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Apple unveils cheaper Apple Pencil with USB-C support but removes a key feature

Apple unveils cheaper Apple Pencil with USB-C support but removes a key feature

If you’ve been pining for one of Apple’s lovely Pencils to pair with your best iPad, but were turned off by the $129 / £119 / AU$219 price tag, you’re in luck. In the US, Apple just launched a $79 Apple Pencil that will work with all iPads that support the digital stylus. However, that price comes at a cost.

This is the first Apple Pencil to support USB-C charging. Don’t worry, there’s no ridiculous USB-C plug sticking off the back of the pencil (see the original drawing implement). Instead, this port is hidden inside the Pencil and you slide the cap to reveal it. You can then charge the Pencil either by running a USB-C-to-USB-C cable from your iPad to the Pencil or, ostensibly, to a USB-C charger.

This, it turns out, is the only way you can charge this more affordable Apple Pencil. Yes, it still holds on magnetically to your iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini (generations with the flat edge and contact charger) but instead of charging, the Pencil will automatically go into sleep mode to preserve power.

The new Pencil will not work with iPads that still feature Apple’s classic lightning port.

Apple Pencil USB-C

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Pencil (USB-C) looks just like the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) but it does not share all of the drawing implement’s best features. It’s missing, most notably, pressure sensitivity – an exclusion that may make this cheaper Pencil a no-go for most artists. As someone who draws frequently on an iPad, I cannot imagine being without pressure sensitivity for varying my line weight without accessing, say, a Procreate menu.

It also lacks the double-tap-to-change-tools functionality found on the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation). This is a feature I won’t miss since I often forget it exists, but more expert artists may be frustrated.

On the bright side, this is a much cheaper Apple Pencil that ticks most boxes (including tilt sensitivity) and could put the implement in the hands of people who wanted a decent digital drawing tool but weren’t ready to spend over $100 for the privilege of drawing on their iPad. On the other hand, they might also just opt for a $69.99 Logitech Crayon digital Pencil. Buyers for the education sector can get the new pencil for $69.

The new Apple Pencil USB-C is coming first to the US in November. No word on availability outside the US just yet, but Apple would miss a trick if the pencil wasn’t available in the UK & Australia before the Black Friday deals period.

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