This is the first year I’ve owned a smartphone, so this winter will be the first time I’ll have to deal with trying to answer a capacitive touchscreen phone while wearing gloves. I know there are gloves that have the metallic threads sewn into the thumb and index fingertips, but it seems most of them are knit gloves. I prefer fleece gloves, because they’re warmer. I also have short fingers, so I usually have floppy fingertips with any gloves I wear. So I’ve been looking for another method to answer my iPhone. I recently reviewed a Monteverde pen with capacitive stylus that worked really well for typing, writing, and drawing on the iPad and iPhone. That pen will work well for answering my iPhone, but it may not always be with me. Sometimes, when my husband will be driving, I travel light with just a little phone case that doesn’t have room for that stylus pen. When I saw the JAVOedge Mini Stylus, I thought it might be the perfect thing to keep with my phone all winter. When my order arrived from Amazon, I started testing out the Mini Stylus.
JAVOedge lists the Mini Stylus as an iPad 2 accessory, but there is nothing about it that makes it unsuitable for any of the Apple touchscreen devices. The stylus is a plastic, rectangular lozenge-shaped tiny little thing. It’s only about 1.4” long X 0.4” wide X 0.6” deep. It is designed to plug into the charging port, so there’s a plastic piece that sticks off the back that looks like the Apple 30-pin connector. It’s so light that I couldn’t weigh it; my digital kitchen scale never detected it. It’s available in black or white. I bought white to match my white iPad 2 and white iPhone 4.
I keep my devices in cases, and any accessory I use must work with them. I tried plugging the Mini Stylus into the charging ports of my cased iPhone and iPad 2. I found that it would plug into the port of the iPhone, but the Bumper Case kept it from being completely secured. I could knock it loose without using a lot of pressure. I took the Bumper Case off and found that the fit was much tighter. I could remove it easily with a little tug, but it didn’t get knocked out accidentally. One other problem I had concerned the pouch I carry my phone in. Since women’s clothes don’t always have pockets, I have a little phone pouch with a wrist strap that lets me carry my phone around the house easily. (We don’t have a landline. I need to keep my cell phone with me, but I don’t want to have to carry it in my hands.) With the Mini Stylus in place, I couldn’t snap the phone pouch closed.
You’ll notice in the pictures above, the stylus covers up the microphone on the bottom of the iPhone 4. I tried a few phone calls with the stylus in place, and it didn’t interfere with the microphone at all. I’d plug the stylus in and remove it during the course of each call, and it never muffled my voice or caused problems with the calls.
I tried the stylus with the iPad 2 and found that it fit securely with or without the HyperShield back cover on. The curved sides of the iPad 2 leave a lot of the plastic plug uncovered, just like the real Apple connector, but it is held firmly.
So it’s designed so that it is always with your iPhone or iPad, but how does it work? It has a black, smooth, rubbery rounded tip that’s held to the plastic piece with a metal band. The tip is soft and easily compressed. It’s not the same rough, sponge-like material that some capacitive styluses use. I found that I have to hold it more perpendicular to the screen to get it to work well. It doesn’t always work when I hold it at an angle like I would a pencil. I also found that I had to press pretty firmly when I was typing. I’m a touch-typist with a real keyboard – all 10 fingers! – but I can’t do that on the virtual keyboards. I can usually use one or two fingers on each hand with the virtual keyboards, though. I find it is very slow typing with any stylus because I can only use one finger at a time, as it were. But it does work to type, even with the tiny vertical keyboard on the iPhone 4.
So long as you remember the correct angle, the stylus works well to swipe, tap, slide, or draw on the iPhone or iPad 2 screens. That said, I don’t like using the stylus because of its tiny size. Holding it gives me a flashback to writing on the chalkboards during my school days. It feels like you’re holding an inch-long nub of chalk. You have to hold your hand in a pinched, cramped position that become somewhat painful if you’re doing more than just a couple of swipes. The squared edges press painfully into my fingers, and the plastic connector can poke into my fingers if I don’t hold it just right.
I still can’t draw, so I asked Rachel to try the Mini Stylus out by doing a drawing for me. (You’ll notice she was feeling a bit Goth yesterday.) Rachel spent about an hour working with the stylus, and she found it hard to use for the exact same reasons I mentioned above. She also said the Mini Stylus made it hard to see what she was doing. Its small size doesn’t give you a lot of room to hold it, and your fingers block your view because they are so close to your working surface.
I had Butch try the stylus, too. He has the biggest hands in the family, and he found the tiny stylus very hard to use.
I guess my bottom line is that the JAVOedge Mini Stylus will work well to answer my iPhone in the winter. It worked great to “slide to answer” my phone. Having it plugged in to the charging port means it will always be convenient when I need to use it. And at $10, it’s cheaper than a lot of those special gloves. I just can’t recommend it for more intensive use, though.