Best iPad for Graphic Designers iMore 2020
Graphic designers have a few choices when it comes to purchasing an Apple iPad. Our No. 1 choice is the fourth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which offers the largest display you can buy with the best internals. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020)
- Runner Up: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
- Best Value: iPad Air (2019)
- Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
- Best Alternatives: 11-inch iPad Pro (2018) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2018)
Best Overall: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020)
Now in its fourth-generation, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020) is Apple's largest and most feature-packed tablet to date. Featuring an all-screen design that's also shared with the 11-inch iPad Pro, this model supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and comes with an A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and embedded M12 coprocessor.
The Liquid Retina display features industry-leading color accuracy that generates smooth, distortion-free edges. Throw in True Tone, which automatically adjusts the white balance to make the screen look more natural, and it's clear this is the best choice for creatives.
The 2020 iPad Pro models are the first to include a LiDAR Scanner. Though not necessarily for graphic designers, the feature works with the device's pro cameras, motion sensors, and frameworks to measure depth. This combination makes iPad Pro great for augmented reality.
Do you need more reasons to select this tablet? The latest iPad Pro includes ProMotion technology that adjusts the display's refresh rate based on what you're doing. In doing so, it offers the most responsive performance possible, which is easy to recognize when illustrating or playing a game.
Two reasons not to consider this tablet: The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the most expensive Apple tablet to date, with prices ranging from $999 to $1,899, depending on your configuration. Also: A third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is nearly the same and now at a discounted price (see below).
- Largest iPad available
- Works with second-generation Apple Pencil
- Not much different than the 2018 model
The largest and best you can buy
When you want a lot of space and the best internals, this is the tablet to buy.
Runner Up: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
If you love everything about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro but its large size, there's the second-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. This tablet has the same internals as our top pick but within a smaller footprint. Inside, you'll find a blazing-fast A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine.
Like the larger iPad, the 11-inch iPad Pro is expensive, ranging in price from $799 to $1,699. And like the larger model, the 11-inch iPad Pro (2020) isn't that much different than the previous model, which is now being offered at a discount (see below)
- Easy to travel
- Same internals as the larger model
- Includes Face ID, Apple Pencil support
- Still expensive
- Again, not much different than the earlier model
More portable choice
If you feel overwhelmed by the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but want the same specs, this is the iPad you should consider.
Best Value: iPad Air (2019)
Offering an A12 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine, and embedded M12 coprocessor, the third-generation iPad Air packs a punch for much less than the iPad Pro lineup. Featuring a 10.5-inch display, the tablet is a terrific choice for creatives looking for a new tablet on a budget. The iPad Air supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, which makes it possible to sketch, draw, and design with ease.
On the downsize, the iPad Air maxes out at 256GB versus 1TB for the iPad Pro models. If you plan on saving lots of design work on your tablet. Plus, a 2020 model could arrive soon. These are crucial points to keep in mind.
- Good price
- Screen with anti-reflective coating
- Limited internals versus Pro models
- Only supports 1st generation Apple Pencil
- Could soon be replaced
Do you feel the Air?
Apple's newest iPad Air is packed full of features and enhancements and comes highly recommended.
Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
On the day Apple revealed the third-generation iPad Air, it also introduced the first new iPad mini since 2015. Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the iPad mini, includes nearly everything you can find on the latest iPad Air, but in a smaller body.
The 7.9-inch tablet has the same A12 chip for better performance, a True Tone display, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and also comes in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities.
- Much like the current iPad Air, but with a smaller display
- Easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Pricey for its size
- No Smart Connector support
Best for Portability
The small one
When convenience and portability matter, consider the 7.9-inch iPad mini.
Best Alternatives: 11-inch iPad Pro (2018) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2018)
The third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and first-generation 11-inch iPad are very similar to the newer models. Both, however, ship without a LiDAR Scanner and come with an A12X Bionic chip. Watch for discounts for this 2-year-old models.
- Nearly the same as 2020 models
- Works with second-generation Apple Pencil
- Two years old
Nearly the best you can buy
Look for an impressive deal on either of these 2018 iPad Pro models. You'll save a lot of money and still get a terrific high-end tablet
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020) is Apple's largest and most feature-rich tablet to date. Because of this, it's our choice for best iPad for graphic designers. The all-display tablet includes an A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine and embedded M12 coprocessor. It supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and includes a USB-C port.
Keep in mind, however, this tablet is going to cost you. However, because it's a 2020 model, it's going to stick around for a while. Regardless, happy drawing!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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