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The 5 Best iPads for Artists Today: Ranked and Reviewed

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The 5 Best iPads for Artists Today: Ranked and Reviewed

Key Points

  • The best iPads for artists are the iPad Pro (12.9-inch), iPad Air 5th Generation, iPad Mini, iPad 10th Generation, and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021 Revision).
  • The iPad Pro (12.9-inch) is one of the most powerful and expensive tablets on the market, with a blazingly fast Apple M2 processor and exceptional screen.
  • The iPad Air 5th Generation offers a great price-to-performance ratio and a crystal clear display, although the refresh rate is not on par with the iPad Pro.
  • The iPad Mini is a portable option with a smaller screen, but it still offers performance on par with larger models.
  • The iPad 10th Generation is a budget option with superb build quality, but it only supports the first-generation Apple Pencil.

What are the best iPads for artists that you can purchase today? Apple’s iPad has been a great tool for artists, but there are so many different models that it can be daunting to pick the right one for you. One thing is certain: any iPad you purchase should be compatible with the Apple Pencil.

Having a tablet that can use the Apple Pencil gives greater accuracy, minimizes latency, and gives a handy tactile way to draw on the go. All of the iPad models featured in this article have Apple Pencil compatibility by default, so it is more about matching up the specs and storage you need. We’ve considered all the options, and our top picks for the best iPads for artists are:

#1 Best Overall: iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

#1 Best Overall
Apple 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro (6th Generation)
$1,187.75
  • 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color
  • M2 chip with 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU
  • 12MP Wide camera, 10MP Ultra Wide back camera, and LiDAR Scanner for immersive AR
  • Wi-Fi 6E connectivity
  • 256 GB memory storage capacity
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 01:31 pm GMT

One of the best iPads for artists is the latest 12.9-inch Pro model. You’ve got access to a blazingly fast Apple M2 processor, meaning it has power on par with the latest MacBooks. The screen is exceptional on the latest iPad Pro, with great peak brightness and a smooth refresh rate.

The iPad Pro is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is a marked improvement over the first-generation stylus. If there is one complaint to level at the top-level iPad Pro, it comes down to price. You’re going to be spending as much on this tablet as you would on a reliable laptop.

ProsCons
One of the most powerful tablets on the market today.It is one of the most expensive tablets on the market currently.
The screen has a great display resolution and peak brightness.The Apple Pencil and other peripherals are separate purchases.

Check out the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) on Amazon.

Best Runner-Up: iPad Air 5th Generation

Best Runner-Up
Apple iPad Air (5th Generation)
$499.99
  • Includes Apple's M1 chip
  • 10.9-inch screen (2360 x 1640 pixels)
  • Features Touch ID
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Supports Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 (not included)
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01/16/2024 01:32 pm GMT

The iPad Air might be less powerful than the Pro, but it is still very capable. The latest iPad Air comes with a slightly dimmer screen than its Pro counterpart, and it is smaller at around ten inches diagonally. You’ve still got access to a similar Retina display that the higher-end iPads have.

It is also compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, meaning creating art should be seamless and comfortable. What makes this one of the best iPads for artists is it presents a great price-to-performance ratio in the entire Apple tablet line.

ProsCons
The iPad Air is almost as powerful as the iPad Pro.The refresh rate isn’t on par with the iPad Pro.
The display is crystal clear and benefits drawing of all sorts.This tablet’s screen is slightly dimmer than the iPad Pro’s.

Check out the iPad Air 5th Generation on Amazon.

Best Portable Option: iPad Mini

The Best iPad Mini
Apple iPad Mini (6th Generation)
$469.00
  • 8.3-inch Retina Display (2266 x 1488 pixels)
  • Apple A15 Bionic chip
  • 12MP Ultra Wide front camera 
  • Touch ID for security
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01/16/2024 01:37 pm GMT

The iPad Mini is a great choice for making art on the go. You’ve got a smaller screen, sure, with the form factor being closer to an 8-inch tablet. However, you’ve got access to the Apple Pencil, which is an absolute must when it comes to all of the art apps available for the iPad family.

The Mini is a special case and should be considered only if you’re trying to keep things light while traveling. Having a smaller screen is a bit of a drawback, but the display itself is stunning and carries all of the great qualities users have come to expect when picking an Apple device.

ProsCons
The Mini has performance on par with its larger siblings.It is more expensive than the larger base model iPad.
The smaller screen is still clear and easy to read.Drawing on a smaller screen can feel somewhat cramped over long periods of use.

Check out the iPad Mini on Amazon.

Best Budget Option: iPad 10th Generation

Best Budget Option
Apple iPad (10th Generation)
$349.00
  • 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display (2360 x 1640 pixels)
  • 64GB storage
  • Wi-Fi 6, Touch ID
  • A14 Bionic chip 
  • 12MP front/12MP back cameras
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil (1st generation)
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01/16/2024 10:27 am GMT

The iPad 10th Generation may be affordable, but it is built for creating art. The base model iPad is no longer the top model when shopping for Apple tablets, but there is plenty to love about this one. It doesn’t have the stellar Apple Silicon processor but features the A14 Bionic.

The screen isn’t quite as crisp or smooth as the iPad Pro, but it is plenty usable for drawing. That said, the most confusing aspect of the 10th-generation iPad is the lack of second-gen Apple Pencil support. You can use an Apple Pencil, but you’re stuck with the first-generation model.

ProsCons
While weaker than the Air and Pro, the base model iPad supports the same apps.It only supports the first-generation Apple Pencil.
The build quality is superb.The base model doesn’t support advanced functionality like Stage Manager.

Check out the iPad 10th Generation on Amazon.

Best Value Pro Option: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021 Revision)

Best Value Pro Option
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021 Revision)
$979.99
  • 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
  • 12MP Wide camera, 10MP Ultra Wide camera
  • 128 GB memory storage capacity
  • M1 chip with Neural Engine
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01/16/2024 01:47 pm GMT

Last, but certainly not least, is the previous model iPad Pro. This one features the same stellar display featured in the 2022 model but comes with an M1 processor instead of the newer M2. You won’t notice much of a difference, and you can pass that savings on to some extra tips for your stylus.

The M1 iPad Pro is still a powerful piece of tech and will cover every art app you throw at it. The larger screen is great for working, and you’ve got a higher native refresh rate that is only seen in the Pro line. It is still relatively expensive, but if you want the best on a budget, this is the way to go.

ProsCons
The screen is large, making it easier to create art works.Has the M1 chip instead of the M2.
Features a high native refresh rate.Since it’s part of the Pro line, it’s still fairly expensive.

Check out the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021 Revision) on Amazon.

Picking the Best iPad for Artists: What to Know

When picking out the right iPad for your art use, there are a few important criteria to keep in mind.

Apps Available

Now, all apps should be compatible with the iPad models covered in this guide. However, the overall performance of these apps is something to keep in mind. The iPad Air and Pro are going to have zero issues running any app, thanks to the beefier processors and more RAM.

You might notice a bit of slowdown when using a base model iPad and multi-tasking between something like your art app and any reference material you might need. That said, any app you use should work just fine, but keep in mind your device’s limitations.

Pencil Compatibility

Despite all of these being fairly recent iPad models, there is some disparity in the Pencil support across models. Now, if you can afford an iPad that uses the latest Pencil, you absolutely should go for it. The second-generation Apple Pencil charges directly on the iPad itself, meaning you can carry both in a case in your bag.

The base model iPad only comes with support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, which is still very usable. However, it has a different method of charging which will require a dongle or additional adapter to charge while on the go. You still have a similar degree of accuracy and latency, but it can be a bit more inconvenient if you’re using the stylus constantly.

Screen Size

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when choosing a tablet is the overall size of it. The larger displays are certainly easier to work with but are priced accordingly. Currently, the largest screen for an iPad is the 12.9-inch Pro model. However, you’re going to be spending the equivalent of a MacBook to get one.

The iPad Air and base model iPad both have 10.9-inch screens, which is certainly plenty for doing artwork. You’ve got more than enough room to sketch while maintaining good visibility. The iPad Mini is the smallest of the bunch, coming in at 8.9 inches. However, it is also the lightest, so it is just going to be down to what you need versus what you’re comfortable toting around.

Using the Best iPad for Artists: What It’s Like

What is it like using an iPad for art? The Apple Pencil is one of the most comfortable and accurate stylus options on the market currently. As such, creating art on apps like Procreate and Affinity Illustrator is an absolute dream.

You don’t need accessories like gloves to deal with your palm, as detection is built in natively. The Apple Pencil has pressure sensitivity, as well, so you can adjust the curves to fit your needs. It is like using a high-end drawing tablet with the added benefit of being a standalone device that you can take with you anywhere.

Summary Table

RankiPad ModelProsCons
Best OveralliPad Pro (12.9-inch)One of the most powerful tablets on the market today. The screen has a great display resolution and peak brightness.It is one of the most expensive tablets on the market currently. The Apple Pencil and other peripherals are separate purchases.
Best Runner-UpiPad Air 5th GenerationThe iPad Air is almost as powerful as the iPad Pro. The display is crystal clear and benefits drawing of all sorts.The refresh rate isn’t on par with the iPad Pro. This tablet’s screen is slightly dimmer than the iPad Pro’s.
Best Portable OptioniPad MiniThe Mini has performance on par with its larger siblings. The smaller screen is still clear and easy to read.It is more expensive than the larger base model iPad. Drawing on a smaller screen can feel somewhat cramped over long periods of use.
Best Budget OptioniPad 10th GenerationWhile weaker than the Air and Pro, the base model iPad supports the same apps. The build quality is superb.It only supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. The base model doesn’t support advanced functionality like Stage Manager.
Best Value Pro OptioniPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021 Revision)The screen is large, making it easier to create artwork. Features a high native refresh rate.Has the M1 chip instead of the M2. Since it’s part of the Pro line, it’s still fairly expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Procreate run on all iPads?

Yes, it runs on the Pro, Air, base model, and Mini.

Do you need any special software to use the Apple Pencil?

No, you just start using it and the iPad takes care of the rest. You can adjust settings in your iPad settings to further refine the usage of the peripheral, however.

Does the first-generation Apple Pencil charge wirelessly?

No, it uses a cable to charge. You’ll need to bring a dongle or additional adapter with you to charge it.

Can the base model iPad use the second-generation Apple Pencil?

No, it only supports the first-generation model.

Can you replace the Apple Pencil's tip?

Yes, Apple and other third-party vendors sell replacement tips that are easy to install.

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