Over the years – Apple iPad Pro has established itself as a go-to choice amongst the digital artist’s community.
But the competition is catching up fast. Samsung has been hard at work over the past few years, incrementally improving their tablets and stylus – year after year.
With Galaxy Tab S8, Samsung has finally done it and matched (or even surpassed in some areas) the capabilities of the Apple iPad Pro.
If you are an artist and looking to get these tablets, this Apple iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comparison is specifically made from a viewpoint of a digital artist.
Here we will discuss all the differences these tablets offer and how they translate to real-life drawing experiences.
By the end of this Apple iPad Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comparison, you will know exactly which tablet to get.
Features comparison: iPad Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series
iPad Pro comes in two variants, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series is available in three variants.
Here is a quick comparison between all the variants of the iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S8 series.
(Note for mobile users: Pan left/right to see the whole table)
|Apple iPad Pro
Tab S8 Ultra
|247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
|280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
|326.4 x 208.5 x 5.58 mm
|285 x 184.9 x 5.58 mm
|253.7 x 165.3 x 6.35 mm
|2388 x 1668 p
|2732 x 2048 p
|2960 x 1848
|2800 x 1752 p
|2560 x 1600
|PPI (pixels per inch)
|101% sRGB (natural mode)
157.8% sRGB (vivid mode)
|101% sRGB (natural mode)
157.8% sRGB (vivid mode)
(comprable to iPad)
|Display Refresh Rate
1600 nits peak
|Stylus included in the box
|Stylus Response Time
|Expandable SD Card
(Up to 1 TB)
(Up to 1 TB)
(Up to 1 TB)
(on power button)
|Rear: 12MP & 10MP
|Rear: 12MP & 10MP
|Rear: 13MP & 6MP
Front: 12MP & 12 MP Ultrawide
|Rear: 13MP & 6MP
|Rear: 13MP & 6MP
|WiFi + Cellular (optional)
|WiFi + Cellular (optional)
|WiFi + Cellular (optional)
|WiFi + Cellular (optional)
Design and build quality
People buy tablets for their larger screens. The larger screens allow for a larger device footprint, giving more space for internal components to spread out.
This allows these tablets to have an incredibly thin profile. In fact these two tablets are some of the thinnest devices in the market.
Here is the thickness of the different models of the tablet. (excluding the camera bump)
- Apple iPad Pro (11 and 12.9 inches) – 5.9 millimeters
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus and Ultra – 5.58 millimeters
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (base variant) – 6.35 millimeters
This is crazy thin, here is a photograph to demonstrate how thin these devices actually are.
These tablets are so thin that there is a possibility of them bending when pressure is applied.
To stop that from happening, and provide structural rigidity – both the iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 come with a metallic unibody design.
In spite of the thin profile, the tablet has a very dense and hefty feel due to the metallic exterior body and tightly packed internal components.
Holding these tablets in hand, you do feel like you are using a premium device, which is good.
Display Analysis: Premium price -> Premium display
For normal multimedia consumption – a normal run-of-the-mill display is good enough for the task.
But when it comes to things like making digital art, animation, or any creative task, having a high-quality, color-accurate display is essential.
The good news is both the Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 are equipped with some of the best displays on the market.
With that said, different models of the iPad Pro and the Galaxy Tab S8 come with different display technologies.
AMOLED screen on Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus & ultra vs mini-LED screen on iPad Pro 12.9
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus (Amazon) and Ultra models come with Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen.
In AMOLED screens, each individual pixel has its own light. In this way, you can completely turn off life when you want black pixels – giving you unmatched contrast levels.
Samsung themselves makes these screens and these screens are the best display panels in the world.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch model comes with their newer mini-LED screen.
Instead of a backlight found in most screens, a mini-LED screen has a LED matrix that can be individually controlled and turned off to produce better black regions.
The mini-LED is not as good as Samsung’s AMOLED screen in terms of contrast levels, but unlike AMOLED screens – the mini-LED screen does not suffer pixel degradation over time.
In real-life usage, the iPad Pro’s display is very similar to Samsung’s screen in terms of contrast levels and Samsung’s AMOLED screens are not as prone to pixel degradation.
Overall, realistically you can say both tablets are equally good when it comes to display quality.
So no matter whether you go with 12.9 inch Apple iPad Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus/ Ultra, you will be more than happy with the screen.
Which is a better display size for a drawing tablet
The size of the tablet has a huge effect on your drawing experience.
Smaller tablets are lighter, easy to carry and manage whereas larger displays provide better immersion.
Based on their screen sizes, tablets can be divided into 4 categories.
Generally speaking, tablets that are less than 9 inches are considered “small” such as the iPad mini.
10 and 11-inch tablets come under the medium category. In our case, the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 11-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 fall into the medium category.
12 and 13-inch tablets such as 12.9 inch Apple iPad Pro and the 12.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus come under the large category.
Lastly, anything above 13 inches comes under the extra large category.
The massive 14.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra comes under this category. In fact, this is the largest tablet in the market and has a screen that is larger than 13 and 14 inch laptops.
For most artists, an 11-inch tablet is the perfect middle ground between size and practicality.
It is small enough to carry with you, they even fit inside sling bags/shoulder bags and purses and can be comfortably used in small spaces like airplane seats.
They weigh around 1 pound (~500 grams) allowing you to use’em handheld for longer durations.
The larger screen gives you a larger canvas resulting in a superior drawing experience.
Also, the screen of both 12.9 inch iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is an upgrade from their respective base 11-inch models.
Using and managing these larger tablets in tight spaces will be difficult and they won’t fit inside compact bags, you will likely need a backpack.
Finally, if you are someone who mostly works on a desk setup and does not need to carry your tablet outdoors very often, the massive 14.6-inch Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra may be the right size for you.
Think of it like a 13/14 inch laptop with a slim body.
Role of aspect ratio
The aspect ratio is one of those lesser talked about features that doesn’t get the attention they deserve.
It is the ratio between the width and height of the screen.
Most computer (laptop/monitor) screens come with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Well 16:9 aspect is good for content consumption, for productivity-related tasks such as digital art, it is better to have a more of a square-ish screen.
All the models of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series have an aspect ratio of 16:10, which is slightly better than the 16:9 aspect ratio found on most computer screens.
The 11-inch iPad Pro (Amazon) on the other hand has an aspect ratio of 1.43:3, whereas the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a 4:3 aspect ratio.
In other words, the screen on the iPad is taller and squarish screen shape – and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series has a wider-rectangular screen.
I personally prefer the aspect ratio of iPad Pro. When drawing vertically (portrait orientation), you will really appreciate the slightly taller height on iPad Pro.
The good thing is, as you can see in the image above (screen size/ratio comparison) you get multiple different sizes and you can pick as per your preferences and your personal use case.
Resolution and PPI (pixel per inch)
The sharpness of the display is determined by how many pixels it has. PPI which stands for Pixel Per Inch is a measure of pixel density of the screen.
So more pixels within an area, the better it is.
All the tablets mentioned in this comparison have equally good pixel density. Images on all the screens are super sharp and crisp.
Image quality (Color accuracy and contrast)
Having a color-accurate screen is incredibly important for digital artists.
A lot of creative decision we make during our drawing workflow is based on the color and how the color interacts with the surrounding stuff in the artwork.
Having the screen show inaccurate colors can really mess up your final results or make your artwork look different (oversaturated/desaturated) when looked at on another screen.
Both the models of Apple iPad Pro represent colors accurately on their screens.
Samsung on the other hand has a tendency to oversaturate the colors, especially in the vivid mode. We suggest you use the “nature mode” display settings on your Galaxy Tab S8 for true-to-life colors on your screen.
Overall, both tablets are equally good.
If color is the most important factor for you, you should avoid the 11-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8.
It has a TFT LCD screen – and the color on this tablet is not on par with the color accuracy of other tablets on this comparison.
A higher refresh rate is one of the integral parts of a tablet.
Normal display monitors come with a refresh rate of 60Hz. This means in order to form an image the screen refreshes itself (updates its contents) 60 times in a second.
Apple iPad Pro as well as Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comes with a refresh rate of 120Hz.
This results in a smoother animation and a buttery-smooth tablet experience.
It also massively affects your stylus experience and makes the lines drawn by the stylus appear incredibly fast on your screens with no apparent lag.
Brightness (lowest brightness)
Looking at your screen in a bright environment or outdoors can be difficult as they appear dim.
Having high brightness levels on the screen is preferred as it allows you to comfortably see your screen outdoors without squinting.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series has a max brightness in the range of 450 to 500 nits. This is good enough for bright indoor conditions but not ideal for outdoor usage.
The 11-inch iPad Pro is a little better, as it has 600 nits of brightness.
But the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the only tablet whose screen is visible even under direct sunlight.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and it goes up to 1600 nits of peak brightness when viewing HDR content.
Low brightness for dark environment
Everyone talks about the peak brightness levels of the screen. But I often find myself drawing on the tablet in very dim environment.
Although both Apple and Samsung tablets have comfortably low – lowest brightness settings for the dark. But the iPad goes a step further.
Samsung does not offer any similar ultra-low brightness mode by default.
All the tablets mentioned in this comparison have excellent palm rejection. You will not have accidental touches while drawing with the stylus.
The surface of the drawing tablet come in two types
A Glossy surface is smooth and good for touch-based applications. But when using a stylus over its surface the plastic tip of the stylus slips too much on the smooth glass surface.
That is why most of the traditional digital drawing tablets such as Wacom, come with textured matte surface finishes.
The textured surface provides slight resistance to the stylus resulting in a more controlled pen movement. The textured surface along with the scratchy sound it produces replicates the feeling of drawing on paper with a graphite pencil.
Both Apple and Samsung tablets come with glossy screens. Now some artists prefer this over the textured matte finish, if you are one of them, good for you.
For people who like to draw on texture surfaces like myself, they can get a Textured plastic film (which is very cheap by the way). The matte textures film is available for all tablets.
One of the demerits of the matte textured surface is they interfere a little with colors on the screen and the resulting content is not as vibrant as a glossy screen.
Stylus – 2nd Gen. Apple Pencil vs Samsung S Pen
As a digital artist, a stylus is the centerpiece of your drawing equipment.
Your drawing experience on the tablet massively depends on how good the stylus is.
Ideally, you want a stylus with good pen tracking, and pressure-sensing capabilities, one that is reliable and draws consistently predictable strokes every single time.
Apple as well as Samsung has been making styluses for quite a while now.
Apple Pencil is widely accepted by artists as the best digital stylus in the market.
Samsung S Pen on the other hand has been coming up with newer and better styluses year after year.
With the latest iteration, the s pen stylus that comes with the Galaxy tab S8 is just as good as the Apple Pencil.
Starting from the basics, the pressure sensitivity on Apple Pencil as well as Samsung S Pen feels incredibly good. They respond well to the slightest pressure changes allowing you to draw intricate strokes.
The same goes for tilt sensitivity, it works as expected.
The Samsung S Pen has a physical button on the side that allows making quick changes such as undo-redo, and switching between pen and eraser – this is very handy while drawing.
Apple Pencil has a similar shortcut tool on its stylus but instead of a button, they use a touch sensor, where you tap twice to activate it.
The touch button on Apple Pencil and the physical button on S Pen both work equally well. You can change the shortcut setting of these buttons in the pen settings.
Overall, it is safe to say there is essentially no difference between the drawing capabilities of the S Pen and the Apple Pencil, as an artist you will have an equally good time with either one of these.
Stylus response rate
Apple has been at the top of the chain when it comes to the responsiveness and response rate of its styluses.
The quicker the pen responds to your moments, the more engaging your drawing experience becomes.
(slow motion footage to demonstrate stylus latency)
The response rate of the stylus is determined by how quickly the stylus and the tablet are able to read process and display the pen data back to the screen.
The refresh rate of the screen also plays a big role in this.
Apple pencil has a latency as low as 9ms, which is extremely quick.
This is the area where the past generation S Pens have fallen behind, they were simply not as fast and responsive as Apple Pencil.
But the S Pen that comes with Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 has surpassed the Apple Pencil iPad Pro combo as – the latest S Pen comes with an incredible latency of 2.8 milliseconds.
On paper, these fast numbers sound amazing, but in real day-to-day usage, you are not gonna notice the difference unless you are comparing these tablets side by side and specifically looking for the response rate of these pens.
Charging and storage
The Apple Pencil magnetically sticks to the side of the iPad Pro where it charges wirelessly.
Samsung S pen on the other hand sticks to the back of the Galaxy Tab S8 magnetically and charges wirelessly.
In addition to sticking to the back, the S pen can also be placed at the top right edge of the tablet.
In case your Apple Pencil is out of battery, it supports quick charging where you get hours of charge by sticking the pen to the side for just two minutes.
An interesting fact about the Samsung S Pen is that – the pen section of the S Pen does not require batteries in order to work.
It uses Wacom’s EMR technology where it takes its power wirelessly from the tablet itself and does not need batteries.
However, the S Pen also has other function such as air gestures which requires batteries to function.
Apple Pencil comes with a hard nib whereas the S Pen comes with a nib that has a soft material at the very tip.
The soft tip of the S Pen feels a bit squishy and feels good to draw and write with.
But some people really like the harder nib of Apple Pencil, so I’d say – which stylus feels better depends on your personal preference.
The pointed nib of the Apple Pencil as well as the Samsung S Pen gets blunt and damaged over prolonged usage.
On normal daily usage, the nib of the Apple Pencil last north of one year (or more depending on your usage).
The S Pen nib gets damaged a bit sooner.
The good news is the nibs of both these styluses are removable and Samsung and Apple sell replacements on their official stores.
Comfort shape and ergonomics of Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen
So far we have seen Apple Pencil and S Pen are equally good in terms of technical features and their drawing capabilities.
Their physical design is one of the only major differences between them.
Both styluses come with a cylindrical body with a flat edge which provides a flat surface to magnetically stick to the tablet.
The flat surface houses the button and the wireless charging components.
Comparing both, Apple Pencil is slightly thicker, longer, and havier than the S Pen.
Even though both of them are made of plastic but still Apple Pencil feels more substantial and sturdy in hand.
Samsung S Pen is thin, lightweight, and nimble. Plus unlike Apple Pencil (Amazon) where you need to pull out extra benjamins (cash), S Pen comes free in the box included with every S8 series tablet.
Performance comparison: Apple iPad Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series
Modern drawing applications come with incredibly advanced features, which require a ton of processing power and onboard memory to run things smoothly.
Both Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series come with leading mobile processors.
iPad Pro comes with Apple’s M2 processor, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comes with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Processors.
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
(lower is better)
|40% faster in most task
Comparing the two processors – the Apple M2 Processor clearly proves to be better than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, in terms of processing as well as graphics performance.
But in real-life usage, the Apple M2 processor is kind of overkill (Afterall, M2 is the same chip used in Apple’s Pro lineup of laptops).
Unless you are performing tasks such as 3D scanning using lidar cameras and working with 3d modeling in apps such as forger – you do not need this much power.
Both tablets have more than enough power to handle large drawing projects, high-resolution files as well as heavy texture brushes with relative ease.
Operating system – An important factor
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series of tablets run on Android whereas the Apple iPad Pro comes with iPadOS.
As an artist – the operating system plays a big role as it determines which apps are available in your arsenal.
Android has come a long way from what it used to be in terms of the availability of good drawing apps.
As an artist, it is a good idea to check out reviews of some apps on both platforms and decide which OS (by extension which tablet) to get.
Apple iPad Pro as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comes with really power-efficient processors. Combined with larger battery sizes, all these tablets last a fairly long time.
Here are the battery capacities of all the tablets models
- 11-inch Apple iPad Pro – 7812 mAh
- 12.9 inch Apple iPad Pro – 9720 mAh
- 11 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 – 8000 mAh
- 12.4 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus – 10090 mAh
- 14.6 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – 11200 mAh
You may notice, tablets with larger sizes have more space for larger batteries, resulting in bigger battery capacity.
But larger tablets have larger screens, which results in more battery consumption.
Overall, the battery backup of each tablet is very similar to each other.
Now, if you specifically ask how long the battery lasts – it is difficult to answer as it depends on your usage.
As per my personal experience, the battery on my 11-inch iPad lasts a full day on heavy-handed use, but it can last up to two days on light usage.
You can expect a similar battery experience from other tablets on the list.
The power brick (charger) situation
On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series tablets are capable of 45 Watts of fast charging, whereas the iPad Pro can charge up to 30 watts.
One of the annoying things about Apple is, even though iPad Pro is capable of fast charging up to 30 W (watts), you are limited to 18W because that is the wattage of the charger included in th box.
Optionally, If you want 30 W fast charging you need to pay extra and get Apple’s fast charger – sold separately.
Things get even worse in the case of Samsung, as there is no charger included in the box. It just comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable. You need to buy a charging brick in order to use the tablet.
Storage options, connectivity, and ports
All the tablets models in this comparison come with multiple variants with different storage options.
When you compare the models with smaller vs larger storage space, the difference in price is quite high.
For those who are going with Samsung tablets, the good news is, Samsung tablet comes with an SD card slot, where you can insert SD card for more storage.
These SD cards are way cheaper than onboard higher storage variants.
In addition to that, you also have the option to connect a wired or wireless hard drive to your tablet.
Both Apple and Samsung tables support hard drive/ pen drive based external storage options. You can connect the storage drives using the USB-C port present on both these tablets.
It is important to note that, other than USB-C connector, there are no other ports on both the tablet. Not even the headphone jack.
Cameras are very useful for digital artists as it helps you take reference images and make photo collages to get inspired by.
Here is the camera setup of Apple and Samsung tablets
Camera performance on tablets of both brands is very comparable. You get high-quality images every single time.
The colors on the Samsung cameras are punchier whereas on iPad Pro colors on images are neutral and true to life.
The video quality on iPad Pro is superior to the video quality on Galaxy Tab S8.
In addition to the cameras, iPad Pro also comes with a Lidar scanner which helps with photogrammetry. If you are a 3d modeler or work with 3d in general, you may find this really useful.
The lidar scanner also helps with better AR (augmented reality).
Speakers – background music for the perfect ambiance
Tablets have in general larger internal space for components which allows them to have larger high-quality speaker systems inside them.
All the models of the tablets in this comparison come with a stereo sound system which consists of 4 speakers present at four corners of the tablet.
The sound output you get out of them is loud, crisp, and punchy. It is good enough to replace your mini handheld external speakers.
If you are an audiophile, you will know that the speaker of iPad Pro is a tad bit better than Samsung. But overall, they are very comparable and you will have a great listening experience on both of these tablets.
Connecting to the monitor (Dex Mode) and Keyboard accessory
Samsung tablets come with Samsung Dex mode where you can connect the tablet to your monitor vis USB-C cable and the tablet essentially works as a desktop.
The Dex mode has a desktop-like user interface and comes with features such as multi-window management.
iPad Pro also connects to your monitor but it is nowhere as useful as the Samsung Dex mode.
Both tablets have a Keyboard accessory (which very expensive by the way) that allows these tablets to have a keyboard and touchpad and feel like a laptop.
If you type a lot, this can be incredibly useful.
User interface for smaller screens
If you have noticed carefully, most of the drawing applications whether it is Photoshop or Krita have a very complex user interface that fills a huge portion of the screen with UI elements, buttons, and settings.
While this might not be an issue when you are working with 16, 21, 24, or 27-inch screens as you still have a lot of space as a drawing area.
But since iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 can be as small as 11 inches or lesser, the amount of available space for drawing is low.
Most of the drawing apps for Android and iPadOS have designed their user interface to maximize the working area and take a minimum amount of space for buttons and settings.
In these apps, the options and menus appear and disappear as and when needed – always freeing up valuable drawing space.
Due to this clever design, you get an excellent overall drawing experience in spite the smaller screen size.
Final thoughts (TL;DR): Which tablet should you get as a digital artist?
We are almost at the end of the comparison and so far we have looked into everything from design to operating system. Here are some of the main differences to look out for.
• Design and build quality – same.
• The Stylus
Equally good drawing performance, a similar set of features including wireless charging, magnetically attaching to the tablets as well as programmable button/touch button on the side.
Main difference – Shape and ergonomics, S Pen has a soft tip – Apple Pencil has a hard tip
Also, Apple pencil sticks (magnetically) to the top edge of the iPad whereas the S-Pen sticks to the top edge as well as the backside.
• The display
Equally good color, resolution, and sharpness.
Apple iPads are brighter.
Main difference – Aspect ratio. iPads have more of a square-ish shape, compared to the rectangular shape of Samsung Tab S8 tablets.
• Operating system
iPadOS has some high-quality iPad-only drawing applications.
Samsung tablets with their Android OS have some good options as well, they are just a step behind iPadOS.
Whether this difference affects you or not depends on which drawing apps you like to use, and whether they are available on the Apple or Android app store or not.
• Expandable storage
Samsung with its removable SDcard slot takes the lead in this category. This allows you to increase your storage space as and when needed.
Apple iPad Pro does not have any such option. Although you can plug in external hard drives via USB-C port.
• Cameras and speakers – Same (very much comparable)