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The best tablets with a stylus for drawing and note-taking in 2020

Best tablets with a stylus
Best tablets with a stylus (Image credit: Charli on Unsplash)

Listen up, creatives – if you're looking for the best tablets with a stylus in 2020, you're in the right place. Having one of the best tablets with a tablet pen means you'll not only be able to make notes and sketch ideas on the go, but have a sophisticated enough tool that you can bring your ideas to fully realised life no matter where you are. What's more, while many tablets will offer some compatibility with a third-party stylus, having one that has a bespoke stylus from the same manufacturer will greatly improve functionality, responsiveness and interactivity.

Some of the tablets we've included on this list come with their tablet pen bundled in, while others (such as the iPad Pro or Google Pixel Slate) require you to purchase the stylus as an extra. Bear this in mind when comparing prices, but do be on the lookout, as many retailers will offer stylus bundles even if manufacturers don't. We've also compiled the very best Apple Pencil alternatives too.

Practise your art, impress your clients and bring your ideas to life – a tablet with a stylus lets you be the best artist you can be, no matter where you are. Able to sense things like pressure and angle, drawing with a good electronic stylus is startlingly similar to using pencils or paint, only this way everything can be backed up to cloud or internal storage within seconds. 

When making our picks for the best tablets with a stylus, we've factored in a number of different qualities. So not only are we looking at drawing area and resolution, but we're also including tablet pen pressure sensitivity, and we've made price a factor too, as we know not everyone is working to the same budget. For more choices, you can also look at our guide to best drawing tablets, the best Android tablets or the best tablets for photo and video editing but for now let's get started with the best tablets with a stylus in 2020!

The best tablets with a stylus available now

(Image credit: Apple)

01. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

Refreshed for 2020, the Apple iPad pro 12.9 is a superb tablet

Weight: 643g | Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm | OS: iPad OS | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A12Z Bionic | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB | Front camera: 7MP | Rear cameras: 12MP / 10MP

Unbeatably fast performance
Liquid Retina display
Costs as much as a high-end laptop
Pencil an additional expense

One of the best tablets on the market meets one of the best styli – how could we not put the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 2020 at the #1 spot? Upping the ante in terms of performance from the 2018 version, the 12.9 iPad Pro houses an A12Z Bionic chip with an 8-core graphics engine. It already basically ran with the power of a decent laptop, and now it's even faster – more powerful than its big rival, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. The Retina display is absolutely gorgeous, impressively bright and boasting a wide colour gamut.

But how is the drawing experience? Well, the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen makes it one of the largest tablets on the market, and this gives you an enormous canvas for drawing. If you download one of the brilliant drawing apps for the iPad in the App Store then you've set yourself up for a sublime experience – as long as you've forked out the extra cash for the Apple Pencil, which can be handily attached to the iPad using the magnetic strip at the top.

The Apple Pencil is, of course, sensitive to pressure and tilt, so you can be sure of a highly accurate and satisfying drawing experience. The only real downside here is, inevitably, the cost – for the price tag of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) and Apple Pencil, you could get yourself a very good laptop. Or, you know, a car. But if you do have the cash, this is the best drawing tablet with stylus you can get right now.

(Image credit: Wacom)

02. Wacom Cintiq 22

The most affordable Wacom drawing tablet of its size – ever!

Active drawing area: 19.5 x 11.5in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0

Fantastic price
Satisfying drawing experience 
Lower resolution 
No built-in shortcut keys 

Wacom made an extremely welcome update to its Cintiq range in 2019, phasing out the Cintiq 22HD in favour of this new Cintiq 22 – one of the most affordable, high-quality drawing tablets of its class. The physically large drawing area of the Cintiq 22 makes it comfortable and intuitive to draw on, while the anti-glare glass surface has been laminated to create a slight texture that give some nice bite to your stylus movement. Its resolution isn’t as high as the previous Cintiq 22HD, so the picture is a little softer, but the drawing experience is fantastic.

The tablet comes with the Pro Pen 2 stylus, a fantastic tablet pen that gives you 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity to work with. It doesn’t need a battery, taking power from the electromagnetic properties of the screen, and its comfortable heft makes it satisfying to draw with. The Cintiq 22 may not be as affordable as some of its rivals, but for a Wacom tablet it’s incredibly well priced.

Read more: Wacom Cintiq 22 review

cheap Surface Pro 7 deals

(Image credit: Microsoft)

03. Microsoft Surface Pro 7

A spec bump with a punch

CPU: Intel Dual-Core i3; Quad-Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics; Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 4GB-16GB LPDDR4x | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1,824 | Storage: 128GB-1TB SSD | Ports: 1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 1x Surface Connect port, microSDX card reader, headphone/mic jack | Cameras: 8MP rear-facing autofocus camera (1080p full HD video); 5MP front-facing camera (1080p full HD video) | Mic: Dual far-field Studio Mics | Weight: i3 / i5, 1.7 pounds (775g); i7, 1.74 pounds (790g) | Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5mm; W x D x H)

Faster than ever processing speeds 
New and improved mics
USB-C port 
Battery not as good as Pro 6
Design remains the same 

The latest Surface Pro model, Surface Pro 7, is a small update over previous models, but it remains our top choice for a Windows tablet. Unlike Android or iOS devices, you’re getting a tablet that will run full-fat desktop software – so think Creative Cloud  apps such as Photoshop CC without any compromise on features or performance – and use it with Microsoft’s excellent Surface Pen stylus.

In fact the Surface Pro 7 has an Intel quad-core chip, of the same variety that you might find in a laptop. So you can expect it to sail swiftly through tricky filters and have no problem loading complex designs.

And being a Windows PC at its core, it will have no problem connecting to any peripheral you could think of. We'd just like to see a bit more innovation in the next Surface Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

(Image credit: Samsung)

04. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

The best Android tablet with a tablet pen

Weight: 420g | Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 855 | Storage: 128GB/256GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 7,040mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP

Beautiful AMOLED display
S Pen as standard
Samsung's One UI not perfect
No headphone jack

If you're after the best Android tablet with a stylus, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the one for you, without a doubt. Samsung's Tab S line has been impressing us for years, and the latest version improves on nearly every aspect of our favourite Android slate.

So, you get an absolutely stunning AMOLED display for image quality even Apple's mighty iPads struggle to match, along with two rear cameras and a powerful processor, which keeps the Android operating system - and any creative apps you're using - running smoothly.

Best of all, and a reason why it's featured in this list, is that it comes with the excellent S Pen stylus, which means it's a brilliant tablet for drawing and doodling on - as well as taking down notes. 

It doesn't come with a headphone jack, but otherwise this is a truely excellent tablet with a stylus, and an ideal tool for creatives who don't want an iPad.

(Image credit: Google)

05. Google Pixel Slate

Google's foray into tablets is actually better than its rep

Weight: 721g | Dimensions: 202 x 291 x 7 mm | OS: Chrome OS | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 3000 x 2000 pixels | CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core M3 | RAM: 8GB / 16GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | microSD slot: Yes | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 8MP

Excellent Google stylus
Likely to get cheaper
Lower-RAM models lag
No new models forthcoming

The first thing you'll notice about the Google Pixel Slate is its display. Incredibly sharp thanks to its impressive pixel density, and brighter than many of its competitors with up to 337 nits, this display was the star of the show when this tablet was announced in 2018. Pair this with the Google Stylus Pen and you've got an impressive combination on your hands, with 2,048 pressure levels to work with and a smooth, responsive drawing experience.

The Chrome OS mostly works well and isn't as buggy as it was at launch, though you still won't quite get the smoothness of Android or iOS. If you are tempted by the Google Pixel Slate then we would recommend springing more for the 16GB RAM version if you can, as it runs noticeably smoother than the smaller tablet with 8GB of RAM.

The Google Pixel Slate wasn't an enormous success on release, and Google later announced that while it would continue to offer support and software updates for the tablet, it wouldn't be releasing any more of them. The upside of this is that the Pixel Slate is generally available for a better price than it was at launch, and that this price is likely to go down still further as time goes on; the downside is that you won't find a fresh but familiar sequel model to upgrade to when the time comes.

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

(Image credit: Samsung)

06. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

A more affordable version of the above

Weight: 476g | Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 10.4-inch | Resolution: 1200 x 2000 pixels | CPU: Exynos 9610 | Storage: 64GB/128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 7,040mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Robust design
S Pen as standard
Can be a little sluggish
Some issues with S Pen

If you want a more affordable version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (above), then the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is the tablet with a tablet pen to go for. Instead of shrinking down the screen size (which is important for a tablet that will be primarily used with a stylus for creative work), Samsung has made a few choice cuts in other departments.

So, this doesn't have the powerful chipset of the Tab S6, nor does it quite match it when it comes to cameras, but it's still an excellent performer. And, for many people who don't care about getting the most cutting-edge hardware, it actually means the cuts Samsung has made here won't be noticed. 

What will be noticed, however, is the more affordable price tag. It still offers Samsung's excellent build quality and design, and works really well with the S Pen stylus.

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Wacom)

07. Wacom Intuos Pro Small

Wacom brings its excellent drawing tech to a portable, affordable tablet

Active drawing area: 6.2 x 3.9in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 2,048 levels | Connections: MicroUSB | OS: Windows or macOS

Travel-friendly
Exceptional Pro Pen
Fewer ExpressKeys
Smaller drawing area

Released in 2019, the Wacom Intuos Small is, as the name implies, a smaller version of the much-loved Intuos Pro. While it's not exactly pocketable, at 269 x 170 x 8 mm it's certainly noticeably smaller than its bigger brothers and a similar size to the iPad Air. It comes with all the useful features you'd expect from a Wacom tablet, such as a customisable Touch Ring and ExpressKeys that can be assigned to your preferred function – though here you only get six rather than the eight you get on the medium and large versions.

It's bundled with a battery-free Pro Pen 2, which provides 8,000 pen pressure levels and 60-odd levels of tilt sensitivity. The Intuos Pro Small can also connect to a Mac or PC via microUSB or Bluetooth. The Intuos Pro Small is also available at a more attractive price than something like the iPad Mini, so if budget is at the forefront of your mind when picking a tablet, this is an option well worth considering. It's great to see Wacom catering for entry-level and space-conscious users with its excellent Intuos Pro tablets, and long may this continue!

Read more: Wacom Intuos Pro Small review

The best stylus to buy for your tablet

If you choose one of the tablets above that doesn't come with a tablet pen in the box, then we can help you pick out a pencil to purchase:

Wacom Bamboo Sketch ($55/£75)
Specialising in pressure sensitive drawing tablets and high-quality accessories, Wacom is leading the pack when it comes to designing styluses (or, if you prefer, stylii). The clue is in the name as to what the Bamboo Sketch is best at – precision drawing and natural looking sketches. The two customisable shortcut buttons mean you can make it really convenient to use, too.

This Wacom stylus is only for iOS devices, so is a cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil. There are more options to choose from within Wacom's wide stylus array.

Adonit Pro 3 ($23/£22)
In the cold light of day, a tech company specialising in styluses for note-taking sounds pretty unsustainable. And yet the 2010 Kickstarter firm Adonit has managed to carve out a real niche. The Adonit Pro range has now hit its third incarnation and, with its textured grip and precision disc tip, is the ideal tool if jotting notes on your tablet is essential to you.

It's designed to feel exactly akin to using a regular ballpoint pen, can be used on all touchscreens (iOS and Android included) and is relatively inexpensive.

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