Although Steve Jobs condemned the tool when he announced the iPhone, a stylus is now essential for many artists working on the iPad. But the 2nd generation Apple Pencil isn’t a cheap accessory, and if you’ve already dropped a small fortune on an iPad, Adonit’s new Neo Pro offers much of the same functionality for about $84 less.
There are three approaches to creating a stylus that works on a touchscreen. The simplest is to put a capacitive tip on the end, which replicates what happens when your finger touches a screen. They’re the cheapest to make, and don’t require any power. Then there’s the electro-magnetic resonance approach that companies like Wacom and many e-note makers (like reMarkable) use, where an electromagnetic field generated through the device’s screen powers the electronics in the stylus, which never needs charging. The third approach is what the iPad uses: a wireless Bluetooth connection powered by a battery inside the stylus that regularly needs to be charged back up.
Charging a Bluetooth stylus isn’t always convenient. It usually involves plugging a charging cable into the end, which is the approach used by the original Apple Pencil. Far more useful is what Apple introduced with its 2nd generation Pencil, which magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad and wirelessly charges from the tablet. It’s convenient and always ensures the stylus is being charged when not in use, but that convenience comes at a premium.
Adonit has been making stylii for touchscreen devices since 2010, and already offers several iPad compatible options, including ones that magnetically attach to the side of the tablet for easy storage. Its new Neo Pro stylus is the most iPad-friendly yet because, like the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, it can also wirelessly charge when magnetically docked to the side of the tablet. Two hours is all that’s needed to completely recharge it, providing about nine hours of use. Unlike the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, Adonit’s new offering can actually be turned off, too, to save power.
The Neo Pro offers other Apple Pencil-like features, including a battery widget on the iPad itself for keeping tabs on its charge level, palm rejection so users can sketch, doodle, and write without a hand resting on the screen causing unwanted interactions, replaceable tips, tilt sensitivity, and compatibility with the 4th and 5th gen iPad Airs, the 6th gen iPad Mini, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen iPad Pro 11-inch, and the 3rd, 5th, and 6th gen iPad Pro 12.9-inch. In simpler terms, it more or less works with every iPad that plays nice with the 2nd gen Apple Pencil.
It’s not a perfect clone of the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, however. The Adonit Neo Pro doesn’t offer pressure sensitivity, nor does it recognize finger taps as a quick shortcut to switch between tools. That might be a dealbreaker for some artists, but for anyone just needing basic stylus functionality with a $45 price tag, the Neo Pro is now a very compelling alternative to the $129 2nd gen Apple Pencil.