So you've got a tablet, be that an Android, iPad or Windows powered device. Maybe you've got a phablet or just a bog-standard smartphone. Whatever you have, the chances are that it will have a capacitive touch screen. Most people, however, won't have got a stylus. The reasons are straightforward enough: 'I come equipped with a finger, thank you' and, well, that's it actually. For those people who have experienced stylus enlightenment, there's no turning back. A stylus brings more precise input to your device, be that just launching apps, using the on-screen keyboard or maybe getting a little more adventurous than playing Angry Birds by drawing friendly ones with an art app. Not only does a stylus bring precision, it removes an awful lot of dirt. Fingers, well mine at least, are not the cleanest of things and come complete with sweat and oils which leave a residue on your device screen. Indeed, there's a whole industry out there which revolves around the cleaning of fingerprints from screens.
Let's assume you have found stylus religion and decided to join the ever-growing army of pointy-feely recruits; the big question that emerges at this point is 'which one should I buy?' and the answer is usually lost in a sea of claims to be the best, the cheapest, the longest lasting. Having bought and tried pretty much every different kind of stylus over the last few years, if you factor in the word 'cheapest' then you can factor out 'longest lasting' as a result. Truth be told, and here's the real problem, even premium products suffer from the same lack of tip longevity. Which reduces the sensible choice to those items which come with replaceable tips, and thankfully there are a good many to choose from. Nearly all of which feel very much like the thin bit of metal or plastic in your hand that they are. They do not, with one exception, feel like they will last forever. That exception is the Maglus.
From the moment this beauty arrives through the letterbox, you know you have invested rather a lot of money (for a pointy stick) rather wisely. The unboxing is almost as exciting as unboxing a new iPhone. Indeed, the attention to design detail extends to the packaging in a similar way that Apple achieves. The outer slip cover removes to reveal a simple black cardboard box with a magnetic flap along one edge; open this and the chunk of precision-hewn aluminium that is the Maglus is front and centre with what looks like a bullet underneath and nameplate for good measure.
The bullet is actually a storage capsule for the replacement tips, it comes with one but you buy more for £5.99 a pair, that attaches to your key fob. I was a little wary of this at first, as I've had some bad experiences of screw-to-close devices opening up in my pocket or out and about, usually involving the loss of the contents. However, after a few weeks the screw-seal is as tight as ever and is testament to the attention to detail of the folk over at Applydea, even the tip holder has premium build quality.
The nameplate turns out to be a metal strip, engraved discretely with the Maglus branding but not so that it shouts it out to everyone, which can be attached to a tablet case or anywhere you like really for storage of the stylus assuming you don't want to, or cannot, just stick the stylus on the side of your tablet or phone. Ah yes, you see the Maglus is magnetic. Not just any cheap old magnetic either, destined to fall off in your bag or in the coffee shop, but premium quality and super-strong neodymium magnets. These things are truly strong, yet take the form of a couple of black rubberized rubbing strips along the side of the stylus itself. Combine these with your tablet itself (it was originally designed for an iPad and sticks to them like glue) or the attached metal plate (mine is on my favourite Moko case) wherever it is attached, and your stylus is going nowhere. I carry my Nexus 7 2013 around with me in a messenger bag where it is thrown in with some other stuff, and the Maglus has never once come free. I am, if I am honest, amazed at this. Some say that little things please small minds, in which case I have a very small mind as this little touch has pleased me greatly.
Which just leaves us to consider the whole point of this review, the Maglus stylus itself. The almost crayon shaped stylus is hewn from a solid piece of aircraft grade aluminium and designed with flat sides so that it lays flat against your tablet for a tighter magnetic seal. Which is nice, but nicer is that this also makes it sit in your hand so naturally as to almost defy description. Of all the stylus types I have tried, from pen-alike to stubby fat crayons and thin Japanese writing brushes, the Maglus is far and away the most comfortable to hold and use. It's almost like waking up to find you have had Robocop's finger grafted onto your hand. The 139mm x 9mm x 13mm dimensions are just right, not too long or short, while the weight of 35g is enough to feel substantial without causing finger fatigue in use. At 7mm, the ultra conductive silicone tip is a good compromise size that will suit most needs from icon stabbing through to keyboard typing and even fine art creation. I own an Amazon 'executive' stylus with three different size tips, all slightly smaller which you might think would be more precise and therefore productive, but actually the Maglus does not suffer in either regard. Quite the opposite in fact, it's a very firm feeling tip that is coupled with high sensitivity. In use this translates to only requiring the lightest of taps and touches to result in very accurate input indeed.
So why should you buy a £30 stylus? Well, apart from the seriously impressive build quality and eye catching design (compare both with the lack of build quality and generic, bland, OEM variants that flood the stylus market) there's the value for money equation to consider which I know seems a little counter-intuitive but bear with me. Inferior products, which is all of them in my opinion, are simply not made to last. They are disposable items from the get go. Those with non-replaceable tips make the least economic sense as they will have to be replaced within anything from a week to a few months depending upon the quality of the tip. As most of these seem to use very cheap silicones and rubbers, my experience suggests weeks rather than months. Even those that can replace the tips are no bargain as a rule, charging a slight premium to begin with and having tips that last no longer. Many of the tip holding systems are flawed, with cheap metal fixings that look positively unfriendly to any screen they may be near when the rubber rips. The pen style devices themselves, again in my experience, literally lose their shine (or matte black paintwork) after a few weeks in a bag, and the pen clips fall off or break. The Maglus is not cheap, I admit that (how could I not) but the value proposition is this: it's the last stylus you will ever need to buy. The design and build quality are such that I feel sure this thing is going to look as good in 5 years as it does now, and it looks bloody great now I can tell you. The tips are of a decent quality, no corners have been cut here, and I would expect them to last much longer (well into the months rather than weeks) than cheaper alternatives if treated properly. By which I mean don't press too hard, don't fiddle with the tips etc. Even the depth of the tip combined with the screw-in holding mechanism design fill me with confidence that when the silicone does eventually split I'm not going to be holding a tablet screen destroyer.
And before you ask, no I am not employed by Applydea nor did I get the Maglus as a review item; I paid for it out of my own pocket having heard so many word of mouth recommendations from people whose opinions I trust...