Why Are Some Styluses So Expensive? [6 Reasons]

If you’re in the market for a tablet stylus, you may have noticed that there is quite a large price range among them. Some styluses are just a few dollars, while others can cost upwards of $100. So, what’s the difference? What justifies that kind of price tag?

In this article, we will cover five reasons why some styluses are more expensive than others. As you read, you’ll learn what predominantly affects the cost of these accessories and whether it is worthwhile for you to invest in the pricier options or stick to a more budget-friendly stylus.

1. Choice of Materials

One of the most influential factors that affects a stylus’ overall cost is the types of materials used in its design.

More expensive styluses will typically utilize higher quality materials, that ensure maximum:

  • Flexibility
  • Durability
  • Ergonomics
  • Visual appeal

And this means everything from the stylus’ exterior material to its nib to the wiring and other electronic components inside.

An easy example would be to compare stylus housing materials. Cheap styluses tend to use inexpensive materials like low quality plastics and rubber that will ensure a sub $10 price tag, but probably won’t last long or be overly comfortable to use.

Comparatively, more expensive styluses will use more stainless steel, aluminum, or high-quality rubber to guarantee everything housed inside the stylus is safe without reducing the tools ergonomics.

2. Included Features

Another big contributing factor of why certain styluses seem to cost so much is that, once you look at their product description, you’ll notice most come with a long list of additional features to improve your overall experience. A lot of cheap styluses are nothing more than passive, pen-like tools made of cheap plastic with a rubber tip. The only thing they can do is help you interact with a capacitive screen.

Once you start upgrading to more expensive styluses, you’ll find they’re equipped with top-notch features, such as:

  • Palm rejection
  • Double tap
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Tilt sensitivity
  • Access buttons

These features allow more expensive styluses to outperform their budget-friendly competitors exponentially, especially when it comes to precision and convenience.

Of course, the electrical components and software that make these features possible are also more expensive to produce. Not just in the materials themselves, but in the time and effort it took for developers to research and implement them.

3. Active vs. Passive

There are two layers to this reason. The first is the overall design that a stylus utilizes in order to function, and then second is the additional internal and external designs that are implemented to support the first and enhance the product as a whole.

Styluses are predominantly split into one of two categories when it comes to overall internal design: active or passive.

A passive stylus contains no electronics whatsoever and relies on the digitizer in the device it’s being used with to interpret its movements. An active stylus, on the other hand, contains internal electrical components that allow the stylus to communicate with its paired device more effectively.

People rarely opt for a passive stylus unless they’re really in a financial pinch due to their sub-par performance. This is why most styluses are active, which are much more expensive to create because of those internal components.

4. Stylus Type/Compatibility

If you were to compare a selection of active styluses, you’d realize that there is still a noticeable range in their cost. Another reason for this has to do with the stylus type.

Active styluses tend to fall within one of three categories that dictates their compatibility. These include:

  • Wacom
  • Capacitive
  • Bluetooth

Of these designs, Wacom-compatible styluses are typically the most expensive for various reasons including their limited competition as a graphics tablet company, their innovative features, and their overall superb design permitting nearly unmatched performance.

Comparatively, most cheap styluses are compatible with capacitive touchscreens because they don’t require any special features or internal components. The most notable exception to this rule is styluses created by Apple, which are some of the most expensive styluses on the market and implement a capacitive design.

Bluetooth-compatible styluses are in the middle of the pack, offering a happy medium between price and features. To be clear, there are some Wacom and capacitive styluses that have Bluetooth features, but this is not integral to their overall functionality.

5. Other Design Factors

Once the aforementioned internal design choices are made, then you can start considering other ones that affect a stylus’ cost.

For instance, a stylus with a sleek and ergonomic design is going to cost more than a basic and straightforward one. This again ties into our previous point on materials used to achieve this goal.

It’s also important to look at the technology used for these devices that might be driving up the price. Apple is always a good example here. The Apple pencil features a myriad of technological wonders, such as nine-axis gyroscope tilt detection technology which helps ensure ultimate precision.

Was this design choice absolutely necessary for the stylus to function? No. But it does guarantee the Apple Pencil outperforms nearly any other stylus on the market, so for some, the additional cost of this technology is justified.

6. Brand Reputation

This isn’t the factor that contributes the most to a styluses overall price, but it certainly affects it to some degree.

Prominent stylus brands, like Apple and Wacom, can charge slightly more for their products simply because of the brand reputation for creating high-quality products that are worth the price tag.

Yes, a significant amount of research and development time, marketing, and other factors went into creating this product that warrants the cost, but these brands can charge a bit more on name alone to ensure a profit because they know people will pay for it.

This largely comes down to consumers trusting the brand enough to feel comfortable investing in their products, even if they’re offered at prices that far exceed competitors.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to such a specialized and niche product like a stylus, there are quite a few factors that contribute to the overall cost. Most of it comes down to the product’s materials, features, and overall design. After you’ve learned the reasons listed here, the next step is to ask yourself whether the pricing of these styluses is justified or if a cheaper option is the best choice for you.