Apple is rumored to be working on a new version of the Apple Pencil stylus that will feature a hidden USB-C port, allowing users to directly charge and pair the accessory. While not yet officially confirmed, reports from supply chain sources and leaked images suggest the new Apple Pencil could launch alongside the next iPad Pro models expected later this year. Here’s a look at what we know so far about the potential features and capabilities of a USB-C Apple Pencil.
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Rumors Point to Hidden USB-C Port
The key rumor surrounding the new Apple Pencil is the inclusion of a hidden USB-C port built right into the body of the stylus. According to reports, the USB-C connector will be concealed under a detachable magnetic cap at the non-tip end of the Apple Pencil. By simply sliding this cap off, users would be able to directly plug a USB-C cable into the Pencil itself to charge it without the need for wirelessly charging from the iPad.
This new charging method would mirror how other styluses like the Logitech Crayon charge via USB-C. The addition of a wired charging port would make keeping the Apple Pencil powered up away from the iPad much more convenient.
Direct Pairing Potential via USB-C
In addition to charging, the hidden USB-C port may also enable direct wired pairing between the new Apple Pencil and compatible iPad models. Existing Apple Pencils require a wireless Bluetooth pairing process to connect with iPads, but a USB-C port would theoretically allow for a wired syncing process.
After plugging the USB-C Apple Pencil into the iPad, the two devices could handshake and instantly pair without needing to go through Bluetooth. This would further improve the pairing experience and allow the Apple Pencil to be used right away without delay.
Compatibility With USB-C iPads
For the hidden USB-C connector on the new Apple Pencil to work, it will need compatible iPad models with USB-C ports rather than Lightning. Potentially, this means the new Apple Pencil could debut alongside the rumored iPad Pro updates planned for later in 2022.
The latest iPad Air and iPad mini already feature USB-C connectivity, so they would likely support the direct-charging smart connector Apple Pencil as well. However, the entry-level 10th generation iPad still uses Lightning, so the USB-C Apple Pencil may only work with the more premium iPad offerings to start.
Matte Finish and New Color Options
Renders and images of Apple Pencil dummy units provide a first look at the potential new design. The overall shape and size appears nearly identical to the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, even featuring the same flat edge. However, the new model will supposedly have an exterior matte finish instead of glossy.
Colors are rumored to go beyond just white, with potential for black, silver, and even a gold or copper shade. The simple matte colors would differentiate the more affordable USB-C Apple Pencil from the higher-end 2nd gen model while still retaining a premium feel.
Pressure Sensitivity Up in the Air
One key question is whether the new USB-C Apple Pencil will maintain all the same pressure and tilt-sensitivity features that allow for creative shading and drawing effects in apps like Procreate. The flat edge design suggests pressure sensitivity will be included, but limiting sensitivity could be one way Apple differentiates this model from the more advanced Bluetooth Apple Pencil.
Lacking pressure sensitivity would position the new Apple Pencil more like a basic stylus for navigation and tapping rather than an artistic tool. However, the addition of USB-C could offset any potential limitations in responsiveness for usersfocused more on utility.
Lower Price Point Expected
Pricing for the USB-C Apple Pencil is rumored to come in quite a bit lower than the 2nd gen Apple Pencil’s $129 cost. Potentially, the new Apple Pencil could match the $79 price point of the Logitech Crayon, which lacks pressure and tilt features. This would make the stylus more affordable for educational markets while still offering core Pencil capabilities.
However, Apple could opt to price the new model anywhere between $99 and $119 to split the difference versus the higher-end Pencil for pro users. The official pricing will come down to the exact feature set of the USB-C model.
Launch Timeframe Unknown
Reports point to an unveiling of the USB-C Apple Pencil alongside the new iPad Pro, which is rumored for the Fall 2022 timeframe. However, Apple could opt to announce the Pencil on its own or hold it until the Spring 2023 iPad refresh.
Ultimately, the launch schedule remains uncertain, as supply chain challenges could alter Apple’s plans. But the company likely aims to debut the new Apple Pencil alongside its next major iPad updates to showcase the direct-charging and pairing capabilities.
A Smart Compromise for Practicality and Price
While the new USB-C Apple Pencil may lack some features of the higher-end Pro models, the addition of a direct charging connector could make it the perfect blend of practicality and affordability. For those who want the basic Pencil experience for navigation, note-taking, and simple drawing, wired charging will be a highly convenient benefit.
The new connectors, colors, and lower price point help differentiate the stylus from the premium Pencil target at artists willing to pay more for pressure sensitivity. Ultimately, the rumored USB-C Apple Pencil looks to hit a smart middle ground, bringing core Apple Pencil capabilities to more mainstream iPad and education users in an affordable package.
We’ll have to wait for official word from Apple to find out if the USB-C Apple Pencil becomes a reality and delivers the rumored enhancements. But if the leaks and reports hold true, an Apple Pencil with direct connector charging could arrive by early 2023, delivering new levels of convenience and capability while staying budget-friendly.
Table Summary of Rumored Features
|Charging Method||Hidden USB-C port under magnetic cap|
|Pairing Process||Potential direct wired pairing via USB-C|
|Supported iPad Models||iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad mini (USB-C models)|
|Finish and Color||Matte black, silver, gold/copper|
|Pressure Sensitivity||Unclear if full Pro Pencil sensitivity|
|Price||$79 – $119 estimated, vs. $129 2nd gen Pencil|
|Launch Timeframe||Alongside next iPad Pro, late 2022 or early 2023|
The rumored new Apple Pencil with a built-in USB-C charging port represents an intriguing product direction for Apple. It aims to expand the Pencil experience to more mainstream users in education and basic productivity scenarios while retaining some key features like low latency. However, professionals requiring maximum creative capabilities will likely remain best served by the higher-end Apple Pencil models.
Ultimately, the addition of USB-C could strike the right balance between functionality, convenience and affordability. But we’ll have to wait for official confirmation from Apple on the existence of this new Apple Pencil and its capabilities. While rumors point to a late 2022 launch, supply chain issues could easily push release plans into 2023.