Which Apple Pencil should you buy in 2023? It’s complicated

Apple Pencil and iPad when using Freeform and FaceTime

Apple made a stir this week by launching the third version of its Apple Pencil. Although it’s not unusual for tech companies to release updated versions of their products, this one is somewhat confusing as the new Apple Pencil joins two existing models in the lineup. This means there are now three Apple Pencils available, all of which look alike. Despite the three input devices performing similar functions, they differ in key areas, as evidenced by their price difference.

Here’s a comparison of the Apple Pencil, the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and the brand new Apple Pencil (USB-C). If you’re not sure which one to buy, you’ve come to the right place.

Apple Pencil (1st generation)

Apple Pencil.
Mallary Gokey /

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost eight years since Apple first released the Apple Pencil. This device quickly revolutionized the digital stylus industry. It looks like a regular pencil but is white and smooth on all sides. Like the future Apple Pencil, it was designed to provide low latency when writing, sketching, and drawing. This means there is minimal delay between the movement of the Apple Pencil and the appearance of the mark on the iPad screen. Additionally, it is pressure-sensitive, making its response to light and heavy touches feel more natural. And with built-in tilting technology, you can add various shading and other cool effects to your work.

Charging the first generation Apple Pencil is an interesting process that involves removing the bottom cap to expose its Lightning connector. Once the connector is exposed, you can plug it into the Lightning port on a supported iPad or use the adapter to charge the Pencil using a USB power adapter. Either way, charging this Apple Pencil might feel a little strange.

An Apple Pencil with its charging cap off.
Joe Maring/

When the first Apple Pencil was released, all iPads had Lightning connectors, not USB-C like later models. However, in a surprise move, Apple added support for the USB-C-based iPad (10th generation) in 2022, making it the only iPad compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil that uses USB-C. Thus, you need to use the included USB-C to Apple Pencil adapter to charge the Apple Pencil with this particular iPad model.

If you’re in the market for the Apple Pencil and you have a supported Lightning-based iPad, this is Only Which will work with your tablet.

Supported iPads for the Apple Pencil (1st generation) include iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation) . , and iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th generation).

Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

The second generation Apple Pencil is placed on the table.
Joe Maring/

In 2018, Apple released the first iPad models with a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port. These were the first generation 11-inch iPad Pro and the third generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. As a result, Apple had to make changes to the Apple Pencil. Instead of creating a USB-C to Apple Pencil adapter (introduced later), Apple launched the Apple Pencil (second generation).

The second generation Apple Pencil offers the same features as the first, such as low latency, tilt and pressure sensitivity. However, it has some additional features that make it different. One of the most notable is its wireless charging and pairing capabilities, which is exclusive to this model. It can be easily charged by connecting it to the side of a compatible iPad.

Apple Pencil rotates on iPad Pro (2022).
Apple Pencil hover showing color blending Joe Maring/

The second generation of Apple Pencil comes with a relatively new feature called “Apple Pencil Hover”. This feature only works with the 11-inch (4th generation) and 12.9-inch (6th generation) iPad Pro models. With this feature, you can preview various Apple Pencil tools and controls before actually using them on the tablet. This allows you to preview different colors, brushes, and line thicknesses, among other options. To use the hover tool, hold the Apple Pencil about 12 mm above the iPad display.

The second Apple Pencil has one final feature: double-tap gestures. You can quickly switch between tools by simply tapping the side of the pencil twice.

Not surprisingly, you can only use the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) with supported USB-C iPad models. These include the 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation) and 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th generation) iPad Pro models, the iPad Air (4th and 5th generation) and the iPad mini (6th generation). ). it happens No Work with iPad (10th generation)

Apple Pencil (USB-C)

Apple Pencil (USB-C) using the GoodNotes app.

This brings us to the latest Apple Pencil (USB-C) model. Apple calls it “the most affordable Apple Pencil yet.” While this is true, is Apple Not there. Let us tell you that low price means less features.

The Apple Pencil (USB-C) has some positive aspects. For example, it supports low latency and tilt sensitivity like other Apple Pencils. It also attaches magnetically to supported iPads and supports Apple Pencil Hover on supported iPad Pro models.

The sliding cap is shown on the Apple Pencil (USB-C).

It’s strange that pressure sensitivity, a feature that was introduced on the first Apple Pencil eight years ago, is not supported on the latest model. Additionally, the latest Apple Pencil does not have a double-tap feature that allows you to switch between tools. Another downside is that the Apple Pencil does not support wireless charging and pairing (USB-C). To charge it, you’ll need a USB-C cable, which is not included in the box. The USB-C connector is under the cap on the bottom of the Pencil.

The less expensive Apple Pencil (USB-C) works with some iPads that also work with the Apple Pencil (2nd generation). These include the 11-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation) and 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation) iPad Pro models, the iPad Air (4th and 5th generation), and the iPad mini (6th generation). generation). It also supports the iPad (10th generation), which also works with the Apple Pencil (1st generation).

Is it still confusing enough for you?

Which Apple Pencil is for you?

Using the Apple Pencil to draw, color, and edit drawings on the Apple iPad.
Joe Maring/

For owners of iPads with the Lightning connector, the only compatible Apple Pencil is the first generation model. This makes it easier for those individuals to take decisions.

If your iPad is equipped with USB-C, choosing the right Apple Pencil can be a little more confusing. The Apple Pencil (USB-C) costs $79, which is $50 less than the Apple Pencil (2nd generation), which costs $129. Although the difference in price is not insignificant, you will have to decide whether the missing features are necessary for your situation.

The two biggest features you’ll miss when buying an Apple Pencil (USB-C) are wireless charging and pairing. This is probably no big deal since it only takes a few minutes to charge an Apple Pencil, no matter the version. And yet, wireless charging and pairing saves some time in the process.

When buying an Apple Pencil (USB-C) instead of an Apple Pencil (2nd generation), it’s also worth considering that you’ll lose pressure sensitivity and double-tap features. The loss of pressure sensitivity could be significant, depending on how you plan to use the Apple Pencil. However, until a review of the Apple Pencil (USB-C) is available it is difficult to determine whether this is a major issue or a minor inconvenience. Losing the double-tap is probably the least consequential.

All three versions of the Apple Pencil are lined up next to each other.
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If money is less of a concern, it would probably be wise to get the Apple Pencil (2nd generation). If money is tight, get the Apple Pencil (USB-C) and see how you like it. If it doesn’t meet your expectations you can return it anytime.

Before you decide to buy an Apple Pencil, keep in mind that there are often discounts available for the second-generation model at third-party retailers. Therefore, it would be wise to compare its price with the new Apple Pencil (USB-C) and take into account any possible discounts. While it’s unlikely that the second-generation model will be available at the same price as the USB-C model, you may get a $10-$20 discount that could make a significant difference when deciding between the two.

The bottom line: The closer those two products are in price, the more likely the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) is for you.

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