The Best Stylus for Tablets for Photo Editing (+ Budget Choices)

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If you don’t have time to read the article, then the best stylus for drawing overall is the Adonit Dash 3, although if you have a recent iPad, then I would strongly recommend the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation).

With the rise of cloud computing and Android and Apple tablets that have the power to run photo editing apps like Lightroom and Photoshop, most photographers are now using tablets for at least part of their photo editing workflow.

But, it’s very difficult to use a program like Photoshop with only your finger. Using a stylus for drawing or photo editing makes a huge difference to the speed and accuracy of your edits, and will really power up your photo editing tablet.

This article will cover the things you should look for in a stylus for tablets or a stylus for drawing, and give you reviews to easily compare models, and answering questions like which is the best stylus for drawing on iPad; which is the best stylus Android; and what is the overall best tablet stylus.

1. What to Consider When Looking for the Best Stylus for Photo Editing Tablets

You need to think about a few points when looking for the best stylus for photo editing, which are listed below in order of importance. Even if none of the styluses in this article are right for you, you can use this checklist for your future research.

  1. Nib Wear. The nib is the part of the stylus that directly touches your tablet, and can be made from a variety of materials. Different materials and different tablet surfaces can wear nibs down at varying levels. The quicker a nib wears down, the sooner it has to be replaced, leaving you with extra hassle and expense. Read the full reviews below for details on nib wear.
  2. Drawing Experience. The best stylus for drawing will replicate the feel of drawing on paper with a pen or pencil as much as possible. Some styluses give more friction against the tablet surface, which can make drawing smooth strokes harder, and can affect the accuracy of the stylus.
  3. Comfort and Design. You may be holding the stylus for extended periods of time during your photo editing, so it should be well designed and comfortable to hold. Some of the styli below are designed to mimic pens, others are more unique. What feels comfortable to you will largely come down to personal preference.
  4. Requires Batteries? Some styli require batteries to operate, and some can be recharged. This makes them potentially larger and heavier, but also means you get access to additional features, like Bluetooth, which means the pen can have working buttons and palm rejection.

2. The Best Stylus for Drawing

If you don’t have time to read the rest of this article, then the best stylus for tablets for photo editing or drawing, is the Adonit Dash 3, due to its wide compatibility with different models of tablet and phones. This is also the best tablet for older or less fully-featured iPads, such as the iPad Air.

  • 1.9mm Fine Point stylus
  • Feels like using a Real Pen
  • Compatible with all iOS and Android devices
  • Not Active, so no palm rejection
The Adonit Dash 3 is the best stylus for Android, particularly for photo editing. This Adonit stylus has a natural feel for drawing thanks to the fine tip and ideal resistance with the tablet surface. It is powered by a rechargeable battery, but does not connect to your tablet, so does not have palm rejection.

3. The Best Stylus for Android

If you have an Android tablet or phone, then the best stylus for Android is the MEKO (2nd Generation) Pen. Being able to use this stylus on your phone is a great advantage, along with its small size and lightweight design, making it easy to carry around with you.

  • Fine Tip stylus
  • Large Fiber Tip on opposite end
  • 100% Compatible with all capacitive touch screens
  • No Batteries
  • Lack of Precision in drawing
  • No Palm Rejection
The MEKO universal has a fine tip stylus like the Adonit, but this is contained within a larger plastic disk, that is non-conductive with the tablet screen. This is not as accurate as the Adonit Dash 3, but is both cheaper and does not require charging.

If you want something low cost and simple to carry round with you, then the Meko is a good contender for the best stylus pen for Android tablet.

4. The Best Stylus for iPad

The best stylus for iPad is the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation). This would be the best overall stylus for photo editing and Photoshop if it was possible to use this across all devices. Unfortunately, it is only available for the most recent models of iPad, meaning that if you have an iPad Air or similar, the Adonit Dash 3 is the best stylus.

  • Very Precise
  • Natual Feel to drawing
  • Tilt & Pressure Sensitive
  • Not Compatible with Older iPads
  • Very Expensive
The Apple Pencil 2 is the most expensive stylus you can buy, but features wireless pairing with your iPad, almost no lag, and a real-feel when drawing.

This makes it the best stylus for Photoshop, and the added bonus of tilt and pressure sensitivity makes this the best stylus for iPads, if your iPad is relatively new.

5. Stylus Reviews – Quickly Compare the Styluses for Tablets

The top 6 best stylus for tablets are compared in this table, along with some basic pros and cons for each tablet stylus pen for photo editing. For fuller reviews of what makes each a good performer as a photo editing stylus, you can look at the complete reviews further down the page.

Product Average User Rating Pros / Cons Check Price
Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) 4.7 / 5
  • Incredible precision; natural drawing feel; tilt and pressure sensitive; best stylus for iPad Pro
  • Very expensive; limited compatibility with older iPads
Adonit Dash 3 4 / 5
  • 1.9mm fine tip; real pen feel; accurate; compatible with all devices
  • No bluetooth or palm rejection
MEKO (2nd Generation) Pen 4.5 / 5
  • Two kinds of tip; no batteries; comfortable to use
  • Totally passive – no palm rejection, less accurate
Adonit Note+ (Plus) 3.8 / 5
  • Tilt & pressure sensitive; cheaper than Apple Pencil; very accurate
  • Expensive; compatible with Apple only; less reliable than Apple Pencil
Wacom Bamboo Alpha Stylus 4.1 / 5
  • Very cheap; Wacom quality; compatible with any device; long lasting nib
  • Basic model; less accurate
Active Stylus 4.3 / 5
  • Very cheap; compatible with any device; lpure copper nib; dual size nibs
  • Quality control questionable; no buttons

6. Best Stylus Reviews 2022

Below are the complete reviews for each of the six tablet stylus pens we have looked at so far. This includes reviews of the best stylus for Android and the best stylus for iPad. Please check each review for a stylus’ compatibility.

Apple Pencil 2 (2nd Generation)

Best Stylus for iPad

  • Pros:
  • Incredible drawing precision
  • Tilt & Pressure Sensitive
  • Minimal Lag
  • Best Stylus for iPad
  • Cons:
  • Very Expensive
  • Limited compatibility with older iPads and doesn’t work with iPhones
  • No buttons

The Apple Pencil 2 is the best iPad stylus for drawing thanks to its minimal lag and excellent tilt and pressure sensitivity. This does mean that it is powered and must be recharged, but this is both quick and easy, with long lasting battery life.

The great advantage of the Apple Pencil is the brilliant palm rejection, meaning your hand can be on the iPad, but only the nib of the pen will be recognized. This makes it better for more standard tasks than other styluses, in addition to drawing and photo editing. If you are looking for the best iPad stylus for note taking, then the Apple Pencil is ideal.

Using the Apple Pencil is like drawing with a real pen on a sheet of paper. It’s a flawless experience, and honestly worthy of the high price you pay. This is by far the best stylus pen for Photoshop, that is only let down by the fact that it only works with more recent iPads.

Note: The Apple Pencil 2 (2nd generation) only works with iPad Pro 11″ 1st & 2nd gen, and iPad Pro 12.9″ 3rd & 4th gen. The Apple Pencil 1 (1st generation) works with iPad 6th gen, iPad Pro 9.7″ & 10.5″, and iPad Pro 12.9″ 1st & 2nd gen, and is almost as good as the 2nd gen model.

Adonit Dash 3

Best Adonit Stylus for Drawing

  • Pros:
  • 1.9mm Fine Tip Stylus
  • Compatible with all capacitive touchscreen devices
  • Best Adonit stylus for drawing
  • Feels like using a real pen
  • Cons:
  • Not active, so no palm rejection
  • Must be recharged
  • No programmable buttons

The Adonit Dash 3 is the all round best Adonit stylus for drawing thanks to its 1.9mm fine point stylus and the feeling of using a real pen. You can get this in three colours, and its design doesn’t make it seem out of place on your desk. This is an accurate drawing stylus that you can use across the board on all your devices. The only thing that lets it down is the lack of connectivity to your tablet, meaning there is no palm rejection.

MEKO (2nd Generation) Pen

Best Stylus for Android

  • Pros:
  • Two sizes of stylus – fine tip and fiber tip
  • Compatible with all touch screens
  • Best Stylus for Android
  • No batteries
  • Cheap
  • Cons:
  • Not as precise as more expensive models
  • No palm rejection
  • No buttons

The MEKO (2nd generation) stylus works across all devices that use a touchscreen. It’s low price and different sized nibs at each end makes it an excellent value stylus if you are just starting out with photo editing on a tablet. The diameter of the fine tip stylus is approximately the same as the Adonit Dash 3 (1.9mm), but is surrounded by a large plastic disc (6.8mm) which should prevent your tablet screen from getting scratched.

As this is an unpowered stylus, it does not offer the accuracy of active pens, but the design, cost and replacement nibs included with your purchase definitely elevate this model.

Adonit Note+ (Plus)

Bluetooth Stylus Pressure Sensitive

  • Pros:
  • Highly accurate
  • Includes palm rejection
  • Pressure and tilt sensitive
  • Two programmable buttons
  • Cons:
  • Only for iPads from 6th gen iPad
  • Relatively expensive

After reviewing the Adonis stylus Note+, it’s clear that it is a very close second to the Apple Pencil for best stylus for iPad thanks to its accuracy and cheaper price. It has very high pressure sensitivity, at 2048 levels, and includes tilt recognition and palm rejection. Battery life is approximately 10 hours, and charging is quick and painless. There are two programmable shortcut buttons on the pen that you can set to have different behaviours for different apps.

Note: this is compatible with iPads made from 2018 to present, including the iPad Air 3rd gen, iPad Mini 5th gen, iPad 6th gen and iPad Pro 3rd gen.

Wacom Bamboo Alpha Stylus

Best Wacom Stylus for Android

  • Pros:
  • Very Cheap
  • Long lasting nib
  • Best Wacom Stylus for Android
  • No batteries
  • Cons:
  • Nib is large, so relatively inaccurate
  • Nib doesn’t always register clicks
  • No buttons
  • No palm rejection

The Wacom Bamboo Stylus is an inexpensive, but relatively impressive stylus. It does not have any frills or the added extras of the more premium products, but as a cheap stylus for tablet it does a great job. The nibs are long lasting, but not the best for accuracy, although as the pen itself is a Wacom, you know that the product is of generally high build quality and will last for years. This is a good choice if you are very budget limited, and need a quick and simple stylus for your tablet.

Active Stylus

Best Stylus for Note Taking

  • Pros:
  • Good Accuracy thanks to copper nib
  • Very Cheap
  • Works on all ios and Android devices
  • Can use opposite end for larger nib
  • Cons:
  • Must be regularly charged
  • Unbranded model, so quality control could be questionable
  • No buttons
  • No palm rejection

With wide ranging compatibility across all iPads, iPhones and Android devices, and a very low price, the Active Stylus is a one-size-fits-all solution for a stylus for multiple devices. Unlike the Apple Pencil, you can use this across iPads and iPhones, but then also use it for drawing on Android with the 1.45 mm ultrafine copper nib. It’s unusual to find such a quality nib on a low priced product, but this one delivers, particularly when you consider that the opposite end of the pen can be used as a wide soft-fiber tip.

The only real negative to this pen is that it has to be charged via USB, but this does allow up to 10 hours of use, and really isn’t too much of a chore. Of course, you don’t get palm rejection, but that is a common feature missing at this price point.

Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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