No. You don’t need a stylus for your Apple Watch.
Seriously, folks. I’ve had three different people email me to ask to do a roundup of the best styluses for Apple Watch since the device’s launch, and all I can kind of do is shake my head.
Unlike the iPad or even the iPhone, the Watch isn’t designed to be an in-depth sketching platform. No one’s looking to the artist who will make the first gallery-ready “Watch drawings”. Digital Touch is fun, and there are plenty of ways to get better at it, but a stylus is not practical for sketching. Where are you going to keep it? Behind your ear? In a bag? Clipped to the underside of your super-classy Watch band?
But because I love you crazy people, I tried it.
Spoiler: it really stinks.
A capacitative stylus does give you slightly more control when writing, but that control is offset by buttons getting in the way. On the Digital Touch screen, the touch targets for back, color change, and info are so large that it’s almost impossible to draw near a corner without triggering one of them. You may be getting a tenth of a percent of control with your letters or linework, but does that really matter when your drawing is going to be sent half-finished?
And speaking of digital touch targets, let’s talk about precision. We use styluses in part because they help us have greater stability while drawing, and in part because they feel more precise. The Digital Touch interface, however, isn’t exactly designed for tiny nibs: It’s built around your finger. As such, even a stylus nib isn’t going to give you the perfect dots and lines you want — because the screen simply isn’t designed to take more precise touch targets.
If you need a stylus for accessibility reasons, that’s another matter entirely, of course. A stylus can provide more stability, as I mentioned above, and if you’re just looking for something to help you interact with your device, it’s certainly an option — you have to figure out what’s going to be best for you when using the Watch.
But for drawing, at the end of the day, I don’t really see any sort of material benefit using a stylus over using your finger. Your finger is sloppier, yes, but you know what? It’s what the Watch was built for. If you want to send goofy stylus pictures to your friends, there are a ton of iPhone and iPad apps that can make that happen.