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The best iPad for drawing in 2022

An artist uses one of the best iPads for drawing
(Image credit: Milad Fakurian via Unsplash)

If you're looking for the best iPad for drawing, you're really spoiled for choice. With all recent iPads supporting Apple Pencil in some form and the range offering various different sizes display and powerful internals, the iPad's an excellent choice as a tablet for drawing that you can also use for a lot else besides. Drawing on an iPad is by no means an extra novelty anymore; in fact, there are many who now choose an iPad over a dedicated drawing tablet.

iPads have been improved in several areas over the last couple of years there's the introduction of Apple's own M1 chip, which makes the Pro and the new 2022 Air models faster than ever. Then there are the displays, with the Liquid Retina XDR display on the latest tablets offering incredible fidelity and vibrancy. But of course, key to choosing the best iPad for drawing is the stylus. The Apple Pencil 2 offers improvements across the board over the first Apple Pencil, with better ergonomics to a double-tap to change settings (not that both the Apple Pencil 1 and 2 are sold separately and do not come with any of the tablets below).

The Apple Pencil 2 is also easier to attach to the tablet, and easier to charge too. For more on the differences between the two styluses see our comparison of Apple Pencil vs Apple Pencil 2, but with the Pencil 2 the superior stylus, you'll notice that most of our picks in our list of the best iPad for drawing support it. Only the standard iPad and the 2019 iPad mini down at the bottom of our list have to make do with the Pencil 1.

If you want more options, you might also want to see our guides to the best drawing tablets and the best tablets with a stylus for drawing (iPads make it into both). In the meantime, read on to discover the best iPad for drawing now. We've reviewed every one of these iPads to see how comfortable they are for drawing and we've ordered them according to performance, the quality, accuracy and speed of the display –  essential for drawing – and Apple Pencil support. We've also taken to account size, which is more subjective since some people prefer drawing on a larger screen while others find the portability of the iPad mini more practical for drawing on the go.

For more details on all of the different iPads currently available, see our guide to the iPad generations lays it all out. And whichever type you choose, make sure you check out our guide to the best drawing apps for iPad as well.

The best iPad for drawing available now

iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) with Magic KeyboardCB

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

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
OS: iPadOS 14
CPU: Apple M1 chip
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Rear cameras: 12MP, 10 MP, TOF 3D LiDAR
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Premium screen
+
Superfast processor
+
Generous storage options

Reasons to avoid

-
Big outlay

Sure, it's not cheap. But we think the iPad Pro M1 (2021) is the absolute best iPad for drawing right now and our iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) review gave it almost a perfect score. It uses Apple's latest M1 chip, the processor that's fast making its way into all the firm's tablets, and provides a real boost to operating speed. As we mention in our reviews, these iPads basically have the power of Macbook laptops at this point, and when this is paired with the new Liquid Retina XDR display, it makes for a drawing combination that rivals pretty much any of the best drawing tablets you can name. 

This generation of the tablet comes in two sizes, an 11-inch and this 12.9-inch, but it's only the 12.9 version that has the high-end display. With ProMotion, True Tone, P3 wide color and a mini-LED backlight, the Liquid Retina XDR display is quite simply stunning, with nuance, vibrancy and depth that's near unrivalled in contemporary tablets. 

This iPad also boasts up to 2TB of storage, which really comes in handy. Also, it is of course compatible with Apple's latest stylus, the Pencil 2. Ironing out a lot of the kinks that irritated people with the first Apple Pencil, this stylus offers a premium, responsive drawing experience with excellent pressure and tilt sensitivity. All this adds up to make the iPad Pro M1 (2021) unquestionably the best iPad for drawing you can buy, and very possible the best drawing tablet, period.

iPad Pro 11-inch 2021 with Magic keyboard and apple pencilCB endorsed

(Image credit: Ben Brady)
The best 11-inch iPad for drawing

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 11-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2388 pixels
Weight: 466g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm
OS: iPadOS 14
CPU: Apple M1 chip
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Rear cameras: 12MP, 10 MP, TOF 3D LiDAR
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Superfast processor
+
Generous storage
+
More portable than 12.9 version

Reasons to avoid

-
Inferior screen to 12.9 version

As mentioned above entry, this 11-inch version of the iPad Pro is a step down in more than size – you also have to do without that fancy mini LED screen you get with the 12.9-inch version. Still, that does knock a fair chunk off the price tag, and the Liquid Retina display on this model is still excellent, with P3 wide color gamut, True Tone, Pro Motion and an anti-reflective coating. 

So while in raw power terms it doesn't quite match the iPad Pro 12.9, this is a very tempting proposition in terms of value. After all, even for that cheaper price, you still get the M1 processor, the boatloads of storage, the excellent cameras, and Apple Pencil 2 support. 

The smaller size of this iPad may well tempt some users who prize portability over sheer display real estate, and want an iPad they can carry everywhere. The battery does pretty well on this iPad too, meaning you should be able to rely on it for a good day of use without needing to find sport to charge it.

Read our iPad Pro 11-inch (M1, 2021) review for more details. 

An iPad mini on a desk with the Apple Pencil 2 attachedCB endorsed

(Image credit: Future)
The best iPad for drawing on the move

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 8.3 inch
Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels
Weight: 293-297g
Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 mm
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

While the big iPad Pros are perhaps the most logical choices for drawing their big screens do have one downside in that they're not the most wieldy options if you want to work on the move – on public transport example. For that, some artists swear by a completely different drawing experience from the bigger (and more expensive) iPad Pros: the newest iPad mini. It's nice and compact, you can carry it anywhere and it fits neatly into any bag or case, but it's still plenty powerful for sketching (more powerful than the standard iPad, which people are often surprised to learn).

The iPad Mini (2021) is a great choice for artists who travel a lot, this model has a small (8.3 inch) but perfectly formed Liquid Retina screen, offering a great resolution of 1488 x 2266 pixels. It supports the Apple Pencil 2, and in our review we found Apple's claims of 10 hours of battery life seem about right, so you should have no problem drawing for several hours away from a power socket. The A15 Bionic chip keeps everything running nice and fast. And there's up to 256GB storage, which is more than enough for most people. In short, if you’re looking for a compact tablet for digital drawing, you won’t find a finer option.

If you like the look of this miniature iPad, our Apple iPad mini (6th Gen) review goes into greater depth. 

iPad Air 5th Gen on a white table

(Image credit: Future)
Pro-like features for less

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 2350 x 1640
Weight: 461g
Dimensions: 247.6x178.5x6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 15.4
CPU: M1
Storage: 64GB/256GB
Rear camera: 12 MP
Front camera: 12 MP

Reasons to buy

+
Same M1 chip as the 2021 Pros
+
Good-sized display
+
Supports Apple Pencil 2 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some may prefer iPad Pro

The newcomer to the iPad family, the 2022 iPad Air, is also a very strong contendor as best iPad for drawing, boasting incredibly Pro-like features. There's still enough of a distinction to make the iPad Pros above a superior choice if you have the budget, but the iPad Air, which is very similar in size to the smaller of the two Pros, now packs the same M1 chip, making it a very powerful tablet for the price. 

As we point out in our full iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review, screen resolution is on a par with the Pros. Moreover, we found the backlighting to be very even, colour accurate and contrast also good, making it a good tablet for all kinds of visual creative work, including drawing. That said it can't compete with the levels of brightness of the Pro 12.9, and the 60Hz refresh rate (rather than 120Hz with the Pros) does mean it takes slightly longer for your drawing to appear on the screen. However, if you're looking for a larger screen than the iPad mini and but don't want to pay the price of the iPad Pro, this is the best iPad for drawing for you.

iPad model list: iPad Pro 4th gen

(Image credit: Apple)
Save money on a 12.9 iPad with the previous generation

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2732 x 2048
Weight: 639g
Dimensions: 280.4 x 214.8 x 5.8 mm
OS: iOS 13.4
CPU: A12Z Bionic
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Rear cameras: 12 MP, 10 MP, TOF 3D LiDAR scanner
Front camera: 8 MP

Reasons to buy

+
High-res screen
+
Large display
+
Supports  Apple Pencil 2 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks M1 chip

Want a 12.9 inch iPad Pro but don’t want to pay the high price of the newest model? The 2020 model lacks the Mini LED screen and the M1 chip of the current version, but it’s still a very powerful and capable device, and it doesn’t cost as much. So we’d argue that for most people, it’s the best one to go for. It’s not quite as fast as the top-end 2021 version, it offers less storage, and the screen isn’t quite as good. But we’re talking small degrees of difference here. 

So for example, if you’re looking to use some heavy-duty 3D software, and need the fastest processor possible; or are doing work where a high degree of colour accuracy is super-important, it might be worth investing the 2021 model. For everybody else, though, the 2020 iteration is a great choice for digital drawing, with the exact same screen dimensions and high resolution (2732 x 2048) as its pricier successor, and support for the Apple Pencil 2.

Read more in our iPad Pro 12.9 review.

iPad Air 4 (2020) product shot iPad for drawing

(Image credit: Apple)
The best value iPad for drawing

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
Weight: 458g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 14
CPU: A14 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Good battery life
+
Supports Apple Pencil 2

Reasons to avoid

-
60Hz screen response rate

Looking for the best balance between performance and cost? You’ll find it in the iPad Air 4 (2020), which is a very good tablet at a reasonable price. This fourth-gen model is very different to previous iPad Airs, thanks to a major revamp that made it quite similar to the iPad Pro, but at a much lower price. 

When it comes to drawing, it's worth noting that the 60Hz screen response rate is precise half that of the iPad Pro's 120Hz. That variation in sensitivity means that if you draw very rapidly, you might notice a difference, but we've not personally heard of any complaints from artists. (For more on the differences between the two tablets, see our article iPad Pro vs iPad Air).

For most people, then, the Apple iPad Air (2020) is a great choice for digital drawing. And with strong levels of battery life, screen resolution and processor performance, and a couple of good cameras, this is the best value iPad for general use, too.

Want to see more? Our iPad Air (2020) review goes into detail. 

iPad 10.2-inch review

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

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 1
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
Weight: 487g (Wi-Fi only); 498g (Wi-Fi+cellular)
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS 15
CPU: Apple A13 Bionic
Storage: 64/256GB
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Good battery life
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic tablet
-
Doesn't support Apple Pencil 2

Apple gave its basic 10.2-inch iPad a refresh in 2021, upgrading the chipset for better performance and adding an improved selfie camera. The result is a reasonably priced iPad that has a surprisingly premium feel. The display is unchanged from previous versions, but it's sharp and detailed, with punchy enough colours that your artworks will pop. 

This is also the first model in the 10.2-inch range to offer True Tone support, which is Apple's technology that adjusts colour balance depending on the quality of light in the room. Battery life is generally pretty good, and the new A13 chip provides a small but noticeable speed boost in operation. 

While all this is very welcome, and does help the iPad 10.2-inch feel a little less like an inferior cousin to the more sophisticated iPads, we do wish Apple could have found room to include Pencil 2 support. The initial Apple Pencil is a fine stylus and does the job well enough, but the lack of built-in controls is a pain, as is the clumsy charging system. The Pencil 2 is just leagues better. Still, as a basic drawing tablet that does most things artists need, the iPad 10.2-inch (9th Gen) fits the bill very well. 

Take a closer look in our full iPad 10.2-inch (9th Gen) review.

iPad Mini (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)
The best iPad for drawing if you want a smaller screen on the cheap

Specifications

Stylus support: Apple Pencil 1
Screen size: 7.9-inch
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
Weight: 304g
Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS 14
CPU: A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
Rear cameras: 8MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
Very portable
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't support Apple Pencil 2
-
Less power than later models

Want a small iPad for drawing, and don’t want to spend much money? The 2019 iPad Mini is very cheap right now, and offers good all-round performance. 

The perfect size to carry with one hand, it boasts a bright 7.9-inch screen that works well with the Apple Pencil 1. Its A12 Bionic chip is pretty speedy for the price. Storage is generous, at between 64 and 256GB. And you get 8MP and 7MP cameras on the rear and front respectively. This all adds up to fantastic value, so if a compact iPad for drawing is what you seek, look no further.

Check out our iPad Mini review for a closer look. 

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.