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Portability is one of the important features that traditional drawing tablets fail to provide an adequate solution for.
Being a digital artist doesn’t mean you need to be tied down to a fixed desk setup.
A portable drawing tablet gives you the flexibility to work from the comfort of your couch and easily carry your drawing setup to your office, school, or literally anywhere you go.
Seeing all these improvements as well as the flexibility that comes with a compact size – more and more artists are switching from traditional drawing devices ➜ to these sleek and modern portable drawing tablets.
Out of all the tablets, the Apple iPad Pro (Amazon) has been at the forefront of all these improvements. It is the best portable drawing tablet that you can buy right now.
But the iPads are not the only game in town.
There are plenty of other options in the market, some offer a better stylus, while other boasts of their superior display quality and longer battery life.
To help you find the right portable drawing tablet for yourself, we have shortlisted some of the most promising options for compact drawing tablets available in the market right now.
For further help, we have also included a handy Buyer’s guide towards the end that is worth checking out.
1. Apple iPad Pro – Compact, portable, and powerful drawing tablet for professionals
The Apple iPad Pro has been the first choice for anyone who wants the absolute best portable drawing tablet.
Over the last few years, it has become the favorite tool for artists – so much so that it can be found on the desk of almost every professional in the creative industry.
What makes it stand out from other drawing tablets is its combination of – incredibly good stylus, excellent screen, powerful internals (hardware), and advance iPad-specific drawing applications like Procreate.
Apple Pencil – The best stylus for digital artists
Apple Pencil is a big reason why so many artists prefer iPad Pro for Drawing. It is the most precise and responsive stylus in the market.
The fast response time of just 9ms along with the ProMotion display (ie. 120Hz refresh rate) makes using the Apple Pencil on Ipad Pro feel buttery smooth.
The Apple Pencil is so good that people often compare it to drawing with a real pencil.
The iPad Pro comes in two sizes 11 inches and 12.9 inches. The 11 inch is a great choice if portability is your priority. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro is for those who need a larger drawing area.
Specifications – iPad Pro
- Size – 11 inches and 12.9 Inches
- Resolution – 2732 x 2048 (264 PPI)
- Color Accuracy – 112% sRGB
- Weight – 1.41 pounds (0.6 Kg)
- Battery Capacity – 9720 mAh battery – 11 hours backup.
- Operating System – iPadOS
- Stylus (Apple Pencil) – Wireless charging, Needs to be purchased separately
In terms of price, the iPad Pro may seem like an expensive option (Amazon). But when compared to traditional drawing tablets which can easily cost a couple grand, you are definitely getting a lot for the money.
Alternatively, you can have a look at some cheaper varients of iPad which are still a good option for artists.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus – Compact Samsung tablet with S Pen
Samsung has been hard at work for the last few years but they have always found themselves a step behind the iPad Pro.
But with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+, the tables have turned. Combined with the very capable Samsung S Pen, the Galaxy Tab S7+ becomes a very compelling option for artists who wants a great Android-based portable drawing tablet.
The tablet is available in two variants, the 11 inch Galaxy Tab S7 and the 12.4 inch Galaxy Tab S7+.
In terms of resolution, it is similar to the aforementioned iPad Pro but it has a slightly better color accuracy. You also get the option for the OLED screen on the larger model.
The S Pen has also gotten way better. It is very accurate and responds beautifully to the slightest pressure changes.
The response rate of the Samsung S Pen is amazingly fast (9ms) and combined with the 120 Hz refresh rate on the Samsung Galaxy tab S7, you get a very responsive drawing experience.
For a good portable drawing tablet, it is important to have good battery life. The battery capacity on the Galaxy Tab S7 is huge (8000 and 10090 mAh) and it will last you a really long time on a single charge.
Specifications – Samsung Galaxy Tab S7(+)
- Size – 11 inches and 12.4 Inches
- Resolution – 2800 x 1752 (266 PPI)
- Color Accuracy – 122% sRGB
- Weight – 1.3 pounds (589 g)
- Battery Capacity – 10,090 mAh
- Operating System – Android
- Stylus (S-Pen) – Wireless charging, free (included in the box)
In a nutshell, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 has everything that you need in a drawing tablet.
It is compact, has a great stylus and a beautiful screen. Probably the best part is, the S Pen comes free in the box and does not need to be purchased separately.
3. Wacom Mobile Studio Pro (13 and 16) – Classic drawing tablet with a portable twist
If you are deep into digital art, most likely – you are already aware of Wacom drawing devices. They are very popular amongst artists and known for their excellent digital pen experience.
All the major movie houses, CG, and VFX studios have Wacom devices at their offices.
Traditional Wacom devices need to be connected to a computer but that is not the case with Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.
The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro is available in two sizes 13 inches and 16 inches and has its own computer built right inside it – making it a portable drawing tablet.
Unlike iPads or Samsung tablets, which are basically general-purpose tablets that you can also draw on, Wacom mobile studio pro is specifically made for artists from the ground up.
It comes with programmable shortcut buttons and a touch-ring on the side – for performing quick actions within your drawing applications.
The included stylus “Wacom Pro Pen 2” is very powerful and capable and has an ergonomic shape which is more comfortable to use on longer drawing sessions.
If you are someone who not only just does digital painting, but you also dabble in things like animation, graphic design, 3d modeling, and 3d sculpting, the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro is a good choice for you.
It runs on Windows, meaning it is not limited by the operating system and you can use all the industry-standard applications on this portable device.
- Size – Available in 13 and 16 inches
- Resolution – WQHD 2560 x 1440
- Color Accuracy – 82% Adobe RGB
- Weight – 4.85 pounds (2.1 Kg)
- Battery Backup – Not mentioned
- Operating System – Windows
- Stylus (Wacom Pro Pen 2) – Battery-Free, Included in the box
With that said, since it is made for professionals – the price of the tablet is more on the expensive side.
If you are looking for something cheap or beginner-friendly, you should look elsewhere (maybe the next tablet on our list).
4. Apple iPad Air – Value for money portable drawing tablet
Apple iPad Air has always been considered a budget alternative to the iPad Pro.
It has been in the market for quite a while, during which it has gotten several upgrades over the years. But the last upgrade of the Apple iPad Air was the biggest one so far which completely transformed this tablet.
Not only Apple has massively increased the processing power of the iPad Air but also modernized its design.
The new iPad Air now looks more like an iPad Pro with its sleek boxy design and narrow bezels around the screen.
It comes with a 10.9-inch high-resolution screen with great color accuracy.
The only major difference between the iPad Air and iPad Pro is the iPad Air comes with a 60Hz display, whereas the iPad Pro comes with a 120Hz ProMotion display.
Probably one of the best things about the Apple iPad Air is – it now supports the second generation of Apple Pencil.
This is good news for artists as in spite of being a significantly cheaper tablet, the iPad Air stills support the Apple Pencil.
The quality of the strokes, the pressure sensitivity, and the tilt detection – everything works great on this tablet and you will have a great time working on it.
- Size – 10.9 inches
- Resolution – 2360 x 1640 p
- Color Accuracy – 112% sRGB
- Weight – 1 pounds (458 g)
- Battery – 28.6 Wh
- Operating System – iPadOS
- Stylus (Apple Pencil 2nd gen.) – Wireless charging, Needs to be purchased separately
Unlike other tablets on the list, the Apple iPad Air is available in 5 color options.
Silver | Space Gray | Green | Rose Gold | Sky Blue
So if you are a beginner or a hobbyist, or someone who wants a good drawing experience without spending some crazy money – the Apple iPad Air is just the right choice for you.
Which variant of the iPad should you get? Which is a better option – a fully specced out iPad Air or the entry-level iPad Pro. To know more check out this iPad Air vs iPad Pro comparison.
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 lite – Cheapest portable tablet that is actually really good
What if you want a simple drawing tablet without paying that premium for fluff features on those high-end tablets, that you don’t necessarily need as an artist.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (Amazon) has been a breath of fresh air, amongst the heaps of outdated tablets that you find in the budget segment.
The tablet rocks a 10.4-inch screen with a 2000 x 1200 resolution and a 5:3 aspect ratio.
As far as the color and the overall quality of the screen is concerned, the images produced on this screen are beautiful. In fact, this is the best screen in its segment.
What is amazing about this tablet is, even though it considerably cheaper than the cheapest Apple iPad Air, it still comes with the S Pen included free in the box. How amazing is that!
The S Pen can charge wirelessly and magnetically attaches to the side of the tablet.
Drawing on this tablet feels amazing, working on it you never get the feeling that you are working on a cheap device.
The credit goes to the overall design (thin form factor + narrow bezels) as well as the build quality of the tablet, for giving it an “expensive feel“.
- Size – 10.4 inch
- Resolution – 2000 x 1200 (FullHD)
- Color Accuracy – Great
- Weight – pounds ( g)
- Battery – 7040 mAh
- Operating System – Android
- Stylus – Wireless charging, comes free in the box
- Colors – Blue, Gray, Rose
Listen! We are gonna have a little conversation here.
“If you want a portable drawing tablet, either for yourself or as a gift for someone – Trust me on this one – Get the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, you will love it.”
6. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Compact windows powered art tablet
When it comes to portable drawing tablets, we are often stuck with an operating system that doesn’t support desktop-based industry-standard drawing applications.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is different. It is one of the most compact drawing tablets that run a full-fledged desktop operating system.
Surface Pro Display
The Surface Pro 7 comes with a 12.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 which is similar to the Apple iPad. It has a color accuracy of 98% sRGB that produces good images.
One of the good things about this tablet is, it is very configurable. You get multiple options for CPU, memory, and RAM. This allows you to select the tablet according to your needs, power requirements, and budget.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is quite a popular tablet amongst artists and the credit for that goes to its stylus.
The tablet is compatible with Microsoft Surface Pen, which is a very capable stylus. It has a good response time and pressure sensitivity plus it feels good in the hand.
Just like the iPad and Samsung tablets, the Surface Pen magnetically sticks to the side of the tablet when it is not in use.
Not only the Surface Pro is stylus and portable, but it is also a very handy tablet.
The tablet has a built-in kickstand at the back which allows you to position the tablet at any angle and draw over it.
- Size – 12.3 inches
- Resolution – 2736 x 1824 pixels
- Color Accuracy – 98 % sRGB
- Weight – 1.7 pounds (770 g)
- Battery Backup – Average battery backup
- Operating System – Windows
- Stylus (Surface Pen) – Needs to be purchased separately (Amazon)
If you want the flexibility that comes with a desktop operating system in a portable form factor – the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (Amazon) is the perfect choice for you.
There is also a smaller and cheaper variant of Surface Pro called Microsoft Surface Go 2 (Amazon), that you can check out – if you want something even smaller and cheaper.
7. Samsung Galaxy flex – 2 in 1 portable laptop/ tablet combo with S-Pen support
Our next device is technically not a tablet, but it has all the properties and features that you would normally see on a tablet.
It is compact, has a stylus, comes with long battery life, and has an overall sleek, modern, and minimalistic design.
We believe that Samsung Galaxy Flex can be a great option for anyone looking for a portable drawing device.
There are two main benefits of this setup.
- One, you get a great stylus experience, it may be one of the best stylus experiences on a laptop.
- Second, since it is a full laptop, you get a powerful processor, and combined with the windows 10 operating system – you can use any popular drawing, modeling or design application of your choice.
The Galaxy Flex has a portable form factor and a very slim design. It comes with a beautiful and bright 12.3-inch QLED screen with narrow bezels on the top and sides.
In terms of overall appeal, the laptop is made of metal and has diamond-cut edges that give it a very sleek and premium look and feel.
One very interesting thing to note about this laptop is – it has an inbuilt storage slot for the S Pen. This is a very well-thought-out feature, it makes sure you have the stylus with you at all the time.
The laptop is available in multiple variants with different processor and RAM options. For expandable storage, it has a micros-SD card slot.
- Size – 13.3 inches or 15.6 inches QLED
- Resolution – 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
- Color Accuracy – 100 % sRGB
- Weight – 2.56 pounds (71.16 Kg)
- Battery Backup – Great battery backup (20 hrs)
- Operating System – Windows
- Stylus – Comes free with the device
Overall the Samsung Galaxy Flex is for artists who are debating between getting a laptop vs getting a tablet for drawing.
It provides a two in one solution and excels in both – begin a laptop as well as being a portable drawing tablet.
8. Microsoft Surface Book 3 – laptop with a detachable tablet
Microsoft has been hard at work lately, pushing out unique devices one after another.
The next device is basically a Windows-powered tablet with S Pen Support. But it has a keyboard base that snaps to the tablet and converts it into a laptop.
The tablet portion of the device houses the processor as well as all the other electronic components.
The keyboard unit contains a bigger battery as well as a powerful external GPU for the added boost of power when you need it.
The Surface Book 3 is available in both 13 and 15-inch variants.
It comes with multiple RAM, storage, and CPU options that you can customize as per your needs on the order page (Amazon).
For artists looking for a portable drawing device, the tablet supports both the Microsoft Surface Pen as well as the surface Dial.
The Surface Stylus is the same that comes with the other Microsoft devices and is a very capable stylus with great palm rejection.
The surface dial is a cylindrical device that physically rotates and allows you to change things like the size of your brush, layers, colors as well as perform actions like changing between brush and eraser, Undo, Redo, etc…
- Size – 13.3 inches or 15.6 inches
- Resolution – 3000 x 2000
- Color Accuracy – 100 % sRGB
- Battery Backup – Average Battery backup
- Operating System – Windows
- Stylus – Surface Pen & Surface Dial, needs to be purchased separately
It is important to know that the box just comes with the Surface Book 3, the Surface Pen (Amazon), and the Surface Dial are sold separately.
All the drawing tablets featured on our list bring something unique to the tablet.
After going through all the options, you may already have selected a few tablets in your mind.
This buyer’s guide will help you narrow down your choices to one or two potential candidates.
With that said, here are some of the most important areas to look for and compare when selecting the right portable drawing tablet for yourself.
The right Screen size for a portable tablet
The majority of the portable drawing tables are available in 10, 11, or 13-inch screen sizes.
Most people would agree that bigger is better when it comes to drawing tablets, but with the increase in size, you also start to lose on portability.
If you are someone who will often use these devices outdoors, go for smaller screen sizes – 10 or 11 inches in size preferably iPad or Android.
These smaller size iPad and Android tablets have well-optimized drawing apps that make good use of available screen space.
On the other hand, if you are someone who will mostly use these tablets on your desk or in and around your house, you can opt to go for larger 13 or 15-inch devices.
Resolution – Do you really need 4K?
All the drawing tables come with either a FullHD, QHD, or a 4K display.
Generally speaking, a higher resolution is always better. But when it comes to smaller screen sizes, most people won’t even be able to notice the difference unless they are specifically looking for it.
Our recommendation is, for any tablet less than 13 inches in size, a FullHD resolution is sufficient to get the job done.
If the screen is larger than 13 inches, only then you should look for either QHD or 4K resolution.
Keep in mind, higher resolution displays consume more power resulting in shorter battery life.
So in case you get the option to choose between a higher and lower resolution display in a tablet, make your decision considering the facts mentioned above.
In order to select the right colors and make better artwork, it is important that your screen displays accurate colors.
So while finalizing the tablet, we made sure all the tablets in our list have a bare minimum color accuracy of 99% sRGB color space.
Operating System is a big deal when we talk about drawing devices. The operating system determines what type off apps and software you can ring on that particular device.
iPad OS and Android devices are great for making digital artwork, photo editing, and color-correcting tasks but they fall short when it comes to Design and 3D modeling and sculpting.
Also, most of the standard desktop-grade drawing software has not yet made its way to Android and IOS devices.
Windows-powered devices, on the other hand, give you complete freedom to use any industry-standard software.
On a Windows-powered device, you can simultaneously do digital painting, design work as well as 3d modeling on a single device.
Stylus – Essential Drawing tool
The stylus is one of the most important parts of a tablet intended to be used as a drawing device. How good the performance of the stylus determines the drawing experience you will have with that tablet.
Pressure sensitivity is one of the important parts of a digital pen, it makes the strokes feel more natural and organic. In the last few years, we have seen almost all the stylus in the market come with pressure sensitivity.
Other than pressure sensitivity, some stylus also comes with tilt recognition. The tilt recognition allows you to do shading just like a real pencil by tilting the stylus while touching the tip on the surface.
All the styluses that we have talked about in this article support both pressure and tilt detection.
The latency of the stylus is determined by how fast the strokes from the stylus are displayed in the stylus. In old tablets, the latency use to be so bad that the stroke appeared a few seconds after you have drawn it.
But with the quicker processors, faster screen refresh rates, and better communication between stylus and tablet you get an amazingly fast response rate.
The Apple Pencil (iPad Pro) and the Samsung S Pen that comes with Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 are the two styluses that have the fastest response time of just 9ms.
A longer Battery life is one of those things that you have to have in a portable drawing device. Most of the tablets and portable computers mentioned in our list come with good battery life.
Most tablets can last up to 8 hours on the low end and more than 12 hours on the high end.
Fast charging is another feature to look for. Some of the tablets such as the Apple iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy s6, Surface Pro offer fast charging which makes recharging the tablet very fast and convenient.
Lastly, the Budget plays a huge role when determining which portable drawing tablet to take. Top of the line premium products comes with the latest-generation tech, faster processor, superior processors, and a lot of extra bells and whistles and that reflects in their price tag.
But you don’t always need a top of the line fully loaded tablet to draw. For example, the Apple iPad is available in multiple configurations.
The lowest configuration of the Apple iPad costs twice or three times less than the maxed-out version. In real-life usage, you still get comparable performance for the cheapest iPad variant.
Similarly, many other devices such as Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Book comes with multiple configurations and you can save a lot of money if you pick the right tablet according to your needs.
Did the article help you? Which portable tablet did you pick? Let us know in the comments.