More than artists want to draw on their iPad, and Adonit has just introduced a stylus for the rest of us. This lightweight accessory offers most of the features of the Apple Pencil, while costing far, far less.
We fully tested the Adonit Note iPad stylus, so be sure to read our review.
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Adonit Note review: Affordable Apple Pencil alternative
Adonit clearly designed this stylus with executives in mind because it appears to be a very nice pen. That sets it apart for its two biggest competitors, the Apple Pencil and the Logitech Crayon, neither of which look like something that should be used in a boardroom.
The Note is available in black or gold. Both iterations have copper accents.
It’s 6 inches (15.2 cm) long and quite round, with a diameter of 0.37 in. (1 cm). A pocket clip keeps the stylus from rolling away.
This accessory is extremely lightweight: half an ounce (14 g). The exterior is nether too slick nor too rough. The Adonit Note is quite comfortable to hold and use, even for long periods of time; it feels like writing with a pen.
The power button is oddly placed, though. It’s about a third of the way up the barrel, just where it should be if it activated some secondary function. But it doesn’t; it’s just the power button.
The Note’s drawing tip is easily removable, which is important because it is undoubtedly going to wear out with enough use. Adonit promises it will sell replacement tips in packs of three for $15 .
On the end of the barrel is a micro-USB port to charge this stylus’ battery. It would have been nice if this was Lightning or USB-C so this accessory could be charged with something Apple uses, but at least the necessary cable is included. Heavy users might consider investing in a cheap phone battery charger with a built-in micro-USB cable just for this active pen.
Adonit promises that 4 minutes of charging provides an hour of use. The Note wil turn itself off if it hasn’t been used for 20 minutes.
An LED next to the power button glows red when this accessory is charging, or blue when it’s active. It blinks red when the battery level is getting low.
The barrel of the Note is made of aluminum, which means it won’t magnetically clip to the side of a 2018 iPad Pro like an Apple Pencil. Obviously it wouldn‘t charge that way, but it might have been nice to carry this stylus attached to the tablet.
This Adonit product seems capable of withstanding daily use. We carried it around in a rear pants pocket without it bending, for example.
Adonit Note isn’t compatible with all iPad models, but it works with many recent ones: the third-generation iPad Air, the fifth-generation iPad mini, the sixth-generation iPad, the 11-inch iPad Pro and the third-generation 12.9 inch iPad Pro.
These devices must be running iOS 12.2 and above. If they aren’t they won‘t acknowledge the stylus at all.
Adonit Note performance
The Apple Pencil was created primarily for artists, while the Adonit Note seems to have been designed for those who want to take handwritten notes, or markup documents and screenshots. Our tests found it to be well suited for these tasks.
The primary difference between these two is that the Note doesn’t use Bluetooth and therefore doesn’t offer pressure sensitivity. Pressing down on it has no effect on the width of the line being drawn on the display.
However, this stylus does offer tilt detection. Drawing tools that support this can show a thicker or thinner line depending on how the Note is angled.
Update: The Adonit Note doesn’t offer tilt detection. The drawing application we used to test the stylus simulated this feature, fooling us into thinking it was offered by the Note itself.
We’re not artists and we actually prefer it this way. Drawing tools allow us to set a line width and we like that it stays way until we change it. This is a better setup for handwritten text.
If this seems familiar, the Note is almost functionally identical to the Logitech Crayon, but that rival really does have tilt detection.
The Adonit Note’s drawing tip feels good on the screen. Writing seems natural. It’s smoother than a pencil on paper, but that’s not a bad thing.
With our 2018 iPad Pro, the delay between the Note touching the display and the iPad registering the touch is unnoticeable. There’s certainly milliseconds of latency, but it’s not anything that we can see. In real-world use, the stylus is apparently drawing immediately on the display.
Happily, Adonit’s stylus takes advantage of palm-rejection technology developed for the Apple Pencil. As our tests confirmed, putting the edge of one’s hand on the iPad screen while writing doesn’t confuse the tablet at all.
In addition, our tests found that the Note benefits from all the new features in iPadOS 13 for Pencil users: improved drawing tools, easier screenshots and more.
Adonit promises 12 hours of use on a single charge. We used ours on and off for two days before the LED started to blink red to indicate the battery was running low.
Adonit Note final thoughts
Apple keeps improving the digital ink tools in iPad, and there’s no reason to pay too much money to take advantage of them. The Adonit Note is almost as good a tool as an Apple Pencil, and it costs so much less — 50 percent to 58 percent less.
The Note and the Logitech Crayon are the same price and offer most of the same functionality. For non-artists, the difference mostly comes down to appearance.
Adonit’s iPad stylus isn’t as easy to charge as Apple fans might like, but that’s not a deal breaker.
The Adonit Note just launched for a suggested retail price of $49.99, a reasonable cost for a high-quality active pen.
Buy from: Amazon
For comparison, the Apple Pencil 2 for both the 2018 iPad Pro models is $129, while the version for a range of other iOS tablets is $99. The Logitech Crayon is available on Amazon for $49.99.