The New Apple Pencil: USB-C Has Arrived!

In a surprising announcement, Apple unveiled a brand new product today via a press release: the new Apple Pencil for iPad. It’s an interesting product for Apple, not least because of how it fits in the lineup alongside the first and second-generation Apple Pencils.

A New Generation of Apple Pencil

When Apple revealed that the iPhone 15 lineup would come with USB-C ports, it didn’t take a genius to surmise that the death of Lightning had begun. Over the next days and months, Apple would work to replace lightning connectors with USB-C connectors and finally bring harmony to the ports on their many products. The new Apple Pencil is part of that transition.

However, this product is not a replacement for the first-generation Apple Pencil. At least, not yet. This USB-C Apple Pencil is an addition to the existing lineup and means that Apple now sells three different Apple Pencils that all do different things. But, more on that later.

This new USB-C Apple Pencil is compatible with all iPad models that have a USB-C port. Whether you’re using an iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad mini, or the latest 10th-generation iPad. It would have been a great product to release alongside the 10th-generation iPad, but one can only assume that it was not ready for production when it was unveiled in October 2022.

Apple Pencil Features

The new Apple Pencil maintains Apple’s high standards for a digital stylus, offering the same accuracy, low latency, and tilt sensitivity that you will find in other Apple Pencils. If you’re using an M2 iPad Pro, the USB-C Apple Pencil has hover support to enhance your sketching and illustrating capabilities.

However, it lacks the pressure sensitivity found in the first and second-generation Apple Pencil and doesn’t have the double tap gesture either. And although you can attach it magnetically to an iPad for storage, there is no wireless charging. Instead, there is a USB-C port that hides under a sliding cap at the end of the device. You also have to pair this one manually in Bluetooth settings.

Why couldn’t we have had the same sliding cap feature on the first-generation Pencil? That is truly a mystery that we may never solve, but at least you won’t have to scour Amazon and eBay for replacement caps anymore.

My daughter has been using a third-party stylus from Amazon for years. It also charges via a port on the side of the stylus, and we have had no problems with that. I do not doubt that the new Apple Pencil will be just as convenient.

Here’s a handy chart that compares the main features of all three Apple Pencils:

Pricing and Availability

The new Apple Pencil will be available for $79 starting in early November. The education pricing is $10 less at $69 and is available to students, faculty, staff, and homeschool teachers of all grade levels via the Apple Education Store.

This price point makes it the cheapest Apple Pencil you can buy. It’s not cheap, but if it works with your iPad and you are not a digital artist, then the new USB-C Apple Pencil will be a great choice for just about everyone.

Final Thoughts

The elephant in the room is that with the exception of hover support on the iPad Pro, the USB-C Apple Pencil doesn’t do anything more than any third-party stylus you can find online. If you don’t have an iPad Pro, you won’t get any additional features with this new Pencil versus something you find on Amazon.

The precision and latency will vary from one model to the next, but many third-party options already support tilt effects and are also magnetic. That will leave many asking why they should pay an extra $40 to get an Apple-branded one, and I honestly don’t have a great answer for that.

Then, there is the risk that Apple is taking by introducing and selling a third Apple Pencil. I think this will confuse people. In time, Apple will probably discontinue the first-generation model, but until that happens, it’s kind of an awkward addition to the lineup.

So, there is a lot to like about the new USB-C Apple Pencil. But at the same time, it does little to add clarity and functionality to the iPad lineup as a whole. In many ways, it does the opposite.

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