Review: Scriba, the squeezable stylus

Every month, I would receive requests from companies to feature their stylus and most of the time I would say no. The stylus market is incredibly competitive and products are becoming kinda generic that it's sometimes difficult to tell them apart, in terms of look and functionality.

Recently, Dublin Design Studio contacted me and asked if I was interested to check out out a stylus they have made called Scriba.

The design looks quite different from other styluses in the market so I asked for a review unit for testing.

Scriba is priced €65, which is around USD $75.

These are the items included in the box. The stylus, micro-USB charging cable and three replaceable nibs.

Scriba is a Bluetooth stylus with shortcut features build into the "button presses". I used double quotes because Scriba doesn't actually have any buttons.

This is a stylus designed with ergonomics in mind. The curves are where the fingers would be and are designed to be squeezed. See that empty space between? When you squeeze to get the parts to hit together, the stylus recognises it as a button press. Depending on the app you use, you can assign shortcuts to those squeezes. You can find the list of compatible apps on Scriba's website. The ones that I happen to use are Zoom Notes and Zen Brush 2.

To get the shortcuts working, you have to pair Scriba with each app you want to use. There's haptic feedback in the form of vibration to let you know that it's working.

Pressure sensitivity is controlled by how much you squeeze. A full squeeze will give you a thick line. It takes a while to get used to it because unlike other styluses that lets you press down hard to get thicker lines, you're squeezing the pen instead. This feature only works with supported apps.

The tip is the large rubber tip. This is a capacitive tip so you don't actually have to pair the stylus with your phone or tablet in order to write with it. But if you do pair the stylus, you get the shortcut features.

Downside of rubber tips is they are large so when writing, strokes will be blocked off. It's not easy to write small.

Right at the back is the micro-USB port for charging that's covered by a screw-on cap. The company says that battery life is up to a hundred hours. I wasn't able to test the battery life but anyway, styluses are not power hungry so I don't expect battery life to be an issue. I've never had any issues with battery-powered styluses running out of power.

First app I tested was Zoom Notes. Pairing with Zoom Notes is easy. You do it through the app settings. Squeeze and hold the stylus until the app can detect it.

Once paired with Zoom Notes, you can customise up to three shortcuts to the number of squeezes. I paired one squeeze to "no action" because I find that when I squeeze, sometimes it would trigger the one-click action. For two squeezes, I set it to "undo". And three squeezes to something else.

In actual practice, the squeeze shortcuts work fine. When you undo, you have to wait for the undo to happen before you squeeze for the next undo. If you squeeze multiple times quickly to undo several strokes fast, you'll call up the double or triple squeeze shortcuts instead.

Pressure sensitivity works by squeezing which is unlike other styluses so it takes some time to get used to it. I'm not sure if it's as intuitive compared to pressing down hard to get a thicker line.

Due to the large rubber tip, when taking notes, I had to write larger. Palm rejection is implemented by Zoom Notes native and works relatively well. The only issue is sometimes when resting the palm on the screen, the tablet would recognise it as two touches, and go into pan/zoom mode, and that prevents you from laying down the next strokes.

The stylus works fine with Zen Brush 2. You get pressure sensitivity here through squeezing too.

So to get thick lines with Zen Brush 2, you write slow. For thin lines, you write fast.

When paired with Zen Brush 2, you also have up to three customisable shortcuts as well.

The large rubber tip is not an issue when writing with Zen Brush 2 because you are supposed to write big.

Shown above are shortcuts from ArtFlow, an Android app. Oh, Scriba works on both iOS and Android. Depending on the app you use, the shortcut gestures may differ. Sometimes it can just be squeezes. Sometimes it would be squeeze and hold (just like the pairing process).

ArtFlow unfortunately does not work well with Scriba. I was able to pair it. But after drawing a few strokes, strokes would stop appearing. Even when I used my fingers to draw, strokes won't appear. When I unpaired Scriba, ArtFlow started working again. So there are still some bugs that need fixing.

So how does Scriba compare to other styluses?

Highlight of the stylus is the ability to customise up to three shortcuts. Many of the Bluetooth styluses I've used usually only have one side button so functionality is limited.

The other highlight is how it implements pressure sensitivity by how much you squeeze. It's different from other stylus implementation and I can't really decide whether it's a good or bad thing.

As for the downsides, I've already mentioned them earlier. Having a large rubber tip means you have to write larger. The number of apps that support Scriba is currently limited although the number may increase in the future.

I'm not a big fan of writing with rubber tip styluses. When writing, ribber tips would deform and it just doesn't feel nice. And rubber tips wear out faster than hard tips. There's more friction on rubber tip styluses compared to hard tips so writing fast is difficult or impossible. So Scriba is not a stylus suitable for writing. For drawing, the rubber tip may block off the strokes so it may affect accuracy.

For drawing purposes, this is not a stylus for drawing fine details.

Lastly, it's quite a pricey stylus at €65. You decide whether it's worth the money.

Find more information on Scriba at

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