iPad Pro 2018 apple pencil

The new Apple Pencil 2 has a magnetic personality.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For Apple, the Pencil is mightier than the index finger alone. Along with a pair of new iPad Pros and a new MacBook Air ($749 at eBay), Apple will unleash a second-generation version of the Apple Pencil, its accessory for the iPad Pro 2018.

The Apple Pencil is the tech giant's pressure-sensitive tool for creative professionals, and can be used for precision drawing, writing, drafting, annotating and editing photos. 

It will no doubt draw comparisons to the styluses from competing tablets, including Google's Pixelbook Pen for the Pixelbook Slate and Pixelbook Chromebook and Microsoft's Surface Pen for the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop ($729 at Amazon).

What's the deal with the second-generation Apple Pencil?

The second-gen Apple Pencil (henceforth known as Apple Pencil 2 or Apple Pencil 2018) improves on the first-generation model with an enhanced design and new tricks to tote it around more easily and increase your productivity.

How much does it cost?

The new Apple Pencil goes for $129 in the US. That's up $30 from the $99 Apple Pencil first introduced in 2015.

Apple Pencil prices: 2015 and 2018

Apple Pencil 2015 Apple Pencil 2018
US $99 $129
UK £89 £119
AU AU$145 AU$199

When can I buy the Apple Pencil 2018?

You can preorder it now. It officially goes on sale Nov. 7.

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What's the difference between the Apple Pencil 2015 and Apple Pencil 2018?

A slimmer, sleeker matte design, the Apple Pencil 2 automatically pairs with your iPad Pro ($384 at Amazon), waking it up with a tap. It also snaps on magnetically to the tablet, and charges wirelessly when it's attached. (The original Apple Pencil paired awkwardly through a Lightning connector hidden beneath the devices' end cap and didn't easily travel alongside the iPad Pro unless you bought a special case with a dedicated holster.)

You can double-tap the sides to change the Pencil's function. In the Notes app, double-tapping switches from a pencil to an eraser. What you do depends on which app you're in.

iPad Pro 2018 apple pencil

The second-gen Apple Pencil attaches to the iPad Pro 2018 and charges magnetically.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As a bonus, Apple throws in a free engraving on the side when you order the Apple Pencil 2018.

Does the new Apple Pencil work with all iPads?

Sadly, it does not. The Apple Pencil 2 will only work with the 2018 iPad Pros. It is not backwards compatible with earlier models, or with the standard iPad for 2018. Apple still sells the original Apple Pencil to work with older iPad Pros.

Does the old Apple Pencil work with the 2018 iPads?

The Apple Pencil 2015 works with:

  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (first and second generations)
  • iPad Pro 10.5‑inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7‑inch
  • iPad 2018 (the sixth-generation, 9.7-inch $329 iPad introduced earlier this year)

It does not work with either size iPad Pro 2018.

iPad Pro 2018 apple pencil

Double-tap the pencil while writing to change its task.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will the Apple Pencil 2 work with iPhones and Macs?

Sorry, no. The Apple Pencil for 2018 will only work with:

  • iPad Pro 2018 (11-inch)
  • iPad Pro 2018 (12.9-inch)

How does Apple Pencil 2's wireless charging work?

iPad Pro 2018 apple pencil

Sorry, the new Apple Pencil won't work with older iPads.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Glad you asked! The short answer is that the Apple Pencil 2018 charges the second you snap the flat edge on the new iPad Pro. Plus, when the tablet charges, the Apple Pencil charges, too.

The longer answer is that what Apple refers to as "magic" is most likely inductive charging, which uses an electromagnetic field to ferry power from the iPad Pro 2018 directly to the Apple Pencil. We're confirming that with Apple.

What's the deal with all those magnets?

Apple outfitted the iPad Pro 2018 with 102 magnets it, which connect it to the Apple Pencil 2 and Smart Folio Keyboard. That means you can affix the new Apple Pencil just about anywhere along the tablets' edges.

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