‘War’ might be stretching it a bit, but it does seem like one. Samsung and Apple are currently two of the most popular brands in the smartphone industry. Be it phones, tablets, laptops or even styli – it does feel like they make products in competition with each other.
Along with phones, both brands have done exceptionally well in the tablet industry. For a long time, the iPad was one of the best in the market, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab range has proven to be quite a match. And along came the digital stationery.
While a stylus had been an interesting addition when the first touchscreen phones arrived, they had little to no extra function back then. This means they worked the same way finger tapping works on touchscreens today.
Today, these ‘accessories’ have advanced utility, and who other than Apple and Samsung would make the most advanced ones?
So let’s see if we have a clear winner in the Apple Pencil v/s Samsung S-pen duel.
S-Pen v/s Pencil: At A Glance
The main differences between the Samsung S-Pen and Apple Pencil are:
- Design – It is clearly visible that the styli live up to their names; the S-Pen looks more like a pen with a glossy body and the Pencil actually looks and feels like a pencil with a matte finish.
- Nib – The S-Pen has a rubbery nib, providing sufficient friction, whereas the Pencil has a hard nib that allows smooth strokes.
- Purchase – You get an S-Pen with the tablets and phones in Note range and the price of it is built into the price of your device. The Apple Pencil is something you have to buy separately.
- Additional functions – The S-Pen has a button and multiple gesture control functions that you can use with your tab or phone. The Pencil does not come with any such extra features.
The Samsung S-Pen and Apple Pencil both have some excellent features.
The Samsung S-Pen
The first S-Pen was released in 2011 as part of the Samsung Note range (which it still is). Since then the pen has evolved in both design and functionality and is now also commonly used with Galaxy tabs.
Initially created to work as a stylus, the S-Pen has been around for a long time with most of their Note phones. Since it is now compatible with several Samsung devices, it has a variety of uses.
Samsung adds an S-Pen to each of its Note phones and there are slightly larger versions with most of the Galaxy S series tablets. Each S-Pen had some updated features compared to its predecessor.
The latest ones are of the Note 10 and Galaxy Tab S6.
Supported Devices for S-Pen
First released in 2015, the Apple Pencil was also made to serve as a regular stylus – to help with navigation. You may not know this, but Steve Jobs himself was not in favor of the pencil. But the latest Apple Pencil serves a greater purpose.
Unlike the S-Pen, the Pencil is not a package deal – it is a completely individual product that you have to buy and does not come with any phone or tablet.
The Pencil works just like a regular pencil with thicker lines appearing with greater pressure. The tilt sensitivity on the stylus is amazing and it creates broader, less defined lines the same way a graphite pencil does. It is one of the reasons this stylus is preferred by artists.
Apple has only created 2 versions of the Pencil so far, so the 2nd generation is the latest. There are some basic differences between Pencil 1 and 2, and among them, design and device compatibility are the major ones. All in all, Pencil 2 is more advanced and easier to use.
Supported Devices for Apple Pencil (1st Gen)
|Apple iPad Pro 2nd 12.9in with Wi-Fi 2017 Model, 256GB, Grey (Renewed)||635 Reviews||Buy on Amazon|
Supported Devices for Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
|Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 256GB) - Silver (4th Generation)||1,102 Reviews||Buy on Amazon|
It is quite interesting that even though they are both styli, the S-Pen looks and feels like a pen and the Pencil feels like a pencil in the hand. The manufacturers definitely take their labels seriously.
So which one do you need? Remember that you don’t need a stylus for regular usage. All the tablets and phones mentioned above work just fine without one. Styli have special uses and are mostly useful for work or studies.
Here are some of the major features of the Samsung S-Pen and the Apple Pencil, so you can make an informed decision:
Glossy exterior, one button on the side
Seamless matte finish, no buttons
Each stylus is a different size, designed to match the device, for example,
8.9 x 166mm
Matching the cover of the device – Aura Black, Aura Glow, Aura Blue, Aura White, Yellow, Ocean Blue, Lavender, Black
Samsung Note range (all Note Phones / Note Pro),
1st Gen - iPad range (including Pro, Air, mini)
Connects automatically, Bluetooth also available
Phones – Charge by inserting it into the dedicated slot on the Samsung set;
1st Gen – Connector at the bottom;
0.7 mm, Pointed, Soft material (rubbery)
More rounded tip, Hard material
*Not disclosed by Apple
Switching Between Tools
Tap on the lower section
Multiple gestures can be used to operate the tab or phone remotely, for example, to:
Pros and Cons
If you look at the features, they both have equally positive aspects. All of them are beyond what one expects from a stylus. Both products are great for taking quick notes, at a meeting or even a lecture.
They are also great for drawing and sketching or even photo editing if you’re into that. The Apple Pencil works great if you are a newbie illustrator, just learning to work with digital art or graphics.
The Samsung S-Pen has more additional features to use with its designated device. It improves the ease of use and functionality of the device. Since they come as a set, the stylus size is well matched to the screen of the device. Also, there is hardly any issue in the compatibility with the devices.
However, some issues have come to light:
- Size is very comfortable to hold and provides a good grip,
- Rubber tip provides good friction when writing on the screen
- Has been found to lag slightly (a slight delay between the actual stroke and the strokes appear on the screen),
- Charging (on phones) takes slightly longer compared to the Pencil
- No lagging issues, strokes appear fast and accurately on the screen,
- Fast charging and battery life of up to 12 hours
- Some users found it too thin and uncomfortable to hold,
- No gesture control like the S-Pen
All Samsung S-pens come with phones and tablets. So their prices are included with the device you purchase. However, you can find a replacement for almost all of them on Amazon for and they don’t cost a lot either.
Check it out for yourself:
The original Apple Pencil can be currently bought on Amazon for less than $100, whereas the Apple Pencil 2 costs a bit more.
Check it out:
Both products are quite premium and are at the top of their game. Other than an occasional lagging issue (on the Samsung S-Pen), there have been almost no complaints from customers.
The Apple Pencil is often preferred for drawing or creating designs, while the Samsung S-Pen is more suited for notes and writing. Even this is not an absolute classification; it varies from user to user.
The S-Pen comes with the Samsung device (and even the replacements don’t cost much). However, the Apple Pencil needs to be bought separately, and there is an obvious price difference.
It really comes down to your needs and budget. It also depends on what device you currently use and what you use it for. If I could, I would buy them both.