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Pencil by FiftyThree Review

Does this stylus from FiftyThree only look good on Paper?

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.56.48

Compatibility • Any iPad with a Retina display, including the mini  • Will not work with iPad 2

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Price: £39.99/$49.95

The Pencil stylus is the first accessory from FiftyThree, the developers behind thecriticallyacclaimeddrawing app Paper. Launched two years ago and selected as Apple’s App of the Year in 2012, Paper was notable for two things.

Firstly, it placed great emphasis on achieving real-world effects through digital paint; perfecting brush strokes, smudges and bleeding. Secondly, Paper aimed to be a universal canvas, just as useful for painting works of art as for scribbling handwritten notes in. Working intimately with this app, the new Pencil makes your iPad screen act more like paper than ever before.

Available in both walnut and graphite-brushed aluminium, the Pencil feels suitably chunky in that you can hold it in your hand without fear of snapping. Notably, the aluminium stylus costs less, but weighs slightly more if you want a bit more heft. Both have flattened edges so that it doesn’t roll away on your desk.

Don’t let the wooden exterior fool you – underneath the seamless body is a sophisticated piece of tech. Unlike many other styluses, the Pencil connects with your iPad via Bluetooth Smart. 14K gold-plated switches at either end of the stylus enable the Pencil to tell the iPad whether you’re sketching or rubbing out mistakes, depending on whether you’re using the pointed nib or flat end. Rather than fiddling with on-screen buttons or Paper’s own Rewind hand-gesture, switching between functions is as simple as flipping the stylus over in your hand, the same as a real pencil.

While using the stylus, Paper is also able to distinguish between your hand and the Pencil. This means that if you rest your palm on the screen, it won’t accidentally mark the canvas. However, if you do want to get hands-on with your work, Paper will recognise finger movement and enable you to smooth edges and blend colours.

As all of these features suggest, the Pencil is geared more towards creative use. However, its nib is extremely accurate so is just as good for writing or navigating. This is fortunate because, if you’re not a fan of Paper, this is all you’re left with. The eraser, palm rejection and even the Bluetooth connection are only compatible with Paper, though the Pencil’s unique look, comfortable weight in your hand and tapered tip will still make Pencil a great stylus to use with any other drawing app.

Buy now?

Pros: Effortlessly simple to use, the best creative stylus we’ve seen

Cons: Many features are limited to use with just the Paper app

Orange 5 Stars