Here’s something interesting – any product from the current iPad lineup could be dubbed the best iPad for drawing, if not contenders for best drawing tablets of any brand. That sounds a bit redundant, we know, but it truly is a testament to just how wonderful Apple’s tablets are.
These tablets are incredibly versatile, and there’s a reason why Apple holds more than 50% of the tablet market share. Much of that is due to the excellent app selection. Apps like Procreate, Affinity designer, and Illustration turn your iPad from a secondary media consumption device into a portable powerhouse for drawing and graphic design. It is surprising how well iPads have improved, and they are starting to give traditional graphics tablets from the likes of Wacom a run from their money.
Still, it can be hard to pick between all of them. As such, we’ll be taking a look at the best iPads for drawing and seeing how they compare stacked against each other.
Best iPad for drawing 2022: our top picks
The iPad Air is brilliant value for money, making the Pro versions pale in comparison.
Apple iPad Air (5th Generation)
Best iPad for students
As iPads creep closer to Macbook territory in pricing, the base iPad is the best for most folks.
Apple iPad (9th Generation)
Best iPad For Procreate
While this Pro variant may be impractical for some, it remains the ultimate companion for designers.
iPad Pro 11
Best iPads for drawing: things to consider
Choose carefully with storage
iPhones used to suffer badly from too little storage. That’s been largely fixed now, although we’d still like to see 128GB as the base storage option. If you’re looking for the best iPad for drawing, though, storage is a bigger issue.
This is because you’re going to want to store your art on the iPad itself. As such, you’re going to want 128GB as a minimum and ideally 256GB.
Unfortunately, the base iPad, iPad Air, and iPad mini all start with 64GB of storage space. This is the only place where the Pro models make more sense. Both of the Pro models start at 128GB.
Of course, this is a non-issue if you can get by with 64GB. Remember that all of them have a Type-C port now apart from the base iPad. This means you can buy an external thunderbolt drive to store data on.
Multitasking still needs work on iPad OS
When shopping around for the best iPad for drawing, you need to ask yourself if multitasking is important. As we’ve seen recently with Samsung’s tablets, multitasking can help a lot in terms of productivity when it is done right.
While Apple is proud of its sliding animations, split-screen support, and multi-tasking, it’s still not up to par. If you want to have the Safari and Notes app open at the same time, no problem.
Want to watch a Youtube video, have Safari open for searching, and be able to write at the same time? Well, that gets clunky quick on an iPad. This is one of those areas where a desktop OS is much better.
On the flip side, an artist’s workflow could be simpler. If that’s the case, you could get by with limited multitasking. Just keep that in mind if you are thinking of replacing your laptop entirely.
The Apple Pencil costs extra
As a designer’s best friend, the best iPad for drawing should come with an Apple Pencil out of the box, right? That would be the case if we weren’t talking about iPads. Apple loves to maximize profits and that means accessories like the Apple Pencil costs extra – quite a lot extra.
None of the iPads come with the Apple Pencil. Furthermore, the base model iPad does not support the second-generation Pencil. You know, the one that attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad.
Of course, this is just another move to make you spend more money. The base iPad is excellent, as we’ll explore later. However, if you don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of charging it via the iPad’s lightning port, then you need to get one of the higher-end models.
Surprisingly, performance does not matter
Well, this is something you don’t hear every day. The best iPad for drawing should have the best performance, right? You don’t have to worry about that here as all the iPads we’ve looked at have excellent performance. The Pro versions come with the M1 chip, which is completely overkill for an iPad.
You get the A13 Bionic for the 9th Gen iPad, A14 Bionic for the iPad Air, and A15 Bionic with the iPad Mini. Don’t get us wrong, there are differences between all of them in terms of performance, especially when you throw the M1 into the mix.
However, it simply does not matter for most artists. The only realistic scenario where you’d care about performance is if you have a large amount of pages open in a drawing app. For 99% of users, that’s not the case. As such, even the base iPad is stellar in terms of performance.
Of course, this is only thanks to the excellent optimization and RAM management seen in iPad OS. Say what you will, but the experience is still impressive, even if it costs a premium. There’s a reason why iPads are so popular.
Best iPads for Procreate & other drawing apps in 2022: Budget, professional, and for students
Apple iPad Air (5th Generation)
- Fantastic color options
- Upgraded with M1 chip
- Great battery life
- Vibrant, sharp, and bright display
The current iPad Air is by far the best iPad for drawing and the best iPad in general for most people. It takes everything great about the Pros, cuts corners where it makes sense, and is miles ahead of the 9th Gen iPad. This beast is almost too good.
In terms of the display, you will not be disappointed. The IPS panel has excellent brightness, the colors are phenomenal, and the resolution is sharp. The thin bezels give it a more modern look, making it hard to differentiate between the Pro models. A higher refresh rate would make this even better. Performance is excellent as you’d expect. Apple recently updated this with their M1 processor, making it a performance powerhouse. It supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, making this phenomenal for drawing as well.
All-day battery life, a vibrant display, stellar performance, and an incredible design (with great color options). That’s what you’re getting with the iPad Air. FaceID would make this an even better package.
There is little debate to be had, this is hands down the best iPad for drawing.
Apple iPad (9th Generation)
Lightning connector, headphone jack
- Perfect for students
- Performance holds up well
- Best-in-class battery life
- Great front camera
The base model iPad is the best iPad for drawing if you don’t want to spend too much money. This device is extremely versatile for its price, and it is surprising how well it holds up against the higher-end models. Even more impressive is the fact that you’re not missing out on a lot by going with this one.
The A13 Bionic here holds up well along with the 3GB of RAM. As we stated earlier, you don’t need to worry about performance when it comes to the recent lineup of iPads. This thing handles most of what you want to throw at it with ease.
That is what makes it such a compelling value. Storage is a bit limited, but it should be fine for students and artists who are just starting. It is the only iPad that uses a lightning port, which is fine, but Type-C would be better here.
The 10.2-inch IPS panel is good for the price. Tablets around this price or under generally don’t have a decent screen. While both the iPad mini and iPad Air have better screens, you can’t complain here for the price.
All in all, this is an excellent budget tablet but it’s the price that makes it so compelling.
iPad Pro 11
11-inch, 2388 x 1668 pixels, 120Hz
128GB/ 256GB/ 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
- Jaw-dropping performance
- Excellent power/portability ratio
- Beautiful Pro Motion display
- Pricing doesn’t make sense
- Lacks XDR display of 12.9-inch model
If you ask people what they think the best iPad for drawing is, they’d go to the top-line Pro model. And, on paper, this device is incredibly impressive. It’s hard to figure out why Apple crammed in their M1 chip inside of the 2021 version, but they did it anyway.
This iPad Pro 11 is a superb device. A 120Hz ProMotion display, great battery life, Apple Pencil support, excellent storage options, way too much RAM, and of course the powerhouse that is the M1 chip. What more could you possibly want?
The ProMotion display makes it quite an experience to draw on. We would go as far as saying this is the best iPad for Procreate, as it really takes that experience to the next level. Again, what more could you want?
Well, maybe an M1 Macbook Air? The M1 chip is incredible, sure, but the iPad OS doesn’t take full advantage of it, and the price is too close to a Macbook Air, which is a more versatile device.
Still, if you need a portable powerhouse and just love iPad OS, then this is the one to buy.
iPad Pro 12.9″
12.9-inch, 2388 x 1668 pixels, 120Hz
128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
- The best display on a tablet
- Beastly performance
- Great front and rear cameras
- Very overpriced
- iPad OS feels limiting for the M1
The iPad Pro 12.9 is one of the best iPads out there. That should also make it the best iPad for drawing right? Well, the short answer would be yes. The longer answer would be more complex. If you’re looking for the absolute best drawing experience out there, then this is the one you want to buy.
However, would you be willing to spend more money on an iPad than the excellent M1 Macbook Air? This is the best iPad for drawing for sure, but value is important as well. When you upgrade the storage, buy the Apple pencil, and the keyboard, the price pushes this one out.
This iPad uses a Mini-LED display, and with the ProMotion tech, it is by far the most impressive display on a tablet yet. The M1 processor is excellent, and the almost 13-inches of real estate for drawing is great.
While the value is quite questionable, if you don’t care about the pricing, this is by far the best tablet out there.
Apple iPad Mini 6th Gen
8.3-inch, 2266 x 1488, IPS
- Excellent portability
- Stellar overall performance
- Great front and rear cameras
- The screen feels cramped for drawing
- Low storage on the base model
The iPad Mini has long been one of the most popular versions of the iPad. Of course, much of that changed when the Pro versions came about, but this still might be the best iPad for drawing in terms of value and portability.
Of course, it is not without its sacrifices. The best thing about the Mini is its form factor. It’s bigger than an iPhone, yet small enough to not be unwieldy. It’s great for lounging on the couch, watching movies in bed, or even playing some casual games.
It’s great for drawing too, as it works with the second-generation Apple Pencil. Essentially, it’s an iPad Air in a smaller form factor.
If you prefer the smaller screen size, then for you this may very well be the best iPad for drawing.
Related tablet guides
That wraps it up for our picks of the best iPad for drawing and best iPad for Procreate selections in 2022. Any of the tablet devices that we’ve listed here would be a fantastic buy for any aspiring artist. The hardware delivers an almost unbelievable level of performance now and it’s almost like it’s outperforming the software by quite a bit.
This is why we ranked the M1 iPad Pros lower on this list. While they are great luxury items and excellent for media consumption, the other models are much better in terms of value. Saying that, if money is no object then why not go for the best?