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Apple Pencil 1 vs 2: Which One Should You Buy?

Apple introduced the original Apple Pencil back in 2015 as a stylus exclusively for use with iPads. It revolutionized digital drawing and note-taking abilities. Then in 2018, they released the new and improved Apple Pencil 2nd generation.

Both generations of the Apple Pencil aim to provide users with an authentic, paper-like drawing and writing experience. But with the 2nd gen Pencil, Apple made some important upgrades that may make it a better choice for many iPad users.

In this guide, we’ll compare the key differences between the Apple Pencil 1 and 2 to help you decide which model you should buy.

Apple Pencil Generations Compared

Here is an overview of how the original 1st generation Apple Pencil stacks up against the newer 2nd generation model in terms of design, features and compatibility:

Feature Apple Pencil 1 Apple Pencil 2
Release Year 2015 2018
Dimensions 6.92 x 0.35 inches 6.53 x 0.35 inches
Weight 0.73 oz 0.73 oz
Design Glossy cylindrical Matte flat-edge
Connectivity Bluetooth Bluetooth
Compatibility iPad Mini 4 or later, iPad Air 3,
iPad 6th gen or later, iPad Pro 12.9-inch
(1st & 2nd gen), iPad Pro 9.7-inch,
iPad Pro 10.5-inch
iPad Mini 6, iPad Air 4, iPad 9th gen,
iPad Pro 11-inch (all models),
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd & 4th gen)
Charging Method Lightning connector Magnetic wireless
Battery Life 12 hours 12 hours
Pressure Sensitivity Yes, with tilt detection Yes, with tilt detection
Interchangeable Tips Yes Yes

As you can see, there are both similarities and differences that help distinguish the 1st and 2nd generation Apple Pencil models. Next, we’ll explore some of the key differences in more depth.

Design and Ergonomics

  • The original Apple Pencil has a glossy, cylindrical body reminiscent of a traditional pencil.
  • The 2nd gen model features a matte finish with one flat edge that prevents it from rolling when set down.

The flat-edge design of the 2nd generation Pencil allows for magnetic attachment and charging on compatible iPad models too. Both models maintain the same diameter and weight however for comfortable prolonged writing or drawing sessions.

Charging and Portability

One major pain point of the 1st gen Apple Pencil is having to remove the cap and plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port to charge. This interrupts usage and makes charging-on-the go inconvenient.

The Apple Pencil 2 solves this with inductive magnetic wireless charging. It charges by snapping onto the side of a compatible iPad, requiring no cables. You also get around 30 minutes of use from a quick 15 second magnetic charge.

The magnetic attachment system also created room for storing necessary accessories, like replacement tips, right inside the 2nd gen Pencil by removing its cap.


Both generations of the Apple Pencil provide impressive responsiveness, with hardly any detectable lag when writing or drawing. This mimics traditional pen and paper.

However, the 2nd gen Pencil was improved with even lower latency for better precision. The lag is only 9 ms compared to 20 ms with the 1st gen model. This can make finer detail drawing or writing much easier.


A standout upgrade introduced on the 2nd gen Apple Pencil is the touch capacitive strip that allows you to easily switch tools with a double tap. For example, you can flip from a drawing tool to an eraser instantly.

This also works for non-artists too – take handwritten notes with the Apple Notes app and switch from pen to highlighter without even touching the screen.

Capacity for Detail

Both generations of the Apple Pencil feature pressure and tilt detection for natural feeling drawing, writing and shading. The harder you press, the wider and darker the line. And you can even shade with the edge of the Pencil tip.

No specifications have changed here between models. They have the same level of pressure sensitivity and tilt detection. Overall capacity for detail remains extremely high for digital illustration or note taking.


Apple built both Pencil models to withstand regular use, accidental drops and being thrown into bags without worry. The tip is reinforced and strong enough that it won’t deform from regular pressure.

The 2nd gen Pencil does add protection for the tip when not in use with its magnetic cap and attachment feature though. So it may fare marginally better over time. But both deliver reliable durability.


The 2nd gen Apple Pencil is compatible with all the same iPad models as the 1st gen, plus the newest iPad Air, iPad Mini and Pro models. See the full compatibility breakdown earlier in this guide.

This gives the Apple Pencil 2 a slight advantage for anyone with a newer iPad model released within the last 2-3 years. It will also have longer lasting compatibility with Apple’s iPad releases moving forward.

Cost Comparison

Due to having more features, the 2nd generation Apple Pencil carries a higher retail price:

  • Apple Pencil 1: $99 USD
  • Apple Pencil 2: $129 USD

But you can often find both models discounted $20-30 from third party sellers. Overall the 2nd gen Pencil delivers more value to justify the small price premium in our opinion.

Which iPad Users Will Benefit Most From Each Model?

  • The 1st generation Apple Pencil is still a great choice for anyone with an older yet compatible iPad that doesn’t support the 2nd gen Pencil. It delivers a fluid, lag-free drawing and writing experience.

  • Users with brand new iPad models should choose the Apple Pencil 2 for its newer feature set and forward compatibility. The magnetic wireless charging and tap gestures for switching tools make it the best choice.

  • Professional digital artists, illustrators or graphic designers will also benefit most from the 2nd gen Apple Pencil. The improved responsiveness and tool switching gestures provide crucial advantages for detail-oriented work.

Casual users, students and note-takers will be happy with either generation. But if you use an iPad for daily drawing or illustrations, the 2nd gen Apple Pencil is certainly worth the upgrade.

Bottom Line

The 2nd generation Apple Pencil retains everything that made the original version great, while adding helpful upgrades like:

  • Magnetic wireless charging
  • Capacity for tool storage
  • Lower latency for improved precision
  • Customizable double-tap gestures

For these reasons, we recommend the Apple Pencil 2 as the best choice for most iPad users today, provided it is compatible with your iPad model. It outperforms the 1st gen in terms of convenience and functionality.

But the original Apple Pencil still holds up well also. For anyone with an older yet compatible iPad, the 1st generation model will serve you very well at a lower price. You still get flawless pressure sensitivity and lag-free tracking for drawing, writing and manipulating touchscreen features as if using pen and paper.

Hopefully this guide has helped you decide which Apple Pencil generation fits your needs and iPad setup best! Both transform the iPad into an incredibly capable paperless notebook and mobile drawing canvas.