As long as devices with smudge-magnet screens have existed, so have styluses to interact with them. But even the Apple Pencil is an ugly white plastic stick that’s more about function than form. Accessory maker Adonit has brought the aesthetics of a fine writing instrument like a Montblanc pen to a stylus, its new Prime, with a high-end pen’s price tag to match.
A stylus is just one accessory out of hundreds that promise to make life with touchscreen devices a little easier, and many companies have produced them over the years with varying degrees of functionality and usefulness. Adonit has been innovating and improving on styluses for years now, with basic options that start at $10, styluses that can double as computer mice, and now a stylus that costs more than some tablets.
With a $250 price tag, the Adonit Prime is an expensive alternative to scribbling on a touchscreen with your fingers. When capped, the stylus looks like a fancy fountain pen that’s only drawn from a hidden pocket of a blazer when multi-million dollar business contracts need to be signed. Like a Montblanc pen, it’s not just a plastic stick for writing, but a symbol of where you can afford to direct $250. The Prime is clearly designed for people happy to pay a premium for the finer things in life—but not if one of those finer things is an Android device, because the Adonit Prime is only compatible with iPhones and iPads.
The Prime isn’t just a capacitive stylus wearing a fancy mink coat, however. Removing the cap reveals a fine-point, touchscreen-friendly nib inside, while also powering up the device and activating a glowing green ring around the tip so you know when it’s ready to write. Like a fancy pen, the Adonit Prime also has removable cartridges, but in this case it changes device compatibility instead of replenishing ink.
The Prime-Dash cartridge (one of the two options currently available) is designed to work with the iPhone 8 and newer Apple smartphones using a “pixel point tip” and without the hassle of having to ensure it’s properly connected to Bluetooth first. Once powered up, it just works. The Prime-Note cartridge is for use with newer iPads, and instead comes with a 1mm tip (although we’re having a hard time discerning a size difference in product shots) and palm rejection. The Prime-Note’s iPad compatibility appears to be very similar to the original Apple Pencil, but there’s no pressure sensitivity and no tilt detection, so you really have to hate how the $99 Apple Pencil and $129 second-gen Apple Pencils look (while sacrificing a lot of useful functionality) if you’re going with the Adonit Prime. But you can’t use an Apple Pencil with an iPhone, so the Prime does have an advantage there.
For $250, you can choose either the Adonit Prime with the Dash cartridge or the Note cartridge included, but you can also buy either cartridge on its own for $70 if you want compatibility with both devices. You’ll just need to carry both around and swap them in and out as you switch out devices, which doesn’t sound like the most convenient solution. The Prime also comes with an induction charging stand, and you can expect around 12 hours of battery life. Not having to deal with a charging port is handy, but it can’t compare to the convenience of the second-gen Apple Pencil 2's ability to charge right on the iPad itself.