Surface Slim Pen vs Surface Pen: Full Comparison

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If you don’t have time to read this article, then when comparing the Surface Slim Pen vs Surface Pen, the Surface Slim Pen is the better choice for those with the latest Surface devices who can make use of its accuracy and extra features, while the Surface Pen is a good budget choice for those with older devices.

When you are looking for a new pen for your Surface Pro, Surface Laptop or Surface Book, you will naturally gravitate to the tried and tested Surface Pen, which was first released back in 2012 and is now on its fourth generation.

But there is a new contender on the scene in the Surface Slim Pen 2, recently released to coincide with the Surface Pro 8. This is the pen I use day-to-day for photo editing when not using my drawing tablet, and I highly recommend it.

But why is the Surface Slim Pen 2 vs Surface Pen such a compelling option when compared with its more established rival?

Well, there are a few differences between the pens in terms of performance and usability that you can see in this article, which should help you to decide exactly which is right for you.


surface slim pen vs surface pen

Surface Slim Pen 2 vs 1

Before we get into comparing the Slim Pen with the Surface Pen, it’s useful to take a quick overview of how the Slim Pen has been improved as it moved from version 1 to 2.

surface slim pen 1
Surface Slim Pen 1
(Image Credit: Microsoft)

The original Surface Slim Pen had many of the advantages of the Slim Pen 2, such as wireless charging and a flat profile, but performance has been improved upon with the Surface Slim Pen 2.

Slim Pen 2
Surface Slim Pen 2

The Surface Slim Pen 2 now has zero force inking to better detect when the pen nib is hovering above the screen, and haptic feedback added, which replicates the feeling of using a real pencil on paper, even though you are drawing on a smooth screen. The button position has also been moved, making it less likely that you will accidently click it when drawing when compared to the Surface Slim Pen 1.


Surface Pen

The Surface Pen has currently been through four versions, with the latest version released in 2017. We’ll cover all of its key features below, when examining the difference between the Surface Pen vs Surface Slim Pen.

surface pen
Surface Pen
(Image Credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Pen has a much wider range of compatible devices than the Slim Pen, but also needs to be powered by regular batteries, and is of an older, less usable design.


Surface Slim Pen vs Surface Pen

We’ll compare the Surface Slim Pen vs Surface Pen based on a range of criteria that are relevant to everyone who wants to use their pen for drawing, photo editing, note taking or simple web browsing, to give you the full lowdown on each pen.

The criteria that we will explore are:

  • Design
  • Size
  • Nib Type
  • Haptic Feedback
  • Wireless Charging
  • Accuracy
  • Buttons
  • Compatibility
  • Price

By looking at this full comparison of the pens across all these domains, it become clear exactly which pen is right for you.


Design

When it comes to the design, there are several noticeable differences that you can take into account when it comes to opting for one of the two.

Essentially, the Surface Slim Pen 2 comes in a single black color while the Surface Pen gives you several color options that include platinum, black, burgundy, aqua and cobalt blue, although the latter depends on where you buy it from.

surface pen colors
Surface Pen Color Options
(Image Credit: Microsoft)

The shape is also slightly different. While the Surface Slim Pen 2 has a thin, lean and sleeker design, the Surface Pen comes in a longer, cylindrical shape.

The former is also a bit lighter (0.03 pounds or 13 grams) as compared to the latter (0.04 pounds or 20 grams).


Size

In terms of the size, you can expect minor differences when it comes to the Surface Slim Pen 2 and the Surface Pen. Overall, the Surface Slim Pen 2 is slightly smaller in size as compared to the Surface Pen.

slim pen in hand
Surface Slim Pen 2

This can make it more comfortable for you to hold and maneuver the former, while the latter might feel a bit big in your hand while also causing a bit of strain. On the other hand, it is possible that you might prefer a bigger size if you have larger hands, for the control it can give you.

The difference, however, is not too big. While the Surface Slim Pen 2 measures 5.38” x 0.44” x 0.25” in its dimensions, the Surface Pen measures 5.75” x 0.38” x 0.38”.


Nib

The nibs of the two stylus pens are different as well. The Surface Slim Pen 2 has a much sharper tip as compared to the Surface Pen. This can make it easier for you to write things down and draw stuff as you would like without losing out on the desired thickness.

slim pen nib
Surface Slim Pen 2 Nib

In this sense, therefore, the Surface Slim Pen 2 can allow you to make sharper, cleaner and neater strokes on the digital ‘paper’. This is much closer to the Apple Pencil design (and mimics a regular pencil), while the Surface Pen has more of a ballpoint pen vibe.

surface pen and surface pro
Surface Pen
(Image Credit: Microsoft)

Haptic Feedback

Haptic feedback generally refers to the realistic feeling of using a stylus with the same kind of vibrations, force and pressure as you would expect from a regular pen or pencil.

The Surface Slim Pen 2 can provide this kind of haptic feedback, making it seem like you are actually drawing or writing on paper. This can make the overall experience a lot more realistic, such as when you want to erase a bit of your work, highlight some text or add overlaps.

This function can only work with the Surface Laptop Studio and the Surface Pro 8 with Windows 11 in certain apps, at present. This kind of haptic feedback is not available in the Surface Pen.

Personally, I find the haptic feedback to be pretty incredible. You don’t notice that the vibrations are coming from a motor within the pen – it really feels like there is resistance when moving the pen across the screen, exactly as you would get with paper, with feedback increasing in intensity as you press harder on the pen.

surface slim pen haptic feedback

Wireless Charging

There are several methods that you can use when it comes to charging your Surface Slim Pen 2, although these do not include wired charging. If you do not have a compatible Surface device, then you must buy a separate wireless charger.

A new way in which you can also charge this pen is through wireless charging by simply attaching this pen through its magnetic feature to your Surface Pro Signature Keyboard, Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover.

This works very well and keeps the Surface Slim Pen 2 constantly topped up and ready to go. I have never had it run out of charge when I need it. Also, with the Surface Pro 8 and the new keyboard, the pen is hidden away when not in use – you pull the keyboard out to access it – which is a very handy feature.

surface slim pen storage
The Surface Pro 8 keyboard snaps into place against the screen, hiding the pen storage
surface slim pen charging
Pulling the keyboard out reveals the pen

On the other hand, the Surface Pen comes with AAAA batteries that you cannot recharge and will need to physically replace when the pen runs out of charge.


Accuracy

How accurate your stylus is can depend on the pressure levels along with the tilt sensitivity. The former can offer differences in terms of thickness based on the pressure you apply while the latter can offer differences in terms of shading based on how you tilt or angle your pen, both of which are helpful to replicate the real feel of a pen or pencil on paper.

In this case, the pressure levels offered by both the Surface Slim Pen 2 and the Surface Pen are of 4,096 units, amounting to a great capacity for accurate results on the screen. Dedicated drawing tablets like the Wacom Intuos Pro offer double this level of pressure sensitivity, but I own both and do not notice the difference in practice.

surface slim pen accuracy
Surface Slim Pen 2 on Surface Pro 8

The Surface Slim Pen 2 does come with better tilt sensitivity though, which is noticeable in practice, and also includes zero force inking that ensures that there is no delay in the response on the screen.

A quick demonstration of the accuracy of the Surface Pen

The only other area in terms of accuracy where there is a noticeable difference is in jitter. This is the lines not drawing smoothly on the screen, and ‘jumping’ around to a small degree during your strokes.

The Surface Pen is much more susceptible to jitter, while the Slim Pen 2 seems to have eliminated it according to my experience.

If you care about a smooth, accurate drawing experience, then the Slim Pen 2 is the better choice here.


Buttons

Buttons are present on the Surface Slim Pen 2 as well as the fourth-generation Surface Pen.

In the former, there are two buttons including one on the side and one at the top. The button at the top can offer you eraser functionality in case you want to erase something you wrote or drew on the screen, and clicking it opens Microsoft Whiteboard by default.

You can press the side button in case you want to change the tool or setting to something else, although this can sometimes be hard to press due to its flat design. It really blends in with the body, meaning that you can’t accidently press it as you could with the Slim Pen 1, but does mean that it is hard to find by touch alone.

surface slim pen buttons
Dual-button on the Slim Pen 2
surface slim pen eraser
Eraser and top button on the Slim Pen 2

The Surface Pen has a barrel button along with a tail eraser. The button here is slightly more accessible, but this is dependent on the version of the Surface Pen that you are looking at.


Compatibility

Both the Surface Slim Pen 2 and the Surface Pen are compatible with a wide range of Microsoft Devices, with the former also being compatible with non-Surface devices that have a Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP) in place.

However, the Surface Pen is still compatible with a lot more devices as compared to the Surface Slim Pen 2. Moreover, the Surface Slim Pen 2 offers some of its features on only a select few devices.


Price

The Surface Slim Pen 2 is a bit more expensive as compared to the Surface Pen when bought standalone, which is reasonable considering its more recent launch as well as more extensive and detailed features. This can have an impact on your decision based on your requirements and budgetary needs.

Note that the Surface Slim Pen 2 can be purchased in a pack with the Keyboard which is much better value than buying it on its own.

surface slim pen and keyboard
Surface Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pro Signature Keyboard

Final Remarks

Through this comparison guide, you now know all there is to know about the differences between the Surface Slim Pen 2 and the Surface Pen. Overall, the Surface Slim Pen 2 can be a better choice in terms of its features and upgrades, although the Surface Pen can is also a perfectly reasonable choice.

One area where the Slim Pen 2 really outperforms the Surface Pen is in terms of jitter, with the Slim Pen 2 giving a much smoother drawing experience. Given that the prices are not too different, and the Slim Pen 2 works with most Surface devices, this would be my preferred choice.

Surface Slim Pen 2

Surface Slim Pen 2

The best choice for outright drawing performance and up-to-date features. Cheaper with the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard.

Surface Pen

Surface Pen

A good budget choice for those without the latest devices, who can’t make use of all of the Slim Pen 2’s features.


Read More:

How to choose the best stylus for a laptop

What is the best drawing tablet?

Which is the best laptop for drawing?

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