Use an Apple Pencil with your iPhone with this dumb hack

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Apple Pencil Hack
Wrap this paper napkin around an Apple Pencil, and add water. What could possibly go wrong?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Apple Pencil is easily the best stylus for any tablet computer, but thanks to the deep hardware ties that make it work so well with the iPad, it won’t work with anything else. Or will it? With this messy hack, you can make your Apple Pencil work with your iPhone. Or with any smartphone or tablet.

Apple Pencil hack

This hack is so impractical that it’s actually pretty funny. There’s no way you’ll be using the full touch-sensitive, palm-rejecting features of the Apple Pencil with anything other than a compatible iPad. However, you can at least use it the same way as those dumb styluses that everyone used to buy before the Apple Pencil came along.

A wet paper towel

Here’s the video, created by Apple device tipster iDeviceHelp:

For those who hate to watch YouTube instructional videos that could be written up in a single paragraph, here’s the short version.

You take a paper towel and wrap it around the barrel of the Apple Pencil. Then you wet the paper towel and mold it around the Pencil’s barrel. Then you wait for it to dry. You now have a paper shell that slips over the Pencil.

Then, whenever you want to use it, you re-wet the paper and just write. The water conducts the magic electricity from your fingers that any capacitive touchscreen needs in order to register a touch. It’s a lot like using an actual meat sausage as a stylus.

Thus equipped, your Apple Pencil can now write and draw on any phone or tablet, including the iPhone. Obviously this has the potential to ruin your iPhone through water damage. So, in order to counter the kind of people who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, here’s a disclaimer: Do not do this.

Just buy a proper stylus

If you’re really sold on the idea of using a stylus on your iPhone, though, there are much better options. Amazon has them from as little as $2, and you can even buy a 10-pack for less than $9, making the pens 87 cents each. That’s probably cheaper than napkins in the long-term, and you don’t have to dip your $100 Apple Pencil in water every time you want to use it, like some olde-timey quill and inkpot.

If nothing else, though, this is a neat demonstration of how capacitive touchscreens work, and why they work so badly when they get wet.