Pencil to Pixel Journey: Top Drawing Tablets with Pen Delights

A tablet with pen is an essential addition to any artist or graphic designer’s toolkit. You can draw on the go with a tablet and stylus, giving you more flexibility.

Some of the latest tablets have incredible screens and are extremely powerful. They have longer battery life and improved graphics than early tablets. 

Now, you can run demanding programs like Photoshop with ease. But most importantly, these recent tablets are also compatible with stylus pens. So, you can work on your designs from anywhere.

A tablet with a pen is also ideal for taking notes at a meeting or lecture. Tablets are portable, lightweight, and easier to carry than a laptop. 

The best writing tablet will be responsive with smooth tracking and an HD display. But not all tablets tick the right boxes or work with digital pens.

Take note that not every tablet will come with a stylus included. So, you might have to buy the stylus separately.

You need to think carefully before you buy. There are a few things to know when choosing the best tablet for taking handwritten notes or drawing. I’ll share these key factors below in my buying guide.

For a quick pick, go for the iPad Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. These premium tablets have a great user experience and all the features.

Tablet with pen & stylus

How To Choose the Best Tablet with Pen/Stylus (Buying Guide)

If you’re looking for a tablet with a stylus, you can easily get overwhelmed by all the available options. It’s hard to decipher which of the tablets with stylus are worth your money.

Here’s a quick guide to choosing the best writing tablet. These are the factors you should look out for when you’re shopping around:

A Compatible Operating System

Before you buy, do you need the tablet to be compatible with any specific operating system? 

For example, if you have an iPhone and Mac, you might want an iPad. Then, all your devices will work seamlessly with each other.

Or maybe you want an Android tablet as you’re not tied to Apple products. You might want to stick with a preferred brand or need an app that’s only available on Windows.

Whichever operating system you want, you’ll find some great options in this list!

Does it come with a stylus?

Not all tablets will come with a stylus included in the price. Make sure to check whether your choice comes with a tablet stylus pen in the package. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to factor in the extra cost to buy a separate stylus pen for tablets. That can bump up the cost significantly.

Does the price fit your budget?

You might have your sights set on a particular tablet. But you’re wasting your time if it doesn’t fall within your budget. 

That’s why it’s vital to have a clear budget before you start looking. With your budget in mind, you can look for the best tablets for writing within that price range.

While there are some premium tablets out there, you don’t have to go for the most expensive. A mid-range tablet could meet all your needs and save you money.

The Stylus 

The best stylus for drawing will be lightweight, comfortable, and responsive. It should feel good in your hand, with an ergonomic design with a great level of pressure.

There are two main types of styli, the capacitive stylus, and the active stylus. I recommend almost always going for an active stylus. They offer an excellent level of pressure sensitivity, greater accuracy, and support palm rejection.

A stylus can contain batteries, or it may be rechargeable. Some smart styluses can even charge on contact with the tablet screen. So, you’ll never be caught out by a flat battery.

The stylus should move across the screen with instant effect and without any lags. The responsiveness is one of the most important factors when buying a new drawing tablet.

Premium styluses will offer advanced features like good pressure level sensitivity and tilt recognition. These bonus features give you more control over the shading and line thickness. As a result, you can create amazing, intricate illustrations.

You should also check which devices it’s compatible with before you buy. Some digital pens can work on your tablet, smartphone, and even your laptop screen. Others will be specific to your tablet and won’t work on other devices.

The Screen

The screen is a key factor. You need to look for a crystal-clear, bright, and high-definition screen. 

The best tablet display is a high-definition AMOLED screen. As for size, the general rule is the bigger, the better. Colors should look saturated and true-to-life, with a wide color gamut.

You want a screen that is gentle on the eyes, with low blue light technology. This feature will allow you to work longer without eye strain and headaches.

A drawing tablet should also have a laminated screen for the best effect. With a smaller gap between the screen and pen, it improves precision and reduces lag time.

The Best Tablets with Stylus

Here are my recommendations for the best tablets with a stylus!

Apple iPad 10.2″

Apple iPad 10.2

(Image credit: Apple)

I’ll start with the classic Apple iPad. Its 10.2-inch screen and Retina display make it perfect for drawing and note-taking.

It’s more affordable than the latest iPad Pro, so it won’t break the bank. But you get a feature-packed tablet and the power and reliability of the Apple brand.

You can pair the iPad with the Apple Pencil 1 with excellent results. The Apple Pencil moves smoothly across the screen, and the iPad is very responsive. 

You will need to buy the stylus separately – it doesn’t come packaged with the iPad. 

But as the screen isn’t laminated, you may notice the difference. There’s a slight distance between the glass and the screen, which can cause small lags.

That shouldn’t be a problem except in the most intricate illustrations. Otherwise, this tablet is more than suitable for taking notes, sketching, and drawing.

The iPad is sturdy with metal construction, although it’s not as sleek as other models. The large bezels make the screen feel smaller, but 10.2 inches gives you plenty of space.

Overall, this iPad is an excellent choice for a mid-range tablet. The battery lasts for up to 10 hours, and the Bionic processor packs a lot of power. So, you can game, browse, or stream videos with ease. 

But most importantly, it’s very responsive to the Apple Pencil. Your drawings will look great on the bright, clear screen.

  • An affordable tablet for drawing and sketching
  • It’s powerful, responsive, robust, and excellent performance
  • The screen isn’t laminated and it has large bezels

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New Apple iPad Pro

 Apple iPad Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

If you have a bit more cash to spend, you should consider the Apple iPad Pro. While this model costs almost double the regular iPad, it’s well worth it. 

You get a larger, 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display on this tablet. This screen is truly astounding in the clarity, color, and refresh rate. It boasts True Tone and ProMotion technology.

Slim bezels highlight this impressive display, which packs 600 nits of brightness. That makes it the perfect surface for your artwork.

The Apple Pencil 2 is designed to work faultlessly with the iPad Pro. This pressure-sensitive pen is a joy to use, with improved features compared to the Apple Pencil 1. Without a doubt, it’s the best stylus for drawing.

It glides across the surface with instant results and gives you control over what you create. As a bonus, the stylus charges when attached to the tablet. So, you won’t need to worry about running out of battery while you’re working.

The ultrathin metal design makes the iPad Pro look stylish, while it’s also compact and practical. You also get a 12MP Wide camera, 7MP front camera, quality speaker audio, and FaceID.

The iPad Pro is an outstanding drawing tablet if you can afford the expense. It doesn’t come cheap, especially when you factor in the Apple Pencil 2. 

But this luxury tablet with the latest technology blows its competitors out of the water. It’s the best Apple tablet for drawing on the market right now.

  • Gorgeous screen with increased accuracy and pressure sensitivity
  • The Apple Pencil 2 is an excellent pen for tablet
  • It’s very expensive

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 gets my vote for the best Android tablet for drawing. The combination of a fantastic screen and the included S Pen make this tablet a winner.

You get a generous 11-inch LCD screen with the Galaxy Tab S7. That gives you plenty of space to get creative. Your designs will look amazing on the edge-to-edge display with tiny bezels.

The display is gentle on your eyes, thanks to low blue light technology. With 276 pixels per inch and up to 500 nits of brightness, you can clearly see what you’re working on.

The S Pen is the best stylus pen for Android. It’s rechargeable and attaches to your tablet so you won’t lose it. It’s comfortable and has ultra-low latency, making it more responsive.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor powers the Galaxy S7. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, you should know that it’s the most powerful Android tablet yet. You won’t struggle to run demanding apps like Photoshop on this tablet.

This superb Samsung tablet with S Pen is worth your attention. It’s considerably cheaper than the iPad Pro, but it won’t let you down. 

You can draw detailed designs flawlessly with smooth tracking and a fast refresh. The Galaxy Tab S7 is ideal for any graphic designer or artist. 

  • Powerful, responsive tablet with a fantastic, crystal-clear display
  • The S Pen is accurate and easy to use
  • It doesn’t have an AMOLED screen

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with S Pen

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy Tab S6 was released in 2015, but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated. While it’s much cheaper than the S7, you still get many of the same great features.

This mid-range tablet boasts a 10.4-inch display, and you also get the S Pen included. This stylus is responsive, rechargeable, and pressure-sensitive.

The Samsung Notes app is easy to use for jotting down a quick memo. You can also use it to organize all your lecture notes in an accessible way. 

Plus, you can run design programs like Photoshop or Illustrator on Tab S6. It’s powerful enough to handle several apps at once.

The battery life is impressive, lasting up to 13 hours. You can choose between 64 or 128 GB of internal memory, so your designs have plenty of space.

The main difference with more expensive models is the Tab S6’s slower 60HZ refresh rate. But if an affordable tablet with a pen is your priority, it’s worth forgoing a speedier refresh rate.

So if you’re budget-conscious, snap up this affordable Samsung tablet with S Pen. You won’t regret it! It’s the best of the mid-range tablets with active stylus. 

  • This slim, attractive tablet has a great display and comes with the S Pen
  • It has a long battery life and a powerful processor
  • The screen refresh rate is a little slow

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is an excellent tablet with a good performance that can handle different programs. It’s powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, just like a laptop, which sets it apart from many other tablets.

Notably, it was designed to be the best note-taking tablet right from the start. It pairs perfectly with the Surface Pen with smooth tracking and a quick response time.

The 12.3-inch touchscreen display is bright and clear, making it the ideal space for drawing. While the refresh rate is a little slow at 60Hz, it should be sensitive enough for most people.

You’ll need to buy the Surface Pen separate from the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, so factor it into your budget. But this tablet and stylus combination is flawless and user-friendly.

The Surface Pen offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It feels like you’re using a real pen, and you get great control over your shading thanks to tilt recognition.

The Surface Pro 7 is slim and sleek, yet robust. It packs 256 GB SSD memory, which is fast, efficient, and provides plenty of space for your designs. The included stand is a handy addition so you can get the right angle for drawing.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is an excellent tablet for drawing and writing. 

But it’s also a fantastic choice all around for a tablet to replace your laptop. It packs a lot of power, has a long battery life, and you can access all your favorite apps from the Windows Store.

  • This powerful tablet can rival a laptop – it’s fast and responsive with a long battery life
  • You can use the Surface Pen to write and draw with no lagging and great sensitivity
  • The Surface Pen isn’t included in the price

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New Microsoft Surface Go 2 – 10.5″

New Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5"

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you’re looking for a more affordable Microsoft tablet, check out the Surface Go 2. It costs about half the Surface Pro 7 but offers many of the same features.

It’s slightly smaller with a 10-inch screen and medium bezels. With that comes the bonus of a lightweight build and extra portability. You also get a long battery life of up to 10 hours, making it ideal for use on the go.

It works well with the Surface Pen and is ready for note-taking, writing, and drawing. The tablet has handwriting recognition built-in. The stylus is compatible with Microsoft OneNote and other apps.

It has a built-in kickstand and all the other features you’d expect. These include a front and back camera, headphone jack, and good speakers.

The main drawback to the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is that it lacks processing power. So, you may struggle to run heavy design programs like the Adobe Suite.

This versatile little tablet is ideal if you’re on a budget but still want to make sketches and take notes. If you’re looking for a compact tablet that works with an active stylus, go for the Microsoft Surface Go 2! 

  • It’s compact, lightweight, and versatile, with a great display
  • You can use the pressure-sensitive Surface Pen to take notes or draw directly on the screen
  • It’s not as powerful and fast as more expensive tablets like the Surface Pro 7 or the iPad Pro

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Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini

(Image credit: Apple)

If you’re after a compact tablet for note-taking or drawing, the iPad Mini ticks all the right boxes. 

While the screen is smaller at 8 inches, that makes it easily portable. You can slip this lightweight tablet into any bag or even a pocket. It comes in a range of colors and looks elegant.

Despite (or because of) the small size, it’s ideal for sketching or writing on the go. The vivid Retina screen displays colors with accuracy and depth.

The Apple Pencil works well with the iPad Mini. Although you need to buy it separately, it’s cheaper than the Apple Pencil 2. 

It comes with similar features and is compatible with most App Store apps. The biggest disadvantage is that you’ll need to charge it with the iPad Mini’s Lightning port. It doesn’t recharge automatically, like the Apple Pencil 2. 

The iPad Mini also has an 8MP back camera, 7MP front camera, and great speakers. Touch ID adds extra security; the battery can last up to 10 hours.

The iPad Mini is the best compact tablet when paired with the Apple Pencil. You can take it anywhere and never miss a spark of inspiration – just scribble it down!

  • Great 8-inch tablet with a pen for travel or use on the go
  • It has an impressive Retina display and a long battery life
  • You only have a small space to work on

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ASUS Transformer Mini

Tablet with pen & stylus ASUS Transformer Mini

(Image credit: Asus)

This low-cost tablet might be what you need if you’re on a tight budget. It’s not the most advanced tablet, but it comes with a digital pen and keyboard included. 

It’s compact and durable, with a sturdy magnesium alloy build. The 10.1-inch screen is large enough to draw or take notes using the included stylus. 

The all-inclusive package is a massive bonus, with no need to buy a separate digital pen. But don’t expect this affordable tablet’s specs to compare to premium models. 

The Quad-Core processor isn’t the most powerful, so you may struggle with advanced tasks. It also has only 4GB RAM, but it’s not all negative. 

You get 128 GB of SSD, so you can store tons of digital files and access them quickly. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours for all-day use on the go. The fingerprint sensor also comes in handy!

But if you want to create animations or edit videos, the Transformer Mini may not be for you. I’d recommend you check out the other tablets on this list instead.

But if you’re after a lightweight, low-cost tablet for taking quick notes, snap it up. It’s a bargain that you won’t regret! 

  • This affordable tablet comes with a digital pen and keyboard included
  • It has a sturdy design and offered SSD storage and a long battery life
  • It’s not capable of very demanding tasks

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Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Tablet

Tablet with pen & stylus Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Tablet

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Another excellent option is the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro. This mid-range tablet boasts a gorgeous 2K display that any artist would be delighted to work on. 

The OLED touchscreen provides up to 350 nits of brightness and 2560 x 1600 pixels. So, your designs will look beautiful in fully saturated colors and high definition.

It also has Dolby-enhanced audio and lots of other great features. You can buy the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro in a bundle offer with the Lenovo Precision Pen

This active stylus offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. So, you get ultimate control over the line thickness and shading.

The pen also lasts an incredible 400 days on a full charge, so you won’t need to worry about running out of battery. Bonus features include shortcut buttons and tilt recognition. 

The tablet itself is super slim with thin bezels and an aluminum alloy frame, so it looks sharp and elegant. The Snapdragon 730G processor can handle almost anything.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is one of the best mid-range tablets for drawing and note-taking. Add a keyboard, which could even replace your computer for most tasks.

  • Fantastic audio and an incredible 2K OLED display
  • The pen and tablet bundle offer great value for money, and the pen is very sensitive
  • There are cheaper options around

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Lenovo Tab M10 Plus

Tablet with pen & stylus Lenovo Tab M10 Plus

(Image credit: Lenovo)

For an even cheaper option, check out the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus. Just because you can’t afford a premium tablet, you can still get a good tablet with a pen combo.

The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus has a great FHD screen and packs some excellent features. The 10.3-inch screen is large enough for note-taking, drawing, and basic graphic design.

Wide-angle viewing allows you to see your artwork clearly and stream movies.

It’s powered by an OctaCore processor with 2.3GHz, so you can browse and run most apps without any problems. You get 32GB of storage and can back your files up onto the cloud if you need more space.

This tablet is also eye-catching with a metal design and thin bezels. The 8MP front camera and 5MP back camera aren’t the best on the market, but they do the job.

  • The best low-cost tablet with a pen right now
  • It has a powerful processor and FHD screen with wide-angle viewing
  • The battery only lasts 7 hours, and the specs aren’t as good as the premium options

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The Wrap Up

Not every tablet will work well with a stylus, even some high-end tablets. That’s why you should pick a tried-and-tested model.

All these tablets are responsive and work smoothly with a pen. They’re perfect for drawing, design, and taking notes, and have most of the necessary features.

If I had to choose the best tablet with a pen, I would go for the iPad Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. These premium tablets have a great user experience and all the features you need.

But there are some excellent mid-range and budget tablets out there, too. If you’re looking for something cheaper, consider the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro. And for a low-cost option, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus fits the bill.

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions you have there, too!

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Outmane is the founder of Proactive Creative. He is an artist/designer.

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