just mobile alupen

The Just Mobile AluPen is a unique design among other stylus pens. Designed to mimic an artist's pencil, it is, as expected, a great drawing and painting tool.

The difference is perceivable from a distance, as well as in the hand.  The AluPen is about double the thickness of the typical capacitive stylus. It is slightly heavier than the Kuel H12 but actually feels a bit lighter than the Adonit Jot Pro.

The AluPen more closely resembles a thick artist’s sketch pencil – which certainly helps it in certain applications.  The manufacturer’s web site actually refers to it as a “chunky penciled shape” stylus.

Read on for our full Just Mobile AluPen stylus review!

Criteria for judging a stylus

Think back to the first time you held a fine pen in your hands – not a BIC or a PaperMate pen  - but something really fine; think Montblanc, or Waterman.  Remember how you picked it up – ever so carefully; how you felt the weight and balance of the instrument.  Think about how the ink flowed from the nib onto the paper.  A quality pen helps your writing; a quality stylus helps your app experience.

The criteria for judging the stylus will be:

  1. Ergonomics
  2. Appearance and finish
  3. Nib/tip and sense of flow on the screen
  4. Handwriting precision
  5. Drawing/painting capabilities

Ergonomics

The AluPen is sort of an “acquired taste” when judging the feel in the hand. For me, one who does not spend a lot of time with artists tools or big, beefy pens – this seemed a bit…large for my tastes.

alupen

It is comfortable enough to hold and, I must admit, it got more comfortable as time went on.  It feels, however, that it should not be exacting or precise when writing.  Once I used it, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

One important factor in looking at  ergonomics is fatigue. A Stylus pen that is too heavy or to light may be uncomfortable for holding during long writing sessions.  The same goes for a pen that is too wide or too narrow. The AluPen is on the heavy side and on the wide side. I found that this combination produced a bit more fatigue than a better balanced “pen” type stylus like the Kuel H12 or the Wacom Bamboo,

Appearance and finish

The AluPen is made out of aluminum and has a nice satin finish to it.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it is possible to snap this stylus in two or break or dent it in any way.

From a distance, it really does look like an artist’s “chunky pencil” and it gives it a premium look and feel.  It is certainly a minimalist design, but one with a higher end appearance.

Nib/Tip and flow on screen

The AluPen uses a very soft and spongy nib – not unlike the Wacom Bamboo stylus. The tip appears to be a bit wider than most – probably coming in at around 8mm instead of the standard 6mm.

The AluPen is very quiet to use – both in activating icons and in writing or drawing on the screen. This is in start contrast to the Jot Pro which is only quiet when writing cursive.

Flow is very good with the AluPen – surprisingly so, The nib has great contact with the screen and writing really flows from the nib quite smoothly.  The wider nib means that fine lines are a bit harder to draw precisely, but not quite as hard as I had envisioned.

Writing in cursive was also pretty smooth with the AluPen. When using the Handwrite app, I was as comfortable writing as I was with pretty much any other stylus.

Handwriting precision

I tried a number of tests, as I have been doing in these stylus reviews, to examine handwriting precision. Dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s can be a challenge for some stylus pens and the AluPen did great with these.

The larger nib made it harder to actually see what I was doing on the screen. It didn’t inhibit my writing – but I did slow down a bit to see what I was actually doing since the pen blocked part of my view.

alupen and handwrite

Fatigue, as I mentioned above, was a problem when using this stylus. It is  heavier and needs to be held a bit differently than other stylus pens.  I did find that for long handwriting – such as journaling – this AluPen became a bit less precise as my hand got tired.

Drawing/painting capabilities

The AluPen  is really designed to replicate the experience of using an artist’s pencil – and it didn’t disappoint. For both casual drawing apps like OMGPOP’s Draw Something and more sophisticated art drawing apps like Sketchbook Mobile, the AluPen did a great job.

In Sketchbook Mobile, the AluPen surprised me a bit as I dig deeper. The feel in the hand made it great for sketching and coloring – as I would expect. However, there was actually a bit more “lag” when using the AluPen than with other stylus pens; I’m not sure why this was. Coupled with the large size, I felt the experience was just not quite as precise as I had hope for.

The Sketch tool and the Water Color tool worked great; the size of the pen and the feel in my hand really helped me feel like an “artist” when using these tools.

sketchbook

The wrap-up

The AluPen is clearly aimed more at the artist than the writer.

That being said, for apps like Handwrite, this was, surprisingly, an excellent stylus to use. Writing is fairly precise and legible and the flow on the screen is quite good; seeing what you write, however, is  a bit of a challenge.  

As an artist’s tool, this is a great stylus. It will feel and act familiar to an artist wanting to draw, sketch or paint.

For general navigation of the device – activating icons and swiping pages – this will also perform well.

The good

  • Feels like an artist's tool
  • Quality construction
  • Heavy and substantial feeling
  • Wide nib is good for painting and drawing

The bad

  • No replaceable nib
  • Wide nib makes it hard to see what you write

The verdict

The AluPen actually was better at writing than I had anticipated and it was more of a challenge in the art programs – the opposite of what was expected.

That being said, this will have a very familiar feel to artists and will be quite comfortable to hold.

The size was a detriment for handwriting apps.  I would feel much better about this stylus if the nib was replaceable.

Do you use a stylus on your Android phone or tablet? Have a favorite? Let us know in this forum thread.

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There are 2 comments

awal1987 says:

How squishy is the nib? I use Swype as my keyboard of choice on both my tablet and phone. My old stylus has a very squishy nib and tore after a while of use. Then I lost it :(

So would this stylus work with Swype and sliding across the sreen? I made a stylus using the sponge method, and that worked great as the nib was firm, but it looked so bad.

Gary Mazo says:

It is squishy but not too squishy -but it is a bit larger than some of the other stylus pens. If you use Swype, I would go for one of the Kuel stylus pens - they have a little hard tip under the nib which makes it great for text input.