I'm not a professional artist. Therefore this is an 890 word review about a stylus. Does anyone come here for short reviews?
I like my Cosmonaut stylus. It is comfortable and provides just enough resistance against the iPad glass to feel like a real marker. But let's face it, it's big. It works well for big blocky letters, but not for details.
I purchased the Adonit Jot Flip stylus a few days ago and it is the iOS stylus to beat. It is a combination pen and stylus. I may know what you're thinking. No, this is not one of those janky $3 dual-tip stylus things. This is a top notch pen and maybe the best stylus I have used on an iPad. I purchased mine for $40 from Amazon.
The Jot Flip is similar to the Adonit Jot Pro, with three major differences. The Flip has a ballpoint pen at one end. The Jot Pro is magnetic, so as to attach to the iPad. The Flip only comes in brushed steel, not the multiple colors available for the Jot Pro. They both use the same unusual stylus tip, which is a polycarbonate disk with a conductive material at the center.
The Ballpoint Pen
The Adonit Flip is a high quality extra-fine ball point pen. The pen by itself is a good reason to carry the Adonit Flip. The ballpoint is retractable and feels solid when fully extended. This is key, because there is only one screw cap and it is required to protect the capacitive stylus. This initially looked like a bad design but I now appreciate the decision. When using the stylus end, the cap screws onto the ballpoint pen end. In this way, there is no need to leave a cap sitting on a table and risk losing it.
The pen line is very fine. I estimated it as a 0.3mm tip. Even so, it does not scratch against the paper as a cheap ballpoint might. The ink is good quality. Adonit also states that the ink is refillable but they do not provide any information about how to refill it or what kind of ink is suitable. A quick email exchange with their support, informed me that while fully retracting the pen, continuing to turn will open the cartridge holder. This revealed a 0.5mm Ohto needle point ink cartridge (specifically an R-4C5NP) which is rather difficult to find. Luckily Amazon just calls it an Adonit Flip refill.
The stylus is the primary reason to carry the Adonit. It works. It works really well. The stylus is actually a clear plastic disk with a small capacitive dot in the center. This is the first stylus that I could use to take a full page of handwritten notes or sketch out a design on a single screen. The Cosmonaut is good, but using it for sketching is like using a Magic Marker to draw in a Field Notes pad.
But with the Adonit I can draw very fine detail, detail that I did not know the iPad could support. This sketch was done at full size. There was no zoom involved. If you want to see the full resolution version, it is available here.
The Jot Flip is heavy. It is also nicely balanced for use in either direction. The pen comes in one style, brushed steel with a lack rubber sheath at its center. The retractable ballpoint has a pleasant and smooth sensation when engaging the mechanism. The pen tip extends out as two pieces. There is the ballpoint tip and the supporting tube that holds it. There is no flex to the pen tip, which is good.
The stylus feels delicate, but not cheap. I have no idea how robust it is, but it appears to be connected by a hairs-width of steel. I have read in the Adonit forum of at least two people complaining that the stylus scratched the glass of their iPad. I believe it. I also believe Adonit's position, which is that there was fine debris on the glass that actually got caught between the stylus tip and the glass. They argue that the scratches were caused by these particulates and that they also scratched the tip of the Jot. I'd recommend not using the stylus if you treat your iPad like an animal.
The capacitive disks are replaceable. I'm guessing I will have to replace mine regularly. It's a piece of hard plastic rubbing against glass. It's going to wear down. On the Brinell hardness scale, glass is going to beat polycarbonate.1
The Adonit Jot Flip is an excellent stylus. Maybe the best. If you are like me, you don't like to carry around a bunch of extra stuff just to use an iPad. The Flip makes sense to me. I can carry a pen and use it as a stylus when necessary. I do wish the Flip had the magnetic properties of the Adonit Jot Pro, which can be attached directly to the bezel of the iPad. I'm not sure how much I would use it that way though.
I'll leave the engineering discussion to someone more informed than I am. ↩