Differences Between the Stylus and Digital Pen

In the technology world today, two types of pens are top; they are the stylus and the digital pen. Furthermore, they both have their various uses. In this guide, we shall look at the differences between the stylus pen and the digital pen. To find out, you’d have to read through this guide keenly.

What is a Stylus Pen?

The definition of a stylus pen has varied drastically with respect to the new technologies that come associated with it.

While in its initial years, a stylus was just a thin stick with a conductive tip at the end to register touch input on the touch screen.

It contained no internal components and hence required no charging of the pen for use. It was a simple product designed for a simple task at hand.

But now, there are newer technologies involved and hence a broader definition of what we call a stylus pen.

Stylus pens now can have their own internal electronic components to communicate more information with the touchscreen device.

But before we get too in-depth, let’s mention and elaborate on the different types of stylus pens in the market right now: Active and Passive Stylus pens.

Passive Stylus Pen

This is the type of stylus pen that sticks to the traditional meaning of what stylus used to mean.

It contains no internal components and hence requires no charging of the pen.

This type of stylus pen is meant to emulate a finger touch and hence has rounded tips for broader touch input.

Nintendo 3DS stylus pens, and Samsung Galaxy S-Pens are a few popular passive stylus pens.

Active Stylus Pen

This is the type of stylus pen that have internal components inside for deeper information tracking and relaying to the touchscreen device

The use of the components results in a much more accurate form of touch tracking on the touchscreen device

This type of stylus pen is meant to emulate a pen or a pencil, so it has a pointy tip for accurate touch inputs.

Apple Pencil, Microsoft Surface Pen, and Samsung Galaxy S-Pens are all examples of popular active styluses.

What can I do with a stylus pen?

13 things you didn’t know you could do with the S Pen

  • Screen-off Memos. Notetaking with the S Pen is as simple as writing in a notebook
  • Screen Write. Annotating images, charts or documents is easy with Screen Write
  • Annotate PDFs
  • Write on Calendar
  • Convert your handwriting
  • Smart Select
  • Video editing.

What is a Digital Pen?

A digital pen is a writing instrument that is operated by a battery and allows users to capture handwritten notes or drawings. It converts analog information created with pen and paper to a digital form of data, so that it may be used in various applications.

They usually have a USB connection for notes to be uploaded to a computer or other device. Some also have wireless functionalities and/or Bluetooth as a means of connection. While a digital pen usually looks like a standard ballpoint pen, it does require a specialized “digital” paper to capture its writing.

Additionally, Digital pens have features like touch sensitivity, memory, input buttons, and electronic erasing capability. A digital pen can be used to write on digital paper, and once done, the user can save what has been written. The pen usually vibrates or beeps as a sign of confirmation that the user has finished a page and the work has been saved.

Most digital pens save handwritten work as images in the commonly used GIF or JPEG format. Some, however, use a proprietary format. There are various types of digital pens available on the market like the trackball pen (with a sensor attached to detect the motion of the trackball), camera pen (with a camera attached), positional pen (to detect the position of the tip), and active pen. All of these have some special features to differentiate them.

Types of Digital pens

Scanning pens

It’s a bit of a misnomer to call these digital “pens,” since they’re essentially just text scanners and don’t actually write anything; you’ll sometimes see them described as “pen scanners” or “OCR pens.” Some are battery-powered and have onboard flash memories to store things you scan as you’re out and about; you simply upload what you’ve scanned when you get back to your computer. Others have long USB cables, so they work exactly like conventional scanners but are a bit more portable if you hook them up to a laptop.

Handwriting pens

More sophisticated digital pens are designed to capture your handwriting. Now, if you’re a fan of old-style technology, particularly classic technology like pen and paper, digital pens might seem completely frivolous—but just consider for a moment how useful they could be in certain situations.

If you’re a student taking notes in classes or lectures, imagine how brilliant it would be to get back to your room, immediately upload all your notes to your computer and instantly print them out in the neat, typed form. Or, if you’re a physician (doctor), wouldn’t it be handy if all the notes you scribbled about a patient during an examination could be instantly uploaded onto their records as soon as they left your consulting room?

What are digital pens made of?

Digital pens are devices that capture the brush strokes of users and convert handwritten information to soft copy data that can be editable and usable in different applications. Digital pens are used together with digital notebooks.

Digital pens are made of internal electronic circuits, sensors, Bluetooth, and also internal storage memory. This also transmits the data to your computer automatically when connected wirelessly or through a cable connection.

What can you use digital pens for?

Digital pens aren’t all the same. There are three quite different kinds and they do three quite different jobs:

  • Some are like thin, handheld scanners. They’re designed to turn printed text into editable text on your computer using OCR (optical character recognition). IRISPen is a popular example.
  • Some are designed to “import” ordinary handwriting into a computer as editable text. Pens like this come with a PC software package that imports the data the pen has stored and decodes it, turning your scribbled handwriting into the editable text as good as you could have typed from the keyboard.
  • Some work by reading or tracking complex printed patterns from the paper and are mainly used for filling in order forms (though they can also do things like handwriting recognition).

Stylus Pen Advantages

While most users simply use bare fingers to manipulate their touch screens, styluses do offer a few advantages. Since mobile device screens can be very small, a narrow stylus can help pick out letters on the onscreen keyboard while minimizing typos. Drawing with a stylus can feel more natural than drawing with a fingertip since the stylus mimics the natural hand position used with a pen or pencil. A stylus can also make handwriting feel more natural and increase legibility in systems that require users to sign, such as credit card payment terminals.

Differences Between Stylus And Digital Pen

There are other differences between the stylus and a digital pen such as: physically the stylus is smaller and thinner in size compared to a digital pen since the digital pen has internal electronics. Secondly, many digital pens need a special type of paper but the stylus doesn’t and only needs the screen of its parent device.

Thirdly, many digital pens perform more than one action whereby some have inbuilt voice recorders, and modernized ones have some cameras in them. The stylus does not have such features. Lastly, for recording data when using a stylus on a PDA screen pressure will be needed.

Digital pens it’s different since for data to be recorded they require a connection with the computer either via Bluetooth or a cable.

Also, not to forget that One area where stylus pens still reign supreme is in the world of digital tablets. These devices allow digital artists to write and draw as naturally as they would with a pen or paintbrush, and often contain many features designed to enhance their virtual art. In these devices, the tablet surface sends out an electrical charge, which reacts with a coil and chip inside the pen. The chip sends out a signal that identifies its position on the tablet, allowing the device to locate a touch accurately several times per second.

What Should I Look for in a Stylus Pen?

Are you ready to shop for a new stylus pen? You’ll get the most bang for your buck by looking for the following:

  • Compatible with your cell phone or tablet
  • Lightweight and comfortable to hold
  • Durable rubber tip
  • Suitable for your needs, whether you like drawing, writing, or playing games
  • Good price
  • Bright color or fun pattern on the barrel

While you don’t necessarily need to use a stylus pen, it’s still a nice mobile accessory to have on hand. It’s worth carrying around if you use your phone or tablet all the time, and let’s face it, in this digital world who doesn’t?


In conclusion, Stylus pens and digital pens are both great products for anyone dwelling in the world of digital information input.

But just like any product category, each serves different purposes and is intended for different working conditions.

A stylus pen is a fantastic purchase if you just want a product that you utilize on a daily casual use basis and will be the most convenient and cost-effective means to do that.

A digital pen, on the other hand, is strictly used by professional digital artists to put out their creative minds on paper, and hence is expensive and more suited for them.

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