The 10 Best Stylus Apps for Android Phones

Use a stylus to draw, take notes, and play games on your phone or tablet

View from above female carpenter sketching with digital tablet stylus at workbench in workshop

Hero Images / Getty Images

While some apps are optimized for the Samsung S Pen, plenty work with other styluses and Android phones including games, drawing and coloring apps, as well as apps for note-taking and e-signatures. Here are our ten favorite stylus apps for Android.

The following apps are available for tablets and smartphones running the Android OS.

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Best Coloring Book App: Coloring

The Coloring app for Android
What We Like
  • Images sorted by type including free and animals.

  • In-app purchases aren't prohibitively expensive.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited images.

  • Pens can be glitchy.

Adult coloring books are a popular way to relax and briefly escape the world. Coloring is an app that includes a bunch of free images you can color on the go. It conveniently has a left-handed mode and a huge palette of colors. You can use the bucket tool to color the image section by section, or color with a crayon using the pencil.

The app has a library of premium images you can unlock using coins (usually 10) or access everything by subscribing; $2.99 for one month or $4.99 for three months. Both subscription options have a three-day trial. Coloring gives you 50 coins to start, and you can buy more in blocks of 100 ($0.99), 250 ($1.99), and 600 ($3.99). You can also watch ads to earn coins.

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Best Input App for Styluses: Google Handwriting Input

The Google Handwriting Input app for Android
What We Like
  • Consistent handwriting recognition.

  • Supports numerous languages.

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to use on tablets.

  • Can't switch between languages while in use.

Google Handwriting Input is a keyboard option that transforms your handwriting to text in almost any Android app that supports typing. You can test the functionality in the app, but you'll get a better idea of what it can do when texting, emailing, taking notes, or posting to social media. It even supports emojis, in addition to printed and cursive writing using a stylus or your finger.

of 10

Best Advanced Drawing App: Adobe Photoshop Sketch

The Adobe Photoshop Sketch app for Android
What We Like
  • Lots of drawing tools.

  • Easy export to desktop.

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve.

  • Only has brushes.

The Adobe Photoshop Sketch app can be used on its own, with Adobe Photoshop CC, or with Illustrator CC. The Sketch app works in layers, and you can incorporate any you created in the app into a project on either of the desktop tools. The Android app has five pen and brush options, and each has a color picker tool and size options. You can also add an array of lines and shapes, as well as images from other apps.

You'll need an Adobe account to access the app, but a free version is available, which includes access to Adobe's collection of stock photos, cloud storage, and the ability to send a file to Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC with the layers intact.

of 10

Best Multi-Platform Note-Taking App: Evernote

The Evernote app for Android
What We Like
  • Convenient home screen shortcut.

  • Automatically syncs between devices that have the app.

What We Don't Like
  • Frequent upgrade prompts.

  • Search feature is glitchy.

Evernote is a stylus-compatible note-taking app. It syncs across all your devices, and in addition to text and handwriting notes, it also captures audio and images from your device's camera. You can create handwritten notes from scratch using a stylus or your finger, or add images and handwriting to existing text notes.

The app also has a few Android widgets, including a pen input shortcut to capture your thoughts almost immediately.

of 10

Best Sketching App: Autodesk Sketchbook

The Autodesk Sketchbook app for Android
What We Like
  • Generous pen, painting, and texture options.

  • Can draw from a blank canvas or import a photo.

What We Don't Like
  • Layers sometimes disappear.

  • Not very intuitive.

Autodesk Sketchbook is a free drawing tool, with a large library of pens and paintbrushes, as well as splatter, smudge, and other effects. You can also create multiple layers, just as you would in Photoshop. The app requires an account for long-term use, but you can try it out for seven days without one.

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Best Handwriting App: Write (by Stylus Labs)

The Write app for Android
What We Like
  • Edit handwriting like written text.

  • Excellent undo and redo tool.

What We Don't Like
  • No cloud backup.

  • Can't add typed text.

The Write app by Stylus Labs is for just that: writing; more specifically, handwriting. The app doesn’t turn your scrawls into typed text; it leaves it be. The app includes a handful of pen options, and you can create a custom one, choosing the color, stroke width, and pressure sensitivity. Write includes some tools found in a word processor, so you can insert, delete, and move text blocks, and create folders.

If you make a mistake, Write has an undo/redo dial you can slide back and forth to make adjustments rather than tapping buttons. Finally, you can also add bookmarks to your text so you can easily find important passages and add handwritten links for navigation, such as return to the top, or go to the features section.

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Best App for Notes and Reminders: Google Keep

The Google Keep app for Android
What We Like
  • Store notes and reminders.

  • Accurate handwriting to text translation.

What We Don't Like
  • No text formatting.

  • No lock option.

Google Keep, Google's notetaking and task management app, is perfect for stylus users. Use it to quickly jot down notes or set up a reminder with a few taps; the app quickly and accurately translates your handwriting to text. You can also set default times for morning, afternoon, and evening for faster scheduling, and add a place to a reminder, if applicable.

Google Keep can also transcribe your oral notes, and you can add images and drawings. It also responds to "OK Google" voice commands and notes sync across all of your devices, including smartwatches.

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Best "Paper" Notebook App: Bamboo Paper

The Bamboo Paper app for Android
What We Like
  • Multiple notebook customization options.

  • User-friendly.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited pen colors.

  • Importing is iffy.

The Bamboo Paper app mimics a paper notebook that you can customize by changing the cover color and the paper (blank, lined, dotted, and more) It comes with two pen options, ball pen and felt pen, and one notebook, the Thinker. You can purchase additional pens for $0.99 or get the Pro Pack for $5.65, which includes the crayon, watercolor brush, brush pen, pencil, and three additional notebooks; sold separately, they're $0.99 each.

You can also insert photos from your camera or other apps and share your sketches and notes to cloud storage services, other drawing apps, and via email.

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Best E-Signature App: DocuSign

The DocuSign app for Android
What We Like
  • Simplifies paperwork.

  • Customize documents as needed.

What We Don't Like
  • Can only save or change signature using the desktop app.

  • Limited support.

DocuSign is one of a slew of apps that let you e-sign documents on the go. It's always free to sign documents through the app, but you'll have to pay at least $10 per month to send documents to others. You can add fields to documents you upload, including signature, initial, date, checkbox, and text.

If those fields already exist, DocuSign will detect them so you can easily see what needs filling out. DocuSign accepts documents from a range of cloud storage services, as well as those scanned with your phone's camera.

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Best Stylus-Friendly Game: Fruit Ninja

A lone piece of fruit waits to be sliced in the Fruit Ninja game for Android.
What We Like
  • Fast, entertaining gameplay.

  • Appropriate for all ages.

What We Don't Like
  • Ad-heavy.

  • Can be choppy.

Fruit Ninja is a fun game with the objective of slicing through fruit, making it perfect for a stylus. As the game progresses, more watermelons, bananas, apples, and other sliceable targets are tossed before you at a faster pace, and you get extra points by slicing through multiple pieces at once.

The game also tosses in bombs that you must avoid. The game has a few modes: you can play against the clock, against other players, or in endless classic mode. Slicing through fruit it very satisfying, as it turns out.

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