5 Best Smart Pens for Artists in 2023

The Livescribe Symphony Smartpen is the best option for artists, striking a balance between comfort and accuracy. Those who prefer a robust pen may choose the Neo Smartpen N2 instead, whereas the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse suits those who require real-time transcriptions.

Sharing artwork in a digital format is generally preferred in our increasingly digital world, something that can be a hassle for traditional artists.

That’s where a smart pen can help such artists out. Smart pens simplify the conversion of traditional art into digital by recording each stroke made in an image or PDF format.

So, let’s look at some of the best smart pens and smart pen + notebook combinations you can purchase today.

Top 5 Smart Pens Reviewed

1. Best Overall: Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

For those looking for a smart pen that can transcribe multiple forms of input, the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen may be an option for you.

Using the Symphony smartpen, you can comfortably draw directly on dot-pattern paper while having a digital copy of the sketch on an external device. In our experience, both the sketch and its digital copy showcased a dark tone that varied with the pressure applied to the pen nib. 

And if you need to walk away from a sketch for a while, you can record audio messages to be reviewed upon return. The audio can be heard on the Livescribe+ app, which is played back from the very moment you hit the record button.

Moreover, the smart pen can accurately convert any audio message into text, which is also accessible through the Livescribe+ app. You can transcribe your handwritten notes in more than 28 languages as well. 

The Symphony pen can save your data in image, document, and PDF formats, in addition, to automatically syncing with cloud networks like Google Drive and Dropbox. That said, we were able to synchronize the pen with tablets, smartphones, and computers with relative ease.

And even if you choose not to sync the pen immediately with cloud networks, the pen can store up to 1200 A4 pages. 

There is a slight limitation to the syncing capabilities of the smart pen when it comes to multiple devices. Cloud sync doesn’t update the information on multiple devices, which means that the pen has to sync with each device separately for updates.

As for the battery life, the Symphony smart pen can last up to 90 days on standby before needing to be recharged.

Compatible Devices: Tablets, mobile devices, PCs | Battery Life: 90 days | Paper: Livescribe Dot Paper | Pen Weight: 0.001 ounces

2. Best Smart Pen Battery Life: Neo Smartpen N2 

If you prefer a smart pen with a long battery life, you may consider the Neo Smartpen N2.

Featuring up to 125 days of standby battery life, the smart pen can capture sketches in high quality. With the Neo N2, you can create sketches for a long while without tiring your hand.

It comes with a built-in camera that can also convert sketches and text into digital files. These files can be accessed through the Neo Studio app or by syncing the pen with tablets, smartphones, or Microsoft Windows computers.

That said, we found that the Neo Studio app cannot correct any input misreads, which may be an issue.

The Neo Smartpen is made using aluminum and stainless steel that enable it to withstand scratches and shocks easily.

This smart pen is capable of storing up to 128MB of data, which can translate to hundreds of image or text files. The data can be transferred to a different device at any point through the Free Cloud.

And to lean into its longevity, the Neo Smartpen comes with a standard D1-Type pen tip. So, when you need to refill the pen, you can easily find a replacement in any stationery store.

Compatible Devices: Tablets, PCs, smartphones | Battery Life: 125 days | Paper: Ncoded Paper | Pen Weight: 0.704 ounces

3. Most Accurate Smart Pen: Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Pen

The Moleskine smartpen is a sketching implement that can transfer your creations to devices in real time. Made using the Ncoded technology, the pen can double as a digital art implement as well when paired with a smart notebook.

You can use the pen to sketch comfortably with the elliptical build ensuring your fingers don’t get tired quickly. We detected very few errors while testing the product, making the Moleskine Pen+ a highly accurate device to start writing and sketching.

Once your creation is finished, you can save the data in various formats and edit it right away on an Android or Apple iOS device. You may use the dedicated Moleskine Notes app on your iPad Pro for this or use your preferred software instead.

The pen doesn’t run out of ink quickly, and if it does, the manufacturer has included a spare in the packaging. You may use the pen as an ordinary writing instrument as well if the need arises.

That said, the Moleskine Pen+ only works with the proprietary Moleskine notepads, which can be a drawback for those who already own a smart notebook.

Compatible Devices: Apple and Android devices | Battery Life: 125 days | Paper: Moleskine Smart Notebooks | Pen Weight: 9.9 ounces

4. Best for Audio Transcriptions: Livescribe Echo 2 Smartpen

The Livescribe Echo 2 smartpen is a device that can be used to record everything you sketch in the desired format.

Featuring an elliptical shape, the pen is fairly comfortable to hold and writes smoothly on smart paper. It comes with a knurled grip to make the writing experience easier on your fingers, which can be useful for lengthy sketching sessions.

This smart pen can link your audio recordings to sketches or projects you may be currently working on. And by tapping on your handwritten notes, you can replay audio directly from the paper. If you’re working on a lengthy project, this feature can allow you to link reminders or notes to the project.

The transcriptions made by the Echo 2 are fairly accurate, only missing a stroke once in a long while. You may then store the digital images or PDF files in an external device by syncing the pen with a smartphone, computer, laptop, or tablet.

We did find that the cap of the Echo 2 may be prone to splitting open, which can be an issue for frequent smartpen users.

Compatible Devices: Tablets, PCs, smartphones | Battery Life: 45 days | Paper: Livescribe smartpaper | Pen Weight: 5.9 ounces

5. Best Affordable Smart Pen: OPHAYA Smart Pen

The Ophaya smart pen is an affordable tool for artists who need a digital sketching tool on a budget. Offering a high-accuracy transcription speed, the Ophaya pen can be used for sketching on the go while capturing a digital copy of your work.

With a rounded design, the smart pen is a sleek device that sits cozily between your fingers. It can sketch or write in black, which is transcripted in real time to be shared immediately. No matter the angle or tilt, the Ophaya smart pen remains equally as effective.

And for those who regularly partake in audio note-taking, the pen features an audio recording function. The recorded audio can then be replayed by tapping the record button on the notebook.

Once you’ve finished sketching, you can store the artwork in a variety of formats that include PDFs, images, GIFs, MP4s, and more. The computer file can be shared through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, or you may upload it directly to a cloud storage of your choice. 

And if you don’t have access to an external storage device immediately, the pen can create a backup of up to 1000 A4 pages. 

It’s worth noting that the pen doesn’t come with batteries included in the box. They must be purchased separately, which can be a hassle.

Compatible Devices: Tablets, PCs, smartphones | Battery Life: 6-8 hours (continuous use) | Paper: Ophaya Smart notebook | Pen Weight: 5.2 ounces

Best Smart Pens Comparison Table

Top Smart Pens Compatible Devices Battery Life Paper Pen Weight
Livescribe Symphony Smartpen Tablets, mobile devices, PCs 90 days Livescribe Dot Paper 0.001 ounces
Neo Smartpen N2 Tablets, PCs, smartphones 125 days Ncoded Paper 0.704 ounces
Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Pen Apple and Android devices 125 days Moleskine Smart Notebooks 9.9 ounces
Livescribe Echo 2 Smartpen Tablets, PCs, smartphones 45 days Livescribe smartpaper 5.9 ounces
OPHAYA Smart Pen Tablets, PCs, smartphones 6-8 hours (continuous use) Ophaya Smart notebook 5.2 ounces

Top 3 Smart Pens And Notebook Combos Reviewed

1. Best Overall: Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

The Rocketbook Smart is an endlessly reusable notebook that can pair with other smart pens for a digital sketching setup. This notebook has 36 pages of dot-grid paper, the contents of which can be wiped away for reuse.

Each page of the notebook has a QR code in the bottom corner that allows you to save its contents to the Rocketbook app. After creating your sketch, wait 15 seconds for the ink from your smartpen to dry, after which the data can be saved. 

Following this, the sketch can be wiped away with a damp cloth to make room for a new one.

Your sketch can be viewed on the free-to-download Rocketbook app, where you can choose to download, share or transfer the file to email or cloud storage. The application software also allows you to organize your content through smart titles, smart search, and share features.

We found one minor flaw with the Rocketbook notebook, which is its page thickness. The pages of this notebook are not very thick and may be prone to damage under too much pressure.

Number Of Pages: 36 | Compatibility: Cloud services | Sheet Size: 8.5 x 11 inches | Page Style: Dotted

2. Best For Real-Time Transcription: Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set

For a dedicated digital sketching setup, the Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set can be an option to consider.

With a smart pen and dotted smart notebook included, the setup can be used to seamlessly transfer your artwork directly to your device. This allows you to digitize your sketch on the go without having to sync the notebook to an external device separately.

You can notate, share, and edit your creation as it is being made. And with its Android and Apple compatibility, the smart writing set can be used on the go without requiring a separate PC. The recorded data can be exported to multiple formats, per your convenience.

The Moleskine set also allows you to record audio that syncs with your sketches or handwritten notes. This does require a smartphone to be synched with the device, which may be a slight drawback.

And to ensure that you don’t run out of paper soon, the notebook has 176 pages. This, paired with the Moleskin Pen+, can make for a setup that lasts for a long time.

Number Of Pages: 176 | Compatibility: Android, iOS devices, Cloud services | Sheet Size: 8.5 x 11 inches | Page Style: Dotted

3. Best Premium Smart Pen And Notebook Combo: HUION Note 2-in-1 Digital Notebook

If you’re looking for an easy-to-carry digital setup, the HUION Note 2-in-1 notebook can be an option to consider. It’s an app-based product that comes with a digital pen and an A5 notepad to preserve the feel of real paper.

The notebook is lined with vector lines that help it transfer your sketch to a smartphone device through the Huion Note app. It uses Bluetooth 5.0 for quick data transfer, which makes transcriptions highly accurate. 

You can also use the notebook to record audio, which can be replayed to view your sketching process in detail. This allows you to review your workflow and take note of any areas of improvement, if any.

Through the Huion Note mobile app, you may access your sketches, written notes, and audio recordings and share them in the desired format. Choose from several media formats to export your creations, such as images, PDFs, and MP4s.

Moreover, your written notes can be organized in a systematic way on the app, as it allows you to merge, split, or group files. You can also edit your files to a limited degree, such as through the use of a highlighter.

The paper of the Huion digital notebook is best replaced with the ones made by the company. That said, you may replace them with ordinary A5 sheets as well, should the need arise.

Number Of Pages: 50 | Compatibility: Android and Apple devices | Sheet Size: 9.5 x 7 inches | Page Style: Regular A5

Best Smart Pens & Notebook Combos Comparison Table

Smart Pen And Notebook Combos Number Of Pages Compatibility Sheet Size Page Style
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook 36 Cloud services 8.5 x 11 inches Dotted
Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set 176 Android, iOS devices, Cloud services 8.5 x 11 inches Dotted
HUION Note 2-in-1 Digital Notebook 50 Android and Apple devices 9.5 x 7 inches Regular A5

Buyer’s Guide

Ordinarily, traditional artists need to scan their sketches using a flatbed scanner or click a picture of their artwork on their smart telephone. The former is not very practical to carry around, whereas the latter may result in diminished quality.

And that is where smart pens come into the picture. By tracking how the pen moves and when it makes contact with the paper, the pen can produce a perfect recreation of the artist’s work. The work can then be exported in digital formats like PDFs, JPEGs, PNGs, and more.

Smart pens also make it so that traditional artists don’t have to purchase a graphics tablet computer or stylus pens just yet. Moreover, they are highly portable and can fit cozily in shirt or trouser pockets, allowing the user to take them anywhere.

Of course, smart pens don’t work alone. While they work on regular paper as a regular pen, the user needs a special notebook for the pen to record each stroke. These notebooks contain dotted grids that help the pen track its movements in a similar vein to graphic tablets.

Additionally, smart pens do require ink to keep sketching, necessitating periodic ink refills like traditional pens. So, be sure to have it fully charged and refilled with the special notebook at your side when sketching.

Let’s check out what artists and graphic designers should look for in the right smartpen when buying one.

1. Writing Quality and Experience

A smart pen needs to be comfortable to hold while maintaining a steady level of quality. And for this, it must have an even balance of weight across its length.

Smart pens with even weight distribution and rounded shapes typically have the best in-hand feel, but that comes with a caveat as well. Rounded smart pens can cause the internal sensors to rotate, which may result in a loss of recording accuracy for the pen. This means that such pens will not be able to record as effectively while in a horizontal or upside-down position.

Recording features aside, the pen must function effectively as a regular pen as well. After all, there will be times when you don’t have access to the special notebook or run out of electric batteries on your smartpen.

As such, the desirable quality for many smart pens is a dark, pencil-like tone that varies based on the amount of pressure applied to the fine point. The more accurately the pen represents the tone based on the applied pressure, the better it will be for sketching purposes. And the pen should also be able to recognize the user’s handwriting accurately, should they ever need to take digital notes instantly.

2. Transcription Accuracy

Every pen stroke matters in a sketch, which is why the right smart pen must be highly accurate to digitize a drawing faithfully.

This adds to the writing experience as well, since pens with easy-to-maintain orientation will transcript your drawings much more accurately. And if you aren’t able to maintain the orientation and angle necessary to record your strokes, the pen will be noticeably less accurate.

You may try testing a smart pen by writing a paragraph of text and checking its accuracy. If it misses less than five words, the pen may be an option worth considering. And if it fails to record ten words or more, consider skipping out on the pen entirely.

3. Features

Smart pens come with a laundry list of specifications that can provide you a comprehensive look at what they can accomplish.

One of the most basic features of an ideal smart pen is its ability to record each stroke. And the more a pen builds upon this foundation with accessibility and comfort options, the better. 

Some of the better smart pens include sound recording and reproduction, long battery life, compatibility with several apps, and a quick-sync feature, to name a few. The battery life, in particular, should last long enough so the pen does not stop recording mid-sentence.

4. Build Quality

There are few feelings worse than a smart pen or Apple Pencil breaking after falling from your pocket. 

And since smart pens will probably see plenty of use, much like basic stylus pens, this is a possibility you must not ignore while purchasing one. As such, it’s important that the smart pen of your choice is built robustly enough to withstand some damage.

The build quality also plays into the longevity of the product, and the better the build quality, the longer it will last. Smart pens are not small investments, which is why they must be built well enough to stand the test of time.

How long does a smart pen last upon continuous use?

Most smart pens last between six to 11 hours when used non-stop before requiring a recharge. After running out of battery, the pen will continue to write but cease to create transcriptions of your artwork.

Do smart pens need special paper?

Smart pens work on special paper to create transcriptions of your artwork. 

The dotted patterns or vector lines on the paper help the pen track the strokes being made, which allows it to create the transcription. Without it, the pen can still function as a standard pen without recording capabilities.

Other features of the smart pen will still be usable, such as the microphone for audio recording.

What makes smart pens favorable over other digital input methods?

Smart pens are desirable for those who have access to limited space or don’t wish to commit to a digital setup yet. 

They are relatively inexpensive and can be fairly accurate while creating a digital copy of an artwork. This can also help an artist bridge the gap between traditional and digital art media if they are unsure about the latter.

And additional features like audio and stroke recording can make a smart pen more convenient than other types of digital inputs.


In our experience, the best smart pen is the Livescribe Symphony. It offers a comfortable sketching experience along with accurate transcriptions and high storage, making it one of the best smart pen options for artists.

As for digital notebook and smart pen combos, the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook was the best overall during our testing. It can be endlessly reused, and its contents can be quickly stored, making it highly versatile.

That said, other products like the Neo Smartpen N2 and the Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set are equally as good at their respective roles. So, at the end of the day, you must choose the smart pen set that fulfills your requirements the best.

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