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The best tablets with a stylus pen for drawing and note-taking in 2021

Best tablets with a stylus for drawing: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
(Image credit: Samsung)

Having one of the best tablets with a stylus pen can be just what you need to improve your art. Many tablets with a stylus can be taken everywhere with you, and are compatible with all the latest drawing apps and programs, making it easy to take your art everywhere and draw no matter where you are.

The multi-functional nature of many of these tablets means they're also useful in other ways. Perhaps you need to jot down a few notes at a talk, or quickly edit a few photos before uploading them to social media. The best tablets with a stylus make all of it easy to do in a single device, and if you get one that suits you, you may start wondering how you ever got along without it.

The key is to figure out which tablet is right for you. If you're going to be predominantly drawing or animating and don't have much use for much else, then it may make sense to look at specialised tablets. The market leader in drawing tablets is Wacom, but there's serious competition from the likes of Huion and XP-Pen. The recent XP-Pen Innovator 16, for instance, is a highly capable mid-range tablet that's affordable, slim, and hugely satisfying to draw on.

Then again, you may prefer a tablet/stylus combo that lets you do a lot of other things, and perhaps one that'll integrate well with your other devices like your phone and your computer. In this case, it would make sense to look at the tablets from Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Once, drawing on these was extremely raw and functional, but with the quality of displays improving with each generation, these days they provide a drawing experience to rival the best drawing tablets. So much so, in fact, that if you need the absolute best tablet with a stylus (and money is no object), then we recommend the Apple iPad 12.9 Pro (2021). You can see more about why below.

We've picked tablets for our list that either come with a stylus in the box, or have a dedicated one that is easy to obtain. We've chosen a range of models, and noted which ones come with the stylus and which don't, and have ensured to include a huge range of price points. Whether you have a large, professional budget, or you need something for less than the cost of a meal out for two, there will be a tablet for you here. Bear in mind that some of the models here have their own display, while others need to be plugged into an external display device in order to allow you to see what you're drawing.

These are, we reckon, the best tablets with styluses around. But if you do feel you need even more choice, you can look at our guide to best drawing tablets. For alternatives to Apple's own tablet stylus, don't miss our guide to the best Apple Pencil alternatives , and we've also got a guide to the best tablets for photo and video editing.

But for now, let's get into the best tablets with a stylus you can buy right now.

The best tablets with a stylus pen available right now

Best tablets with a stylus: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021)CB

(Image credit: Apple)

01. Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021)

The iPad Pro 12.9 2021 edition is a best-in-class tablet

Weight: 682g | Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm | OS: iPad OS 14.6 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | CPU: Apple M1 | RAM: 8/16GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB/2TB | Front camera: 12MP | Rear cameras: 12MP / 10MP

Top-of-the-range performance
Backlit display
Very expensive
... and Pencil costs more

The latest iPad Pros are flat-out the best tablets you can get right now. Powered by the M1 chip inherited from Mac computers, these tablets are basically portable computers in their own right. Blazingly fast in performance, even when undertaking intensive tasks like editing 4K video, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) is basically an unbeatable tablet.

For digital creatives wanting a good drawing display, the latest iPad Pro 12.9-inch will well and truly deliver. Its display is an all-new refreshed version, a mini-LED backlit XDR display that provides a superior viewing experience in all lighting conditions. In terms of colour accuracy, contrast and brightness, it's not only one of the best tablet displays, but one of the best displays, period.

But how's the drawing experience? Using the Apple Pencil 2 (unchanged from previous iPads) is really satisfying, with a weight in the hand that helps the whole drawing process feel premium. It has been kind of a game-changer in the drawing community, with many artists being swayed to iPads from dedicated drawing tablets like those from Wacom. The main disadvantage is just that it's all very expensive.

The price of the iPad will preclude some users from even considering it; that's just a fact. While it is pound for pound the best tablet with a stylus, it's worth considering whether you need the huge amount of processing power and functionality it offers. If not, a cheaper tablet may well provide more value. But if you need the best, this is the best. Read our iPad Pro 12.9-inch M1 2021 review for more info.

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(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 

There had to be a Wacom here of course. The company makes some of the finest drawing tablets on the market, and is deservedly one the biggest names in digital art. 

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

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(Image credit: XP-Pen)

03. XP-Pen Deco Pro

The best budget tablet with a stylus

Active drawing area: 11 x 6in | Resolution: 5080 LPI | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C

Amazingly affordable
Sleek, stylish design
Some software jank
'Small' version is too small

When discussing the "best" drawing tablets with a stylus, it's easy to get carried away talking about highly sophisticated models that cost thousands. It's important to recognise that different users have different budgets, and not everyone can spend that much on a tablet. If you're working to a tighter budget, then we definitely recommend the XP-Pen Deco Pro.

It comes in two flavours, Small and Medium, and to be honest, the price difference is minor enough that it's worth spending more to get the medium unless you really can't afford it. You'll be thankful for the extra drawing space.

The Deco Pro provides a comprehensively capable drawing experience, with a sophisticated stylus that boasts up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. Which is good enough for anyone! Bear in mind you'll need to hook a display or other device to the Deco Pro to see the fruits of your labour; it's all easy enough to set up via the USB-C connection. The software that comes with it can be a bit of a chore to install, but once you're up and running, you'll be enjoying something pretty damn close to a premium drawing tablet experience, at a much lower price than you'd pay for one of the big boys from Wacom or Apple.

Best drawing tablets with a stylus

(Image credit: Samsung)

04. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

The best Android tablet with a stylus pen

Weight: 575g | Dimensions: 285 x 185 x 5.7 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 12.4-inch | Resolution: 2800 x 1752 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus | Storage: 128GB/256GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 10,090mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP

Gorgeous display
Suite of Android apps
Expensive
S Pen can be temperamental

The latest in Samsung's impressive Galaxy Tab S range, the S7 Plus is the biggest and best of Android tablets right now. With huge battery life, an enormous, high-fidelity screen and powerful processing engines, it's more than equipped for everything artists need. Plus, the S Pen comes as standard in the box, so no hidden extra costs for artists!

This is a good thing as, frankly, the S7 Plus is not cheap. You get a lot of functionality for your money, but it's a lot of money by anyone's standards, and it is an inescapable fact that the overall experience is not quite as smooth as using the iPad OS. The power you get is undeniable though, and that gorgeous display with its better-than-ever refresh rate is a treat to draw on.

Larger than ever, but also razor thin, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is the best Android tablet with a stylus for drawing, and one of the best tablets full stop. If it's just that bit too dear for you, scroll further down the list and have a look at its smaller sibling, the Tab S7...

Best tablets with a stylus: XP-Pen Innovator 16

(Image credit: XP-Pen)

05. XP-Pen Innovator 16

Great build quality at a bargain price, this is an excellent mid-range tablet

Weight: 1.4kg | Dimensions: 443.27 x 256.45 x 9mm | OS: Windows / Linux / MacOS | Screen size: 16-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels

Satisfying, responsive drawing
Great value
No adjustable stand
Screen slightly dim

If you're looking for a mid-range tablet – perhaps you already have an entry-level model and want to graduate up a little – then the XP-PEN Innovator 16 is a really smart choice that's well worth considering. Cheaper than many other 16-inch displays on the market from Wacom and Huion, this is still a really satisfying tablet to use for digital art, with the space to really express yourself.

It comes with a battery-free stylus, and with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, the Innovator 16 definitely feels like a tool for serious artists. The two programmable buttons allow you to switch to an eraser setting, or keep them on undo/redo for quick adjustments. The 60-degree angle of tilt gives a useful level of variance in the marks you can make, and the stylus can even be placed in a nifty holder, which is hardly a game-changer, but is a nice touch. The matte surface of the tablet feels great to draw on. There's really very little to criticise in terms of the drawing experience, here. 

The display looks great, and with a slim profile of just 9mm in thickness, the Innovator 16 is slim and attractive. It's easier to carry around than other tablets without being exactly what you'd call portable; it's longer and wider than will fit in most standard backpacks. Is it as advanced as an iPad, or as polished as a Wacom Cintiq? No, but it's more affordable than both, and has been designed to get the attention of the art community. See our full XP-PEN Innovator 16 review for more details.

Best tablets with a stylus: Huion Kamvas 22 Plus

(Image credit: Huion)

06. Huion Kamvas 22 Plus

One of the newest tablets, this is a dreamy option for a great price

Active drawing area: 18.7 x 10.5in | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C

Spectacular colours
Great from every angle
Anti-glare display
Lower resolution than others

The best and flashiest tablet from Huion's newly updated Kamvas range, the Kamvas 22 Plus is a fantastic budget alternative to big boys like the iPad Pro 12.9 or the Cintiq 22. Though its display is only a 1080p version, which is lower resolution than some of its contemporaries, it packs in such incredible colour performance that you'll likely be hard-pressed to care. Colours on the Kamvas 22 Plus look absolutely great, and thanks to its 178° wide viewing angle, they do so from every angle. It covers 140% of the sRGB colour gamut while also minimising harmful blue light.

The drawing experience is sublime thanks to the digital pen PW517 stylus, which provides 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and a highly stable drawing experience. It's comfortable to use even for prolonged periods, allowing you to really get engrossed in your projects. The glass has been chemically etched to make this process smoother.

The tablet is also easy to connect to your computer thanks to its 3-in-1 USB-C Cable, meaning you can quickly back up and share your creations. Overall it's a fantastic way to get a premium drawing experience for a reduced price.

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(Image credit: Microsoft)

07. 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. See our Surface Pro 7 review for more information.

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(Image credit: Samsung)

08. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

A more affordable version of the S7 Plus, with impressive battery life

Weight: 498g | Dimensions: 253.8 x 165.3 x 6.3 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 11-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus | Storage: 64GB/128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 8,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP & 5MP | Front camera: 8MP

Brilliant battery life
Display is excellent
Sometimes laggy
Not expensive, but not cheap

If you like the look of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus but worry it seems a little big and bulky, then the Galaxy Tab S7 might be right up your street. It's still got a gorgeous display and a powerful Snapdragon processor, but is a little smaller and about 80g lighter, making it great for slipping into a bag and travelling with for drawing on the go.

It still comes with the S Pen included, so you get your stylus in the box and don't have to shell out extra. The display is smaller and lower resolution than the S7 Plus: an 11-inch LTPS IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1600 x 2560 pixels, though you still get that impressive 120Hz refresh rate, so using and drawing on the screen is a hugely pleasant experience. The S Pen works pretty well, and having the suite of drawing apps for Android is no bad thing.

The only real downside with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is that it kind of sits between too worlds. It's not as expensive as the S7 Plus or the latest iPad Pro, but by no stretch of the imagination is it cheap. If you're looking for a cheap tablet there are more affordable options, and if you're looking for an expensive tablet there are better options. It's a great tablet, there's no question of that – but it's in a competitive world. 

best tablet with a stylus

(Image credit: XP-Pen)

09. XP-Pen G640S

A terrific budget tablet and stylus, especially for beginners

Active drawing area: 6.5 x 4in | Resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-A (USB-C / Micro USB adapter included)

Great price
Slim and portable
Smaller drawing area
No built-in screen

For a simple, affordable drawing solution that just works, we'd happily recommend the XP-Pen G640S. A straightforward drawing surface that can be hooked up to a computer, phone, tablet or other smart device, the G640S provides a smooth and sensitive drawing platform. The stylus/tablet combination offers up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, meaning you can get super-detailed and granular with your pen strokes. The tablet is also only about 9mm thick, meaning it's easy to throw in a bag and take with you wherever you're going. 

The downside of course is the lack of a built-in screen; you have to get used to drawing on one surface and seeing your creation come to life on another. This can take a bit of a co-ordination adjustment if you're not used to it. 

The six customisable ExpressKeys help with making things more intuitive, as you can map preferred settings to the keys to ensure the tablet operates how you want it to. Broad computer and software compatibility also makes it easy to slot the XP-Pen G640S into an existing workflow. Overall, while it can't compete with many other tablets here in terms of features and processing power, this is an absolutely fantastic way to get drawing on a budget.

best tablet with a stylus pen

(Image credit: Wacom)

10. 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

If you choose one of the tablets above that doesn't come with a tablet pen in the box, you can either take a look at our detailed guide to the best stylus for Android devices or head below for today's best stylus deals:

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