According to a sketchy new rumor, Apple intended to launch a new Apple Pencil this year, but pulled out of the project at the very last minute. Development was so advanced when Apple killed it off that mass production had already begun, the source claims, and more than a million units had to be scrapped.
The rumor was posted to Twitter Thursday by DuanRui, a relatively well-known Apple leaker. The leaker claims the device was codenamed “Maker” (likely a typo for “Marker,” which 9to5Mac goes with and which makes more sense) and was supposed to appear at the iPhone 14 launch event in September.
The stylus would have cost approximately $49, putting it well below the current prices of the 1st-gen ($99/£109) and 2nd-gen ($129/£139) models, and would have added long-requested compatibility with iPhone screens.
In other respects, however, it would have been a far more basic stylus than its siblings, with no pressure-sensing features and no battery: power would have been drawn through the screen, a mechanism currently used by Samsung’s similarly low-priced S-Pen.
Originally–and this is often the case with DuanRui’s tweets, as they themselves acknowledge–the story comes from a source on Weibo, in this case one with almost no track record to speak of. For this reason it might be best to consume the rumor with a large serving of skepticism, and until we get further corroboration, we’d hesitate to endorse the story’s accuracy. But it has to be said that (aside from iPhone compatibility, which based on past Apple statements is a long shot) the idea makes a lot of sense.
When Apple unveiled the 10th-gen iPad in October, confused tech reporters were informed that it supported the 1st-gen Apple Pencil, but would need a dongle to charge or pair with that accessory. This was an unappealing solution, to say the least, and we have complained about this in multiple articles. Hardware design decisions (the USB-C port; the landscape camera) evidently meant the iPad couldn’t work normally with either Pencil model, but those were decisions that Apple made. Why would it paint itself into a corner like that?
The answer, perhaps, is that Apple had another plan, but it fell through. The “Marker” would have worked fine with the iPad 10th gen, and appealed to a budget audience with its lower price tag. And it could have been pressed into service on the iPhone too, for added value for money.
The odd thing, really, is that Apple didn’t go ahead with the plan, and neither DuanRui nor the Weibo source has so far offered any clues why. But we’re so convinced by the idea that, if it does turn out to be a fabrication, we think Apple should make it a reality.