Devices Opinion

Critical Kit: an iPad stylus

Sensu Stylus - Main Pic

In our latest Critical Kit series, we take a look at an item that anyone using productivity software on a tablet will find immensely useful – a stylus. Tablets such as the iPad are immensely useful devices for a huge variety of tasks, but one of the persistent bugbears that many people have, especially those using productivity and creativity apps, is that finger input just doesn’t cut it in many cases.

While Apple is rumoured to be investigating a stylus for the so-called iPad Pro (as well as being awarded many stylus-related patents in recent years), at this point consumers only have a selection of third party styli to choose from.

So without further ado, here’s a quick overview of what many people say is the best iPad stylus available today – the Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus.

Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus

Of course, Apple built the iPad in a way that users shouldn’t ever need a stylus. At least that was the intention. Apple imagined users would pick up the iPad and just starting using it with their finger as the main pointing device. While that’s certainly the way many people do use their iPads (and many other types of tablet), there are still dozens of reasons why you might want a stylus, besides the fact that for drawing and painting, an intuitive stylus can make such tasks much more natural on a tablet.

Just like traditional writing and drawing tools, a stylus doesn’t really need to do that much – most users just want one that feels good, is weighted nicely, and lets you use it to interact naturally.

Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus 1
The Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus.


In the past, there weren’t many to choose from for the iPad, but these days there are many more options than before. There are capacitive ones which make the iPad think it’s your finger that’s drawing on the screen, and there are also pressure sensitive models available that typically use Bluetooth. Apple in fact is rumoured to be working on a touch-sensitive capacitive stylus, also hinted by iOS 9 code and various developer sessions at WWDC, which revealed a feature called ‘predictive touch’.

While the functionality of a good stylus is pretty simple, in fact there are lots of ways that they can be more of a hindrance than a help. For example, some of the less effective models available today don’t register touching the screen very well.

However, there’s one model of stylus that seems to have won almost universal acclaim, and is available online (check out Amazon for example, where it retails for around £40). Sensu’s Artist Brush and Stylus is a fairly small and compact capacitive model that interacts with the iPad when you touch the screen. There’s a cap on the back that removes to uncover the capacitive paintbrush – a great addition for painting apps.

Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus

The Sensu itself has a rubber tip that’s used to write on the screen, and works pretty much from any angle. Contact with the screen is reliable and works flawlessly. The nub also feels somewhat ‘sticky’ so it actually feels like you’re marking a sheet of paper rather than a tablet’s screen.

Uncovering the cap from the back of the device, you’ll discover the ‘paintbrush’, the purpose of which is essentially for painting in your favourite app.

However, it’s not necessarily that great for taking notes, as the precision isn’t really high enough – that is generally the same for all iPad styli, and is really a limitation of the iPad rather than the Sensu.

Until Apple deems fit to release its own stylus, perhaps with the iPad Air 3 or a larger, ‘pro’ level tablet, the Sensu Artist Brush and Stylus is pretty much the best you can get…

Mobile Industry Review would like to point out that we are not sponsored by or affiliated with Sensu in any way, and this article is based solely on our own research and experience.

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

2 replies on “Critical Kit: an iPad stylus”

My S-pen is amazing – almost exactly like a biro. The iPad needs one baldy. When sales were rocketing Apple weren’t bothered but they might do it now.

It would be a great addition to the iPad. They seem to have some new patents awarded in the last year or so related to a stylus, so perhaps it really is on the cards this time. I’m not sure that it would be bundled with an iPad, but as a first-party accessory it would be a great addition to the iPad lineup for those people that want one.

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