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The Pencil is Apple’s official iPad stylus. There are two versions: the first generation Apple Pencil ($99) and the second generation Apple Pencil ($129). If you’re reading your article then you’re probably wondering should you buy a Pencil and, if so, which one should you buy. Let’s dig in.

Who is the Pencil For?

There are three groups of people that will really love the Pencil: handwritten note takers, designers and photographers, and people who like using styluses to interact with everything.

If you like to take handwritten notes, markup PDFs by hand, write down equations, or otherwise produce text without using a keyboard then the Pencil will suit you perfectly. The texture of the screen feels totally different to paper (although you can get screen overlays that make it feel closer to the real thing) which takes some getting used to but, overall, the experience is pretty great.

Similarly, if you produce digital art or plan to do a lot of photo editing with your iPad then the Pencil will really improve your experince—especially compared to just using your finger. Since full Photoshop isn’t yet on the iPad your workflow will probably have to change a little so we’d recommend you do a bit of research to make sure that features you need will be available in the apps you’re going to use. That’s actually a much bigger issue than whether or not the Pencil will work for you.

The final group of people who’ll appreciate the Pencil are those who just love using styluses. It might sound like an odd group but you’d be surprised by the amount of people with hand or wrist pain who just find it easier to navigate apps and the web with a stylus rather than by using their finger. If you know you want a stylus for your day-to-day iPad use then ignore all others: get the Pencil.

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What iPads Does the Pencil Work With?

There are two generations of the Pencil and, annoyingly, each generation only works with certain iPad models. No iPad Mini model is currently supported.

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