Best iPad for Graphic Designers iMore 2021
Graphic designers have a few choices when it comes to purchasing an Apple iPad. Our No. 1 choice is the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which offers the largest display you can buy with the best internals. It works with the second-generation Apple Pencil so that you can create anytime you'd like. 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 Alternative: iPad Air (2020)
- Best Budget Choice: iPad (2020)
- Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
Best Overall: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020)
The well-received 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 our runner-up, the 11-inch iPad Pro, this model supports the second 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 iPads 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. 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. A fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro could arrive very soon and almost certainly replace this model in Apple's retail stores.
- Largest iPad available
- Works with second-generation Apple Pencil
- Could soon be replaced
- Not much different than the 2018 model
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. And rumors continue to swirl new iPad Pro models are arriving very soon.
- Easy to travel
- Same internals as the larger model
- Includes Face ID, Apple Pencil support
- Still expensive
- Replacement could be incoming
- Again, not much different than the earlier model
Best Alternative: iPad Air (2020)
The iPad Air (2020) is our best iPad overall overall. It brings many of the same features found on the iPad Pro series but for a little bit less, including support for the second-generation Apple Pencil.
Apple's first colorful tablet, the iPad Air (2020), is available silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue with 64GB or 256GB of storage. Inside is an A14 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture and a Neural Engine. Together, it's one of the fastest and efficient tablets ever produced. The same chip is found in the iPhone 12 series.
The No. 1 reason we consider the iPad Air (2020) the best iPad for reading is the impressive display. Measuring 10.9-inches diagonal, the LED‑backlit Multi‑Touch display comes with IPS technology with a 2360-by-1640-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (PPI). The screen also features a Wide color display (P3) with True Tone, making it easy on the eyes, regardless of the time. The display is fully laminated with an anti-reflective coating, which is great for protection. And yet, the coating does not make it easier to use outside with bright sunshine. But, it's much better than our budget choice, the iPad (2020), which doesn't have this coating.
The iPad Air (2020) is also the first Apple tablet to feature a fingerprint identity sensor and Touch ID built into the top button. It also supports Apple's Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. Finally, like all current-generation iPads, the iPad Air (2020) promises up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi or watching a video and up to 9 hours of surﬁng the web using a cellular data network.
- Screen with anti-reflective coating
- Latest internals
- Works with the second Apple Pencil
- Pricey compared to the iPad (2020)
- Could be overkill for some
Best Budget Choice: iPad (2020)
There will always be the singularly named iPad. First introduced in 2010, what we will always consider the traditional iPad is now in its eighth-generation. It's now the budget choice in Apple's tablet lineup, which currently features the iPad Air (2020), iPad mini (2019), and iPad Pro series (2020).
For nearly half the iPad Air (2020) price, the iPad (2020) includes a 10.2-inch display and up to 128GB of storage. It, along with the iPad mini (2019), includes a traditional Touch ID, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and the Smart Keyboard. Inside, you'll find an aging A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine.
As noted, the 2020 iPad Air's feature-rich display is the reason it's the best iPad for reading. The 2020 iPad's inferior display is the main reason we didn't give it the title. Instead of a Liquid Retina display, it includes a regular LED-backlit Retina display with Multi‑Touch and IPS technology with a 2160-by-1620 resolution at 264 PPI. It also includes a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Missing is the Wide color display (P3), and True Tone found on every other iPad, making it more difficult to read and perform everyday tasks at night.
The iPad (2020) isn't a bad tablet, and price alone is what makes it very popular. Therefore, if money is the biggest factor in making your selection, buy it and start making new creations! Otherwise, spend some extra and get the iPad Air (2020).
- Excellent price
- Nice display
- Only supports first-generation Apple pencil
- No True Tone
Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the iPad mini is an aging tablet with the same internals as the now-discontinued third-generation iPad Air. This includes an A12 chip, a True Tone display, and first-generation Apple Pencil support. It's available in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities.
Rumors suggest Apple
- Much like the current iPad Air, but with a smaller display
- It's easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Pricey for its size
- No Smart Connector support
- About to get canceled?
Best iPad for graphic designers
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 the best iPad for graphic designers. The all-display tablet includes an A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine and an embedded M12 coprocessor. It supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and includes a USB-C port.
However, this tablet is going to cost you. Plus, with rumors new iPad Pro models are coming, it might not be available for much longer.
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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