The stylus for mobile devices has certainly grown in the past ten years. Most people used a stylus as a replacement for their fingers ten years ago since capacitive touch screens were barely available. These were passive styluses that didn’t have any electronic charge and were poor for digital inking.
S Pen (Samsung Galaxy Note)
However, things have definitely changed, and it all began with the first Samsung Galaxy Note. This time, stylus was active and became an essential part of the mobile device. The Note let you use the stylus to draw and write notes like you do on paper with the S Note application. Things weren’t perfect, but Samsung was getting it right.
Things improved with the Galaxy Note 2 as the S Pen allowed you to do other things. The Air View mode allowed the Note II to detect the tip of the pen before it touched the screen, allowing you to get information to pop up (or windows to open) just by hovering the pen over the proper spot.
Surface Pen (Surface Pro)
Like the Galaxy Note 5, the first two Surface Pro units used a Wacom stylus. This provided more smooth writing that the N-Trig stylus. However, the N-Trig stylus supports 256 points of pressure, and there is rarely any latency or parallax effect.
In other words, when the stylus hits the screen, ink starts to appear. With the Wacom stylus, there is often a short delay, which isn’t really all that noticeable. Still, many notice that if they don’t write fast with the N-Trig pen, the lettering comes out slightly squiggly.
Apple Pencil (iPad Pro)
The Apple Pencil is easily the best stylus out of any of these. Apple took a long time to come out with a stylus, but the wait was worth it. The Apple Pencil not only mimics a pen or pencil almost perfectly, but it also is very comfortable between your fingers.
So far, you can only use the Apple Pencil with the 12.9-inch or 9.7-inch versions of the iPad Pro. Since both versions of the iPad Pro are so thin, it really does feel like you are writing on a pad of paper.
There are rumors that the next 12-inch MacBook will be able to utilize the Apple Pencil, which would make it the first macOS device that has tablet capabilities. One can only hope that the Apple Pencil will work just as well with the MacBook as it does the MacBook Pro.