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

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We know, creatives love Moleskines. We do too. But a tablet with a stylus offers much, much more flexibility. You don't have to create your notes, designs and drawings again digitally – and really, who has time to do that? Plus, everything can be safely backed up to the cloud. 

We're not saying chuck out your traditional notepad and pencil, of course. We love our Field notes notebooks. But a stylus-equipped tablet is a sensible piece of kit to have. So what’s the best option?

Whether you’re looking for an iOS, Android or Windows tablet with a stylus, we’ve got you covered. Here, we walk through the best tablets with a stylus for drawing and note-taking available right now, so you can make the right decision for your needs. 

If you're after a bargain, you'll also find the best budget options in our list. Hot tip: If you're looking to save some pennies in the run-up to the holiday season, you'll want to make the most of any Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

01. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Apple’s 2018 iPad is utterly fantastic.

Weight: 631g | Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm | OS: iOS 12.1 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A12X Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB/1TB

Largest iPad screen available
Delicious Liquid Retina display
Costs as much as a high-end laptop
Pencil an addition expense

The iPad Pro has received a big makeover for 2018, with a new edge-to-edge liquid retina LCD display, an A12X Bionic chip (which can outperform Intel-based laptops) and a new version of the Apple Pencil that attaches to the side of the iPad magnetically, with wireless charging. The result? Our pick for the best tablet with a stylus on the market right now. 

The iPad Pro has dropped Apple’s Lightning connector for USB-C, meaning it now works with a range of peripherals, including external displays.

With the 12.9-inch screen, this is one of the largest tablets on the market, and that means it’s a brilliant digital canvas for you to sketch out your ideas, using one of the brilliant drawing apps for the iPad in the App Store.

So what's the downside? Well, this laptop-like performance means laptop-like prices. You won’t see much change from £1000 for the smallest 64GB storage, and you’re certain to want more. Add on the additional expense of the Pencil and this is the most expensive iPad ever made by some margin.

Read more: iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) hands-on review

02. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The best tablet with stylus for Windows users.

Weight: 771g | Dimensions: 292.1 x 201.4 x 8.5mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2736 x 1824 | CPU: Intel 8th Gen Core-5 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB-1TB

Magnificent power on top model
Gorgeous screen
Lacks USB-C
Similar to 2017 model

The 2018 Surface Pro is a small update over the Pro 2017 model, with a slightly better screen and battery life, 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 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. That said, Microsoft hasn’t yet bestowed a faster USB 3.1 Gen 2 port on the Surface, a missed opportunity for 2018. 

Read more: Microsoft Surface Pro review

03. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

The best Android tablet by a mile.

OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64-256GB | Battery: 7,300mAh | Dimensions: 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1mm | Weight: 482g

S Pen stylus included
Dazzling HDR-ready display
DeX mode not as good as Surface
Android design apps can be limited

If iOS leaves you cold, or you’re already heavily invested in Android software, then the Galaxy Tab S4 is a welcome update to Samsung’s tablet line, and brings in some great new features.

It has an upgraded 10.5-inch screen with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and thinner bezels. A new 2.1 lockable mode uses the DeX software to mimic a PC interface when connected to Samsung’s Book Keyboard Cover, complete with resizable windows and a task bar.

Being free from Apple’s grasp, there are some advantages to going with Android over iOS. The Galaxy Tab S4 bundles a Samsung S Pen with the device, and it'll set you back around $660/£600, making it much better value for money. And thank the heavens, you can expand the internal storage with SD cards.

Wacom Cintiq 22HD touch pen display

04. Wacom Cintiq 22HD touch pen display

The best tablet with stylus for drawing.

Active drawing area: 19.5 x 11.5in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 2,048 levels | Connections: DVI, USB 2.0 | OS: Windows or macOS

Splendid to draw on
Huge screen space
Beautifully sensitive drawing point
Specialised – can't really be used like a regular tablet

If you're primarily looking for a tablet with a stylus for drawing, consider investing in a dedicated drawing tablet. Our favourite is the Wacom Cintiq 22HD: its large dimensions (it's not really one for shoving in your bag too often) mean that you get a total of 50cm x 30cm of total drawing area – perfect if you want a more detailed design than most normal tablets allow you to execute. The super sensitive stylus won't hurt to this end, either – we can't think of another drawing tablet out there that will give you more accurate results.

The integrated stand means that you can adjust the angle of the tablet to suit your preferred stance and the full HD display boasts over 16 million colours. If you can afford it, the Wacom Cintiq 22HD could have a major impact on the quality of your work.

Read more: The best drawing tablet

Lenovo Yoga Book

05. Lenovo Yoga Book

The best tablet with stylus for note-taking.

Weight: From 690g | Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.38 x 6.72in | CPU: Intel Atom x5-Z8550 | Graphics: Intel Atom | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 10.1-inch full HD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 64GB SSD, up to 128GB microSD

2-for-1 writing surface
Delightful display
Capacitive keyboard works well
Chunky for a tablet

We eyed the Lenovo Yoga Book with a combination of intrigue and suspicion when it was first announced. It's a kind of tablet-laptop hybrid with a digital, capacitive keyboard that doubles up as a handwriting or drawing surface. But the result is a tablet with a stylus that's well worth owning. 

The traditional surface is 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 resolution screen, which again hits that magic number of 16.7 million colours. The second surface is that capacitive Halo Keyboard, which – despite the lack of digital keys – is accurate enough to take quick notes straight to your chosen word-processing app. Prefer the old-fashioned method? Then you can utilise the included Real Pen stylus instead and use the Halo surface as a digital notebook, with the added bonus of seeing your scribblings saved immediately into your onboard storage.

We know the Yoga Book won't be for everyone (the 180-degree fold back screen means it's much chunkier than most other traditional tablets), but Lenovo's unique proposition means its well worth considering if you can't decide between a laptop and a tablet.

06. Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro

The best cheap tablet with stylus you can buy on a budget.

Weight: 499g | Dimensions: 8.5 x 4.8 x 2.8in | OS: Android 7.0 | Screen size: 8.4 inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 | CPU: Kirin 950 | Storage: 364GB | Battery: 7500mAh

Great price
Lightweight yet premium design
Surprisingly lovely screen
Don't expect powerful performance

Huawei seems to have an army of tablets in its arsenal, ranging from the basic MediaPad M3 model, which is super-affordable and can do simple note taking, to this Pro model, with some real performance under the hood. This tablet still won't set you back anywhere nearly as much as the iOS or Windows tablets, and is a genuinely good option.

Despite the relatively low price point, you still get an excellent screen and sufficient power for most tasks. The sleek, light aluminium frame is practical and won't embarrass you if you pull it out at a coffee shop.

The best stylus to buy for your tablet

If you choose one of the tablets above that doesn't come with a stylus 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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