While styluses are one of the most straightforward types of iOS accessories, there are quite a few options in the field, some offering unique designs, features, or both. Today we’re looking at three recent models, each of which stands apart from the crowd of generic OEM pens for a different reason. There’s the chunky Cosmonaut from Studio Neat ($25), Just Mobile’s new AluPen Pro ($40), and Nomad Brush’s Compose, available in two different sets for $39 each. Even though they all do generally the same thing, each has a unique design characteristic that will appeal to a different audience.
The latest version of capacitive paintbrush maker Nomad Brush’s signature tool follows the original accessory, which shares the company’s name.
Compose is a combination of a carbon brush handle bundled with two separate tips—a 0.05” bevel tip and either a 0.7” long tip or 0.4” short tip—depending on which package you choose. The two tips can be used one at a time, or they can be screwed into opposite ends of the shaft simultaneously. Like the first version, the big differentiating factor is the fact that artists are able to create in a way that feels much more like using a traditional paintbrush on paper. Only very light strokes are needed to draw on the screen, which is a nice touch when compared to the firmer efforts needed to write with other styluses.
Unfortunately, there are technological limitations that limit the overall appeal.
The iPad only recognizes the brush as one input source, despite the dozens of bristles, so instead of a full brushstroke on the screen, users only get a single line. The long and short tips are particularly imprecise when it comes to writing, and while the bezel tip is better, it’s still not an ideal solution when compared to other styluses.
While some dedicated artists may find value in the feel of different brush lengths, we didn’t see any real difference that would indicate a need for the pair of packages. Bundling in an OK writing edge is a nice touch, but we don’t see it justifying the almost doubled price when compared to the original NomadBrush model—the reason for our “okay,” C+ rating.