Artist Review: Adonit Ink vs Microsoft Surface Pen (2017)

Adonit Ink is the company's first stylus created for Windows powered tablets and 2-in-1 devices. Finally there's something like the Microsoft Surface Pen that can work with on Windows tablet. But is it as good?

Special thanks to Adonit for sending me the Adonit Ink stylus for this review.

Design and build quality

The build quality is good, solid and sturdy, just like many of Adonit's other styluses that I've reviewed over the years.

The stylus has a smooth matte cylindrical body with a clip at the end. The body is available in either silver, black or midnight blue colours.

Highlight of the pen is the 1mm tip that looks almost like the Apple Pencil, except it's coloured black.

Two side buttons are included on the side. The button closer to the tip is the power button which also doubles as an eraser, and the other button is mapped to the right-click function. And just like the Surface Pen, customisation for the buttons is limited.

At the back of the stylus is the micro-USB charging port. This stylus uses a built-in rechargeable battery that's rated to last for 80 hours -- that's 8 days if you dray 10 hours daily. I would consider the battery life to be good, but it's not as good compared to the half year to a year's worth of battery life with the Surface Pen. And I dislike having built-in rechargeable batteries because I've had several incidents with faulty batteries in styluses. If you use the stylus often, it should keep the batteries in good operation condition.

To switch on Adonit Ink, you have to hold the power button for 2 seconds. And to power off, you have to press and hold both buttons until the red light comes on. I don't bother to switch the stylus off and so far the battery life hasn't drained off totally. The stylus would switch itself off after 15 minutes of inactivity.


Adonit Ink supports pressure sensitivity and palm rejection with compatible devices.

You can visit Adonit's website to check out the full list of compatible as they will keep adding as new products arrive in the market. Here's the list of devices currently supported:

  • Microsoft Surface 3
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 3
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4
  • Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)
  • Microsoft Surface Book
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop
  • Microsoft Surface Studio
  • ASUS Transformer Mini
  • ASUS Transformer 3 Pro
  • ASUS Transformer 3
  • ASUS Transformer Pro
  • ASUS ZenBook Flip S
  • HP Envy x360 15
  • HP Spectre x2 12
  • HP Spectre x360 13
  • HP Spectre x360 15
  • SONY VAIO Z Flip

While Adonit Ink is supported on the Surface Laptop, I probably won't want to be drawing on that screen as it would just wobble around. It's gonna feel weird drawing or writing on any laptop screens.

More on the tip

While Adonit Ink supports pressure sensitivity, there's no mention of how many levels of pressure sensitivity it actually supports. I've compared Adonit Ink to the Surface Pen 2017 and it is definitely not as sensitive.

The tip is a hard tip unlike the felt-tip like tip of the Surface Pen. So when drawing or writing, it's going to be more slippery on the glass surface, unless you have some matte screen protector on your tablet already. It will take a while to get used to it.

The tip is replaceable so if it gets worn out, you can just unscrew it and replace it with a new one.

Make sure to screw the tip on tightly. The first few times I used the stylus for writing, the tip would actually unscrew itself because I did not screw it on tightly enough.

Drawing performance

The drawing and writing samples below are from using Adonit Ink with the Surface Pro 2017.

Drawing performance is a mixed bag for me. Take a look at these samples to judge for yourself.

This is from Photoshop CS6. Both Adonit Ink and Surface Pen have slight jitter with slow diagonal lines. Take note of the curved strokes from Adonit Ink. For thicker strokes, there are additional jitter where the line thickness would vary. Adonit Ink has difficulty keeping those curved strokes smooth and consistent.

The Surface Pen is also more sensitive and is more capable of creating really thin lines with the lightest of pressure applied.

There's slight jitter but at least it's not as bad compared to capacitive styluses, e.g. like the Adonit Dash (above).

This is from Medibang Paint Pro.

Compare all the curved strokes. Adonit Ink has difficulty producing smooth lines when drawing with pressure. This is a problem when drawing long lines with pressure.

Performance is the same with Sketchable.

With Mischief, the drawing performance is a bit different. Note how the curved lines are much smoother. Mischief probably has some software correction to make the lines smoother.

This is Wacom Bambook Paper, my favourite app for taking notes. Adonit Ink was able to capture my handwriting quite well. Performance is similar to the Surface Pen.

The feeling of writing with Adonit Ink and Surface Pen is a bit different. With Adonit Ink's hard tip, writing is more slippery and this means you can actually write faster. With Surface Pen, the felt tip offers a bit more control because of the friction.

The other thing is Adonit Ink has a more audible tapping sound on the glass surface while the Surface Pen's is more dampened. Just some minor differences.

Lastly, since Adonit Ink is an active stylus, it has perfect palm rejection. When the stylus is hovering, you'll see the cursor appear and that's when you'll get perfect palm rejection. The cursor is also always underneath the tip so it's very accurate. However, as the cursor moves to the edges of the screen, you'll see some parallax, gap between the tip and the cursor. And unlike pen displays (those monitors you can draw on), there's no way to correct for parallax here. The good thing is, parallax is not really a big deal here, at least on the Surface Pro since the screen is a small 12.2-inch.


One thing I like about Adonit Ink is, you can use this stylus with a wider variety of Windows touchscreen devices. The Surface Pen is only for use with Microsoft Surface products. The other thing I like is, it's cheaper, like half the price of the Surface Pen which is selling at US $100.

When it comes to drawing performance, it certainly has some limitations. There's the slight jitter with slow diagonal lines. And it's not easy to maintain consistently smooth lines when applying pressure.

When it comes to writing, it performs very well. Mainly because writing only involves creating short quick strokes, so you won't get those jitter or pressure related issues.

The Adonit Ink has compromises no doubt, but depending on what you're using it for, that may or may not matter. If you use it for drawing, then the Surface Pen may be a better choice. If you're just going to be use the stylus for writing, drawing occasionally, mark up documents, or for general purpose stylus functionality, the Adonit Ink should suffice.

One last thing I should mention is, I've only tested Adonit Ink on the Surface Pro 2017. Since I don't have other compatible Windows touchscreen devices to test, I can't say that Adonit Ink will perform the same on those devices. I've used many styluses on many touchscreen devices over the years, some stylus do perform differently on different screens and systems.

Pros and cons

+ Good build quality
+ Has pressure sensitivity
+ Has palm rejection
+ Decent battery life
+ 1mm tip
+ Supports a variety of Windows touchscreen devices
+ Half the price of Surface pen
- Not as sensitive compared to Surface Pen
- Has slight jitter with slow diagonal lines


As always, you can check out more reviews on Amazon. Direct product links below. | | | | | | |

And to confirm if your device is compatible with Adonit Ink, check the list of devices supported at



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