Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad review

Clever iPad stylus defends itself against germs [Review]


Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad review
The Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad makes a great addition to an iPad, no matter where you take it.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad resists up to 99.9% of bacterial growth for the life of the product. That’s one less thing to worry about while you’re taking notes or sketching on your tablet.

I tested this stylus with my iPad Pro to be sure it’s up to the job. Here’s why the extra features Targus built in make me quite pleased with it.

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Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad review

With everything that has happened in the last couple of years, there’s never been a better time to be a clean freak. We’ve all gotten better at washing our hands, but our gadgets get germy, too.

The Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad takes care of itself by preventing bacteria growth on its surface. That doesn’t do anything for viruses, but every little bit helps.

And aside from all that, the stylus is a useful writing and drawing tool. You can take handwritten notes, sketch out ideas or sign documents. Thanks to Scribble in iPadOS, a stylus can do anything a keyboard can do.

You don’t have to fool around with Bluetooth — just start writing. It doesn’t have to be paired and works on a wide variety of iPad models.

Hardware and design

Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad with Apple Pencil
Targus’ stylus looks much like Apple Pencil. And the two have a lot in common.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad is 6.7 inches long and 1.2 inches in circumference. That makes it about the same size as the official Apple Pencil, but Targus’ is slightly thicker. It’s comfortable to old, especially if you like a thick writing instrument.

The stylus is white, matching the look of Apple accessories. And it goes along with that “clean” vibe it has going on.

The writing tip is easily removable. And Targus puts a replacement in the box for when the first wears out. It also sells additional tips in sets of three.

The rounded end of the stylus is a touch-sensitive button for turning the device on or off with a double tap. There’s a blue LED to show you when it’s on/off.


One edge of Targus’ stylus is flat, and will cling magnetically to the edge of an iPad Pro, iPad Air and recent iPad mini. The connection is quite solid.

This is how the Apple Pencil is charged, but this third-party option employs a USB-C port instead. The necessary cable is included, and a red LED glows to show you when it’s charging.

Targus says the built-in battery offers 10 hours continuous use. I tested it for hours and hours and have yet to need a recharge.

Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad performance

One of the many advantages of the iPad is that it has support for styli built in. As long as a stylus meets some basic requirements, it’s going to work quite well. That’s why Targus’ offering is about as useful as an Apple Pencil for note taking and sketching.

And it has a big advantage over Apple’s offering: wide compatibility. There are two versions of the Pencil, and each works on a different and non-overlapping collection of iPads. But the Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus is compatible with every tablet any version of the Pencil is.

And you don’t have to pair it. Just pick it up and start writing. You can easily switch between multiple iPads. Or several iPad users could share one stylus — which is where the antimicrobial surface comes in handy.

Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad is great for taking notes.
The Targus iPad stylus is better than many of its rivals for taking notes.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

I tested it on my iPad Pro and I’m quite pleased. There’s no lag and no skipping, no matter how quickly or slowly I write. And the tip is 1.2 mm, small enough for fine control.

It’s not like writing on a piece of paper — the iPad screen is too slippery for that. But this is something you get used to. After years of writing and drawing on an iPad I find putting pencil to paper a bit odd.

Targus’ stylus supports tilt detection, a rare feature in third-party styli. This lets you control the width of the line you’re drawing by tilting the stylus. For me, it makes highlighting text easier.

But the Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad does not include pressure sensitivity. No matter how hard you press, the line is always the same width. This likely limits the usefulness to artists.

That said, it makes no difference when hand writing text. It might even be better. I like to use the application I’m using to set the width of the lines I write and not have to even think about how hard or soft I’m pressing.

Apple built palm rejection into iPadOS, and Targus’ stylus can take advantage of it. You don’t need to hover your hand above the iPad display when writing. Simply treat it like a piece of paper.

Antibacterial exterior

I don’t have the kind of lab that would let me test whether the exterior of this product actually inhibits the growth of bacteria. The best I can say is that I didn’t get anthrax, tetanus or cholera while using it.

But Targus is a reputable company. It’s not going to open itself up to lawsuits by lying about the features of its DefenseGuard Antimicrobial Protection.

Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad final thoughts

This is one of the better third-party iPad styli I’ve tested. It handles the basic writing and drawing tasks as well as many of its rivals, but also adds tilt detection, which few competitors have. And there’s no question about whether it replacement tips are available.

On top of that, the antimicrobial exterior makes a great addition.


The Targus Antimicrobial Active Stylus for iPad costs $72.99. That’s in the same range as rival styli, and well below the price of the Apple Pencil.

Buy from: Targus

Additional tips cost $19.99. Some companies that make styli don’t offer these at all.

Buy from: Targus

If you want to shop around, perhaps the closest competitor you’ll find is the Adonit Note-UVC ($68.53). This includes a pair of ultraviolet lamps that kill the germs and bacteria on your tablet screen.

Or if you’re willing to forgo any health benefits, there’s the Adonit Neo Duo ($54.99), which works on both iPad and iPhone. It clips to the side of the tablet, too.

Those with the cash might go with the Apple Pencil. The version for most iPads is $129. The one compatible with the basic iPad is $99.

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

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