The 5 Best iPads for Drawing in 2022

The idea of being able to draw anywhere is not new, artists can draw and create from everywhere with just a pencil and a piece of paper we can let our ideas flow.

However not every artist uses traditional media, not every work can be done with a piece of paper and a pencil and if you work in the concept art industry, as a freelance artist or are an independent digital artist, you definitely can’t work with only that.

From the introduction of computer graphics with graphic tablets and pen displays, the art industry has grown incredibly, however, portability was still an issue. Though artists could draw using a laptop and a graphic tablet or a small-sized pen display, it was still too much of a hassle to carry everything around, practically impossible to draw on the go and the few models (Wacom companion) that were portable were too chunky and way too expensive to even consider.

Since styluses were pretty common, some beginner artists opted for using them with their normal tablets and mobile drawing apps for fun, however, in 2015, Apple launched the Apple Pencil, the first pressure-sensitive stylus that could be used with the iPad and it was sensational.

 

Having the ability to draw on a portable device, without having to be sitting on a desk, having the option to work on your art in any place of the world, at any time and for extended periods was the dream of every artist. It was great, but it could get better, and it did.

The introduction of the Apple Pencil 2 and the latest iPad Pro along with the app optimization for iPadOS and Procreate made art more accessible than ever. There was no longer the need of getting a PC, laptop, and a pen display to work in your art, every artist with an iPad and an Apple Pencil is now able to create high-quality art and immediately post it on social media, share it to other devices, or even submit it for work! 

There are still some small issues that can be improved, but nothing that later updates can’t fix.

So if you’re an artist and are considering getting an iPad, here’s all you need to know to make the best investment for your art career.

Before Getting an iPad…Check the App Compatibility

If you’re getting an iPad to draw and work on your art, you have to know what app you’re going to use beforehand, if you’re a beginner and plan on using Procreate, then there will be no issue, however, if you’re a seasoned artist and are used to work in Photoshop, Krita or Paint Tool Sai, then you must know that the iPad OS is not compatible with any of that software. Photoshop was released not so long ago as a compatible app for the iPad, however, it is very limited and lacks too many functions.

Other professional software like Clip Studio Paint, Adobe Fresco, and Sketchbooks are available and fully compatible with any iPad model, yet some of them have an additional cost or need a subscription service.

There are plenty of free apps for drawing and painting, however, it will depend on you as an artist to choose the best match for you and your art.

How to Choose the Best iPad for Drawing?

At this moment in time, there are many iPad models to choose from, and after the latest Apple event, the list just keeps growing. Here we present to you some important matters that you’ll need to consider before getting an iPad for drawing. 

Apple Pencil Support

There are two generations of the Apple Pencil, and though it might seem like it’s not that much of a big deal to get one or the other, each generation is supported by different devices. 

If you’re planning on getting the last iPad’s models, then getting the Apple Pencil 2 is a must, here is the list of the compatible devices for the second-generation Apple Pencil:

  • iPad Pro 12.9” (3rd generation and later) 
  • iPad Pro 11” (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Air (4th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (6th generation)

If you have an older model or are planning on getting one, check this list for the Apple Pencil 1 compatibility devices:

  • iPad (6th to 9th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st or 2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad mini (5th generation)

Size and Display

When talking about tablets in general, the biggest perk has to be the portability, the most powerful Apple iPad, the iPad Pro 12.9” is carryable but not the best option for portability, the 11” seems to be a perfect size, however, the price is still on the expensive side.

If you’re looking for affordability as well, going for the 10.2” iPad or the 8.3” iPad mini won’t hurt your pocket as much and will give you the drawing on the go experience.

The best price-value model regarding size, power, and affordability is without a doubt the iPad Air 5th generation, 10.9” of Liquid Retina Display (Same as the Pro 11”) and the M1 chip make the best combination.

Another important matter to consider, especially if you’re an artist is the resolution and color accuracy, and the indisputable winner in this aspect is also the most expensive iPad model, the iPad Pro 12.9 5th generation with its XDR Liquid Retina and up to 1600 nits of brightness, however, Apple has always been known for having some of the best quality displays in the market, so even the most basic iPad will have a better display quality than most devices.

CPU and GPU

If you’re planning on getting the iPad Pro 2021 (12.9” or 11”) or the iPad Air 5th Gen then you have nothing to worry about, those are powered by the very impressive M1 chip, with an 8-core CPU and GPU, the performance of the chip is staggering. The A14 chip is indeed very powerful and enough for running drawing apps and handling multitasking, nevertheless, it’s prone to crash if the canvas we’re using is too big or if we’re using too many layers. 

Storage and RAM

Some iPad models have different storage than others, however, how can we know what is going to be enough? Simple, if you’re going to use your iPad for school, streaming, and gaming, besides drawing, getting +128 GB is what would suit you best. If you’re going to use your iPad for video editing, heavy illustrations, animations, and work, then getting +512 GB is better.

Regarding RAM, when using apps like Procreate, Ibis Paint, Medibang, and Clip Studio Paint, there’s not that much of an issue and 8GB of RAM seem to be enough, however for Photoshop, even with 16GB of RAM the software crashes from time to time, so if you work with the Adobe Creative Cloud, you might want to reconsider getting an iPad for drawing.

Connectivity

WiFi connectivity is the default condition for any iPad, however, Apple offers to upgrade this by paying a bit more and getting cellular connectivity (5G), and that is a step ahead regarding portability, since having cellular connectivity implies you can draw, work and share your art from anywhere, anytime. 

Our Recommended iPads for Drawing

  1. Best iPad for Drawing Overall — iPad Pro 12.9” 5th Gen
  2. Best Price Value iPad for Drawing — iPad Air 5
  3. Best iPad for Drawing on a Budget — iPad Air 4
  4. Best iPad for Drawing for Beginners — iPad 9th Gen
  5. Best Portable iPad for Drawing — iPad Mini 6th Gen

1. Best iPad for Drawing Overall — iPad Pro 12.9” 5th Gen

Selection Criteria:

  • Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Size and Display: 12.9” Liquid Retina XDR Display 2732×2048 100% sRGB coverage.
    • Our score: 10/10
  • CPU & GPU: M1 Chipset and GPU
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Storage and RAM: 512 GB of storage 8GB of RAM
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Connectivity: Wifi and Cellular
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Price: $1599
    • Our score: 8/10

About the iPad Pro 12.9 5th Gen

The best iPad model is undoubtedly the iPad Pro 5th Gen, powered by the M1 Chip, and with the best display in the market, this iPad is the favorite tool of many artists around the world. The 120Hz of refresh rate delivers an outstanding drawing experience and in our opinion, better than the best pen displays in the market. The con, is it’s quite expensive and can’t fully run some of the most used professional software, but that’s an issue with all iPads and tablets and I believe it can be fixed in later updates. 

Pros

  • Has a great display and processor.
  • Hass full sRGB coverage.
  • Thunderbolt 4 support and ProMotion.

Cons

  • It was quite expensive
  • The M1 chip doesn’t reach all its potential with iPadOS.


2. Best iPad for Drawing for Beginners — iPad 9th Gen

Selection Criteria:

  • Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 1
    • Our Score: 7/10
  • Size and Display: 10.2” Retina Display 2160×1620 100% sRGB coverage.
    • Our score: 8/10
  • CPU & GPU: Apple A13 Bionic Chip and GPU
    • Our score: 7/10
  • Storage and RAM: 256 GB of storage 3 GB of RAM
    • Our score: 6/10
  • Connectivity: Wifi 
    • Our Score: 8/10
  • Price: $479
    • Our score: 10/10

About the iPad 9th Gen

If you’re on a budget but still want to have the ultimate drawing on the go experience, then this iPad is for you, for $479 only you get access to most drawing apps and Procreate, though the RAM is not the best, it still allows decent levels of multitasking and the screen is quite bright in comparison to more expensive devices. The battery of this model lasts up to 3 hours more than any other iPad, that’s a great perk for the price.

 Pros

  • Has a very nice display.
  • The battery lasts up to 13 hours.
  • Hass full sRGB coverage

Cons

  • The screen is not laminated 
  • The RAM is average at best

3. Best Price-Value iPad for Drawing — iPad Air 5

Selection Criteria:

  • Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Size and Display: 10.9” Liquid Retina Display 2360×1640 100% sRGB coverage.
    • Our score: 9/10
  • CPU & GPU: M1 Chip and GPU
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Storage and RAM: 256 GB of storage 8 GB of RAM
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Connectivity: Wifi and Cellular 
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Price: $899
    • Our score: 9/10

About the iPad Air 5

Apple’s last event was a surprise for all of us, we knew the iPad Air was going to have some changes, but no one expected the amazing upgrade it had, going from 4 to 8 GB of RAM was already a big change, however, the integration of the M1 chip took this device even closer to the Pro version. This model has also an upgraded front camera, going from 7MP wide to 12MP Ultra Wide, and support for the Apple Pencil 2 making the drawing experience just as good as in the Pro. The price goes from $499 for the 64GB model and $649 for the 256GB model with WiFi connectivity, the only major difference would be the lack of ProMotion and refresh rate that goes only up to 60Hz, but it’s almost unnoticeable.

 Pros

  • Has a great display and processor.
  • It’s quite affordable
  • Hass full sRGB coverage

Cons

  • Can only go up to 256 GB of storage.

4. Best Professional iPad for Drawing on a Budget — iPad Pro 11” 3rd Gen

Selection Criteria:

  • Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Size and Display: 11” Liquid Retina Display 2388×1668 100% sRGB coverage.
    • Our score: 9/10
  • CPU & GPU: M1 Chip and GPU
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Storage and RAM: of storage SSD 8 GB of RAM
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Connectivity: Wifi
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Price: $749
    • Our score: 9/10

About the iPad Pro 11” 3rd Gen

This iPad Pro model has most of the benefits of the 12.9 without the elevated price tag, the size is great for note-taking and carrying it around on a bag, it’s compatible with the Apple Pencil 2 and the refresh rate is the same as the 12.9 model, providing the ultimate drawing experience. The model we choose doesn’t have Cellular connectivity and only has 128GB of RAM which is enough for a great performance and a tight budget.

 Pros

  • Has a great display and processor.
  • Hass full sRGB coverage

Cons

  • Some might need more storage.
  • It’s still a bit pricey.

5. Best Portable iPad for Drawing — iPad Mini 6

Selection Criteria:

  • Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Size and Display: 8.3” Liquid Retina Display 2266×1488 100% sRGB coverage.
    • Our score: 8/10
  • CPU & GPU: A15 Bionic Chip and GPU
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Storage and RAM: 25GB of storage 4 GB of RAM
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Connectivity: Wifi
    • Our Score: 10/10
  • Price: $599
    • Our score: 9/10

About the iPad Mini 6

This small yet powerful iPad is the best option for portability, its 8.3 inches allow you to carry it everywhere, and can even fit in your back pocket. The CPU is only second to the latest M1 Chip, and the USB C connectivity opens the doors to faster charge and Thunderbolt 3 support. The screen is fully laminated and has a 60Hz refresh rate. The 4GB of RAM is great for drawing apps, streaming, and multitasking and the WiFi 6 support only enhances the experience. 

 Pros

  • Has a very nice display.
  • Hass full sRGB coverage

Cons

  • Some might consider it too small.
  •  The RAM might be limiting for heavier tasks.

Conclusions

Having the right tools is very important for every artist, and Apple has brought us some of the most reliables devices for us to grow our abilities and careers, though some might consider them pricey, some of these devices fulfill the task that laptop and a pen display can do for the same amount of money, adding the bonus of portability, extended battery life and the reliability Apple has always offered to their users. 

I hope you’ve found this article useful and that you can choose the best iPad for you, thank you for reading. Until next time!