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Apple in 2015 unveiled the original Apple Pencil, its first stylus designed to work with the first-generation iPad Pro. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was famously against styluses, but the Apple Pencil has proven to be a useful tool for note taking, sketching, and more with the tablet form factor.

The Apple Pencil has stuck around since 2015, and as of today, all of Apple's iPads work with one of the three Apple Pencil models that Apple sells. In the guide below, we cover everything you need to know about the Apple Pencil.

What is the Apple Pencil?

The Apple Pencil is an Apple-designed stylus that works with Apple's iPads. It's called the Apple Pencil because of its resemblance to a traditional pencil, albeit with a definitively Apple-esque design.

ipadminiapplepencil.jpg

There's a small plastic tip (which can be replaced) that contacts the iPad's display, a pencil-like body to hold onto, and a charging mechanism. In the original Apple Pencil, there's a Lightning connector, but the second-generation model charges inductively through the iPad Pro while the cheapest 2023 model includes a built-in USB-C port.

The Apple Pencil is used in lieu of a finger for precision tasks like writing and sketching, and it can also be used for navigating through the operating system. It's excellent for drawing, art creation, note taking, and similar tasks because it's precise, has palm rejection, and offers tilt sensitivity and (on some models) pressure sensitivity.

In a nutshell, the Apple Pencil is meant to work like a traditional pencil, but instead of writing on paper, you write on the iPad's display. You can put your hand right on the iPad while you write, which, for a long time, was functionality other styluses were not able to accurately replicate.

What are the differences between Apple Pencil 1, Apple Pencil 2, and Apple Pencil USB-C?

There are three versions of the Apple Pencil. The first version was released in 2015, the second version was released in 2018, and the third version was released in 2023. The first- and second-generation Apple Pencil models have much of the same functionality, but the latest USB-C Apple Pencil has a lower price point and lacks some of the functionality available in the more expensive models.

applepencil1.jpg
Original Apple Pencil​

The USB-C Apple Pencil has a design similar to the second-generation Apple Pencil, but it does not support pressure sensitivity or magnetic charging when attached to an iPad. We have a chart below that outlines the differences between the Apple Pencil models, and we also have a dedicated buyer's guide with more information about which you should choose for your iPad.

Apple Pencil (first-generation, 2015)Apple Pencil (second-generation, 2018)Apple Pencil (USB-C, 2023)
Glossy finishMatte finishMatte finish
Weighted to prevent rollingFlat edge to prevent rolling and snap to the side of an iPadFlat edge to prevent rolling and snap to the side of an iPad
Attaches magnetically for storage, pairing, and chargingAttaches magnetically for storage
Removable capNon-removable sliding cap
Lightning connectorUSB-C port
Pair and charge via Lightning port or USB-C cable and USB-C to Apple Pencil AdapterPair and charge wirelesslyPair and charge via USB-C cable
Pressure sensitivityPressure sensitivity
Supports Apple Pencil hover on M2 iPad Pro modelsSupports Apple Pencil hover on M2 iPad Pro models
Double-tap to change tools
Free engraving option
$99$129$79


The second-generation Apple Pencil and USB-C Apple Pencil are sleeker, smaller, and more compact than the original Apple Pencil because they have no Lightning connector at the end. The second-generation Apple Pencil designed to charge inductively through the iPad Pro so you stick it on the right side of the iPad in the flat area to initiate charging, with the Apple Pencil held onto the device using magnets. The USB-C Apple Pencil can also magnetically adhere to an iPad, but it is not able to charge this way.

apple-pencil-2.jpg
Apple Pencil 2​

With the original Apple Pencil, there's a Lightning connector that lets it plug into the Lightning port of an iPad for charging purposes, which is inconvenient because of the size of the Apple Pencil. Apple also includes an adapter with the Apple Pencil 1 so you can charge it with any Lightning cable. The USB-C Apple Pencil has a built-in USB-C port that facilitates charging with a USB-C cable.


Apple Pencil 2 and the USB-C Apple Pencil feature a more pencil-like design with a flat side and a sanded design that improves the texture. The Apple Pencil 1 is smooth and round. Apple Pencil 2 also supports touch gestures for swapping between tools, something not possible with the original Apple Pencil or the USB-C Apple Pencil.

What devices are compatible with Apple Pencil?

The original Apple Pencil, manufactured from 2015 on with the round body design and Lightning connector, is compatible with the following devices:
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
The second-generation Apple Pencil with a smaller footprint and inductive charging capabilities is compatible with the following devices:
  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
The USB-C Apple Pencil is compatible with all iPads that have a USB-C port... Click here to read rest of article

Article Link: Everything You Need to Know About the Apple Pencil
 
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code-m

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2006
3,638
3,398
Why not? It wouldn't affect you in the slightest for the iPhone to have that capability. You wouldn't be required to use it. Just like iPad users aren't required to use it now.

Steve Jobs?‍♂️

But you can use both a finger and a pencil/stylus. Then why make this part of the original iPhone design.?‍♂️
 

chiltonwebb3

macrumors newbie
Dec 2, 2019
26
38
If you're an artist or an engineer and you use an iPhone, not having a usable stylus is a royal pain in the art.

I have an iPhone 8+. Pencil support is literally the only thing that would make me upgrade, and I'd upgrade to the top of the line iPhone if that's what it took to support it.

Instead, I have an iPad mini I drag around with me because I constantly need something to jot notes on and draw on.

Also, I've found that the Samsung Note 10 is an outstanding piece of hardware. That might be my next phone if Apple keeps doing this anti-stylus phone crap.
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It's weird to me that Apple used to be the tool of choice for artists, but kept making decisions like this that actively push artists away.

If you don't understand why a stylus is important for a phone, it's just not a feature for you. Kinda like how I don't give a crap about the camera on the phone.

But for a lot of us, the stylus is king.
 

ChunkAhoy

macrumors member
Jan 31, 2007
69
16
The most impressive use of the Apple Pencil i’ve seen is the application SHAPR3D on an iPad pro 12". You see how well it work ls for 10 seconds and you understand right away how powerful the process of creating with the Pencil can be.
 

mrr

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2008
908
1,637
The major thing keeping the iPhone from being a truly great note-taking, painting, drawing, design, photo-retouching tool is the lack of Apple Pencil support.
 

code-m

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2006
3,638
3,398
Not sure I'd want pencil support on iPhone. Would just make it heavier, and if you're going to carry something as awkward as a pencil, you might as well carry an iPad Mini.

Reduce those bezels on the mini and it will fit in the pocket better. It’s screen dimensions are more suited for productivity compared to even the Max.
 

arvinsim

macrumors 6502a
May 17, 2018
809
1,128
If you're an artist or an engineer and you use an iPhone, not having a usable stylus is a royal pain in the art.

I have an iPhone 8+. Pencil support is literally the only thing that would make me upgrade, and I'd upgrade to the top of the line iPhone if that's what it took to support it.

Instead, I have an iPad mini I drag around with me because I constantly need something to jot notes on and draw on.

Also, I've found that the Samsung Note 10 is an outstanding piece of hardware. That might be my next phone if Apple keeps doing this anti-stylus phone crap.
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It's weird to me that Apple used to be the tool of choice for artists, but kept making decisions like this that actively push artists away.

If you don't understand why a stylus is important for a phone, it's just not a feature for you. Kinda like how I don't give a crap about the camera on the phone.

But for a lot of us, the stylus is king.

Procreate Pocket would be amazing on the phone with a stylus.
 
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Peperino

macrumors 6502a
Nov 2, 2016
999
1,683
Apple pencil 1 is one of the worse things done. From how it charges to that it is not magnetic.

Apple 2 is what it suppose to be from the get go!

I was going to by the new iPad, but unfortunately only works with Apple pencil 1.
I guess they needed to clear inventory.

So i guess I'll wait until iPads are compatible with the Apple pencil 2.
 
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derekamoss

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
1,485
1,124
Houston, TX
"Prior to when the Apple Pencil came out, styluses either had a fine hard tip and were battery powered to activate the capacitive display of the ‌iPad‌, or had a wide, rubber finger-shaped tip that was not accurate."

Hmmm.... I think this might be stretching a little bit on this statement. Not saying Apple pencil isnt all those things but saying it was the first....
 

mixel

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2006
1,729
976
Leeds, UK
Apple pencil 1 is one of the worse things done. From how it charges to that it is not magnetic.

Apple 2 is what it suppose to be from the get go!

I was going to by the new iPad, but unfortunately only works with Apple pencil 1.
I guess they needed to clear inventory.

So i guess I'll wait until iPads are compatible with the Apple pencil 2.
Pencil 1 really isn't that bad. Its easy to charge from a lightning cable, and I had a rubber sleeve on mine with magnets inside so it attaches to the case.. Which also made it better ergonomically. (subjectively)

In actual use they're identical for me as I had to turn off the tappy touch thing on the side of my pencil2.. It's slightly more convenient knowing its always charged, that's all really.
 

insomniac86

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2015
604
905
Perth, Western Australia
So many people STILL to this day don't understand what Steve Jobs meant when talking about having a Stylus for a Phone.

Back in the day, almost all touch phones REQUIRED a Stylus to operate and had tiny UI elements that wouldn't work well with a finger. The iPhone vision was to have a UI that you DRIVE entirely with your finger.

There is nothing wrong with having Apple Pencil support on iPhone in this day and age to drive an application. Just as long as the OS UI doesn't require it.

Derpy derp people. :rolleyes:
 

Alan Wynn

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2017
2,371
2,399
So many people STILL to this day don't understand what Steve Jobs meant when talking about having a Stylus for a Phone.

This! Exactly this.

Back in the day, almost all touch phones REQUIRED a Stylus to operate and had tiny UI elements that wouldn't work well with a finger. The iPhone vision was to have a UI that you DRIVE entirely with your finger.

His statement was if they require a stylus, they are doing it wrong. He is still correct. Having a pencil as a tool for its specific tasks would be fine. I love my Pencil 2 (with its 12.9” iPad Pro 2). I am not sure how they can make it work will the iPhone (size, weight, battery life, etc.), but if they did it in a way that did not make the phone itself inferior, it would be great.

There is nothing wrong with having Apple Pencil support on iPhone in this day and age to drive an application. Just as long as the OS UI doesn't require it.

Again, there have to be some trade-offs to support it, and as long as they are not too great, it would be nice.
 

code-m

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2006
3,638
3,398
So many people STILL to this day don't understand what Steve Jobs meant when talking about having a Stylus for a Phone.

Back in the day, almost all touch phones REQUIRED a Stylus to operate and had tiny UI elements that wouldn't work well with a finger. The iPhone vision was to have a UI that you DRIVE entirely with your finger.

There is nothing wrong with having Apple Pencil support on iPhone in this day and age to drive an application. Just as long as the OS UI doesn't require it.

Derpy derp people. :rolleyes:

I believe he was referring to interacting with the phone OS with a stylus which is not accurate as some of those phones I believe permitted to be interacted with finger touch input. Steve Jobs was quite clear in his explanation and reasoning that no one wants to pull out a stylus and put it back in for storage and loose those things, yuk. That is a far deviation of an explanation as to your interpretation. I recommend you review that keynote again as to refresh your memory.
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Was going to buy the iPad Air 3 on release until I saw that it used the gen 1 Pencil. Like you, I can wait. Albeit I will likely get something if new Pros are released in March .

Seems strange that Apple has two types of pencils accessories for two types of tablets. Redesign the other iPads to use Pencil 2 that was less SKUs to manufacture, inventory, repair, replace, etc.

It would have been an optimal time in 2019 to bring design cohesion on the entire iPad line but no just give them the old Pencil 1 support. Seriously way too long for a redesign on the Mini and Air and what is the point of the 10.2” iPad seriously keep it simple Mini, Air and Pro because you know it supposed to be inline with the laptop line as it’s considered a computer.
 
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Justanotherfanboy

Suspended
Jul 3, 2018
851
1,369
Everything You Need to Know About the Apple Pencil

Hmmmm.... I think this would make a much better novel than just a simple article.
/s

As far as levels go:
There’s the desperate padding that a high school student does, to try to stretch their one paragraph of research into the five page report that’s due in 20 minutes.... then there’s this article.

The only way I can imagine this being sillier would be if the accessory covered was the iPod Sock, instead of the Apple Pencil.
F66E8B10-A43B-4767-9092-08188D6D3C7E.png
 

chiltonwebb3

macrumors newbie
Dec 2, 2019
26
38
So many people STILL to this day don't understand what Steve Jobs meant when talking about having a Stylus for a Phone.

Back in the day, almost all touch phones REQUIRED a Stylus to operate and had tiny UI elements that wouldn't work well with a finger. The iPhone vision was to have a UI that you DRIVE entirely with your finger.

There is nothing wrong with having Apple Pencil support on iPhone in this day and age to drive an application. Just as long as the OS UI doesn't require it.

Derpy derp people. :rolleyes:

No one's asking for a pencil to drive an app. We want a pencil because it's a superior input device compared to a finger, at some tasks.

Steve Jobs was wrong about a lot of things, and his decision to get rid of the Stylus might've had something to do with his hatred of the Newton.
 
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rowspaxe

macrumors 68020
Jan 29, 2010
2,214
1,009
"Prior to when the Apple Pencil came out, styluses either had a fine hard tip and were battery powered to activate the capacitive display of the ‌iPad‌, or had a wide, rubber finger-shaped tip that was not accurate."

Hmmm.... I think this might be stretching a little bit on this statement. Not saying Apple pencil isnt all those things but saying it was the first....
Well it certainly wasn't the first. Wacom has had active stylus tech for about 25 years, and surface and samsung bought active stylus to tablets years before apple
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Must be bored today? Seems like strange timing on this post...
It's very infomercial-ish
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In actual use they're identical for me as I had to turn off the tappy touch thing on the side of my pencil2.. It's slightly more convenient knowing its always charged, that's all really.
The 'double tap' was an epic fail in practice. Pencil 1 was--and is--great. I draw constantly and recharge once or twice a week. The new charging is better--but the old way was fine--if inelegant
 
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derekamoss

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
1,485
1,124
Houston, TX
I believe he was referring to interacting with the phone OS with a stylus which is not accurate as some of those phones I believe permitted to be interacted with finger touch input. Steve Jobs was quite clear in his explanation and reasoning that no one wants to pull out a stylus and put it back in for storage and loose those things, yuk. That is a far deviation of an explanation as to your interpretation. I recommend you review that keynote again as to refresh your memory.
[automerge]1581311174[/automerge]


Seems strange that Apple has two types of pencils accessories for two types of tablets. Redesign the other iPads to use Pencil 2 that was less SKUs to manufacture, inventory, repair, replace, etc.

It would have been an optimal time in 2019 to bring design cohesion on the entire iPad line but no just give them the old Pencil 1 support. Seriously way too long for a redesign on the Mini and Air and what is the point of the 10.2” iPad seriously keep it simple Mini, Air and Pro because you know it supposed to be inline with the laptop line as it’s considered a computer.
The worst part is that they don't distinguish which one is which on the packaging. Both are just called Apple Pencil on packaging. You have to look at the smaller part that says compatible with iPad...

(Kid, with iPad capable of pen, says that he wants one. Mom knowing nothing about electronics buys product marked apple pencil. Kid happy until he realizes it isn't working. Mom calls Apple tech support and the "much knowledgeable tech people" who probably don't know or are in competent and probably don't check if the pen is the right one calls it up as a screen digitizer problem and has the whole iPad sent in as broken, instead of telling mom to return pencil and buy the correct one etc....)

Also your line about the iPad Pro being a computer...:rolleyes::D:oops:
 
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