Apple Devices

SonarPen: The Cheaper iPad Pro Stylus Alternative to the Apple Pencil

By on
iPad Pro
PHOTOGRAPH: YouTube/Greenbulb |

Apple’s iPad Pro is commendable in its own right, but as a tablet for digital illustration, it requires yet another pricey add-on: the Apple Pencil. While the iPad Pro can cost you anywhere from $799 to $1,149 — depending on the model you pick up — the Apple Pencil is a separate purchase that will cost you $99. This may be too high a price tag to justify making a purchase for just one accessory, which is why it’s worth checking out a much more affordable alternative in the form of Greenbulb’s SonarPen.

What is the SonarPen?

Similar to the Apple Pencil, the SonarPen is capable of being pressure-sensitive for your iPad. Accurate pressure sensitivity ultimately makes for more diverse brush strokes on your digital illustrations. At $30, it’s clearly a much cheaper option next to the Apple Pencil.

A significant difference between the SonarPen and the Apple Pencil is in the installation. Whereas the Apple Pencil operates via Bluetooth, the SonarPen connects through a headphone jack. The SonarPen relies on audio signal in order to relay touch and pressure data back to the tablet. Additionally, it also supports palm rejection, thus providing a more fluid user experience.

The SonarPen on the iPad Pro

Seeing as the SonarPen connects via headphone jack, it is thus a universal Apple Pencil alternative that can connect to practically any device. According to reports, the SonarPen performs well on not just the iPad Pro, but older iPad models as well. The SonarPen is consistently responsive, though it is not without its own fair share of cons.

For one, it’s not a wireless stylus like the Apple Pencil. This may be a bit of a hassle for some users as its wire may get in the way of work. Additionally, there were reported occasions when the SonarPen was not be detected by a device. This, however, is easily remedied by simply re-plugging the SonarPen.

It’s worth noting that the SonarPen does not require its own app. Simply selecting the SonarPen in supported sketching or note-taking apps is enough to install it. However, this may become a limitation in the long run. While it may be compatible with such apps, it also means that developers will need to individually add support for the SonarPen to their apps.


Greenbulb launched the SonarPen via crowdfunding on Kickstarter. As the company’s goal of $25,573 has already been surpassed, the SonarPen is thus expected to ship in June.

To Top