As an Amazon Associate EssentialPicks earn from qualifying purchases.
Ever since Apple announced the support for Apple Pencil on cheaper iPads, more and more artists are thinking of getting them.
iPads are one of the most advanced tablets in the market, when combined with Apple Pencil and drawing apps like Procreate, they become a very powerful drawing tool.
They are so good that – in the last few years, we have seen many full-time artists permanently switch from Wacom devices to iPads.
We have been closely following and testing drawing tablets for the last couple of years and have so far helped thousands of artists pick the right tablet for themselves.
In this guide, we will lay-out all the available options in front of you to help you make the right choices based on your requirements no matter whether you are looking for an entry-level iPad or the top of the line variant.
Available Models: Which models of iPad do Procreate support?
Gone are the days when only a few variants of iPad supported Apple Pencil. At present all the latest models of iPad are compatible with the iPads.
The same is the case with Procreate, all the latest models of iPad run Procreate.
- iPad – Entry-level iPad with everything you need to get started, minus the fancy stuff
- iPad Mini – Smaller and more compact version of iPad
- iPad Air – Everything your need, plus some premium features in a modern form factor
- iPad Pro – The best of the best with all the pro-grade features (available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch variants)
(All models) iPad: Features comparison
(Note for mobile users: Pan left/right to see the full table)
|iPad||iPad Mini||iPad Air (new)||iPad Pro (11)||iPad Pro (12.9)|
|Dimension||250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 mm||203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm||247.6 x 178.5 x 6.2 mm||247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm||280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm|
|Resolution||2160 x 1620||2048 x 1536||2360 x 1640||2388 x 1668 p||2732 x 2048 p|
(pixels per inch)
|Aspect Ratio||4:3||4:3||1.43:1||1.43:1||4: 3|
|Display Type||Ratina||Ratina||Liquid ratina||Liquid ratina||Liquid ratina|
|Refresh Rate||60 Hz||60 Hz||60 Hz||120 Hz||120 Hz|
|Brightness||500 nits||500 nits||500 nits||600 nits||600 nits|
|Stylus||Apple Pencil 1||Apple Pencil 1||Apple Pencil 2||Apple Pencil 2||Apple Pencil 2|
|Processor||A12 Bionic||A12 Bionic||A14 Bionic||A12Z Bionic||A12Z Bionic|
|Storage Options||32 GB|
|RAM||3 GB||3 GB||4 GB||6 GB||6 GB|
|Camera||Rear: 8 MP|
Front: 1.2 MP
|Rear: 8 MP|
|Rear: 12 MP|
|Rear: 12MP& 10MP|
|Rear: 12MP& 10MP
|Connectivity||WiFi/ Cellular||WiFi/ Cellular||WiFi/ Cellular||WiFi/ Cellular||WiFi/ Cellular|
|Weight||1.08 pounds |
|0.66 pound |
|1.0 pound |
|1.04 pound |
*Prices constantly changes, click the “Amazon” link to know the latest prices
Which Apple Pencil do iPads support
As some of you may be aware, the Apple Pencil is available in two variants, the first-gen. Apple Pencil and the second-gen. Apple Pencil.
- iPad and iPad Mini – are compatible with the first-gen. Apple Pencil
- iPad Air and iPad Pro – are compatible with second-gen. Apple Pencil
Cross compatibility – Apple Pencils are not cross-compatible, which means that iPads that works with second-gen. Apple Pencil won’t work with the first-gen. Apple pencil and vice versa.
Which iPad should I buy for Procreate?
Which iPad should you buy for Procreate depends on a number of things, which includes – how often will you use these tablets, what features you need, what is the right size for you, and most importantly your budget.
Different artists have different requirements, in the next section, we will give a detailed overview of all the iPad models and recommend them based on use cases.
Cheapest iPad for Procreate
The 8th Generation iPad is one of the most underappreciated iPads in the history of iPads, and it is easy to understand why.
Most people when they look at its price tag they assume – if it’s cheap, it must be bad. But that is not simply true in this case.
If you are a beginner or a casual artist, who wants a good drawing experience at the cheapest possible price, this entry-level iPad has all the basic features to get you started.
Here Apple has done a really good job of carefully selecting which features to keep and which one to let go – so that you only pay for features that you actually need.
One thing that we really like about Apple is – they keep updating their tablets at regular intervals with the latest hardware.
For example – In spite of being a cheap tablet, the iPad comes with the very recent A12 Bionic processor. This processor can easily handle day to day tasks as well as large project files in Procreate.
For beginner artists, it is a great choice as it supports the First gen. Apple Pencil which gives it an unmatched drawing and writing performance that no other tablet can offer in this price range.
The only downside of the iPad is its design, especially the bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. That could have been reduced.
Overall, for the price you are paying, you are actually getting a lot of value, whether we talk about its high-resolution screen, the battery life, or its drawing capabilities and that is why we highly recommend this iPad.
Compact and ultra-portable iPad for drawing
If you want all the goodness of the iPad in a compact and portable form factor, then the iPad mini should be your tablet of choice.
It comes with a 7.9-inch screen and weighs just 0.66 pounds (300.5 grams). It feels so compact and lightweight that it kind of disappears in your backpack.
Its lightweight design also makes it more comfortable to use in one-handed mode.
The iPad has the same A12 Bionic processor that you get with an iPad, which means in spite of its smaller size, it is still capable enough to handle intensive procreate usage.
The Procreate and other drawing apps run smoothly without ever feeling slow plus it is able to easily handle heavy texture brushes in Procreate.
Some artists also like to have iPad Mini as their secondary tablet when they are on the go and want something super portable yet powerful.
iPad Mini is compatible with the First gen. Apple Pencil, but the Apple Pencil does not come included in the box and has to be purchased separately.
One important advantage that the iPad mini has over all the other iPads (even the most expensive iPad Pro) is – its very sharp high-resolution display.
The iPad mini has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 with 326 pixels per inch (PPI) of pixel density, compared to 364 that you get with iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.
That means the images and videos look extra sharp and crisp on this display.
Value for money – Great features + Reasonable price
If you are looking for an iPad as a digital artist, you essentially have two choices. Either you get the entry-level iPad or the top of the line iPad Pro.
The entry-level iPad does not have all the advanced drawing features that you may want, on the other side, the iPad Pro is way too expensive.
What if there was a tablet that exists somewhere in between, which had all the premium drawing features without that premium price tag. That is exactly what you get with the Apple iPad Air.
iPad Air is a mid-range drawing tablet that brings the best of both worlds.
Starting with the design, you can see the iPad Air comes with the same modern all-screen design with minimum bezels around the screen, that you see in the iPad Pro.
Other than that, it also supports Apple Pencil 2 (which is the most advanced stylus in the market), making it the only tablet other than iPad Pro that works with this stylus.
On the processor and performance side of things, iPad Air comes with the latest A14 Bionic processor. It can easily glide through your intensive drawing workflow no matter you are working with a simple low-resolution canvas or a super high-resolution project with large canvas sizes.
But that is not it, perhaps the best thing about the iPad Air is the price. In spite of coming with these incredibly similar features, it costs substantially lower than the iPad Pro, making the iPad Air the best value for money iPad.
The best drawing experience (iPad Pro/Procreate)
The Apple iPad Pro is the tablet which established iPads as a go-to drawing tablet for artists. iPad Pro combined with Procreate gives you the best drawing experience in the market, which no other tablet can match.
There are a number of reasons why it so popular amongst artists. Starting with the Apple Pencil itself.
As we mentioned earlier, Apple Pencil 2 is the most advanced stylus in the market with best in class stylus tracking, plus a well-balanced pressure and tilt sensitivity, giving you the ultimate stylus experience.
In addition to the stylus, the display also plays a key role in the whole digital stylus experience. The iPad Pro comes with a 120Hz ProMotion display. This is twice as fast as a generic tablet display.
The fast response rate of the stylus along with iPad Pro’s ProMotion display helps the Apple Pencil reach the latency of just 9ms.
So when you draw with Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro display, the strokes from the stylus does not lag behind the pen tip. This makes drawing with the Apple Pencil feels as natural as drawing with an actual pencil.
With that said, when this 9ms latency was introduced, not many apps could take advantage of this feature at that time, but slowly more and more apps support this feature. The Procreate natively supports all these advanced features and chance provides you the best drawing experience on the iPads.
iPad Pro Processor
Processors are the heart of a tablet and much of the performance depends on them.
When it comes to iPads, even the processors in the base variant are fast. But when we talk of the Pro model, some of you may be surprised to know that – The A12Z Bionic processor in iPad Pro is comparable to laptops in terms of power and performance.
This processor gives you a lag-free experience when handling high-resolution files with multiple layers. This raw power is really required when you are working on a professional level and iPad Pro are some of the few tablets that can deliver that.
Likewise, the Procreate is also fine-tuned to handle high-resolution files, thanks to its smart on the fly optimizations that it makes.
The iPad Pro is available in two sizes, 11 inches, and 12.9 inches.
The 11 inch iPad Pro is the perfect size for those who want a portable yet powerful drawing device, whereas the 12.9 inch iPad Pro is more suited for those who appreciate a larger drawing area.
Who should get the iPad Pro?
If you are fairly new to digital art and learning the basics, you don’t really need an iPad Pro. In case you want to get a modern looking tablet that supports Apple Pencil 2, it is better to go with the new iPad Air.
iPad Pro is a premium tablet with Pro-grade features and that reflects in its price. We recommend iPad Pro to hobbyists and professional artists who are sure that they need the power and performance that iPad Pro offers. If that is you, you will love drawing on it and for that reason, you should definitely buy it.
Art supplies for iPad/Procreate
Once you have selected the iPad of your choice you can further personalize it to your like, but before we talk about that it is important to learn about surface texture and why it is important for digital artists.
All the iPads have smooth and glossy screens and when you draw or write on them with a stylus with a plastic tip (Apple Pencil), the stylus tends to slide too much.
To counter that, many artists like to use a textured film on top of their iPads. The textured film has micro-aberrations that provide resistance to the stylus so that it feels more controlled and is easy to move.
The texture is balanced so that it is neither too aggressive to subtle, in spite of having texture the surface still feels smooth to touch.
Other than proving texture, the film also helps with protecting the screen from scratches that you may get from using the stylus over a long period of time.
The film is easily removable and costs are also not high. The paperlike texture film is one of the most popular choices of texture for iPads and it is available for all the models.
Soft silicone tips for Apple Pencil
Instead of getting a textured film, what some artists like to do is – they get silicone pen tips instead.
The silicone tips attach to the plastic tip of the stylus and when you draw with it, it kind of grabs on to the glass surface of the screen, resulting in a grippier feel -improving handling.
When you tap the Apple Pencil to the surface of the iPad, it makes a sharp noise. This can be annoying for some people, using the Apple Pencil with a silicone tip almost eliminates that noise.
Silicone grip for Apple Pencil
Apple Pencil is very thin and sleek, but on prolonged usage, due to sweat and fatigue, it could be uncomfortable to hold. So people like to use a silicone grip on the Apple Pencil. The silicone grip easily slides on top of the Apple pencil and provides a better grip over the pencil.
The silicone grip is available in varying width, that you can select as per your liking over here at Amazon.
Apple Pencil: First gen. vs Second gen.
Apple Pencil is available in two variants, the first-generation Apple Pencil and the second-gen Apple Pencil.
There are two main differences between these two styluses. One is the overall shape and size of the stylus and the second difference is in how they charge.
Shape and size – The first-gen Apple Pencil is a cylindrical stylus with a glossy surface finish. It is made of plastic and is slightly wider and longer than the 2nd gen. Apple Pencil.
The Second-gen Apple Pencil is also cylindrical in shape but it has a flat face. The flat face contains a touch button that you can tap to switch between pen and eraser. The flat face also helps with stopping the stylus from rolling off the desk.
It is also made of plastic but has a matte surface with a soft texture on it which feels better to touch and provides a better hold.
On the charging side, the first-gen. Apple Pencil has a lightning connector at the back which is used for charging the pencil.
On the second-gen. Apple Pencil you have a magnetic wireless connector and charger. It magnetically attaches to the side of the tablet and charges wirelessly.
On the actual drawing side of things, when using both these styluses with Procreate, you won’t find much difference in the performance and overall drawing feel between first and second-gen. Apple pencil which is a good thing.
FAQs (Frequently asked questions)
Here are some of the FAQs, that we constantly get asked on a regular basis by artists looking for a new iPad for Procreate.
Is procreate worth getting an iPad?
Many people, especially those who are coming from desktop and use to drawing on Adobe software wonder if Procreate is worth getting an iPad. And that is actually a very valid concern, what if the app is not that good and you spent all that money on an iPad.
You should know that Adobe may be a dominant force on desktop, but when it comes to drawing on a tablet, there is no match for Procreate.
Procreate has been in the app store for a very long time and over time they have become a serious player in the digital art space. They are so focused on the iPad experience that they have not distracted themselves by spreading out to other platforms such as Android, Windows, and Mac.
For those who are coming from desktop drawing software, you will find all the advanced tools and options here in Procreate.
So if you are an artist and looking for a portable drawing setup, the Procreate and iPad are absolutely worth the investment.
Should you get an iPad for Procreate as a hobbyist?
It depends, if all you want is a simple digital drawing tool with basic features, you should first look at options such as Wacom Intuos. You can also look at cheaper display based tablets such as Huion Kamvas 13 which connects to your existing laptop or computer in order to work.
Only after considering these alternatives, you should put in big bucks for iPads.
How much storage is enough for a drawing tablet?
As of current standards and considering how large of a space a single project file can take, we recommend a minimum of 64GB of onboard storage.
Since the iPads do not have an expandable memory card, you should be selecting the right storage capacity when buying the iPad keeping future needs in mind.
There are some iPad available with only 32 Gb of storage, which is kind of workable but you may have to actively manage the space, transferring files to and from your Macbook/ hard drive.
Since iPads allow you to connect external storage accessories, transferring files should not be difficult.
Can you use Procreate without Apple Pencil?
Apple Pencil is expensive and that is why people often search for cheaper Apple Pencil alternatives.
In fact, there are some cheaper options out there in the market such as Logitech crayon, Wacom Bamboo sketch, and many more which are both compatible with iPad as well as Procreate.
But these cheaper styluses are limited in a number of ways and mostly used by people who use iPads for writing notes. For example – one of the limitations of Logitech Crayon is – it does not support pressure sensitivity, a features essential for digital art.
For the best results, we only recommend you get the original Apple Pencil (Amazon).
How much RAM does procreate use?
In general – the higher the resolution and larger the canvas size, the more RAM Procreate needs to keep up. In addition to that, the more layers you add on top, the addition RAM memory it takes.
The good thing is that even the entry-level iPad comes with a higher 3 GB of RAM compared to older models with only 2 RAM.
Entry-level iPads can work fine on anything less 4k resolution, but if you work on high-resolution files we would recommend you to at least get the iPad Air with 4 GB of Ram or the iPad Pro with a larger 6 GB of RAM.
iPad Mini vs iPad for drawing
We see both these tablets in the same category. They both come at comparable price ranges and packs a similar horsepower.
iPad mini is recommended for those who are constantly on the move and want a small and compact drawing tablet, where the normal iPad has a larger screen and better for day to day usages.
The iPad mini is also a good option for teens and children who like to draw.
Is Procreate and iPad Mini a good combination
Yes! if the form factor is okay with you, there will be no problem running Procreate with the iPad mini.