If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here for more information.
I covered what you might actually need an Apple Pencil for here, which to sum up is either art creation or note-taking on an iPad. If you’re on the fence, not sure if you will stick with it, or just want to give it a try, the $129 MSRP of the Apple Pencil can be a tough pill to swallow.
The good news is you can get alternatives that are much cheaper, but the issue across the board is that they all lack actual pressure sensitivity in Procreate (with one notable hard-to-find exception). If you’re only looking to take notes, then it’s an easy choice to buy an alternative and save some money. For art, some of these alternatives have workarounds for the pressure issue that works quite well. I went into this expecting to come up with recommendations that were exactly the same as the Apple Pencil, but my assumptions turned out to be wrong! While some advertised actual pressure sensitivity, there was always a caveat or compatibility issue. So with that out of the way, here are the best alternatives to the Apple Pencil:
Logitech – Crayon Digital Pencil: best overall, most expensive, but still cheaper than an Apple Pencil
The Logitech costs about half of an Apple Pencil; its MSRP is $69.99 but is frequently on sale for less than sixty dollars. Plus this is a brand name that I use all the time for other devices such as my mouse and webcam. The colors make it look unique and are more of a statement than an Apple Pencil. The Crayon is known to be really accurate, with some reviewers saying that they actually prefer its accuracy over the Apple Pencil.
The one thing that is a bit different is how it handles pressure. Instead of actually relying on pressure to make a thicker line while drawing, it relies on tilt. This actually makes sense, as when you use a real pencil you change the angle a bit to make a thicker line. Lots of people love this, but if you’re coming from an Apple Pencil already there may be an adjustment phase.
Adonit Note+: almost really good but misses
The Adonit has some unique features, such as programmable shortcut buttons. This can be useful for functions such as undo and redo, which I normally do with finger gestures.
I was ready to give this one the overall recommendation due to the inclusion of pressure sensitivity, but upon further digging, it turns out that this feature is app specific. Procreate is one of the apps where pressure sensitivity doesn’t work, but it does work in Adobe Sketch. My gut reaction here is that for $70 you’re better off with the Logitech.
Ankace Stylus Pen: Cheap Option
Now here’s a real dupe: looks like the Apple Pencil and costs as little as twenty dollars! One way you know it’s a dupe for sure is that there are several other identical products with different names (Elaxi stylus pen for example). Once again there is no pressure sensitivity, so that is an issue for art creation. The look and feel is very similar to an Apple Pencil, as well as the tip size. It even attaches magnetically like the real Apple Pencil. However, this also means there are some compatibility issues with older iPads. Older than 2018 iPads don’t support this one so definitely double-check your compatibility.
Wacom Bamboo: The best, has pressure sensitivity, but hard to buy
If this was easier to buy and was a little cheaper this would easily be the most recommended. I can’t even find a manufacturer photo of it! I currently only see it for sale on B&H photo, and the MSRP is 99.99. At this price it’s hard to justify only saving thirty dollars, especially when it could end up having compatibility issues or glitches eventually. It does have pressure sensitivity, so if you can snag a deal then it could be worth it.
Overall I like the Logitech Crayon, with the big Caveat of the pressure workaround. If you want something really cheap for just notes that looks like an Apple Pencil then go for the Ankface or similar.