When I bought a 10.5-inch iPad Pro last year, I got it with Apple’s $159 Smart Keyboard and $99 Apple Pencil. The Smart Keyboard has been a big win — I’ve been impressed with how firmly its magnetic Smart Connector attaches to the iPad and with the feel and responsiveness of its keys.
The Apple Pencil, on the other hand, has mostly gone unused. Part of that is that I’m not a graphics guy, so my main use of the Apple Pencil is sketching and handwriting in Notes, and even those aren’t daily activities. But it’s also hard to keep track of the Apple Pencil. It’s usually lost on my desk or rattling around in the small bag I use to carry the iPad Pro. In other words, it’s seldom at hand, and I worry about breaking a tip, damaging it, or not noticing it fall from the bag.
Apple implicitly acknowledges that the Apple Pencil is something that needs protecting by making two products: the $29 Apple Pencil Case and the $129 Leather Sleeve for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Both are leather and are likely well-constructed, but they seem to miss the point. The Apple Pencil Case is purely protective and doesn’t attach to the iPad Pro in any way. And the Leather Sleeve, while it includes a slot for the Apple Pencil, is just a sleeve — you have to remove the iPad Pro to use it, thus separating it from the Apple Pencil. And while it may be priced competitively, $129 is a lot to pay if corralling the Apple Pencil is the main goal.
For a less expensive and more functional solution, accessory manufacturer Twelve South has introduced the PencilSnap. Like the Apple Pencil Case, the PencilSnap is a svelte leather case for the Apple Pencil, but it goes one step further and adds hidden magnets that keep the PencilSnap attached to any magnetic surface, such as Apple’s Smart Cover or Smart Keyboard (or Twelve South’s own SurfacePad case). Without such a case, the PencilSnap would act just like the Apple Pencil Case, protecting but not attaching.
On an iPad Pro outfitted with a Smart Keyboard, the PencilSnap adheres to either of the iPad’s long edges, or to a spot about a third of the way in from the hinge. (Other cases and covers may have different attachment spots.)
For just keeping it in place, all three spots work, so if you’re using the Apple Pencil and need to slide it back into the PencilSnap and move on, you can just slap it anywhere it sticks, although the edge of the Smart Keyboard that opens seems to be the most obvious and provides the strongest adhesion. It’s also easy to take off there as you open the iPad Pro and fold up the Smart Keyboard.
However, if you need only the Smart Keyboard and want to leave the PencilSnap attached, that spot works poorly, since the PencilSnap ends up underneath the Smart Keyboard, making it unusable.
Equally awkward is the edge next to the Smart Keyboard’s hinge, since then the PencilSnap gets wedged between the iPad Pro and the angled part of the Smart Keyboard stand. Then the iPad is too vertical and can tip forward.
The best spot for stashing the PencilSnap is instead the middle spot, about a third of the way in from the hinge. When it’s there, you can open and close the iPad Pro without dislodging the PencilSnap or affecting the iPad Pro’s stability.
Don’t fear the Apple Pencil sliding out of the PencilSnap. Perhaps it will loosen up over time, but out of the box, the PencilSnap holds Apple’s stylus snugly. It’s so tight, in fact, that I found it was necessary to hold the Apple Pencil just below the cap on the Lightning connector when pushing it in or pulling it out, since pushing or pulling on the cap seemed like too much pressure.
There’s no magic here, just good industrial design and attention to detail. The PencilSnap costs $29 and comes in either black or light brown leather. If you’re worried about losing or damaging your Apple Pencil, Twelve South’s PencilSnap will both protect your $99 stylus and help keep it with your iPad Pro.
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