Review: MKQ Stylus For iPad
One of the iPad’s under-appreciated features is the ability to use an active stylus for writing, drawing, marking up documents, and even as a navigational aid. Those who bought an iPad Pro are probably all over this — an active stylus is a big part of content creation — but ordinary iPad owners are less likely to pay attention. Especially when Apple’s own version (the Apple Pencil 2) goes for $129. Even the previous generation model at $99 is expensive enough that many iPad owners don’t bother. However, when you have the option of a inexpensive third party stylus, the equation changes. I’ve been trying out the MKQ stylus for iPad, with a very reasonable $29.98 retail price. At time of writing it was selling on Amazon in the $22 range.
At that price, a stylus becomes an impulse buy. Is the MKQ stylus for iPad worth considering?
Many Similarities to Apple Pencil
The MKQ stylus looks very similar to Apple’s own Pencil 2 — from a distance. Same approximate size, same flat surface for magnetic attachment to a compatible iPad, replaceable tips (there are three replacements supplied in the box), same instant pairing with your iPad (no need to fuss with Bluetooth), and the same experience with basic use.
On closer examination, you’ll notice physical differences between the MKQ stylus and an Apple Pencil.
The MKQ is made of white ABS plastic and it has a gloss to it while the original has a matte finish. There is an exposed USB-C port (a removable cover is included but it’s pretty easy to lose), while the Apple Pencil 2 uses wireless magnetic charging. The original Apple Pencil used a Lightning connector hidden beneath the end cap (which meant you couldn’t use it while it was charging). The MKQ has a tap on/off button on the end but still connects instantly with your iPad when powered on. And when you tap that power on button, you’ll see a small, orange LED on the side of the stylus barrel that shows the percent of battery charge remaining.
Functionally, the MKQ iPad stylus supports palm rejection and tilt sensitivity. With tilt, it will draw a thicker line when angled on the iPad’s surface. However, unlike Apple’s originals, it does not support pressure sensitivity.
Ultimately, the biggest difference is price. That’s where this stylus has a huge advantage.
I tested the MKQ stylus with several iPad Air models including the 2022 version with M1. I also used it with a 2021 iPad Mini (you can read my 3-month hands on review of that iPad here).
Functionally, there wasn’t much difference between this stylus and my Apple Pencil 2, at least for basic functionality. It’s the same smooth and responsive experience. For writing notes and scrawling quick diagrams, the MKQ’s lack of pressure sensitivity does not come into play. I did prefer the feel of the Apple Pencil 2 in hand, though — the matte finish doesn’t feel quite as slippery and the Apple stylus is slightly heftier (19g versus 12g for the MKQ according to my kitchen scale). Battery life seemed comparable, although I seldom use a stylus for more than 20 minutes at a time. The MKQ does automatically power down after 10 minutes of inactivity to conserve battery life.
Charging is obviously more convenient for the Apple Pencil 2, but having to plug the MKQ stylus into a USB-C cable once a week is hardly a deal-breaker.
MKQ Stylus for iPad Recommendation
If you need the full features of the latest Apple Pencil, including pressure sensitivity, the MKQ stylus is not for you. The same if you really want to stick with the Apple design aesthetic, including the Pencil 2’s heft, matte finish, and wireless magnetic charging. And the Apple logo on the stylus.
However, if you are interested in having an active stylus to use with your iPad that covers basic functionality — handwriting, quick diagramming, and marking up — the MKQ stylus does the job at a bargain price. It stands out among the long list of third party iPad stylus options with features like an LED battery percentage indicator, magnetic connectivity support, and USB-C charging. And from a distance, it could easily pass for Apple’s own version.
Disclosure: MKQ provided a stylus for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.