Premium iPad stylus takes on Apple Pencil with pressure sensitivity and buttons [Review]


Adonit Note+ 2 review★★★
Adonit Note+ 2 is actually better than Apple Pencil 2 in a couple of ways.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Adonit Note+ 2 is an iPad stylus with all the usual features as well as pressure sensitivity and a pair of programmable buttons. Plus there are writing tips in hard, medium and soft. These make it much better option for digital artists than typical styli. It actually goes head-to-head with Apple Pencil 2.

An iPad Pro is my primary computer, so I took the Note+ 2 for a hands-on test drive.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Adonit Note+ 2 review

The usual iPad stylus is intended for taking notes and maybe some sketching. They’re ideal for students who need to mix text and drawings in class notes — trying to type notes in a math class on a keyboard is an exercise in futility.

But these styli, as good as they are, don’t offer pressure sensitivity. That limits their usefulness to artists. Painting with a brush that doesn’t react to how hard or softly the user presses can be frustrating.

But Apple Pencil 2 offers pressure sensitivity. And so does Adonit Note+ 2, a new rival option.

In addition, the Pencil has a single programmable button while Adonis’s product has two. Plus, both magnetically cling to the side of an iPad.

Take the iPad stylus in hand

Adonit Note+ 2
Adonit Note+ 2 looks more professional than Apple Pencil.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Adonit Note+ 2 mimics the look of a traditional pen because of course it does. It’s 6.54 inches long and 1.12 inches around. Or the diameter is 0.37 inches, if you prefer the info that way.

The barrel is round except for one flat edge needed for the device to magnetically attach

All that makes it very similar to Apple Pencil 2. (I told you Adonit’s latest takes on Apple’s premier iPad stylus head to head.) But you won’t confuse the two products. As you can tell for the pictures, Note+ 2 is dark bronze and black while Apple’s is relentlessly white.

I find both styli equally comfortable to hold. And, to me, the look of the Note+ 2 matches my iPad more closely.

Another variation between these two is that Apple Pencil’s button is virtual while Adonit put in a pair of hardware buttons. Personally, I prefer the latter.

And there’s one more tweak. Writing on a glass screen is not like writing on paper. To help out, Adonit Note+ 2 comes with a selection of tips: soft, medium and hard. Choose the one you find most comfortable.

Let’s start painting

Adonit Note+ 2 in use
Writing or painting on an iPad screen isn’t just like pen and paper but it’s close.
Photo: Adonit

The stylus is compatible with a wide range of Apple tablets. The list is much too long to reproduce here, but every iPad released in the past five years is on it.

Pressure sensitivity isn’t available in every iPadOS drawing application, though. Adonit worked with software developers to build full support for its styli into their apps. There’s a list on the Adonit website.

Just so there’s no confusion, Note+ 2 offers the basic stylus functions in any application. You can use it to write or sketch in Apple Notes, Notablity, etc. But only with apps like Concepts and Zen Brush 2 is pressure sensitivity available.

And be aware that you have to go into Settings on the various apps and tell them to connect to the Adonit stylus for the advanced features to activate. It doesn’t happen automatically.

As an artist I make a good writer, but I can handle some light sketching. And that’s enough for me to test out the Adonit Note+ 2 in Concepts.

Pressure sensitivity performs as expected. I found it easy to control the width of a line by varying how hard I press down on the stylus.

You’ll have already noticed that the various writing tips are nice and small. That makes writing and drawing feel more like using a pen than cheap, simple capacitive styli do.

Concept and some other apps also support the two programmable buttons. My choices were Undo and Show Color Wheel but there are plenty of other options. And these made using the stylus much easier.

Concepts also supports Apple Pencil 2, of course. I redid the same drawing with it and found the experience generally similar. Pressure sensitivity was identical, but there’s only one button and I can’t set it to undo.

As I mentioned, Note+ 2 can also be used like any other iPad stylus. I opened up Apple Notes and used it to write out a few sentences and do a quick sketch to confirm.

To be clear, this type of stylus works only with iPad. iPhones do not have the right type of screen. That goes for Apple Pencil, too.

Power and charging

Adonit Note+ 2 charges through a USB-C port
Adonit Note+ 2 charges through a USB-C port.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Adonit Note+ 2 is what’s called an active stylus. That means it needs power to function with that nice thin writing tip. And it also means it has a battery that needs to be kept topped up.

While the accessory magnetically clings to the side of many iPad models, it does not charge there. You need to plug a USB-C cable into the device. That’s a drawback for iPad Pro and Air users, but not for anyone who has an iPadOS tablet without the built-in charger.

The product comes with a short USB-C cable that you can plug into your iPad (you might need an adapter) to juice up.

My biggest complaint about Note+ 2 is that the iPad Battery widget doesn’t display how much charge is left in the stylus. You have to depend on an LED turning red as the only warning.

Adonit says the device is good for up to eight hours of use. My testing hasn’t gone on that long so I can’t confirm this, but I certainly know it’s good for two or three hours. This demonstrates why it’s frustrating that there’s no better indication of battery life. Is the battery half drained? A quarter? There’s no way to know.

For comparison, Apple Pencil 2 is good for about 12 hours on a single charge. An hour of use drains between 5% and 10% depending on what I doing with it.

Adonit Note+ 2 final thoughts

Adonit Note+ 2 vs Apple Pencil 2
Adonit Note+ 2 gives Apple Pencil 2 actual competition.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

I find pressure sensitivity distracting when handwriting notes on my iPad Pro with a stylus. I prefer to set a line width and stick with it. But on the other side of the coin, if you’re creating art on an iPad, pressure sensitivity is an absolute requirement. And many people want it for any drawing they do.

If that’s you, and you like one or more of the applications that support the advanced features of the Note+ 2, then it’s a strong competitor for Apple Pencil 2. Especially considering the third-party option is about $50 less.


But the limited choice of supported apps is a weakness. And  I’d like the product more if I could tell its battery level with any accuracy. And I wouldn’t be adverse to it being able to get power from the iPad’s wireless charger.


Adonit Note+ 2 is $69.99. That’s an outstanding price for a top-quality iPad stylus with pressure sensitivity and programmable buttons.

Buy it from: Adonit or Amazon

To continue the comparison with Pencil 2, Apple’s premier iPad stylus costs $129.

Adonit 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.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.