The Battle of the Styli

When showing off the original iPhone, Steve Jobs famously said, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” We’re born with ten fingers, and Apple says that’s all we need to operate their Multi-Touch devices.

That said, there are cases where a stylus is nice to have. For me, having a pen to use with my iPad is nice when annotating PDFs and sketching in apps like Paper.

But which stylus is best? To find out, I picked three well-known models and spent some time with each of them.

The Studio Neat Cosmonaut

In many ways, the Cosmonaut is the stylus to beat. Studio Neat is well-known among Mac nerds, and the company’s chunky black stylus is easy to use.

About the size of a child’s magic marker, the Cosmonaut is made of soft-touch rubber wrapped around a hard central core. The end of the stylus is rubber, and has a slight give when pressed.

The size is odd among its competitors, but I like it. It’s easy to grip.

I actually own two Cosmonauts. One I keep in my bag, and the other we use at home as a physical therapy aid for my son, whose left side is weak as a side effect of his cancer. The large shaft is great for him to hold on to with his left hand.

It’s $25 on Amazon.

The Just Mobile AluPen

As good as the Cosmonaut is, the AluPen might hit a broader section of consumer, as some might be thrown off by the former’s size.

The AluPen gets it name from the aluminum used in the body. Shaped like the No. 2 pencils we all used in grade school, it’s still a little on the wide side, sitting (thickness-wise) between the other two models in this review.

The end — like the Cosmonaut — is a rubber bubble, but compresses far more than the Cosmonaut’s, as there doesn’t seem to be anything solid behind it. This makes me worry that the tip might wear out faster than it should.

I really like the AluPen. The Cosmonaut’s size can make it difficult to see around (if that makes sense), but the AluPen doesn’t suffer from the same problem.

It’s on Amazon for $17.

The Adonit Jot Pro

The Jot Pro made news at its release due to its tip. Unlike the other two products, the tip isn’t rubber at all. Rather, it has a clear plastic disc surrounding a tiny touch-triggering point.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was scratching my iPad to hell when I was using it.

Note that I haven’t scratched my iPad with any of these products. But I just don’t feel comfortable with the Jot Pro’s design.

The Jot Pro has a magnet in its slender body, meaning it can stay attached to the front of the iPad when not in use. Which is clever. The screw-on cap is also clever, as it attached to the top of the stylus when not in use.

You can pick it up on Amazon for about $20.


As much as I like the Cosmonaut, I think the AluPen is going to be my go-to stylus from now on. While I don’t use one often, the AluPen’s lightweight, medium-thickness body is a pleasure to use.