Artist Review: Adonit Pixel Pro, the Apple Pencil Alternative

The Pixel Pro is the latest pressure sensitive stylus from Adonit that's made specially for the iPad Pro. But is it as good as the Apple Pencil? Let's find out.

Adonit Pixel Pro is the sequel to the Adonit Pixel that was released more than two years ago. Back then, Adonit Pixel was the best third party stylus for the iPad non-Pro, and it probably still is. People who bought Adonit Pixel are probably those that need pressure sensitivity on their iPad non-Pro. The Apple Pencil doesn't work on iPad non-Pros, and that is still the case today.

Build quality

The build quality of Adonit's styluses has always been top notch. And that's the case here as well.

This stylus as a premium feel because of the solid build quality. The full metal body and plastic grip section have a matte texture that makes the stylus feel nice to hold.

There are two side buttons included, one of which works as a power button. Depending on the app you use, you may be able to assign certain shortcuts to those buttons.

The 1.9mm tip also has a matte surface to it and has that paper-like feel when drawing on a glass surface. I've a matte screen protector pasted on my iPad and it just feels great to draw on, better than the Apple Pencil in this aspect.

The tip does not wobble like other Adonit Bluetooth styluses.

Adonit has included a USB charging dock and that too has great build quality. Battery life is decent. You can draw for a few hours over a few days before charging. I can't give the number of hours for the battery life though.

App compatibility

First thing to note is Adonit Pixel Pro is a Bluetooth stylus, so Bluetooth needs to be turned on in order for the iPad to recognise it.

The Apple Pencil has really great integration with most apps. When you connect the Apple Pencil to the iPad, most apps will know that there's an Apple Pencil around. With Adonit Pixel Pro, you have to pair the stylus with each app you use. This pairing process is no different from its previous model. There's a particular quirk on the Apple Pencil that requires you to pair it each time the iPad comes back from Airplane mode. There's no such quirk here with Adonit Pixel Pro. You just have to pair it once and the app will remember the stylus forever.

The most important thing to note about this stylus is, the performance and its functionality depends a lot on the app you use. Not all apps will support all the features of Adonit Pixel Pro. In other words, not all apps will support pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, or can assign shortcuts to the two side buttons.

Here are the performance of the stylus on various drawing apps that I have.

App Pressure Palm rejection
Procreate Yes No
Medibang Paint Pro Yes No
Paper by FiftyThree No No
Adobe Photoshop Sketch No No
Adobe Illustrator Draw No No
Tayasui Sketches Pro No No
Wacom Bamboo Paper No No
Paintstorm No No
GoodNotes Yes No
Penultimate No No
Notes Plus No No
OneNote No No
Apple Notes No No

Adonit Pixel Pro is suppose to support up to 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity but it's only good if the app that you're using supports it. Of all the apps that I've tested, pressure sensitivity only worked with Procreate, Medibang Paint Pro and GoodNotes.

Palm rejection implementation is not perfect, just like the previous model. Most of the time, the app can't differentiate your palm, finger or stylus. What I got most of the time while drawing with palm on screen are broken lines, or the stylus would just refuse to draw because the palm is touching the screen. All the apps except Medibang Paint Pro suffer from this palm rejection issue

The smart people at Medibang Paint Pro has a feature in their app that allows you to turn on strict palm rejection. What that means is, they will only recognise Bluetooth stylus input. Voila! That's what all the other apps should have! But the downside is, if you want to use finger gestures, you have to turn the strict palm rejection off, but thankfully that's as easy as a touch of a button.

Some apps compete with Adonit because those companies make their own styluses. For example, Wacom Bamboo Paper makes their Fineline Bluetooth styluses (all suck) and FiftyThree make their own Pencil stylus.

I suppose more apps will support Adonit Pixel Pro in the future. However, some of those apps don't even have the feature that allows you to pair with other styluses. E.g. Adobe Sketch and Adobe Draw. So currently, the app compatibility list isn't looking too good.


Parallax depends on the app. For Procreate and Medibang Paint Pro, the strokes will appear slightly above the pen tip. All the other apps listed above have no problems with parallax -- the lines come out exactly beneath the tip.

Other than the parallax issue with those two apps, the overall accuracy of the stylus is quite good.

The lines above are drawn with Procreate. For the slow diagonal lines there is slight jitter but I attribute it to my hand because it's really difficult to draw that slow without jitter. The slow-diagonal-line jitter is not really a problem here. For the box, I tried to connect the lines as best as I can but I can't because of the parallax. That's something that you will have to get used to and maybe you will after you draw more often. But how I wish there's some setting in Procreate that can compensate for that parallax misalignment.

Medibang Paint Pro is an enjoyable app to draw it. I say that for almost all the versions on different OS.

Lag isn't really much of an issue compared to parallax or palm rejection.

The best note taking app with Adonit Pixel Pro
You may think that GoodNotes is the best app for taking notes because it supports pressure sensitivity but you would be wrong. The best app for taking notes is actually all the other apps. For some reason, GoodNotes wasn't able to capture my handwriting accurately. On a scale of 1 to 10, the accuracy would be 8 or 9, which is pretty decent. But the other note taking apps can capture the handwriting at 100% accuracy.

My favourite app for taking notes is Wacom Bamboo Paper.


So who is Adonit targeting with this new stylus? I'm actually not sure. Perhaps it's the same crowd as Adonit's previous stylus.

It's difficult to say if Adonit Pixel Pro is an improvement over Adonit Pixel. In terms of drawing performance and functionality, they feel very similar. While Adonit claims that Pixel Pro is "engineered specifically" for the iPad Pro, I really can't tell how that is so.

One significant advantage the Apple Pencil has over Adonit Pixel Pro is the deep integration with the apps. Most apps don't even need to be pair to know that there's an Apple Pencil around, and Apple Pencil's pressure sensitivity and palm rejection implementation is almost flawless.

The one advantage Adonit Pixel Pro has over the Apple Pencil is perhaps the paper-like experience when drawing because of the matte surface tip.

When it comes to charging. Apple Pencil's way looks silly but it does not require you to use additional accessory. Pixel Pro provides a really nice charging dock but you have to bring if around if you have the sudden need to charge the battery. But battery life is decent so you can probably leave the charging dock at home, unless you forget to charge the stylus while you're outside.

And the price... Apple Pencil is USD $99 vs Pixel Pro's USD $84.99. If you're already spending so much money, why not just top up a bit more and go with the Apple Pencil, especially if you're using the iPad Pro? If you're using the iPad non-Pro then perhaps you don't really have other choice, the Adonit Pixel Pro and Adonit Pixel are still the two best styluses for the iPad non-Pros currently.


You can find Adonit Pixel Pro on Amazon through these product links: | | | | | | |


1 Comment

It's frustrating that if we

It's frustrating that if we choose Apple Pencil's excellent seamless function, we are locked into their patriarchal "We know what you do and don't need" attitude. I can't stand that their design 'purity' left out buttons on the Pencil barrel – what a wasted opportunity. If I could instantly access Erase and Undo without hand gestures or screen pokes, my drawing experience would improve massively!

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