The best iPad for drawing in 2024

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Three of the best ipads for drawing on an orange background

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

The list in brief ↴
1. Best overall: iPad Pro (M2)
2. Best value: iPad Air (M1)
3. For sketching: iPad mini (2021)
4. Best affordable: iPad (2022)
5. Best older iPad: iPad Pro (M1)
How to choose
How we test
FAQ

Choosing the best iPad for drawing can be confusing since there are so many models and configurations available. But it's worth making the effort, because modern iPads are a great choice for creating digital art. Slim and portable, they offer a fantastic alternative or compliment to the best drawing tablets, especially considering that you can also use them for other things besides drawing.

So which of the iPad generations is best for artists? The simple answer is the largest, newest iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil 2, but there are other things to consider, including portability and budget. We've reviewed and tested all current iPads on the market, including using them to drawing via various programs. That puts us in a good position to be able to recommend the best options for different needs. If you're primarily going to be using Procreate, then also check out our guide to the best iPads for Procreate.

Quick list

The best iPad for drawing in full

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The best iPad for drawing overall

An iPad Pro, one of the best iPads for drawing, on a desk with a drawing of an eye on the screen

(Image credit: Future)
A gorgeous, fast display make this the ultimate iPad for drawing

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2, Apple Pencil USB-C
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
OS: iPadOS 16.1
CPU: Apple M2 chip
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Rear cameras: 12MP, 10MP, TOF 3D LiDAR
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
The best screen on an iPad
+
Super-fast processor
+
Generous storage options

Reasons to avoid

-
The most expensive iPad

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2, 2022) is simply the best iPad for drawing you can buy right now if we exclude cost as a varibale. Equipped with Apple's super-fast M2 processor, it offers fast processing speeds, while we love the fidelity of the Liquid Retina XDR display. Note that there's also an 11-inch iPad Pro, but the 12.9 inch pro is the only iPad with a Liquid Retina XDR display, which provides better dynamic range with high contrast and brightness.

In our full iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2, 2022) review, we praised the drawing experience in combination with the Apple Pencil 2. And several members of our team use the device almost daily for digital art. We found that the display's refresh rate of 120Hz provided excellent responsiveness, and with up to 2TB of storage available, there's no need to worry about file sizes. 

One potential drawback is the size, although this is also one of the big pros. A larger screen is more comfortable for working on in most situations, but it's less discreet when you're working on the go. The other downside is that this is the most expensive iPad on the market, and unless you're a pro, it's probably more than you need.

The best value iPad for drawing

An iPad Air 5th Gen, one of the best iPads for drawing, on a white table

(Image credit: Future)
The best iPad for artists when it comes to price

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2, Apple Pencil USB-C
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 2350 x 1640 pixels
Weight: 461g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 16.1
CPU: Apple M1 chip
Storage: 64GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 12MP, dual pixel PDAF
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Lighter and cheaper than the Pro 
+
Beautifully sleek design
+
Solid performance and Apple Pencil 2 support

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited storage options
-
Slower refresh rate

The 2022 iPad Air is also a strong contender for the title of the best iPad for drawing, offering many features that are reminiscent of the iPad Pro while offering better value and a lighter, more portable device. The latest iPad Air closed the gap in performance a little by incorporating the M1 chip from the previous generation of Pros.

In our iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review, we note that screen resolution is comparable to the Pro models and that the backlighting is even and colour-accurate, making it a great choice for visual creative work, including drawing. The drawbacks are lower brightness levels compared to the Pro 12.9's Liquid Retina XDR display, and the refresh rate of 60Hz (compared to the Pro's 120Hz) may cause some delay in the display of strokes when drawing.

However, if you're looking for a tablet with a larger screen and more powr than the iPad mini, but without the hefty price tag of the iPad Pro, the 2022 iPad Air is definitely worth considering as the best iPad for drawing to suit your needs.

The best iPad for sketching

Apple iPad mini 6, one of the best iPads for drawing, in a reviewer's hand

(Image credit: Future)
The most portable iPad is ideal for sketching and doodling on the go

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2, Apple Pencil USB-C
Screen size: 8.3 inch
Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels
Weight: 293-297g
Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm
OS: iPadOS 15
CPU: A15 Bionic
Storage: 64/256GB
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Very portable
+
Lovely screen
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller screen not for everyone

The iPad Mini (2021) is a great choice for artists who travel a lot or just want to quickly doodle and sketch wherever they find themselves. The big iPad Pros aren't the most comfortable option if you want to work on the move – such as on public transport, for example. The iPad Mini hasn't been updated for a few years now, but it still performs well, and unlike the standard iPad below, it supports Apple Pencil 2.

We found this tablet to be wonderfully compact, suitable for carrying anywhere since it can fit neatly into a small bag (read our guide to the best iPad cases for more), but it still offers plenty of power for sketching (more than the standard iPad), and the 8.3-inch Liquid Retina screen offers an impressive resolution of 1488 x 2266 pixels. in our review, we found that Apple's claims of 10 hours of battery life were accurate, so you should have no problem drawing for several hours while on the move before needing to find a power socket. 

There's up to 256GB of native storage space, which is probably more than enough if for drawing, although it won't go far if you also do a lot of video work. Of course, the downside of the screen size is less space to work with. If you're looking to replace your Wacom drawing tablet then this isn't for you. But, if you want a tablet to doodle on or sketch digitally, and then transfer those rough ideas to a large drawing tablet, it's ideal. Our Apple iPad mini (6th Gen) review goes into greater depth.

The best affordable iPad for drawing

iPad 10, one of the best iPads for drawing, in split mode

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap iPad for drawing

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 1, Apple Pencil USB-C
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
Weight: 477g (Wi-Fi only), 481g (Wifi + Cellular)
Dimensions: 248.6 x 179.5 x 7mm
OS: iPadOS 16.1
CPU: Apple A14 Bionic
Storage: 64/256GB
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Good battery life
+
More affordable price
+
Great colour options

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't support Apple Pencil 2
-
Needs additional adapter to charge Apple Pencil 1

Apple gave the basic iPad a refresh in 2022, upgrading the chipset for better performance and adding an improved rear camera. The result is a reasonably priced iPad that has a more premium feel than its predecessor and great colour options too.

Like the more expensive iPad models, this tablet includes True Tone support, which is Apple's technology that adjusts colour balance depending on the quality of light in the room. When we reviewed it, we found that battery life was generally good too, while the new A14 chip provides a small but noticeable speed boost in operation. 

While all this is very welcome, making the standard iPad feel less inferior to the models above, I do wish Apple could have found room to include Pencil 2 support. The first Apple Pencil is a fine stylus and does the job well enough, but the lack of built-in controls is a pain and the introduction of USB-C charging ports on this iPad means that you need to buy an additional adapter to charge it (note that Apple has since launched a USB-C Apple pencil, but this cheaper stylus has no pressure sensitivity. Despite that missed opportunity, in our in-depth iPad 2022 review, we found this to be a solid value option, including for drawing.

The best last-gen iPad for drawing

An iPad Pro 2021, one of the best iPads for drawing, with Magic Keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
The best large-screen iPad for artists looking for deals

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2, Apple Pencil USB-C
Screen size: 11-inch, 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
OS: iPadOS 16.1
CPU: Apple M1 chip
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Rear cameras: 12MP, 10MP, TOF 3D LiDAR
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent software that is still updated
+
M1 chip still holds up today
+
Good range of storage options

Reasons to avoid

-
Stock can be hard to find

If you fancy an iPad Pro but not the price tag of the latest devices, there's always the option of looking out for a good deal on the 2021 M1 iPad Pro 12.9-inch. Going for an older iPad doesn't always make sense. The starting price of new models tends to be around the same as the previous generation, and Apple often rapidly discontinues its last models. However, third party retailers do sometimes still have stock and offer the tablets for reduced prices. 

When we did our original iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) review on release, we gave the device 4.5 stars, and we stand by that today. We think the M1 iPad Pro is still a fantastic machine worth of any creative. It's not the M2, but the M1 chip is still very fast by today's standards, and can easily handle drawing, as well as much more intensive creative work. Build-wise, the tablet pretty much identical to the newer 2022 model, down to the exact same weight, and it still boasts that Liquid Retina XDR  display for improved brightness and detail in dark areas.

If you're looking for a smaller display, you can also pick up the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021. However, I personally prefer the larger screen for artwork and think it's the main advantage of going for a Pro.

How to choose the best iPad for drawing

best iPad for drawing; apple pencil 2 and Spider-man

There are many things to consider when choosing the best iPad for drawing, including whether you want Apple Pencil 2 support (Image credit: 4Axis Technologies / Marvel / Future)

Ultimately, the best iPad for drawing is going to depend on the individual needs of the artist, and there's no objectively right or wrong answer. Here are some key factors to think about when selecting your iPad for drawing.

Screen size: How much screen do you need when drawing? Larger iPads naturally have larger screens, which gives you more space but also makes the tablet less portable and heavier to carry around, which arguably defeats the purpose of having a portable drawing tool. Then again, if you're going to leave the iPad at home or in the studio, portability doesn't matter. Personally, I prefer the 11 or 12.9-inch displays ideal. At 10.2 inches, the 9th-gen standard iPad is too small for my liking, but I also know artists who love using the iPad mini for sketching.

Processing power: Newer iPads have faster processors and are capable of handling more complex tasks without stutter or slowdown. Drawing is not the most intensive task that an iPad can perform, so this is not necessarily a very important factor. However, if you are working with very high resolution files, or if you want to use you iPad for other creative work as well as drawing, then it's going to be very important that your tablet has enough power to load and display files efficiently. 

Stylus compatibility: Different iPads are compatible with different versions of the Apple Pencil. The Apple Pencil 2 is the superior stylus, with on-pen controls, but it's also more expensive and works with the more expensive iPads, so it's up to you whether you can justify the outlay. Read our guide to Apple Pencil vs Apple Pencil 2 for more details here.

Price: iPads are expensive, especially the Pros. Your budget may dictate what you have to choose from to an extent. A good way to expand your options is to keep an eye out for the latest sales and offers. We're currently updating our guide to the best iPad deals, which is a good place to start. 

How we test the best iPads for drawing

Drawing of Neon Genesis Evangelion character Asuka in Procreate by Paul Kwon

To testing the best iPads for drawing, we used a range of drawing apps on the tablet, including Procreate. (Image credit: Paul Kwon)

We test and review all the latest Apple products here at CreativeBloq, which means we have a lot of experience in using Apple devices for creative work, including for drawing. Our reviewers are experts in their field. Many of them are working creatives and have years of experience reviewing iPad and other tablets (for more details, see How we test and review on CreativeBloq.)

The iPads on this list have been tested and rated by our team of expert reviewers, after weeks of use. We put them through a series of benchmark tests but also real-world situations, using them for a range of tasks, including drawing via different iPad art apps, including Procreate. 

We evaluated the drawing experience using an Apple stylus, and compared specs, including screen size and resolution, RAM and storage size. We considered the strengths and weaknesses of each tablet and factored in the cost to make recommendations for a range of budgets.

The best iPads for drawing: FAQ

Rock Paper Pencil review; a person sketches on an iPad

Drawing on an iPad is great fun, and a way to kickstart your art career. It also needn't cost a fortune. (Image credit: Future / Astropad)

Which iPad is best for drawing?

If price is no object, then the latest iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2, 2022) is ideal. The screen size is perfect, it's packed with storage and RAM and can run any app you'll need for digital art, including the upcoming Procreate Dreams animation app.

If price is an issue, I'd recommend the older iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021), which is still more than fast enough for drawing and has the same large, bright display and Apple Pencil 2 support. It's sometimes possible to find good discounts.

How do I find my iPad generation?

You can find your iPad generation by looking on the back of the iPad for an etched model number starting with 'A'. Then visit the Apple support website and look up your model number.

Do professional artists use iPads?

Yes, absolutely. Many pro artists and animators use iPads, but how they use them can differ. Some artists only use iPads and create art using Procreate. But many complement their best Wacom tablets with an iPad, working between the two. This may mean using an iPad to sketch and create ideas before finishing in Photoshop or one of the best digital art softwares.

Is Procreate exclusive to iPad?

Can I make my iPad better for drawing?

Some of the best Pad accessories can improve your experience drawing with an iPad. My personal favourites are the Astropad Slate, a large drawing stand that the iPad sits into to give it a larger work area, and secondly is Rock, Paper, Pencil (also from Astropad), this textured display cover offers a paper-like feel, protects your iPad screen and comes with hard-wearing Apple Pencil 2 nibs.

What is the ideal GB for drawing on iPad?

For many artists, their drawing files won't be huge, but they may create a lot of them, so most people will want a reasonable level of storage unless you know that you'll always be saving to the cloud. You'll also need storage space for whatever apps you use. I'd suggest at least 128GB as a minimum.

Can iPad replace a drawing tablet?

Yes, your iPad can replace a drawing tablet but you need to remember a drawing tablet can be connected to a laptop to run desktop software, incuding the best Adobe software while iPads only run apps. The best pen displays, like the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13, are close to iPads in that they can run software natively. 

You can buy apps that enable you to connect your iPad to a computer and mirror the display, so using full software rather than apps on the tablet. Read our guide, How to use an iPad as a drawing tablet with a PC for the best advice.

What's the best drawing iPad with a pen?

Technically, none of them as iPads don't come with an pen stylus; you need to add it on at checkout or buy one separately. All recent iPads support either Apple Pencil or Apple Pencil 2, and newer iPads also support the newly released cheaper USB-C Apple Pencil. Read our guide to the best tablet for drawing with pen and stylus for more details.

There are also some excellent Apple Pencil alternatives. My picks would be the Logitech Crayon (2023), which was designed and developed for digital artists.

Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

With contributions from