, not the quality of the drawing itself. Its ability to stick magnetically to the side of an iPad Pro and charge is a godsend. (The older one uses a lightning connector.) The newer version also has a button to switch between brush strokes or between writing and erasing, as well as a flat edge to prevent rolling away.
Compatible models for the first-gen Apple Pencil include previous models of the 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, previous model of the iPad Air, the latest and previous generation 10.2-inch iPad, and the latest iPad mini. Compatible models for the second-gen Apple Pencil include the fourth-generation iPad Air, third-generation and later of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and first-generation and later of the 11-inch iPad Pro.