We know, designers and illustrators love Moleskines. We do too. But a tablet with a stylus offers a world more flexibility – namely, that your notes and drawings don’t have to be created again digitally, and can be safely backed up to the cloud. All of which makes a stylus-equipped tablet the ideal alternative to a traditional notepad and pencil, whatever your preferred drawing technique. But there’s a lot of choice out there, 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. In this guide, we walk through the best tablets with a stylus for drawing and note-taking available right now – as well as the best budget buys – so you can make the right decision for your needs.
01. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Our best pick of the best tablet with stylus you can buy.
OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6,000mAh | Dimensions: 237.3 x 169 x 6mm | Weight: 429g
The Samsung Galaxy S3 simply ticks all the boxes, making it an easy choice for our favourite overall slate – let alone the best Android tablet with a stylus for drawing and note-taking. With its 9.7mm screen, super slim 6mm thickness and light weight (less than half a kilo), the Tab S3 will wow you with its perfect dimensions even before you turn it on. Once you do, you'll be immediately love the vibrancy of the HDR-enabled screen – ideal for when you're turning your quick sketches into something more aesthetic.
There's only 32GB of onboard storage, so you may be resorting to the cloud more than you'd wish. But the real perk the Tab S3 has over much of the competition is that the S-Pen is included in the price, so there's no need to go shopping for a separate stylus.
02. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
The best iPad to use with the Apple Pencil.
Weight: 677g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 11.3 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A10X Fusion | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Battery: 10,891mAh
Just as Hoover has come to mean vacuum cleaner, iPad is a synonym for tablet to many people. When it comes to the best iOS tablet with stylus, we recommend heading straight for the big kahuna – the 12.7-inch iPad Pro. Its broad Retina display has the most colours, its A10X chip has the most power and you won't be disappointed with the sheer amount of handy programs you can download from the App Store.
For the price you pay for the iPad Pro, we can't hide our chagrin at the lack of Apple Pencil – that will cost you around $100/£100 to add as an extra. But if you're already invested in the Apple ecosystem, you'll want to add the iPad to the family and, to be fair, are probably used to the cost of these things already.
Read more: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) review
03. Microsoft Surface Pro
The best Windows tablet with stylus.
Weight: 768g | Dimensions: 292.1 x 201.4 x 8.5mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2736 x 1824 | CPU: Intel 7th Gen Core | RAM: 4-12GB | Storage: 128GB-1TB
A quick glance at the spec sheet of the Microsoft Pro (2017) is enough to tell you the sheer power we're dealing with. An available Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake CPU, 2,736 x 1,824 resolution PixelSense display and 512GB SSD storage. The Surface Pro doesn't just wipe the floor with other tablets, it's a legitimate replacement to your laptop. Even the battery has been given a significant upgrade from the Surface Pro 4.
But where's the stylus? You used to get the Surface Pen included, but not any more, so you'll have to cough up an extra $100/£100 if you want that. It's worth it though: its extraordinary 4,096 pressure levels make it a delight to draw with.
Read more: Microsoft Surface Pro review
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
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
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
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 M3 8
The best cheap tablet with stylus you can buy on a budget.
Weight: 322g | Dimensions: 8.5 x 4.8 x 2.8in | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 8.4-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 | CPU: Kirin 950 | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 5100mAh
Huawei has managed to make a genuinely good tablet at a fraction of the price you'll pay for other tablets. Despite the relatively low price point, you still get an excellent screen, sufficient power for most tasks and a sleek, light aluminium frame that's both practical and won't embarrass you if you pull it out at a coffee shop.
Obviously if you rely on apps that require power-intensive rendering and processing, this Huawei MediaPad will inevitably struggle compared to the Surface Pro and iPad. Pro. And there's no stylus included with this one - take a look at the best styluses you can buy below. But if you're just getting going with using a tablet for work (or as a hobby), this is a very affordable starting point.
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.