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

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.

Memory (not storage)

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.

The thing is, Apple does not really disclose how much there is RAM in iPhones and iPads, so we can only trust other resources in this question. Wikipedia has a page with detailed technical information for every iPad. Here is the how much memory in the new iPads based on this page information:

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 1TB, 2TB16GB
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 128, 256, 512GB8GB
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 2021 1TB, 2TB16GB
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 2021 128, 256, 512GB8GB
Apple iPad Air 20204GB
Apple iPad 9th Gen 20213GB
Apple iPad mini 6th 20214GB

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

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: 6GB
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 $999
Amazon Price: starting at $949.99

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

Like iPad Pro 12.9 inch, the new iPad Pro 11inch comes with a ridiculously fast M1 chip, 8GB and 16GB of RAM, and it was designed with creative professionals in mind. The most significant difference between these two models is the display. The new iPad Pro 11 inch 2021 comes with a Liquid Retina display.

There’s been a lot of news and noise about the display of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, which comes with a Liquid Retina XDR display. I won’t deny that the 12.9-inch display is stunning, but the 11-inch display is pretty nice, too, even without the Mini-LED backlight. From an illustrator’s point of view, the Liquid Retina display of iPad Pro 11inch is more than enough to create art. Remember that all of the new iPad Pros displays come with an anti-reflective coating, P3 wide color, True Tone, and ProMotion technology.

Another question is whether or not this display will be big enough to create artwork on. But that depends mainly on how you work and what you’re used to as a creator. I think that 11inch is a pretty good size because it is lightweight and portable yet big enough to create art.

In general, the iPad Pro 11inch 2021 is an excellent tablet. I find it to be more than enough for any illustrator. While it is a bit smaller than its big brother, the screen is big enough to create without being too bulky. But if you can afford it, and you are a professional artist, video creator, or photographer, then the superior and larger screen of the Apple iPad Pro 12.9inch might be better for you. After all, if you are willing to spend this much on an iPad, then it may as well be the best one you can get.

Finish: Space Gray or Silver
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
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

In short, the best iPad ever made just got even better. The new iPad Pro 12.9inch, 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: 6GB
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 $999
Amazon Price: starting at $949.99

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 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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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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