[UPDATE 8/20/15: There is a new version of this stylus that is designed to work better with the iPad Air 2. It costs $59.99 on Amazon.]
I've reviewed lots of iPad styluses on iPhone J.D., and with this review of Lynktec's Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus, I feel like I have finished looking at the current state-of-the-art in iPad styluses. To recap, there are countless companies that sell standard styluses with a rubberized tip that is about the same size as a finger tip. My long-time favorite of that type of stylus is the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo, which you can get on Amazon for about $25, although there are many other good options. Last year, Adonit shook up the stylus scene when it introduced the Adonit Jot Script with a tip as small as a ballpoint pen. When turned on, the stylus emits a signal that the iPad can sense, so you feel like you are using a fine point pen but the iPad senses something bigger. It costs about $75 on Amazon, so the price is much higher than a standard stylus, and it requires batteries. We then saw other companies come out with their versions of active styluses, and one excellent one that I recently reviewed is the Cregle Ink, which also uses batteries but costs less, about $50, and lacks the Bluetooth that the Adonit Jot Script uses to let compatible apps perform additional features, such as ignoring your hand when it touches the screen and only drawing when the stylus touches the screen. I can see why some would love the Bluetooth features, but I find them largely unnecessary and a little bit of a hassle. More importantly, I prefer the Cregle Ink over the Adonit Jot Script because the Jot Script has a hard tip that feels nice on the iPad screen but is noisy every time you touch the screen, while the Cregle Ink is silent to use. I also don't like the absence of a clip on the Adonit Jot Script.
That brings me to today's review of Lynktec's Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus. It costs about $70 on Amazon, and like the Cregle Ink, it is a powered stylus that lacks Bluetooth and has a tiny rubber tip that doesn't make noise when you use it. The key distinguishing feature of the Rechargeable Apex is evident in its name: it is rechargeable. Thus, you don't need to worry about buying batteries. Lyntec sent me a free Rechargeable Apex so that I could review it, and I've been trying it out for the last few weeks. I like it a lot, and it quickly became my favorite iPad stylus.
Like the other active stylus such as the Adonit Jot Script and the Cregle Ink, the best feature of the Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus is the small tip. When you are taking notes or drawing on an iPad screen, it is much better to use a stylus with a fine tip that is about the same size as the line that you are drawing, and you notice a big difference when using any active stylus versus a traditional stylus. Unlike a standard stylus that has a 6 mm tip, or the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo which has a smaller 5 mm tip, the Apex has only a 2.3 tip. That is just slightly smaller than the Cregle Ink (which has a 2.4 mm tip) and is slightly larger than the Jot Script (which as a 1.9 mm tip) but frankly all three of those tips feel the same when it comes to size, and all three of them work considerably better than a stylus with a 5 mm or 6 mm tip.
In this picture, the Jot Script is top left, the Rechargeable Apex is top right, the Cregle Ink is bottom left, and the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo is bottom right:
One of the big advantages of the Rechargeable Apex (and the Cregle Ink) over the Jot Script is that the Jot Script can be noisy when using it because of its hard tip. (Check out the video in my review.) The Apex stylus makes essentially no noise when you use it.
The rubber polymer tip on the Apex feels great against the iPad screen. The stylus comes installed with a firm tip (nib) that is extra durable, and there is a spare located within the cap on the back of the pen for if/when the original one wears out.
The company sells two types of replacement nibs. You can get a 5-pack of firm nibs (the kind included with the stylus) for $4.99, or you can get a 3-pack of soft nibs for $2.99. After going back and forth, I think that I prefer the soft nib, which seems to me to glide a little more easily on the screen, but honestly both of them work really well and both of them feel great. Lynktec says that the soft nib is better if you use a screen protector on your iPad (I don't).
The key distinguishing feature of the Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus is that it is rechargeable. To charge the stylus, you unscrew the cap on the back of the stylus and then plug in the included Micro-USB cord to the stylus and plug the USB end of the cord into a power adapter (or the USB port on a computer).
In my tests, the stylus went from completely drained of power to fully charged in about an hour.
The Lynktec website doesn't say how long the stylus lasts on a charge, but a Lynktec marketing manager told me that a fully charged battery should last about 16 hours. In my tests, I went about a week between charges, but I honestly don't know if I used it for more or less than 16 hours during each of those weeks. If you haven't used the stylus in 30 minutes, it turns itself off to save power. I did have one time when I was in the middle of taking notes and suddenly the stylus stopped working because the battery was drained, and that was annoying because the stylus cannot work without power. I didn't have another stylus with me, so I had to use my finger to take notes during the rest of the meeting. A light on the clip is supposed to change color when the battery is running low, and perhaps it did, but I must admit that I didn't notice it.
The Rechargeable Apex uses a Micro-USB cord for charging. Technically that is a standard connector and you may have other Micro-USB cords already. Note, however, that the Micro-USB plug on the stylus is somewhat far inside of the back of the stylus. The included Micro-USB cord has a small enough plug that it works fine, but I noticed that some of my other Micro-USB cords were too large and could not be used to charge the Apex. For example, I typically carry in my briefcase a dual Micro- and Mini-USB cord (like this one) with the goal of only carrying around one cord for all of my Micro- and Mini-usb devices, but that cord does not fit in the back of the Rechargeable Apex stylus.
Other nice features
You need to turn on an active stylus, and it is very easy to turn on the Apex because there is an easy-to-press button on the side of the clip. One of my complaints about the button on the Adonit Jot Script is that it is tiny, flush to the side of the pen, and hard to find. To turn on the Cregle Ink you need to twist the pen, which is a little awkward. I far prefer the on/off button on the Apex.
The Apex also has a clip on its side, which makes it easy to carry the stylus in a shirt pocket or a pocket in your purse or briefcase. The lack of a clip is another thing I don't like about the Adonit Jot Script — not only because you cannot attach it to a pocket, but also because the stylus tends to roll around, and off of, a table. You don't have to worry about that with the Rechargeable Apex.
The front of the Apex has ridges that make it comfortable to grip without the pen slipping out of your hand. The Adonit Jot Script has a similar feature that makes it easy to hold. The Cregle Ink does not, which causes the Cregle Ink to slip a little in your hand when you use it.
Finally, the Rechargeable Apex is a longer stylus, about 5.9" long. The Jot Script is about 5.7" long, the Cregle Ink is about 5.5" long, and the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo is about 5.2" long. I like the extra length of the Apex; it feels more like a normal pen and feels better in your hand. Having said that, all of these active styluses are (unfortunately) thicker than a normal pen, unlike the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo which has a circumference much more like a regular pen. With any of these active styluses, you feel more like you are holding a Sharpie.
In this picture, the Adonit Jot Script is at top, then the Cregle Ink, then the Rechargeable Apex, then the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo at bottom:
Do you prefer an active stylus that uses batteries, which you can replace if the power runs out, but which you have to buy and carry around? Or do you prefer an active stylus that has a cord and is recharged whenever you plug it in? I can see arguments on both sides, but after using both types of styluses, I prefer using a rechargeable stylus. Having to buy replacement batteries is a pain — especially the harder-to-find AAAA batteries used by the Cregle Ink — and I did not consider it to be much of a hassle to plug in the Rechargeable Apex for an hour every once in a while.
If you do like the idea of a rechargeable stylus, The Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus is excellent. The small tip works incredibly well, and shows of why active styluses are so much nicer when you are writing or drawing on an iPad screen. Also, Lynktec clearly put a lot of time and effort into designing a great stylus. Indeed, the webpage for the Rechargeable Apex stylus lists a number of complaints that customers reported with Lynktec's non-rechargeable Apex stylus (which is similar to the Cregle Ink) and explains how they have been addressed in the Rechargeable Apex. This is now my favorite stylus for the iPad, and if you are in the market for an active stylus with a fine tip, you'll definitely want to consider the Rechargeable Apex Fine Point Active Stylus
[UPDATE 8/20/15: Click here for the new version of this stylus that costs $59.99 on Amazon.]