I’ve noticed that a quite few people are asking about what stylus to use and complaining about the one they have. I thought I would take a minute to review the styluses I have experience with.
In the photo you see from right to left: Amazon Basics - $1 each, Hand Retractable stylus 4mm - $29, Musmee Notier Prime - $20, HHI Dual stylus - $13, Pencil by 53 - $60-$75.
I am on an IPad Air w/no screen protector.
1) Amazon Basics - the cheapest stylus available, they come in a 5 pack for about a dollar each. 8mm tip approx. not replaceable. The tip is fat and spongy but works OK. After they are used for a while though, the rubber stops making good contact and will not register your strokes consistently. Very hard to do any kind of detail with. On the plus side they have a pocket clip, will take a beating, and you don’t have to worry about losing or damaging a valuable tool.
2) Hand stylus - this one has a nice knurled aluminum grip that feels good in the hand. The tip is a small 4mm and feels firm to the touch. The smaller tip allows for pretty accurate detail (see “Koi Party” drawing). The downside is that the tip does not make consistent contact unless you press hard. This causes the tips to wear out. I went through 3 tips just doing “Koi Party”. Tips are replaceable and cost $10 for 6.
3) Musmee Notier Prime - this is a competitor with the Adonit Jot line at a much lower price point. It has the same clear plastic disc/ball point tip as the Adonit. I have only used this on one drawing - the White Tiger. It is much better for doing detail, like for instance around the eyes, because you can see exactly where your line is as you draw it. The downside is that the plastic disk makes a clicking sound when you touch the screen. Also there is a little inaccuracy in the tracking when you draw slow, causing your line to wander slightly, so you have to be decisive when drawing a curve, for instance.
4) HHI Dual stylus- this one has a capacitive micro-fabric tip on one end and a ballpoint pen on the other. The tip is approx. 6mm and feels like metal, firm to the touch. The best feature on this one is the way it feels on your screen - it simply glides with almost no resistance at all. This is a huge deal when you are drawing hair or feathers or something that requires a lot of repetitive strokes. There is no friction and no rubber to wear out. The tip is not replaceable but I have done a lot of work with this one w/ no signs of wear at all. The fabric feels hard like metal but does not scratch the screen. The downside - the tip is too large for very small detail work, because you can’t see your exact position/line.
5) Pencil by 53 - has a tapered rubber tip approx 6 mm that has a large amount of give to the touch. My first one never worked right, and to their credit, 53 was very good with customer service and my second one is working well. The selling point of course is the extra functionality enabled in the app when using Pencil namely the almighty BLUR. The downside is that if you press lightly Blur will inadvertently be triggered. If you press firmly, you will go through tips quickly. I have noticed that the rubber gets warm and wears out quickly if you are using quick repetitive strokes. Replacement tips are $7 for 2. ( this may be an “introductory” price). I find it difficult to do very small detail with this tip because of the size and amount of give(flex).
Conclusions: I currently work w/3 styluses at once, the HHI to do the bulk of the drawing, the Notier for tiny details, and the Pencil just to activate Blur. A pain in the neck to be sure. From what I’ve seen and read, Paper is the best drawing app out there. It’s also the most expensive. Every other drawing app includes blurring, blending, air brush, or whatever you call it as a basic feature. This is probably the most basic artistic gesture of all - sticking your finger in the paint and smudging it. The fact that 53 has chosen to make this locked into a hefty purchase of additional hardware does not bode well for future feature updates.
I’m tired of wasting money on styluses. But I’ll probably be buying more of them because I’m still looking for that perfect one. I welcome your input.