Stylus pens are becoming an increasingly common accessory to portable devices like tablets, smartphones, and even some touchscreen laptops. These convenient tools give users the freedom of writing utensil, but how do they work. Is there a small battery tucked inside that powers the stylus pen or do they generate this power in a different way?
Yes, some stylus pens are powered with a single-use AAAAA battery or a rechargeable battery. These are typically referred to as “active” styluses due to its electrical components. However, most stylus pens are actually “passive” and use capacitive technology without a battery at all.
In this article, we will compare active styluses, like those that are battery-powered, to passive styluses, which includes most budget-friendly, capacitive stylus pens. Afterward, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of purchasing a stylus pen that is battery-powered versus alternative options.
Active vs. Passive Stylus Pens
If you’re new to purchasing stylus pens, you might not know what an “active” or “passive” pen entails. Understanding the functions and features associated with these different designs is crucial when it comes to finding the stylus pen that is right for you and compatible with your device.
The primary difference between an active stylus pen and a passive stylus pen is that an active stylus pen has built-in electrical components and power sources, such as Bluetooth technology and a battery, whereas a passive stylus pen does not.
Instead of generating its own power, a passive stylus, also known as a capacitive stylus, works by relying on the power generated from the device it’s being used with. When you tap your touchscreen with one of these stylus pens, the electrical charges in your body are transferred to the tip of the pen and then to the screen. Your device will then pinpoint the location of the stylus tip and respond accordingly.
Comparatively, an active stylus pen can be connected and communicate directly to your device rather than relying on interrupting the touchscreen’s electrical field.
Pros and Cons of a Battery-Operated Stylus Pen
Now that you know the difference between how an active stylus pen and a passive stylus pen work, you’re probably wondering whether you should invest in a battery-operate stylus or stick to the more popular capacitive styluses.
The answer is that it depends. There are pros and cons to consider regarding battery-operated stylus pens. Most notably:
|Pros of battery-operated stylus pens
|Cons of battery-operated stylus pens
Pressure sensitivity feature
Palm rejection feature
High quality materials
OS and app support
We’ve expanded on these pros and cons in the sections below so you have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Pros of a Battery-Operated Stylus
As you can see, the major benefits of using a battery-powered stylus pen are that the battery provides it with the electrical components and extra power it needs to support additional features and allow increased precision when writing. This, ultimately, make the stylus easier and more enjoyable to use.
Another benefit is that most active stylus pens, such as these, are made with high-quality materials and implement superior ergonomic designs compared to their budget-friendly counterparts. This makes the stylus more comfortable to hold and almost guarantees it will be durable and long-lasting.
Cons of a Battery-Operated Stylus
On the downside, those electrical components often result in a significantly higher price tag that could be double, if not triple, the cost of the standard capacitive stylus pen. If your battery-powered stylus pen uses AAAA batteries, replacing these will be an additional cost.
The other limiting factor with these stylus pens is that they are usually designed for a specific device or brand, which limits its compatibility (ex. Wacom or Apple styluses work best with devices made by their brand).
What’s more, once you have a compatible stylus pen and device, you usually need to download and install some type of software and/or application to use it. This could come at an additional cost and would take up space on your device you might not have.
While most stylus pens are considered passive or capacitive, making them battery-free, there are some that are active and equipped with a battery for extra power and feature support. If you’re wondering which of these two options are best, we recommend a battery-powered stylus pen to anyone who prioritizes convenient features and superior accuracy, whereas a passive stylus pen is best for those on a budget.