The Apple Pencil, sometimes referred to as a stylus, connects to the iPad through Bluetooth and uses advanced electronic emitters to send data.
It also has sensors inside that help detect pressure. On the inside, there is a small metal bit at the tip of the pencil, suggesting that it connects to one of the emitters for angle and orientation detection. “And inside the Pencil case, there’s a set of matching ‘ticks,’ with three on the logic board and three on the pen assembly,” so reports Jared Newman from Macworld. The assumption is that the ticks help “sense pressure by measuring movement between these two parts,” according to iFixit.
iFixit shows that the tip is removable, revealing “…a tiny metal bit sunk deeply into the tip, presumably to get as close to the screen as possible.” The iFixit team removed the plastic case and found a metal case that housed the electronics. Each part is detailed on their website, with pictures of the internal components. What resulted from their teardown were a few facts:
- The pen nib and cap are replaceable.
- The pencil is not meant to be opened or repaired, which means one cannot get inside without destroying it.
- It’s impossible to remove the layers of plastic and metal holding the components inside without shredding the layers.
- There is a 12-hour long battery and it cannot be replaced, limiting its lifespan.
- The small battery has 5% of the capacity of the iPhone 6s.
Newman claims that Apple reengineered the new iPad to use a display with a subsystem to measure input two times as often when the Pencil is being used. That explains why it doesn’t work on older iPads. The first ever “stylus” for the iPad, the Apple Pencil is a marvel to behold.
It’s not something you can add to or upgrade from a hardware perspective nor will you be able to repair it in case it gets damaged. Most people may not care about how the pencil works, but for those of us nerds who like to see how something works, it’s an interesting thing to see the inner workings of any device. We often like to marvel at Apple products, but it’s on the inside that really counts.
The Apple Pencil is a first for the company that makes iPhones, iPads, and other common household devices. It’s no surprise that a team wanted to see how the pencil was designed, inside and out. Apple’s new stylus is somewhat an engineering feat, containing such a small battery and all the electronics it needs to communicate with the iPad Pro. Technology continues to get more advanced, and even smaller, and the Apple Pencil is a perfect example of futuristic engineering.