Making comparisons: Apple details its new third-generation Apple Pencil


Apple has announced a new version of its popular Pencil peripheral for the iPad. Simply dubbed “Apple Pencil” yet again, it is the cheapest option to carry the name yet.

The new Pencil is priced at $79; that’s $20 cheaper than the first-generation Apple Pencil and $50 cheaper than the second generation. Apple says it will work with any iPad model with a USB-C port.

In fact, the new Pencil has a USB-C port. That means you’ll use a USB-to-USB cable to charge it on your iPad, Mac, USB-C iPhone, charging brick, or whatever. The USB-C port is subtly hidden behind a sliding cap. This is a big improvement over the awkward “plug your Pencil into the iPad’s port” solution of old.

The new Pencil seems to co-exist in Apple’s online store alongside both older versions of the product.

It doesn’t support pressure sensitivity, a key feature of the other two models. It can attach magnetically on its flat edge and supports hover previews like the second-generation Pencil. However, it can’t charge or pair wirelessly via that magnetic attachment like that model can, and it doesn’t support the double-tap gesture.

The only advantages the first-generation Pencil has over this newer, cheaper model are pressure sensitivity support and a Lightning port for plugging into older iPads.

All told, Apple’s Pencil lineup is now quite confusing—especially since all three products are called “Apple Pencil.” It will probably get simpler if Apple eventually drops the Lightning-equipped first-generation as support for older iPads wanes in the future.

It’s nice to see a cheaper option in the lineup, though, since we’ve often complained in our iPad reviews that accessories like this are too expensive. This Pencil will be good enough for a lot of people.

Assuming you can sort the mess of a lineup out, you’ll be able to buy the new Pencil sometime in early November, according to Apple’s announcement.

This announcement comes days after a plethora of rumors about new iPads and iPad peripherals. Some predicted that some modest iPad refreshes would happen today, while others predicted a Pencil update. That said, this Pencil doesn’t resemble the one described in those rumors, which said it would have swappable tips for different tasks.

New iPads are still nowhere to be found, but they’re bound to arrive eventually. Don’t expect anything more than performance bumps until an eventual OLED iPad Pro update, though.

Listing image by Apple


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