The Apple Pencil has received some very positive reviews since it went on sale recently, most notably by a group of Pixar animators who tested the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro and said that the stylus was “nearly perfect”.
But how does the Apple Pencil stack up against its primary competitor, the Surface Pen?
At first look it’s hard to say that the Surface Pen is more physically attractive than the Apple Pencil. Apple’s design team did not take a break with the Apple Pencil. It has a sleek, symmetrical and modern design, which is about as aesthetically pleasing as you could make a stylus.
The downside of the perfectly cylindrical design is that there’s nothing stopping the Apple Pencil from rolling right off a desk. Apple did include some weights in the design that I assume are to help that problem. The only other design issue is the lack of an eraser on the top of the Apple Pencil.
The Surface Pen is not near as sexy as the Apple Pencil, but a good argument could be made that its design is more practical. It features a simple clip that is missing from the Apple Pencil that keeps it from easily rolling off a desk. The Surface Pen also has a digital eraser at the top of the device so that you can flip it over and use it in a way that feels very natural.
Apple has always been a company that pushes creativity first and productivity later and the Apple Pencil is no different. While the company is trying to talk up the iPad Pro’s productivity capabilities, the Apple Pencil will by in large be used by creative professionals to draw. The reviews that have come out from this group, like the Pixar animators mentioned before, are very positive. If you can get past the lack of the physical feeling of drawing on paper, the Apple Pencil replicates the look almost spot on and of course you have many of extra features that can only be available digitally.
While the Surface Pen has also received pretty high praise from reviews the problem is that the Surface Pro line is generally seen to be just a productivity device. This isn’t a surprise as Microsoft has generally taken the opposite approach from Apple and pushes productivity before creativity.
There have not been many reviews that have covered the Apple Pencil’s reproduction of the handwriting experience, at least not extensively. For those who are business professionals that have jumped on board with the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil could still be worth the $99 price tag for reasons beyond drawing.
For those who have reviewed the Apple Pencil primarily as a writing device, the conclusions have also been positive. The Apple Pencil provides the same look and experience as writing on a sheet of paper, again absent the physical feeling of putting pen to paper. Being able to render handwriting that looks just like it does on a sheet of paper hasn’t been accomplished on the iPad by any other stylus, app or any combination of the two until the Apple Pencil. For the first time you can use the screen of the iPad as if it was a full size piece of paper with no need to zoom.
The Surface Pen is also able to render handwriting very naturally, especially compared to third party options on either the Surface Pro or the iPad Pro. If you already have a Surface Pro and have a need for an excellent stylus, I wouldn’t suggest jumping to an iPad Pro just for the Apple Pencil. The Surface Pen is also an excellent option.
In general, the biggest advantage for the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro is Apple’s massive developer community that will continue to roll out updates to apps that take full advantage of the Apple Pencil. If you are a creative professional, the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil is the way to go. If you are a business professional, the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are certainly worth serious consideration but if you already own a Surface Pro, the Surface Pen will most definitely suit your needs.
To learn more about the technology within the Apple Pencil, click here.