The new 2015 version of the Adonit Jot Pro is one of the very best styluses for the iPad, and I think it is becoming my new all-time favorite stylus. It feels great in your hand, and has a unique see-through disc at the end that creates the illusion that you are using a fine point pen even though the disc is actually large enough for the iPad to sense it. If you enjoy using a stylus to takes notes or draw, this is an excellent product.
Styluses: a short history
To understand what makes this stylus so good, let's start by talking about iPad styluses in general. The iPad is made to sense something the size of a finger tip, so if you were to try to use a stylus with a true fine tip, the iPad wouldn't sense it at all. Thus, when the first iPad styluses came to the market soon after the iPad was introduced in 2010, they had large, rubbery tips. They worked okay, but it did often feel like you were using a crayon to write on the iPad. Over the years, traditional stylus tips got smaller, but there was a limit to how small they could get. Today, some of the best traditional styluses with those somewhat smaller tips include the third generation Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo released in 2014 (which has a 6 mm tip) and the Hand Stylus (which has a 4 mm tip).
A major innovation in the iPad stylus market occurred when Adonit released the Jot Script in late 2013. It is an active stylus, which means that it requires a battery. It has a tiny 1.9 mm tip, which normally would be too small for the iPad to sense it, but the stylus emits signals from the tip that the iPad senses. Thus, you get the precision of using a smaller tip, even though the iPad thinks you are using something larger. Many other companies followed suit with their own active styluses, and one of the best ones currently on the market is the Wacom Bamboo Stylus fineline, released in late 2014. The problem with active styluses is that you need to keep the powered — which means replacing batteries or remembering to charge them. They are also larger, so you feel more like you are holding a Sharpie than a pen. Some models have a hard tip, which makes them somewhat noisy every time the stylus tip touches the iPad. And perhaps worst of all, they sometimes have problems with diagonal lines — they come out wavy — or otherwise can have flaky performance. If you own a newer iPad (the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2), active styluses generally perform worse than they do on older iPads. As a result, while I like the idea of active styluses, I still find myself coming back to traditional styluses.
Adonit came up with a different solution when it released the first model of the Adonit Jot Pro in 2012. The distinguishing feature was the clear disc that I described above, which lets your eyes focus on a sharp pen tip and see through the disc itself but the iPad can feel the full size of the disc. Thus, you get the precision of an active stylus, but you don't have to worry about batteries, this stylus itself is thinner, and it doesn't have problems with diagonal lines. I had reservations about the first model of the Adonit Jot Pro because it was noisy, but Adonit released a revised version in late 2012 that added a spring to the tip so that it was much quieter when it touched the screen.
The new Adonit Jot Pro
In January of 2015, Adonit released a new version of the Adonit Jot Pro. I was intrigued to try it out, so I bought one on Amazon and I've been using it for the last few weeks. It has some great new features that make it better than the old version of the Jot Pro.
First, this is the first model of the Jot Pro to have a clip, and the clip has an interesting design in that instead of being an external part, the clip is actually cut into the barrel of the stylus.
The clip certainly gives the new Jot Pro a unique look, but how does it work? I frequently carry a stylus in my shirt pocket (next to my iPhone), and in my daily use, it worked just fine. The stylus would sometimes slide around — more than it would with a traditional external clip that uses tension to stay in place — but that didn't happen enough to be a problem.
I was also worried that having this clip cut out of the stylus would make it weaker, but that has not been true at all. The aluminum and steel body is very strong, even at the point where the clip is located.
One thing that I don't like about styluses that lack clips is that the round barrel can result in the stylus rolling off of a desk. Because the Jot Pro clip is cut into the barrel itself, it can roll. It isn't as bad as other styluses — the way that the clip is cut and how that affects the weight of the stylus causes the Jot Pro to want to rest in the same position (with the clip at the top) — but it does sometimes roll around my desk.
The tip on the 2015 Jot Pro is better than the tip on the prior models. It has an improved cushion on it, which means that it gives just the right amount of give when you first touch the iPad screen, which makes this the quietest Jot Pro ever. I never had a problem with the new Jot Pro being too noisy to use in court or in a quiet meeting, which sometimes happened with prior models. Yes, a traditional stylus is virtually silent and even the new Jot Pro makes some noise when you use it, but the new Jot Pro is quiet enough.
Most importantly, the disc on the tip of the 2015 Jot Pro works great. As I mentioned above, because you can see through the disc and your eyes focus on the pointed end, you can write or draw with amazing precision. The disc feels very nice gliding across the iPad screen. And while I noted in my 2012 review of the second model of the Jot Pro that I sometimes had trouble with broken lines in apps like GoodNotes, that is no longer a problem at all. The disc on the new Jot Pro pivots smoothly while maintaining contact with the screen. I took pages and pages of notes with it over the last few weeks, and annotated lots of PDF files, without any problems.
The only drawback I see to the disc is that while it works great when you are writing or drawing, if you just want to use the stylus to tap a button on the screen, or to swipe up and down on the screen, the disc sometimes seems to get in the way. For simple tapping and swiping, a traditional stylus like the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo is better. As a result, I often found myself using the Jot Pro when I was taking notes, and then I would often turn the stylus in my hand and just use my finger to tap or swipe, and then go back to the Jot Pro to write again. This is only a minor complaint, but it was one of the few times when the Jot Pro performed worse than other styluses.
The front of the stylus (the part you hold while you are writing) now features an etched grip. It is a subtle change, one that you often won't notice at all, but it does make the Jot Pro very nice to hold and keeps it steady in your hand.
The disc on the Jot Pro can break off if you are not careful with the tip. Adonit has actually made the disc stronger than it was on the first generation Jot Pro, but even so, you want to protect it when you are not using the stylus. Thus, the Jot Pro comes with a protective cap that covers the disc when you are not using it. When you do use the stylus, you unscrew the cap and screw it on the other end. This works fine, and in addition to protecting the disc, it makes the Jot Pro feel more like a high-end product because it screws and unscrews so well.
Size and weight
While the disc and fine point tip is the best feature of the Jot Pro, I wouldn't like this stylus so much if it didn't also feel good in my hand. The 2015 Jot Pro weighs 20 grams, is 9.5 mm in diameter, and is 123 mm with the cap closed and 140 mm with the disc exposed and the cap on the back end. The result is a stylus that feels great. The weight is substantial enough to feel good without being heavy, and the length and diameter is similar to a normal pen. Here is how the length of the Jot Pro compares to other popular active and passive styluses. From top to bottom: (1) Wacom Bamboo Stylus fineline, (2) Adonit Jot Script, (3) the new Adonit Jot Pro, (4) Hand Stylus and (5) Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo.
The new Jot Pro comes in either black (what I bought) or silver.
If you like the idea of the Jot Pro but want something smaller, Adonit also sells the Jot mini. It is smaller and cheaper, but doesn't have a cushion on the tip so it is louder. I didn't test it.
I still love the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo, but the Adonit Jot Pro is at least in a tie for the very best stylus that I have ever used with an iPad, and in many ways — especially precision and the feel and weight of the stylus — it is better than the Bamboo Stylus duo. Because it provides just about all of the precision that you get with an active stylus without any of the drawbacks (size, batteries, problems with diagonal lines), I no longer see a reason to use an active stylus now that I can use the new Jot Pro. I see that Nick Guy of The Wirecutter recently tested 11 popular styluses and he similarly concluded that the new Jot Pro is the best iPad stylus on the market. This is a very high quality stylus that works well, feels great, and isn't very expensive. If you want to use a nice stylus with your iPad, this is probably the one that you want to get.