The 10 Best Active Styluses

Updated May 25, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Active styluses are ideal for note taking, digital drawing or painting, and electronic document annotation. They're also great for accurate object selection and scrolling on your favorite mobile device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or Ultrabook. Find the perfect one from our comprehensive selection to unleash your artistic potential, or at least outperform your clumsy fingers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best active styluse on Amazon.

10. Awinner Pen

Lift the Awinner Pen's cap to reveal its micro USB port when it needs a recharge. In the meantime, this handy utensil will last for up to 12 hours of use with any touchscreen device. It even features a clip to keep it at the ready on your shirt pocket or tablet case.
  • no pairing or software necessary
  • sometimes requires excessive force
  • fails with thicker screen protectors
Model AW-8888
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Tripen Fine Tip

The Tripen Fine Tip mimics the feel of a real pen on paper, so it's a great choice for those adjusting from more traditional forms of drawing or writing. It runs on a single AAA battery, which cuts down on the headache of waiting for a recharge.
  • up to 12 hours of battery life
  • available in blue or gray
  • not compatible with all devices
Brand Tripen
Model pending
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

8. Ciscle Digital Pen

Available in black, gold, and pink, the Ciscle Digital Pen comes packed in an elegant box and includes a USB charger, a detachable lanyard, and a storage sleeve with an adhesive back for attachment to your tablet case. Its fine copper tip allows for precise control.
  • lanyard anchors to headphone port
  • sturdy aluminum construction
  • tip can scratch screens over time
Brand Ciscle
Model 4326581405
Weight 3.5 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. LeTech+ Slim Pro

Thanks to its pressure-sensitive tip, LeTech+ Slim Pro lets you adjust line thickness as you draw, mimicking the style of a real brush. It comes with a handy looped carrying case and a USB charger for its two rechargeable batteries.
  • auto-shutoff after 3 minutes
  • great choice for taking notes
  • some units tend to skip
Brand letech+
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Lynktec Apex Fusion

Digital note takers and artists alike will appreciate the Lynktec Apex Fusion. It's powered by a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged over 500 times before it needs replacement, so you'll have a long-lasting "ink" supply.
  • fiber tip glides smoothly
  • available in four colors
  • some have burnt out in a few months
Brand Lynktec
Model LTTG-0016ABK
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

5. Heiyo Capacitive Digital

The smart, power saving Heiyo Capacitive Digital boasts up to 30 days of standby time and automatically shuts off after 2 minutes of inactivity, so its 40-hour battery life should last you considerably longer than that. Its replaceable rubber tip measures a fine 1.55 mm.
  • recharges via micro usb in 4 hours
  • comes with two spare tips
  • tends to draw inconsistent lines
Brand Heiyo
Model HY-Stylus-Amber
Weight 4.5 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Adonit Dash 3

The Adonit Dash 3 combines smart and elegant design with a precision tip that measures 1.9 mm and is optimized with slight resistance to make it feel like you're writing on paper. It charges via a simple USB adapter that's magnetized to ensure a solid connection.
  • 14 hour battery life
  • charges fully in just 45 minutes
  • very well balanced
Brand Adonit
Model ADJD3B
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Moko Universal

The Moko Universal features an innovative double-ended design that allows for a wide range of applications on virtually any device. Its fine point is ideal for precise drawing or taking notes, while its wider mesh tip works just like your finger for more general tasks.
  • helps keep devices fingerprint-free
  • easy access on-off button
  • available in three metallic finishes
Brand MoKo
Model pending
Weight 1.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil has the upper hand among iOS compatible styli because it's designed to work in every part of its native ecosystem. It's also pressure and tilt-sensitive to create a wide range of artistic effects, not to mention it's ideal for taking notes.
  • includes an extra tip
  • intuitive line weight and shading
  • only works with ipad pro
Brand Apple
Model MK0C2AM/A
Weight 4.5 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Gouler High Precision

Simple to use and highly functional, the Gouler High Precision features a spring-loaded copper tip that allows for pressure adjustments and provides click-like feedback as you use it. It works with nearly all phones and tablets, including most iPads and Samsung devices.
  • available in black and silver
  • red and blue charging indicator leds
  • sturdy built-in clip
Brand Gouler
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

How Active Styluses Work

The active stylus, also known as the active pen, is a type of input device designed to emulate the familiarity of a pen in the human hand. As the pen has evolved with humans over the last 5,000 years of recorded history, it follows that active styluses should keep to its design.

Active pens generally find use in the realm of digital note taking, document annotation, and digital drawing or painting. The function of the active stylus is quite unique. Electrical components within an active stylus generate short-range wireless signals. These wireless signals are then picked up by a built in digitizer, which transmits messages about the pen's orientation, pressure, and minute movements to the pen's dedicated controller.

As the digitizer within the pen is constantly sending information to the computer, its exact location above the pad is always known. When an active stylus hovers over the control pad, the cursor on the computer will move to match its location. This removes the guesswork caused by passive styluses, eliminating erroneous marks and unnecessary edits from your work.

Active styluses also easily eliminate all palm marks from the work surface. As the human body is an electrical circuit, touching any part of the hand to the surface of a touchscreen or digital receiver can cause electrical impulses to translate into marks on the page. Both writers and artists usually touch their hands to the surface of their work space as they write or draw, making this potentially problematic. An active stylus eliminates this problem. The dedicated receivers only respond to signals sent from the pen.

The Psychology Of Writing

There may be many links between writing styles and a person's psychological state. Much about a person's personality is said to be displayed in their writing style, and as more studies are conducted into this theory, more links between the two are found. Graphologists say they can determine amazing things about a person–from physiological symptoms such as high blood pressure and ADHD to basic personality types– simply by analyzing their writing.

One way in which a graphologist analyzes writing is by looking at letter size. The size of written letters helps determine the difference between an introverted personality and an extroverted one. If the letters are small, taking up less than half of the provided line, the person is more likely to be timid and introverted. Large letters which take up all of the space on the line tend to indicate an outgoing, attention-seeking personality.

The way the writer dots their i's may actually tell a graphologist more about their personality than most things. Writers who place their dots perfectly above the letter are said to be the most organized and emphatic. A person who draws a small circle above the letter is said to possess a childlike quality. A high dot indicates a very imaginative writer, where a dash is the trademark of a critical one. A dot which is off to either side of the letter indicates the utmost laziness. These are just two ways in which a writer's mentality actually physically affects their handwriting.

Reasons An Active Stylus Is Better Than A Finger

Touchscreen technology has come a long way since E.A. Johnson created the first finger-driven capacitive model in 1965. There have been numerous revolutions in touchscreen technology over the years, including the invention of the resistive touchscreen. These touchscreens did not require an external electrical impulse to be controlled, making it possible to use a stylus as the input device.

An active stylus takes it a step further, adding an advanced electrical impulse to the body of a stylus. This allows it to operate on capacitive touchscreens. This is not the only benefit of an active stylus, however. One thing to consider is the cleanliness of the touchscreen's surface. The hands are the way we interact with the outside world, and they pick up dirt, bacteria, and oil at every step of the way, from the money used to pay for coffee in the morning to the handrail on the subway. All of this leads to a dirty, potentially harmful touchscreen. Even when the hands are clean, the human body produces oils that can smudge the screen any time you use it. There is no such worry with an active stylus.

While the finger may be good enough to do basic functions on a touchscreen such as selecting icons or navigating a webpage, it falls short in many ways. Taking notes with an active stylus is far better than fumbling around with the finger. Some would argue that notes can simply be taken with a pen and paper. This is true, though an active stylus allows the user to quickly save those notes as a small file, which makes it very easy to catalog them or send them to others.

Digital artists and designers simply need an active stylus to emulate the fine strokes of a brush or pen. The multiple sensors and gyro-stabilizers in the pen help it determine which way it is being moved, which can create a different stroke or artistic effect as needed.

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Last updated on May 25, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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