My stylus box is full of discarded pens, so can the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 stay in use and not be pushed aside? The easy answer is yes, but the bigger answer is a little more nuanced.
There is no doubt that the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 is one of the best stylus pens for drawing and writing. This stylus features some impressive technology, including 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, haptic feedback to simulate the texture of paper and respond to your actions, and a unique flat “carpenter’s pencil” design that feels comfortable to use.
But not every app uses every feature and function, and you’ll ideally need a Surface Laptop Studio or Surface Pro 8 to use it. Other older Surface devices also work, and the stylus may work with some Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs, but you may find limited support.
In my review I tested the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 using a new Surface Laptop Studio in apps like Concepts, Sketchable and Rebelle 6 with mixed results. Read our How We Test and Review Creative Bloq guide for an overview of our process.
The design of the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 is unique
The Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 is unique compared to other stylus pens in that it’s a flat, thick design that fits nicely between the fingers. Personally I’m not into the thinner stylus like the Samsung S Pen and Apple Pencil 2 (controversial?), but I like the bulbous shape of Wacom pens. So Microsoft has a third way with the Surface Slim Pen 2 and I find it very nice to use.
There’s design logic behind the shape of the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2, and that’s so it can be hidden away while charging, or in the secret slot in the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard case (opens in new tab) or under the Surface Laptop Studio ridge. The downside is that the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 doesn’t come with a charger, and frankly, I had a moment where I struggled to figure out how to charge it (you can buy a Microsoft Slim Pen charger (opens in new tab)very).
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In addition to the shape of the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2, there are three main visible features, the small and narrow nib, a side button that mimics the right click of a mouse, and the end button that is used as an eraser (it can also be programmed).
The real design magic happens inside the stylus, where we have standard palm rejection, pen tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity along with haptic feedback – this is where the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 feels unique, as it replicates the feel of drawing on paper and gives a small “buzz” when you touch menus, but not all apps work with it.
Using the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 is fine
I’ve already mentioned the haptics on the Microsoft Surface Pen 2 and this is the best feature of the stylus. This means you can feel the menus as you touch and get a “tooth” feeling as you draw on a smooth screen, which feels like tiny vibrations from the nose. There’s also a degree of sensitivity to pen pressure, so the more I press down on the screen the more it vibrates.
The haptics are fantastic and make the Microsoft Surface Pen 2 a very nice stylus to use for digital art. The shape also makes it easy to use for long periods of creativity, although I found myself adjusting the pen between my fingers more than with a regular drawing tablet stylus like those from Wacom and Huion.
A note about the design: the eraser button on the back of the Microsoft Surface Pen 2 is flatter and thicker than the small button you find on other styluses, like the Apple Pencil 2, and it took some getting used to.
I tested the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 using the Concepts app for doodling and sketching and found it a nice stylus to work with. It handles linearity well, although some strokes can feel less consistent from thin to thick taper – the Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen definitely do a bit better here. This wasn’t such a problem in Rebelle 6, where you can fine-tune the brush settings and overcome any drawbacks you might have with the pen (apps like Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop let you adjust and the brushes in detail).
I mentioned haptics earlier, and this is the best and worst feature of the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2, in some ways, as it’s fantastic, but only if the app you’re using supports the feature. Many art apps don’t, and in this case, like Rebelle 6, it can be less impressive.
More apps are incorporating haptic support for the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2, for example, at launch Concepts didn’t, but now it does. Sketchable supports haptics, and this is a nice digital drawing app, and first-party apps like Word are compatible, as you’d expect.
Should you buy a Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2?
If you have a Surface Pro 8 or Surface Laptop Studio or are thinking of buying one, then you should definitely get the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2. It is a smartly designed stylus with some unique features as well as a smart design.
This is a good stylus for digital art, but also a handy tool just for touching menus and web browsing. The only downside is that not every app uses the haptic feedback technology inside the pen, but there is more support coming regularly. Apps that support haptics like Concepts are great.
If you are considering getting a Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2, then I would also recommend getting a Microsoft Surface Dial to use, this gadget can speed up your workflow and works best with a stylus.