Stylus vs Finger: Which Touchscreen Input Is Best?

Jun 10, 2020

Although there are many types of touchscreen devices, they all require the use of a finger or a stylus. You control a touchscreen device by pressing your finger or a stylus against the display interface. The device’s touchscreen controller — an embedded component found under the top layer — will then register your touch command and subsequently send the appropriate commands to its computer. There are benefits to using both a stylus or a finger, however. So, what’s the best method of input for touchscreen devices?

The Benefits of Using a Stylus

Most people will agree that using a stylus offers a more ergonomic way to control a touchscreen device. After all, styluses feature a similar size and shape as pens. Therefore, they offer a natural and easy way to control a touchscreen device. You won’t develop finger or wrist pain when using a stylus. Rather, you can use a stylus just like a pen.

A stylus is particularly beneficial when using graphic design programs or apps on a touchscreen device. You can’t expect to draw clean lines using your finger. The tip of your finger is wider in diameter than that of a stylus, so it’s a poor choice of input when using a graphic design programs or apps. A stylus offers a better form of input because of its slim tip.

The Benefits of Using a Finger

There are still reasons to use a finger when controlling a touchscreen device, one of which is the ability to perform multi-touch commands. A multi-touch command is any form of touchscreen input that involves two or more simultaneous points of contact. You press two or more fingers on the touchscreen’s display interface, at which point it will respond with the appropriate action.

Unfortunately, you can’t perform multi-touch commands using a stylus. Styluses only offer a single point of contact at any given time. Even if your touchscreen device supports multi-touch commands, you’ll need to use your fingers rather than a stylus.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all touchscreen devices work with a stylus. Styluses are generally made of plastic, which unlike a bare finger, offers electrical conductivity. If a touchscreen device uses capacitive technology to detect input, a stylus won’t work. Instead, you’ll need to perform touch commands using a bare finger so that your body will draw some of its electrostatic charge and, thus, allowing it to detect your touch command.

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