When Apple introduced the iPad back in 2010, no one predicted that the Cupertino tech giant would ever create a stylus to go with it. Especially when The Godfather of Apple, Steve Jobs, himself had made fun of styluses (or should that be “styli”?) at the launch of the first iPhone; that said, Job’s stylus-tic jibe was in the context of a phone, not a tablet. Then came 2015, and brought along the mighty iPad Pro, and with it came (surprise!) a stylus – the glossy, round, cap-bearing Apple Pencil. While the years since have witnessed the iPad Pro getting upgrades, the poor Apple Pencil has remained the same. But this year, Apple did not just upgrade the iPad Pros but also the stylus that goes with them. We have the Apple Pencil, second generation, or as some are referring to it – the Apple Pencil 2.
We loved the first generation Apple Pencil. The slightly heavy, round, glossy stylus was pretty much THE stylus to use when it was first launched. Yes, it was not perfect. It had its flaws — the all-round design would make it roll down even from the plainest surfaces and did not even get us started on the whole charging system and the cap. Well, it might have taken the company some time, but it does seem that Apple has finally solved most of the issues that most users had with the older Apple Pencil with the launch of the new one.
A tad shorter, the new Apple Pencil follows in the footsteps of its ancestor when it comes to design, which is definitely minimalistic. That said, it has visibly improved. Instead of the glossy outside, Apple has opted to go with a more subtle matte finish white colored outards. This new texture on the Apple Pencil gives it a better grip than the previous one as the gloss often led to accidental slips. The matte finish also makes it a little more resilient towards general scratches, which pretty much came bundled with the previous one. Along with the matte texture, the new Apple Pencil also brings a side of flatter relief in contrast with all the roundedness that the previous one had. This flat side adds a bit of stability to the device (by preventing it from rolling around endlessly) but also has another role.
One of the biggest changes that the new Apple Pencil brings along is the way in which the stylus is charged. Those who own the Apple Pencil (2015) know what a pain it was to charge the Pencil (you had to plug it into the lightning port of the iPad Pro, out of which it protruded in a very odd and accident-prone manner), but thankfully Apple has fixed that issue with the new edition. The new Apple Pencil can be easily charged by just slapping the flatter side of the device to the right-hand side of the iPad. Bang in the middle of the right side, the new iPad Pro has a magnetic strip that connects with the flat side of the Pencil that houses a magnet as well. These magnets connect the two devices and allow the stylus to charge off the iPad Pro’s battery. Those two magnets are not just about charging, either. Just a brief contact between them will allow you to pair the new Apple Pencil with the new iPad Pros – that simple.
Getting back to the looks of the new stylus, there is no silver band on this one, which the previous pencil had. That silver band had a very subtle, almost hidden, Apple Pencil branding on it as if it was something to be ashamed of, but the new one wears the badge of “Apple Pencil” branding proudly on its flat side in dark grey color. The new Apple Pencil also has a round head and a similar-looking tip, just like the previous generation. There is also gesture support, albeit very limited at the moment: double tapping on the pencil will allow you to switch tools. In Apple’s own “Notes” application, this gesture will allow you to jump between pencil and eraser, while in third-party apps, it can be customized further.
Measuring 166 mm long with a diameter of 8.9 mm, the new Apple Pencil gives us the same hand feel as any premium fountain pen would. And at 20.7 grams, the device is not too heavy but carries a certain weight that is reassuring and adds up well to the user experience.
Those who were hoping to upgrade just their stylus and not their iPad Pro can keep Scotch tape handy to mend their broken hearts because the new Apple Pencil is only compatible with the new iPad Pros. It is a little sad, but the iPad Pro also acts as the charger of the Pencil, so, well, even if it could be used on older iPads, it could only be charged off a new one, thanks to all that wireless charging magic.
A few days before the launch of the new Apple Pencil, we had come out with a wish list of changes that we would like to see in it. Now, we do not claim that the company took our advice (but there is no harm in believing that it kind of sorta did), but the new Apple Pencil does tick a few boxes off this list, and we are so glad that it does. The stylus feels more precise and offers a better handfeel as compared to its predecessor, and all the little changes make a massive difference to the user experience. All this improvement, though, comes with an “improved” price tag as well – while the older Apple Pencil cost Rs. 7,600, the new one costs about Rs 10,990.
And of course, it does need a mere new iPad Pro as a charger! Looks like Apple has definitely given us a waaaay sharper Apple Pencil as compared to the previous one. But does it scribble success? Stay tuned for details of our experience with it.