“Which stylus should I use?” Part 2: Top 5 Rubber Tipped Stylus Pens
In the last post, “Which stylus should I use?” Part 1: The Contenders, I introduced you to each of the styli in the review and gave you a basic rundown on the specs for each stylus. Now lets take a look at how each of the rubber tipped stylus pens performed in real world situations. Unlike some other reviews I’m not going to crown a winner based on which stylus draws the smallest line or comes with the fanciest accessories. This review is based on how each stylus performed drawing and painting actual comic book artwork for real projects at Hi-Fi colour design.
In a world where pressure sensitive stylus pens for the iPad have finally arrived why a rubber tip stylus? In a word, simplicity. These styli require no batteries, work in all temperatures, and do not have tiny parts to break or lose. I found that no matter which high-tech stylus I was testing, having one of these traditional rubber tip stylus pens around always came in handy too.
5th Place: Spigen H14
While there is nothing wrong with this stylus the Spigen H14 simply felt the least robust in testing. The stylus is constructed of a hollow shaft with a matte finish that looks attractive but creates annoying noises as you hold the pen. Like a mini echo chamber. The tapered bezel and rubber tip are not tight fitting to the body of the stylus leading to clicking and taping noises each time you touch the tip to the iPad’s surface. The pen is lightweight and I would say annoyingly so, offering little in the way of feedback or balance. It works as advertised but does not feel as well crafted as the other units in this test.
+ Replcement rubber tip included
+ attractive matte finish
+ Integrated pocket clip (also stops pen from rolling away on smooth or angled surfaces)
- Lightweight to the point of feeling fragile
- Tip requires more pressure than most to create brush strokes
- Annoying noises
4th Place: Griffin Stylus
To be honest I was not expecting much from the Griffin stylus. This product has been around since before the introduction of the iPad and was sold as a stylus for iPhones originally. Imagine my surprise when it outperformed the newer Spigen H14 easily in daily use. I may not be able to recommend it as a serious artist tool but if I’m being honest it isn’t that far off some of the newer, more expensive models in this test. If you find yourself in need of a replacement stylus while traveling or simply want an inexpensive stylus that can stand up to a lot of abuse and still offer 75% of what the top 3 finishers have on tap then grab one of these. It’s not the best but it will work in a pinch and there is nothing about this stylus that will hold you back.
+ Tip pressure feels about right but resistance feedback could be better
+ Super build quality, tough as nails
+ Integrated pocket clip
- No replacement tips included
- Less elegant in design than others, the BIC pen of styli
- Diameter of stylus is smaller than others and less comfortable for extended use, shorter from tip to tail than others too
3rd Place: Just Mobile AluPen
Yes it looks like a pencil that has been fed too many Happy Meals but I can see why the design set loves the Just Mobile AluPen. The solid, chunky, stylus is made form a single piece of aluminum and has a near perfect weight and balance. The design is pared down to the very basics, and aluminum body and a rubber nib. This clean and elegant design appeals to people the same way many Apple products do and the packaging reminds one of unboxing and iPhone as well.
The AluPen performed very well in testing. The diameter of the stylus is just too large for me to use comfortably for more than an hour. If it were 85% the current circumference it would be a better fit for me. That said the tip feel and resistance are near perfect and I was able to create brush strokes as bold or delicate as any of the other styli on test. If you like the simplicity of the AluPen and it fits you comfortably this could be your everyday stylus.
+ A near perfect blend of style and substance
+ Unique shape stops it from rolling away
+ One piece design means no parts to break or lose
- No replacement tips available
- Included soft carry pouch does little to protect the rubber tip from crush or puncture damage
- Version with desktop stylus holder cost over 50% more
2nd Place: Wacom Bamboo Pocket
This stylus has a lot going for it and should be high on your list for consideration. The Wacom Bamboo Pocket looks and feels like something that could have been designed and engineered on Cybertron. When not in use the pen can transform down to a smaller size with much of the body sliding inside the soft cushion grip. A snap on cap protects the stylus tip. With the cap on and the stylus compressed to the smaller side the stylus easily fits in your pocket or can attach to the headphone jack of your iPad using the included clip. There are even silver, blue, and red rings to personalize your stylus.
What’s it like to use? That all depends on which tip you install. The Wacom Bamboo Pocket comes pre-installed with what Wacom call their “hard” tip. The hard nib is remarkable in that it feels exactly like using the broad side of a Copic Marker. If you regularly sketch and draw with Copic makers you will really like the feel of this tip. That said, I found the pressure and resistance needed to draw and paint tired my hand quickly making this stylus less than ideal for the amount of painting I do. Luckily the Wacom Bamboo Pocket also comes with an additional “soft” tip. With the soft tip in place the Wacom Bamboo Pocket transformed from one of my least favorite stylus pens into one I started reaching for more often. The soft tip certainly feels more natural to me for painting. Tip replacement is a snap and should your tip become wore out or damaged you can purchase additional hard and soft tips in 3-packs from Wacom. Wacom also offers a free Bamboo Paper notebook App available from iTunes (in-app upgrade to full version $1.99).
+ Hard and Soft rubber tips offer 2 levels of pressure and resistance
+ Well engineered and built with many customizable options
+ Integrated pocket clip and clip to attach stylus to iPad via headphone jack
- Most expensive rubber tipped stylus in test
- Customization also means many small parts and pieces to break/lose
- Does not include Autobot & Decepticon decals
1st Place: V23 Next Möbius
During the course of the testing the V23 Next Möbius consistently impressed me with its perfect weight and balance. When I grew tired of fumbling with others and wanted to sit down with my iPad and compete my paintings the Möbius was my go to stylus. The Möbius proved to be just as comfortable to use at hour 8 as it was at hour 1 which is important for me as I tend to draw and paint 12-18 hours each day. The only drawback I noticed was the sleek design may want to roll away if placed on a smooth table or drawing board. Luckily the included metal case snaps magnetically to the Apple Smart Cover on my iPad allowing me to easily carry the Möbius with me everywhere without the need of an extra bag or worries of damaging the tip.
In use the Möbius tip pressure and resistance felt the most like drawing with a pencil or painting with a paintbrush. Drawing, shading, and blending were easily accomplished without having to “relearn” anything. I also liked the small diameter of the tip, which did not block my view as much as the larger tips of other styli did. The length of the tip allowed me to sketch and paint at angles that the other styli could not match. In the end the stylus fit into my workflow and did not demand I change any part of my routine to accommodate it. The perfect art tool for the iPad.
+ Metal very case and 2 replacement rubber tips included
+ Beautiful design, comfortable shape, nicely balanced weight
+ Pressure needed to paint and draw feels natural, resistance feels most like pencil or paintbrush
- Tip can subtly flex sideways if you use too much pressure
- Might roll away if sat on smooth or angled surfaces
- Try finding the ö key on your keyboard when typing Möbius
Thank you for reading part 2 of our series on stylus pens for iPad. Be sure to come back for the remaining installments on non-rubber tipped styli and pressure sensitive stylus pens and feel free to share your experiences with any of the stylus devices mentioned in the reviews in the feedback.
Brian Miller is the founder of comic book color studio Hi-Fi colour deisgn and the co-author of the book, How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad, available from iTunes.
Artwork from this review…
One of the projects we were working on at Hi-Fi colour design during this test of stylus pens is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com.