Passive vs Active Stylus: What’s the Difference?

Jun 22, 2022

Styluses are commonly used with touchscreens. As you may know, they are pen-shaped input devices. You can touch a stylus against the display interface of a touchscreen to perform a touch command. While there are many different types of styluses, however, most of them can be classified as either passive or active. What’s the difference between passive and active styluses exactly?

What Is a Passive Stylus?

A passive stylus is a type of stylus that mimics the characteristics of a typical, bare finger touch command. They are typically used with capacitive touchscreens. Passive styluses feature a conductive tip that’s able to change the capacitance of the touchscreen’s display interface.

All capacitive touchscreens produce a uniform electrostatic field on the display interface. If you perform a touch command with a bare finger, your finger will absorb some of this electrostatic field, resulting in a change of capacitance. The capacitive touchscreen will register this change of capacitance as a touch command. Passive styluses feature a conductive tip that will change the capacitance of the display interface as well.

What Is an Active Stylus?

An active stylus is a type of stylus that uses some type of internal communication technology to perform touch commands. You can use them with many capacitive touchscreens as well. Active styluses simply contain computer chips — or other hardware — inside of them, which they use to communicate with touchscreens.

Differences Between Passive and Active Styluses

They may look the same, but passive and active styluses are completely different. Of those two types of styluses, passive is more common. There are more passive styluses than active styluses. They cost less to produce and are compatible with more touchscreens, making them a popular choice among touchscreen users.

Active styluses, however, are more advanced. Many active styluses use Bluetooth technology. They leverage a Bluetooth connection to communicate with touchscreens.

Active styluses also support pressure sensitivity. In other words, they can sense the pressure of touch commands. Passive styluses are typically not able to sense the pressure of touch commands. They can only determine when and where touch commands occur.

You can perform touch commands with a passive stylus or active stylus. They are both pen-like devices that are used for input. Passive styluses are simply traditional styluses with a conductive tip. Active styluses are more advanced styluses that use some type of internal communication technology, such as Bluetooth.

Contact Us Today to See How We Can Assist You