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Apple Pencil lineup is convoluted right now, but won't be for long

Three Apple Pencils, alike in dignity

Tuesday's Apple Pencil release has generated a lot of unnecessary internet drama about a complicated lineup, but you won't have to wait long for it to simplify greatly.

In case you missed the news, after a weekend of will-they won't-they rumor drama about new iPads, Apple almost unceremoniously rolled out a new Apple Pencil on Tuesday. Other than USB-C, the new Apple Pencil wasn't an improvement technologically speaking over what's available, but it nonetheless filled a gap in the lineup.

After five years of folks asking for a cheaper Apple Pencil, and a year decrying the ludicrous syncing and charging solution for the 10th generation iPad, Apple fixed the problem.

And, almost immediately, the internet screaming about a too-confusing lineup began.

First of all, it's not that confusing. It's only confusing if you squint at it a little, perhaps tilt your head, and try to make it confusing.

And secondly, if you consider that the original Apple Pencil is about to be consigned to the hall of retired Apple products in less than a year, it makes the point of it a lot more clear.

New Apple Pencil has a clear spot in the lineup

For starters, the "Apple Pencil (USB-C)," which we will henceforth in this piece call the "new Apple Pencil," is more universal than the second-generation Apple Pencil. It works on any iPad with USB-C going back to the third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

On the down side, it doesn't have magnetic charging, nor pressure sensitivity. It's also $79 for everybody, and $69 for education. This puts it at nearly the same price for consumers as the Logitech Crayon, which uses similar technology and also lacks pressure sensitivity.

As a reminder, the Logitech Crayon is widely considered a good product, not a bad one. Now Apple has essentially the same thing.

Apple Pencils and Logitech Crayon
Apple Pencils and Logitech Crayon

Anyways, the second-generation Apple Pencil has that pressure sensitivity, and magnetic charging. It's still in the lineup, at $129.

Here comes the source of the drama — the first generation Apple Pencil with pressure sensitivity is also still in the line, for $99. It has that still-insane iPad-lollypop Lightning connector, unless you use the smallest adapter ever that's inside the packaging to use a Lightning cable to charge it.

And, it's doomed.

Without question, in the next year, Apple is going to kill off the ninth generation iPad. It's not because the EU is mandating USB-C, as it was designed and shipped well before the deadline.

It's on the way out because that A12 is showing its age. And, it's going away sooner rather than later because it's clear where Apple is going with the iPad design ethos it started at this point many years ago with that third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro that I mentioned earlier.

That ninth generation iPad was first released more than two years ago. We don't expect it to remain on sale for nearly five years, like the 2012 MacBook Pro pre-Retina Display was.

And when that iPad goes, the first generation Apple Pencil will probably be removed from sale, with the remaining inventory held for educational contracts who have them by the hundreds of thousands just across the United States.

And even if it's not, and remains on Apple's accessory page, it will be limited in quantity. When it's gone, it'll be gone.

New Apple Pencil drama for drama's sake

The lineup is clear. Get the new Apple Pencil if you have a tenth-generation iPad. And, when and if you upgrade to an iPad Pro, you're still good to go.

If you're an artist and need that pressure sensitivity, then get the second-generation Apple Pencil for your iPad Pro or iPad Air.

If you have a ninth-generation iPad or one with a Lightning port, get the first generation Apple Pencil. While you can, that is.

Done, that's it. It isn't any more complicated than that. There won't be mass confusion from Apple Store employees like social media posts decry, nor is this indicative of any brain rot at Apple.

It's much clearer why it exists when you consider that the Lightning Apple Pencil was released very nearly eight years ago. It probably won't live to see nine.

And when it's gone, the Apple Pencil lineup will be very clear. The "confusion" is only because Apple has released a replacement for the doomed product early, rather than waiting until it's gone to do so.

From this chair, it's just another case of X and YouTube drama for no real reason. If you really want something Apple-related to be confused about, there's always the identical branding of the two different models of AirPods Pro second generation.