I make no bones about the fact that I am impatiently waiting on Apple to add Pencil compatibility to the iPhone experience. I’ve been waiting since the first moment I saw the Apple Pencil demoed on stage with the original iPad Pro. While I absolutely understand Apple’s reasoning in pairing it with the iPad as its initial platform, there are confirmed use cases, as well as a confirmed market for a quality stylus paired with a large-screen phone. Samsung has turned this formula into a second flagship platform.
I initially hoped that last year would bring us an iPhone 7 model with Apple Pencil support, especially when there were rumors of an iPhone 7 Pro floated early on in the production cycle. However, those rumors quieted in the lead up to actual release, and we were left to wait another year. However, even before the first 7 and 7 Pluses were delivered, we were hearing rumors that Apple was going all out for their 10 year anniversary iPhone. The Pencil skipping one more generation made perfect sense then.
As the early rumors of the iPhone 8 began to describe a device that would sport new technologies such as wireless charging and facial scanning, as well as making a significant departure from the legacy design of the 6/6S/7, it seemed natural that Apple Pencil support would be included, as well. There was actually an Apple patent filing posted by Patently Apple last December related to using the Pencil with a phone. Here was some actual evidence that seemed to point to coming stylus support. I also felt that Apple stopping short of releasing an iPad Mini Pro alongside the new Pro models pointed to the possibility of Pencil support for the iPhone filling that smaller-screen role.
Unfortunately, the rumors of Pencil support have cooled dramatically since then, and considering how much scrutiny the iPhone 8 has received every step of the way, that probably isn’t a good thing. If Pencil Support had been added, it likely would have been seen by now among the steady part and component leaks over the last few weeks,
Now we have a new patent application that Patently Apple posted last week, showing that Apple isn’t done at least considering adding Pencil compatibility to the iPhone. However, at this point in the iPhone 8 development cycle, this likely doesn’t refer to something about to be released. Rather, this likely points to possibilities with the iPhone 9 and beyond. I suppose the fact that this is still at least a possibility is a positive, but I can’t help feeling that Apple is missing an opportunity here.
I’ll still be waiting to pre-order the iPhone 8, and I feel confident based on what we know (which is pretty much everything at this point) that I will be very happy with it. However, in the back of my mind, I’ll still be looking forward to the iPhone 9 with anticipation that we will finally get Apple Pencil support. The ability to use my phone as a portable digital notepad that I can take anywhere is something I won’t ever lose interest in. I’ve seen the power of the Pencil in several applications on the iPad Pro, and being able to have that with me everywhere, all the time, will take that to the next level.
I know exactly what most Android users would tell me right now, but I don’t want stylus support enough to switch to Android for a Samsung Note. I will admit that I did take a long look at the Note 7 last year (before the battery issues came to mainstream attention, obviously). However, there are still apps that I depend on that either don’t exist, or are sub-standard on Android, and I love my Apple Watch and didn’t want to have to part with it, either. I’m not an Android hater, and the Note 8 looks like a great device, but they just aren’t for me. I will just try to stay patient and hope that Apple will eventually come full circle from Steve Jobs’ comments on the stylus years ago.
What do you think about potential Apple Pencil support on a future iPhone? Would you love to see this, or does it just not matter? For those who do want to see stylus support, is it a big enough deal that you would consider leaving the iPhone for a Samsung Note? Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.