Adonit Note+ review: Affordable Apple Pencil competition | Cult of Mac

This is the affordable Apple Pencil rival you’ve been looking for [Review]


Adonit Note+ review
With Adonit Note+, you can draw Tippy. Or take notes, sign PDFs, and more.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Adonit Note+ is a pressure-sensitive iPad stylus that stands up well in a head-to-head competition with Apple Pencil, and even beats it in some areas. It offers tilt detection and pressure sensitivity, as well as shortcut buttons. All at a price definitely lower than Apple’s stylus.

We used this Apple Pencil alternative for both writing and drawing — read our Adonit Note+ review to see how it handles in real-world use.

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Adonit Note+ review

The Note+ is 5-inches long, 1.3-inches around, and 0.5 ounces (15g). It fits comfortably in the hand, as long as you’re OK with it being thicker than a typical pencil. Or an Apple Pencil, which is 1.1-inches around.

The plastic surface isn’t overly slick so this stylus doesn’t slip when we’re holding it. Black is the only casing color available.

Adonit has been making styli for years, and knows how to make a tip that feels good on the screen. An iPad can’t give exactly the same feeling as a pencil on paper, but the Note+ comes fairly close.

1.3 inches from the tip are the pair of programmable buttons, lined up end-to-end. They’re well placed to be tapped with a forefinger without disturbing the writing process. Press the front one to turn on this active stylus, press and hold this button to deactivate it.

On the end of the Adonit Note+ is a USB-C port for recharging its built-in battery. That’s the same type of port used by the 2018 iPad Pro models, as well as MacBooks.

Adonit Note+ iPad stylus
Adonit Note+ has two side buttons and works with all recent iPads.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPad Compatibility

One of the ways Adonit’s stylus beats Apple‘s is in wider device compatibility. The Note+ can be used with the third-gen iPad Pro (11- and 12.9-inch), the third-gen or newer iPad Air, the fifth-gen iPad mini, as a well as the sixth-generation iPad or newer.

In contrast, the Apple Pencil 2 is compatible only with the 2018 iPad Pro series. The original Pencil, without the side button, is necessary for older iPad Pros, as well as recent iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad versions.

In other words, if you get an iPad Pro, you need the Apple Pencil 2. If you have a non-Pro model you have to get the older Pencil version, without the side buttons. Or you can skip that and get the Adonit Note+ for any of these tablets, and enjoy the benefits of side buttons with all of them.

Adonit Note+ performance

The basic function of the Adonit Note+ works anywhere on iPad OS. You can write or draw in any application, from Apple Notes to Pixelmator.

And you don’t have to hassle with pairing it with Bluetooth. Just activate the stylus and start drawing.

However, palm rejection, pressure sensitivity, tilt support and the shortcut buttons only work in certain applications. Adonit successfully encouraged multiple companies to embrace its stylus, so Note+ is supported by Concepts from TopHatch, ArtStudio Pro from Lucky Clan, Colored Pencil by KengoLab, Sketch Club from blackpawn, Kdan NoteLedge, Zen Brush 2 from PSoft, Noteshelf by Fluid Touch, and more. Support for the popular Procreate app is coming soon.

If you’re already using one of these, or are interested in starting, the Adonit Note+ could be a great addition. If you prefer other drawing software not supported then an Apple Pencil might be a safer choice.

But don’t go with Apple’s stylus just because you think it’ll have a far better drawing experience. We used the Note+ and Pencil to perform the same actions over and over in TopHatch’s Concepts drawing tool, looking for significant differences. We didn’t find any.

There aren’t any delays in the the screen registering touches by either. Both felt equally good sliding across the display.

Adonit Note+, Apple Pencil 2 and Adonit Note
From the top, here’s the original Adonit Note, Apple Pencil 2 and new Adonit Note+.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Adonit Note+ final thoughts

The Adonit Note+ is an easy-to-use, affordable stylus for drawing or writing on an iPad. In some ways it’s more flexible than an Apple Pencil, but more limited in others.

This accessory works with all the recent iPad Pro, iPad, iPad Air and iPad mini models, giving them the benefits of its programmable buttons. In contrast, Apple makes two versions of its stylus, with only the 2018 iPad Pro supporting the one with a side button.

On the other side of the coin, third-party application developers have to add support for Adonit Note+ to their software, making the Apple Pencil more broadly supported.

Those who are looking for a stylus only to take handwritten notes on their iPad might consider the original Adonit Note. It doesn’t offer pressure sensitivity, tilt support or buttons but costs less than the Note+, and is far more affordable than an Apple Pencil.


The Adonit Note+ has a suggested retail price of $69.99. Replacement tips will be available soon for $15.

Buy from: Amazon

Comparable products

The Apple Pencil 2 for the iPad Pro is $129. The original version, which supports all recent non-pro iPads, sells for $99.

Another third-party option is the Logitech Crayon. It includes tilt detection, but not pressure sensitivity. Its list price is $69.99, though it’s often available for a bit less.

And there’s the first-generation Adonit Note. Without pressure sensitivity or tilt detection, it’s best for note-taking, but costs only $49.99.

Adonit provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth app reviews of Apple-related items.


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