True Utility Telepen (TU46) Review

Update: there is a newer version of this item reviewed here – True Utility Clip Telepen
How many times have you needed to make a quick note, only to discover you can’t find a pen? If, like us, the answer is every time you need to write something then True Utility believe they have saved the day with the innovative, expanding TelePen – small enough to fit easily on a keyring. But can you actually write with the thing, or does it just waste valuable keyring space?


As with our last True Utility review (the Windproof Firewire Lighter) we are greeted with nothing better than boring old plastic and cardboard blister packaging.
A few quick Spyderco Bug slashes and we’re away (we didn’t bother with a packaging photo this time around). Take note TU – stick this thing in a fancy box and you have a ‘giftable’ item. Put it in a blister pack and you have a day-to-day purchase.

First Impressions

The TelePen looks good – almost entirely stainless steel, it has a decent weight to it, and is very small – thinner than a standard Biro. It seems about perfect for fitting onto a keyring and then going unnoticed until it’s needed.

Performance & Features

To open the pen, you pull on the end and ‘extract’ it from the lid, whereby it expands into four sections of descending size. The action is reasonably smooth, and you very quickly have a close to full-size pen in your hand. It’s actually very comfortable to hold, and easy to write with; you won’t feel like you’re using anything other than a reasonable pen.

The pen comes with black ink, and is refillable, with one cartridge inside the pen and three spares in the packaging. We can see the spares getting lost easily in the absence of any packaging worth keeping. As you would expect, the ink cartridges are pretty small, and it remains to be seen how long they’ll last, but as the pen is designed for ’emergency’ or occasional use, we don’t think this will be a problem.

To close the pen, you push the whole thing back into the lid until it clicks, whereby the pen is securely attached to your keyring once more. We’ve heard reports of this mechanism becoming loose, and in our own testing, we found the closing system to be a little clunky – occasionally not closing properly, or becoming misaligned when trying to contract the pen. Nothing that prevented us from using it correctly, but enough to give some concerns that the mechanism could fail before we run out of ink cartridges. This could mean losing the actual pen, or ending up with a pocketful of ink. If this happens, we’ll report back and update this review.



After around a week of use, the TelePen does exactly what it was designed to do. It’s a stylish, perfectly usable pen that you can have with you at all times without really noticing it’s there. We have some concerns about the closing mechanism and think the price is at the high end for what the product is, but even with those caveats, the TelePen is going to remain firmly (we hope!) on our daily keyring.

4 / 5 stars     

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