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Adonit Pixel review: Nothing beats Apple Pencil, but this stylus comes close

Caitlin McGarry | May 25, 2016
For serious writers and artists, the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combination is impossible to beat. But Adonit's stylus wins for backwards compatibility and improved features.

Adonit has been in the stylus game for five years, so when Apple announced it was releasing its own tablet pen last year, I wondered how the company planned to compete. Now Adonit has a new Bluetooth stylus, the $80 Pixel, which is more accurate and responsive than its older products but still no match for the Apple Pencil.

So who might want to buy an Adonit stylus now that Apple has changed the game? Anyone who doesn’t own an iPad Pro.

The stylus that works with (almost) all your devices

adonit pixel 
This stylus works with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but Apple Pencil reigns supreme. Credit: Adonit

The Pixel’s selling point is compatibility. Apple Pencil works with just the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro models, while the Pixel is compatible with the iPhone 5, 6, 6 Plus, third- and fourth-gen iPads, iPad minis from 1–4, both iPad Air models, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The Pixel doesn’t work with the little Pro just yet.

Like the Adonit Jot Script, Dash, and Touch, the Pixel has a 1.9mm Pixelpoint tip instead of a nub or disc, making it easy to draw or sketch in apps that support Adonit products. It has pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, two shortcut buttons, and a grip sensor to detect when you pick it up, so you don’t have to turn it on. It just knows when to come to life. The charging dongle that comes with the Pixel is the exact same as the one that comes with the Script. The end of the pen magnetically snaps into the charger, which you plug into a USB port.

adonit pixel charger 
The Adonit charging dongle plugs into a USB port. Credit: Caitlin McGarry

I tested the Pixel with the iPad Air 1 and the 12.9-inch Pro, and while there were some noticeable differences in Pixel performance between the two devices, this stylus is a huge improvement over Adonit’s older pens.

How Pixel stacks up to the Pencil

I tested the Pixel in a note-taking app, GoodNotes, and sketching app, Concepts, which were the only supported apps before the stylus’s official launch on Tuesday. Notes Plus, Astropad, Medibang Paint, and Autodesk Sketchbook are expected to integrate the new stylus at launch, and Adobe Sketch, Adobe Draw, and Procreate will support the Pixel soon after launch.

On the iPad Pro, using the Pixel in GoodNotes was almost as seamless and easy as the Pencil, though not quite. You can change the writing gesture setting in GoodNotes to optimize the Pixel’s palm rejection, and while I selected the hand position that most resembles my natural writing style, I still had to hold the pen awkwardly if I wanted to write with my hand touching the display. With the Pencil, I can write naturally, with the entire side of my right hand touching the screen, and the result looks and feels like my handwriting on paper does. That’s essential, because I write quickly when I’m taking notes and need a stylus that can keep up.


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