Apple Pencil Buyer's Guide: Which Model Should You Choose?

Apple now offers three different Apple Pencil models at $79, $99, and $129 price points, each with different feature sets. Our guide helps you decide which ‌Apple Pencil‌ is best for you.

Apple Pencil Buyers Guide Feature
Which ‌Apple Pencil‌ you should buy is firstly determined by which iPad model you have. Some ‌iPad‌ models are only compatible with one kind of ‌Apple Pencil‌, while others are compatible with two. If your ‌iPad‌ model only supports one kind of ‌Apple Pencil‌, your buying decision is straightforward. Use the table below to find out which ‌Apple Pencil‌ models your ‌iPad‌ supports:

‌Apple Pencil‌ (first-generation, 2015) ‌Apple Pencil‌ (second-generation, 2018) ‌Apple Pencil‌ (USB-C, 2023)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (first- and second-generation) ‌iPad Pro‌ 12.9-inch (third-, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation) ‌iPad Pro‌ 12.9-inch (third-, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation)
‌iPad Pro‌ 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ 11-inch (first-, second-, third-, and fourth-generation) ‌iPad Pro‌ 11-inch (first-, second-, third-, and fourth-generation)
iPad Air (third-generation) ‌iPad Air‌ (fourth- and fifth-generation) ‌iPad Air‌ (fourth- and fifth-generation)
iPad mini (fifth-generation) ‌iPad mini‌ (sixth-generation) ‌iPad mini‌ (sixth-generation)
‌iPad‌ (sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-generation) ‌iPad‌ (tenth-generation)

Simply put, if your ‌iPad‌ features a Lightning connector, it is only compatible with the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌, providing it has ‌Apple Pencil‌ support at all. It will not work with the second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ or the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C. If your ‌iPad‌ features a USB-C port, it is compatible with the second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ and the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C, except the tenth-generation ‌iPad‌, which supports the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ and the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C.

It is worth noting that the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ is only compatible with the tenth-generation ‌iPad‌ using a USB-C cable and USB-C to ‌Apple Pencil‌ Adapter. It is not possible to use the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ this way with any other ‌iPad‌ model that has a USB-C port.

All three ‌Apple Pencil‌ models feature "pixel-perfect" precision, low latency, and tilt sensitivity, but feature different designs, pairing and charging methods, pressure sensitivity capabilities, and more.

‌Apple Pencil‌ (first-generation, 2015) ‌Apple Pencil‌ (second-generation, 2018) ‌Apple Pencil‌ (USB-C, 2023)
Glossy finish Matte finish Matte finish
Weighted to prevent rolling Flat edge to prevent rolling and snap to the side of an ‌iPad‌ Flat edge to prevent rolling and snap to the side of an ‌iPad‌
Attaches magnetically for storage, pairing, and charging Attaches magnetically for storage
6.92-inch length 6.53-inch length 6.1-inch length
Removable cap Non-removable sliding cap
Lightning connector USB-C port
Pair and charge via Lightning port or USB-C cable and USB-C to ‌Apple Pencil‌ Adapter Pair and charge wirelessly Pair and charge via USB-C cable
Pressure sensitivity Pressure sensitivity
Supports ‌Apple Pencil‌ hover on M2 ‌iPad Pro‌ models Supports ‌Apple Pencil‌ hover on ‌M2‌ ‌iPad Pro‌ models
Double-tap to change tools
Free engraving option
$99 $129 $79

First-Generation Apple Pencil vs. Apple Pencil With USB-C

Most users should choose the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C. For a price of just $79, the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C provides a good balance of features with a more modern design. It also has the added advantage of being compatible with a wide range of models and will likely work with all new ‌iPad‌ models for many years to come.

It is only worth opting for the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ if you specifically want pressure-sensitivity for activities like illustration, since the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C does not have this feature. Buyers should be aware that this model comes at a $20 premium, requires a USB-C to ‌Apple Pencil‌ Adapter with the tenth-generation ‌iPad‌, and will not be compatible with any future ‌iPad‌ models. It also cannot be magnetically attached to an ‌iPad‌ for storage, features a larger and older design, and has a removable cap over the Lightning connector that's easy to lose.

Second-Generation Apple Pencil vs. Apple Pencil With USB-C

If choosing between the second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ and the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C, the second-generation model is a better choice on account of its superior feature set, but this requires spending an additional $50. Double-tap to change tools and pressure-sensitivity may be particularly useful additions for illustrators, while the easy pairing and charging on the side of an ‌iPad‌ provides a much better experience than a wired connection with a USB-C cable.

If you have only basic needs for activities like handwriting notes and marking up documents, the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C is still a great option at a much more affordable price point. It even supports ‌Apple Pencil‌ hover on the latest ‌iPad Pro‌ models.

Related Forum: iPad Accessories

Top Rated Comments

nt5672 Avatar
7 weeks ago
OMG, only an Ivy League MBA could dream up this product mess.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TigerNike23 Avatar
7 weeks ago
Apologies to the writers and editors here, they’re just doing their job.

But the fact we’re having a debate about what the best stylus is instead of what the best new iPad is is to me a huge indictment on Tim Apple and his leadership of this company.

They’ve missed product deadlines, half-baked some products, poor software quality. But, if you don’t care about Apple’s customers and only care about shareholder $$$$, then I guess he’s a great CEO, right?

End rant.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fuzzball84 Avatar
7 weeks ago
Its now a nightmare...

Apple... you only had to make one to rule them all... it's what you used to do!

Steve jobs famously dissed the stylus... and now the same company makes three of the damn things.. one is ancient, one is purposely restricted and the other is good/great, but not quite there.

Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
karranz Avatar
7 weeks ago
this is the company that used to have one or two products for a whole category, they used to know the product and the customer so much that they were sure that the new version would hit in every spot, old models were retired on the spot. Now we have 3 different versions of a ***** pencil.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
7 weeks ago

Most users should choose the ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C.
No, most users should, if they don’t need pressure sensitivity, choose a $20 clone which basically does the same, while still also working on older iPads, like for example You even get different colors!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Attirex Avatar
7 weeks ago
When a behind of the scenes book is written about this time period in Apple, the Pencil matrix/comparison chart will be featured prominently as a big ole red flag that Apple learned nothing, and promptly returned to 1990s product line bloat.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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