Best Apple iPad For Digital Drawing in 2023

The iPad is not just a device for watching movies, taking notes, or snapping pictures. It is now a powerful tool for artists, illustrators, and designers. When paired with the Apple Pencil, the iPad can unleash your creativity and help you design your next masterpiece. In a previous blog post, I discussed my thoughts on the iPad Pro being an excellent choice for digital drawing. Now, with all new iPads supporting the Apple Pencil, the question arises: which iPad is best for digital drawing? The answer is that any of the current generation iPads will work for creating digital art, but they are not all the same. Let’s find out.

What To Pay Attention To

Apple Pencil Support

TL;DR: Save on anything, but your iPad must support Pencil 2.

In my opinion, the Apple Pencil is the best stylus for iPad drawing. However, there are two generations of the Apple Pencil available and it is important to keep this in mind when choosing an iPad. Both generations of the Pencil are similar, but the 2nd generation has some additional benefits. Firstly, it has a more convenient charging method, as it magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad, unlike the 1st generation Pencil which required inserting it into the Lightning port. Secondly, the 2nd generation Pencil is more comfortable to use as it is lighter, shorter and has a non-glossy finish, which prevents it from slipping. Overall, both Pencils are great options for enhancing the drawing experience. If I had to choose one, I would likely go with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.

Display Size and Resolution

When it comes to digital drawing, having a spacious and high-resolution canvas is crucial for capturing intricate details and providing an immersive drawing experience. Apple offers a range of iPad models with varying display sizes and resolutions to cater to different artists’ needs. The iPad Mini, with its compact 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display and 2266 x 1488 resolution, is a great option for artists seeking portability and convenience. On the other hand, the larger iPad Air (10.9 inches) and iPad Pro models (11 inches and 12.9 inches) boast stunning Liquid Retina displays with resolutions of 2360 x 1640 and 2388 x 1668 (11-inch) / 2732 x 2048 (12.9-inch), respectively. These provide ample screen real estate and exceptional visual clarity for more serious artists and professionals. Ultimately, choosing the right display size and resolution will depend on your artistic preferences, portability requirements, and budget.

Display Technology

The technology behind an iPad’s display can significantly impact the digital drawing experience, as it affects color accuracy, refresh rates, and overall visual quality. Apple equips its iPads with advanced display technologies that cater to the needs of artists and designers. One such feature is the ProMotion technology, exclusive to iPad Pro models, which delivers a 120Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth drawing and seamless navigation. This can be especially beneficial for artists who require fluid pen strokes and real-time responsiveness. Another key technology is True Tone, available in iPad Air and iPad Pro models, which adjusts the color temperature of the display based on ambient lighting, providing a more accurate and consistent viewing experience. Additionally, most iPads support a wide color gamut (P3) for richer, more vibrant colors, allowing artists to create and view their work with impressive color fidelity. When selecting an iPad for digital drawing, it’s essential to consider these display technologies and their impact on your creative process.

Memory (not storage)

TL;DR: Get as much memory as you can.

Generally speaking, memory is good. So, the more memory the happier you are because it will allow your device to work faster, and in apps like Procreate and Adobe Fresco more memory means more layers to work with. So, I would say that if you are someone who completes complex and elaborate art projects that require an extensive palette and many layers on your iPad, then you might want to go with more available memory. If art is more of a hobby, no need to stick with the best memory option.

ProcessorMemory
iPad Pro (12.9-inch) 1TB or 2TB storageM216GB
iPad Pro (12.9-inch) 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storageM28GB
iPad Pro (11-inch) 1TB or 2TB storageM216GB
iPad Pro (11-inch) 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storageM28GB
iPad Air (10.9-inch)M18GB
iPad (10th Gen, 10.9-inch)A144GB
iPad (9th Gen, 10.2-inch)A133GB
iPad mini (8.3-inch)A154GB

Storage

Just like with the memory, more storage is always good. I currently have an iPad Pro with 256GB of storage that I have been using for 2 years, and the app that I use the most – Procreate – takes up only about 30GB.

Battery

Battery life is one of the most important criteria for digital artists when choosing a tablet. After all, we don’t want our device to die after a few hours of drawing. Well, the good news is that all iPads have a pretty long battery life. Apple assures that full single charge will last about 10 hours if you surf the web. However, when you draw on an iPad, it will use more resources and power, so it will last a little less, but still enough to finish a drawing. In general, I get about 6-7 hours of drawing on my iPad Pro before I need to charge it.

Connectivity

TL;DR: USB-C or Thunderbolt is great. Any modern Wi-Fi is fast enough.

In today’s interconnected world, seamless connectivity is vital for artists who need to share their work, collaborate with others, or transfer files with ease. Apple’s iPad lineup offers various connectivity options to ensure that digital artists can stay connected and productive. All iPad models come with Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing you to connect to the internet, access cloud storage, and sync your work across devices. For those who require connectivity on the go, cellular models are available, providing internet access even without Wi-Fi. In terms of port availability, the iPad Pro models feature a versatile USB-C port, which allows for faster data transfer, charging, and connecting to a wide array of peripherals, such as external displays, storage devices, or drawing tablets. The iPad Air also utilizes USB-C, while the iPad Mini retains Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. When choosing the best iPad for digital drawing, consider your connectivity needs and preferences, as they can significantly impact your workflow and overall experience.

PortWi-FiCellular
iPad Pro (12.9-inch)ThunderboltWi-Fi 6EOptional 5G
iPad Pro (11-inch)ThunderboltWi-Fi 6EOptional 5G
iPad Air (10.9-inch)USB-CWi-Fi 6Optional 5G
iPad (10th Gen, 10.9-inch)USB-CWi-Fi 6Optional 5G
iPad (9th Gen, 10.2-inch)LightningWi-Fi 5Optional 4G
iPad mini (8.3-inch)USB-CWi-Fi 6Optional 5G

Cellular support

TL;DR: You don’t need cellular in your iPad.

5G/LTE feature is not really necessary for digital artists and won’t affect your work. While it is useful especially if you are drawing outside or generally in a place with no Wi-Fi available, it is not that critical. If you need the internet you can always get it through your phone’s hotspot. And if you have an iPhone, the last iOS updates made it so easy to connect to your iPhone’s hotspot. So, LTE is actually a feature that you can save money on by buying an iPad with no built-in LTE.

Apps Compatibility

There are so many great drawing apps available these days. And you might wonder which of them will work with your iPad. Well, the answer is all of them. It seems like all the major apps like Adobe and Procreate as well as smaller apps like ArtRage and Graphic, will work just fine on all iPads. I myself have used different iPads and drawing apps and have never run into any compatibility problems.

Current iPads

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 6th Gen 2022

In short, the best iPad ever made just got even better. The new iPad Pro 12.9 inch, armed with an M1 chip, fantastic display, and up to 2TB of storage, is probably the best tablet you can buy today.

While there is not much difference between the design of the new iPad Pro 12.9 and its predecessor (other than the new model is 0.5mm thicker, nothing changed), the display is one area where the iPad Pro was truly improved. The new iPad Pro 12.9inch screen features new Mini LED technology or Liquid Retina XDR. The Liquid Retina XDR display was engineered with a new mini-LED design technology with over 10,000 LEDs across the back of the display. Overall, the result is a beautiful visual experience, super crisp image, and improved brightness. As an illustrator, where the screen of my tablet is my canvas, I am so excited to try out this new technology.

Another big update is that the powerful and impressive M1 chip is now in the iPad Pro, making it the fastest device of its kind and bringing the performance of the iPad Pro to a whole new level. I am not sure if that is even possible, but apparently, everything feels and looks even smoother. It also comes with either 8 or 16GB of RAM, which is something to consider because drawing apps are very resource-consumption. But the only way to get 16GB RAM is to buy either the 1TB or 2TB storage options because the 128, 256, and 512GB variations all come with 8GB. Of course, not everyone needs so much memory, but you might want to go the hights amount of memory available if you use the iPad as a professional tool. However, there is also a small catch – as of right now, it is very clear if Apple allows using all RAM for application needs. Let’s say you have an older iPad Pro with 4GB of RAM that lets you create 20 layers in Procreate. It does not mean that you would be able to create 80 layers on iPad Pro with 16GB of RAM.

Some were expecting an update to the Apple Pencil; however, there was no new stylus this year. But to be honest, the Apple Pencil 2 is already is the best stylus on the market today for artists, designers, creators, or anyone who prefers hand-written notes. And while it would be fun to see what Apple can come up with to improve this pencil, I am not complaining that it did not happen this year.

Overall, the new iPad Pro 12.9inch is a fantastic tablet. But that does not, however, mean that it is for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, this iPad is the best of the best, and I would definitely suggest it to anyone who does their work – illustration, video editing, photography – on iPad because you won’t find a better tablet explicitly made for creators. But if you are looking for an affordable and portable because you are always on the go, then there better iPads for you.

Finish: Space Gray or Silver
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Memory: 8GB/16GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

Updates:
– A12Z Bionic chip
– 6GB memory on all storage versions
– LiDAR Scanner
– Studio-quality microphones
– Additional 10MP Ultra Wide cameras
– Wi-Fi 6

Best for: iPad Pro 12.9 is the most powerful iPad ever made. It would work excellent for professional and full-time artists, designers, and illustrators.

Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 4th Gen 2022

As a digital illustrator, the Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 4th Gen 2022 stands out as an exceptional tool, offering advanced features and top-tier performance in a sleek and portable package. The 11-inch Liquid Retina display, with its 2388 x 1668 resolution, provides ample space for illustrating complex scenes and capturing fine details, while the ProMotion technology ensures buttery-smooth strokes and seamless navigation with its 120Hz refresh rate. True Tone technology and a wide color gamut (P3) further enhance the visual experience, delivering accurate and vivid colors that help bring illustrations to life.

The iPad Pro 11-inch 4th Gen’s compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil is a game-changer for digital illustrators, as it enables precise control, minimal latency, and a natural drawing experience that closely emulates traditional media. With storage options ranging from 128GB to 2TB, artists can comfortably store a vast library of creative projects, high-resolution resources, and illustration apps without running out of space.

The impressive battery life of up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi or 9 hours on cellular means illustrators can work on their projects for extended periods without being tethered to a power source. The iPad Pro 11-inch 4th Gen’s Wi-Fi and optional cellular connectivity, along with its versatile USB-C port, facilitate seamless file sharing, collaboration, and connection to peripherals such as external displays or storage devices.

In conclusion, the Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 4th Gen 2022 is a remarkable choice for digital illustrators seeking a powerful, feature-rich device that can elevate their creative process. Its blend of display size and resolution, display technology, Apple Pencil support, storage, battery life, and connectivity options make it an invaluable tool for professional and aspiring illustrators alike.

Finish: Space Gray or Silver
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Memory: 8GB/16GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

Updates:
– A12Z Bionic chip
– 6GB memory on all storage versions
– LiDAR Scanner
– Studio-quality microphones
– Additional 10MP Ultra Wide cameras
– Wi-Fi 6

Price: starting at $799

Best for: This iPad, just like its bigger version, is excellent for professional artists and designers who want a slightly smaller tablet for mobility purposes.

Apple iPad Air 5th Gen 2022

Okay, this time, Apple truly impressed me – they made the whole new iPad Air. In September of 2020, Apple updated the iPad Air with a fourth-generation model with a complete redesign that makes it look more like the iPad Pro. Now the iPad Air features a 10.9-in edge-to-edge display and a design with rounded corners that wrap around the display. The display is slightly larger than in the previous model, but I don’t think that 0.4 inches change will make that much difference. However, the design might – the edge-to-edge display and no Home button definitely makes the display appear bigger, and the overall iPad more modern and sleek. It is available in five different colors, which definitely adds some fun: silver, space grey, rose gold, green, and sky blue. But what is truly new about the new iPad Air is that the Touch ID sensor is now integrated into the top button, and that is the first time we see something like that in Apple devices. And probably the most exciting update for the iPad Air lovers is that now it is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil and the new Magic keyboard with a trackpad.

Overall, I think Apple revolutionized the new iPad Air design with an edge-to-edge 10.9-inch display, Touch ID power button, a brand-new A14 Bionic chip, and new and fun color options. And I can’t even think of any downfalls or anything that I don’t like about this iPad.

Finish: Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

Updates:
– Whole new design
– New colors
– Apple Pencil 2nd generation support (!)
– Magnetic connector for Apple Pencil
– USB-C connector
– No home button
– Touch ID (in power button)

Price: starting at $599

Best for: The new iPad Air 2020 got a significant performance and design update. All these changes make this iPad a perfect option for those in the market for a tablet but are not ready to spend money on a pricey iPad Pro just yet.

Apple iPad 10th Gen 2022

The Apple iPad 10th Gen 2022 is an excellent entry-level option for digital artists looking for a balance between performance, affordability, and functionality. With a 10.2-inch Retina display and a resolution of 2160 x 1620, this iPad offers a reasonably sized canvas for drawing and sketching while maintaining crisp visuals. The display incorporates True Tone technology for accurate color representation and a wide color gamut (P3) for vibrant, true-to-life colors.

In terms of compatibility, the iPad 10th Gen supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, allowing artists to create detailed and precise artwork with ease. With ample storage options starting from 64GB and going up to 256GB, the iPad 10th Gen offers artists sufficient space for their creative projects and apps.

The iPad 10th Gen is designed for extended use, with a battery life of up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi or 9 hours on cellular, ensuring that artists can work on their projects without constantly worrying about recharging. Connectivity-wise, this model comes with Wi-Fi and optional cellular versions, as well as a Lightning port for charging and data transfer. This enables artists to stay connected, share their work, and sync their projects across devices with ease.

Overall, the Apple iPad 10th Gen 2022 is a worthy consideration for those seeking an affordable yet capable device for digital drawing, offering a solid combination of display size and resolution, display technology, Apple Pencil support, storage, battery life, and connectivity options.

Finish: Blue, Pink, Silver, Yellow
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 1st Generation

Apple iPad 9th Gen 2021

In the September 2021 presentation, along with the iPad mini 6, Apple also introduced an updated iPad 9th generation. The new iPad 9th gen has several improvements over the previous model, including the A13 Bionic chip, True Tone, a better front-facing camera with Center Stage mode.

The new iPad comes with the same 10.2-inch Retina display and 500 nits of brightness. Compared to last year’s model, the 2021 iPad has True Tone functionality for the first time. Compared to Apple’s more expensive iPads, this iPad lacks a laminated construction, an anti-reflective coating, and Wide color support. And while it does miss some of the features, I do not think that this display is terrible, not at all. And the fact that it works with Apple Pencil 1st gen is a plus.

The nice thing about this iPad is that you get a boost in performance for the same price as the previous model – iPad 9th gen is available for $329 ($299 for schools) for the Wi-Fi model and $459 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The only thing that is disappointing a bit is that there is absolutely no change in design. With its Touch ID sensor and Home button below the display, the new iPad looks a bit out-of-date compared to other iPads available. But I guess it is what you get for such a low price.

Overall, I think that the new iPad 9th gen is excellent for its price. I believe this is the kind of iPad designed for everyone, and whether you are an amateur or professional illustrator/designer/artist, you will enjoy working on it.

Finish: Space Gray, Silver, or Gold
Storage: 32GB, 128GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 1st Generation

Price: starting at $329
Amazon Price: starting at $299

Best for: If art is more of a hobby for you, I would suggest getting this iPad. It is a good place to start for a relatively low price.

Apple mini 6th Gen 2021

In 2021 Apple introduced the new, refreshed, and fully redesigned iPad mini 6. And I am not going to lie, even though I was never a mini fan, I was really excited to try it out. After all, the new mini comes with a larger display, Touch ID, A15 Bionic chip, USB-C port, 5G, and Apple Pencil second-generation support. And of course, the new design is a great bonus too. The iPad mini 6 was entirely redesigned, and now it comes with flatter edges, rounded corners, edge to edge display, really putting this iPad in line in terms of the design with the iPad Pros, iPad Air, and even iPhones.

But as an illustrator, I was most excited about two things: the bigger display and Apple Pencil 2nd gen. Because Apple moved the Touch ID from the front of the device to the power button, it created more space for the screen itself. So, now the new iPad mini has an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display. And while it does not seem like much of an upgrade from the 7.9-inch display of the iPad Mini 5, I think it is a pretty noticeable change. Because when you work on an iPad every day, all day long, every fraction of an inch makes a difference – you want to get the biggest screen possible. 

And, of course, the Apple Pencil 2nd gen! I would say that Apple PEncil 2nd gen is the best digital pencil you can get today, so having it working with the mini is pretty impressive. I did a few illustrations on iPad mini 6 using the Apple Pencil, and there was no lagging at all. The Apple Pencil works so smoothly. So, no complaints here.

In terms of the internal changes, the iPad mini 6 is powered by A15 Bionic chip, which is a more powerful chip than in my iPad Pro 2018. So, this little table is powerful and capable. But its downfall is a smaller battery. While it can last 10 hours, you would need to charge it pretty much every day if you do power-intensive things.

Overall, the iPad mini 6 is a great tablet. It is very capable, powerful, beautiful, and portable. I can totally see myself using it, especially when I travel. But it would never replace my iPad Pro. The smaller display is the biggest downfall for me. It is excellent for sketching or quickly adjusting an already made illustration, but drawing on a tablet that small might be a bit inconvenient. And in my opinion, an iPad that I would use for sketching on the go for $499 is a bit expensive.

So, it comes to what you value the most in the iPad. If you need portability and power in one device, the iPad mini is a good option. But if you prefer a bigger screen, then maybe look at other tablets such as iPad Air or even the new iPad 10.

Finish: Space Gray, Silver, or Gold
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular
Apple Pencil Support: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

Price: starting at $399

Best for: iPad Mini is a great starting point for amateur artists because it is a pretty powerful iPad with great specs and Apple Pencil support. iPad Mini also works for artists who continually draw on the go.

Apple Accessories

Apple Pencil

iPad is an excellent digital drawing tool, but let’s not forget about Apple Pencil that makes it all possible. There are two generations of Apple Pencil available today. Here is the small guide:

  • Apple Pencil (2nd generation) works with:
    • iPad mini (6th generation)
    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation)
    • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation)
    • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • Apple Pencil (1st generation) works with:
    • iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generation)
    • iPad Air (3rd generation)
    • iPad mini (5th generation)
    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
    • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
    • iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Apple Pencil is very intuitive and easy to use – it feels like a real pencil in your hand. It is great taking notes, drawing, painting, designing a logo, and even editing pictures. Together iPad and Apple Pencil create a perfect pair that will capture your most creative ideas.


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Comments

One response to “Best Apple iPad For Digital Drawing in 2023”

  1. berra Avatar
    berra

    I want to buy Gen 8th for my lessons and art but I am not proffesional, is 32gb enough for me?

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