For digital artists, doodlers, and heavy note takers, we think Apple’s own second-generation Pencil is, unsurprisingly, the best iPad stylus money can buy. The one major hang-up with the device has been that it’s wildly expensive, but if you’ve been looking to pick one up, a deal going on today alleviates that concern at least somewhat. The second-gen Pencil is currently available for $89 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, which marks the lowest price we’ve tracked to date and comes a couple days before Apple makes its newest iPad Pros widely available. This is $10 off the previous low we’ve seen from various past discounts, about $30 off the device’s average street price in recent months, and $40 off Apple’s MSRP.
As a refresher, both this and the first-gen Pencil—which Apple continues to sell for its older tablets at $99—are specifically designed to work with the iPad. There’s no Bluetooth pairing process to worry about, and notably both devices offer pressure sensitivity across iPadOS, so the harder you press down, the heavier the line you’re drawing gets. Various third-party styluses support the latter in specific apps, but the Pencils have the benefit of offering it system-wide. This latest model was released in 2018 but, while it’s possible Apple could announce an updated version in the near future, we haven’t heard much to suggest a refresh is imminent.
Both Pencils perform reliably and accurately, but between the two, the second-gen Pencil remains a fairly noticeable upgrade. Instead of charging through a Lightning port—or a dongle, if you own a USB-C-based iPad—and awkwardly jutting out the side of your tablet, it attaches magnetically to a newer iPad’s right side. In addition to providing a more natural place to rest, this connection charges the Pencil, so battery life should never be a concern unless you plan on drawing for 12 hours straight. The newer model also has a useful double-tap feature that lets you quickly toggle between settings in certain apps; in Apple’s Notes app, for instance, you can double-tap to switch from your drawing tool to an eraser. The flatter edges of the second-gen Pencil are less conducive to rolling off a table than the rounded design of the first-gen model, too.
The other knock against the Pencil is that it’s only compatible with iPads, and each generation only works with specific models at that. For the second-gen Pencil on sale here, those models include the fourth-gen iPad Air and up, the third-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro and up, any 11-inch iPad Pro, and the sixth-gen iPad mini. All other iPads, including the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad or the just-announced 10th-gen iPad, aren’t supported. Nevertheless, while there are other iPad styluses like Logitech’s Crayon that we recommend for more casual needs, this deal should be a relatively strong value for more committed iPad artists.