2017 Microsoft Surface Pen For Surface Pro Vs. Apple Pencil For iPad Pro [Opinion]

There are many stylus devices that have hit the market over the past couple years. Most recently, Microsoft released an updated version of its Surface Pen, which operates on N-Trig technology. The problem with the Surface Pen on the Surface Pro 3 and Pro 4 has been that the writing is jittery and doesn’t feel natural. The new Surface Pen combined with the 2017 Surface Pro was supposed to change all of that. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.

The first thing to note is that the new Surface Pen costs $100. In the past, it came with the Surface Pro device. You would think that Microsoft would make major improvements in order to justify the price. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. While the new Surface Pen makes some noticeable improvements, its performance is hampered by poor drivers that cause extreme pen jitter, especially when the Pro screen heats up.

When the Surface Pen does work, which is about 80 percent of the time, it works well. There is only slight latency, so your letters appear as you write. The tip of the pen also draws where it’s supposed to, and the inking activates almost instantly as you press the pen to the Surface Pro screen.

The 2017 Surface Pen isn't worth $100. [Image by Daryl Deino]

While something that works well 80 percent of the time sounds good to some, others who pay over $1000 for a device and a pen accessory should expect to have it work 100 percent of the time. This is an issue the Inquisitr has talked about before, and Microsoft has yet to acknowledge the problem.

Fortunately, those who use the new iPad Pro won’t run into the same problems. The Apple Pencil combined with the iPad Pro 10.5 gives users the best inking experience to date. The Surface Pen has a little latency, but the Apple Pencil has none – at least to the human eye and brain. The fact that the new iPad Pro has a screen with a 120Hz refresh rate certainly helps the writing feel smoother. Using Microsoft OneNote with the new iPad Pro almost feels like writing on your own personal notepad.

Using the Apple Pencil on the 2017 iPad Pro provides a near-perfect inking experience. [Image by Daryl Deino]

Unlike the Surface Pen, the Apple Pencil doesn’t have an eraser tip, so you have to click on the eraser symbol with the Pencil tip and use that as an eraser. This definitely isn’t a deal killer given all the other capabilities the Pencil has. Some may also frown at the size of the Apple Pencil, which is huge, especially when compared to other stylus devices. The Apple Pencil doesn’t take a battery, so one needs to charge it by sticking it into the Lightning port. You can get a decent charge in about five minutes or so.

It’s quite ironic that Microsoft has spent five years trying to perfect their stylus, and they still haven’t quite figured out how to win the game. The Surface Pen’s shortcomings, once again, my be a driver issue rather than a hardware issue. But Apple, who introduced the Apple Pencil at the end of 2015, has almost perfected their device. One hopes that Apple will soon make the iPhone 8 compatible with the Apple Pencil, which is the best consumer stylus device ever made.

[Featured Image by Daryl Deino]