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Stylus pens have gotten increasingly more precise in the last few generations of tablets, and can pick up even the finest lines you put down. For digital artists, designers, students, editors, even anyone putting together a presentation for the office, these are an invaluable tool for boosting productivity and making your work look great. Here’s what to know when searching for the right tablet with a stylus for you.
Tablets With Stylus Buying Guide
Here’s what you should keep in mind when buying your next tablet, including the tablet’s display, battery runtime and built-in features.
Stylus: Before even getting into the capabilities and sensitivity of a stylus, step one is to make sure it’s included with the tablet you’re eyeing. Not all of them are, like Apple, and to avoid disappointment, always double-check. Next is to look at the weight and sensitivity, which can vary — if you’ve got small hands, a heavy stylus isn’t ideal, especially when pinpoint accuracy is needed.
Display: A big, bright, colorful screen is always beneficial, but may not be necessary for what you’re doing, like note-taking and marking up PDFs. Ten inches should be fine for that, but if art and designing is your thing, go bigger. Figuring out if you really need that full HD display will save you money, too. A fully-laminated screen can make a big difference in perspective — without it can be confusing, and look like you’re drawing above the actual surface of the screen.
Battery: The big benefit of a tablet is portability, but if you’ll constantly need to be searching for a power source to refuel a weak battery, it becomes a pain that defeats the purpose. Especially for those who’ll be commuting and traveling, or like to work on the move, a long battery life is crucial — at least eight hours.
Stats: For art where you’ll be saving large files, storage always runs out faster than you expect, so go big — at the very least 128GB, or 64GB for notes. As for RAM, 3-4GB for smaller tasks and higher for major applications where you’ll be running multiple at once.
Extras: An extra external keyboard can be a game-changer for those who really don’t like typing out letters on the tablet screen. And if you’ll need to use an Adobe application like Photoshop or Illustrator, make sure it’s supported on the tablet’s OS.
What Are the Best Tablets With a Stylus?
We found the best tablets worth your money, from brands like LG, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft.
1. Apple iPad Air 4
We chose this one for its eye-popping resolution and super fast speed, thanks to Apple’s A14 Bionic chip with Neural Engine.
Though the Apple Pencil isn’t included here, it’s the best we tried. It’s incredibly precise to even the most minor strokes, and it’ll still work well when resting your palm on the screen. This features Full Pressure Sensitivity on the laminated 10.9-inch liquid retina display and up to 256GB of storage — not bad for a one pound tablet.
The pen plugs directly into the iPad charging port, and Adobe programs like Photoshop run flawlessly.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 11-inch Android Tablet
Samsung’s S-Pen is included here, and feels similar to writing on a notepad, with barely noticeable 9ms lag-time. It also doesn’t rely on battery or need to be charged up at all. The tablet runs Android 10 swiftly. Its refresh rate is great for gaming on the 11-inch display, and the build feels solid at 1.1 pounds.
This is awesome for artists of all kinds, as well as office tasks. And when your work is complete, simply store the pen in its designated spot in back.
3. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft’s slim Surface is excellent for writing, and can handle hand-drawing with intricate details and movements. That said, it works best for notes, particularly with the One Note app.
The pen glides beautifully on the 12.3-inch touchscreen, and the Intel Core processor works fast to keep up with even the biggest projects. This was among the lightest in its class, at under two pounds. Battery life is about 10.5 hours with normal usage, and charges up to near full in about an hour, making it perfect for commuters.
4. LG G Pad 5 10.1-inch
LG’s pad comes with a stylus pen featuring a mesh fiber tip for writing and drawing on the 10.1-inch display. At just over a pound, it’s lightweight enough to commute with or carry with you everywhere. The 8200mAh battery will last you all day (about 10 hours) from one charge.
5. Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition (32 GB)
Don’t count out the Kindle when it comes to pen-friendly tablets, especially this updated Paperwhite Signature Edition.
The screen stretches to 6.8″, keeping it compact to carry in a purse or even large pocket, while still being plenty big enough to comfortably operate wiith a stylus pen and read without eye-strain. The glare-free display works in full sun too, making it ideal for the beach or basically any lighting, and 17 LEDs underneath provide a brightness and warmth to your perfect settings. There’s plenty of storage – 32GB, upgraded from the original’s 8GB – to keep thousands of books and audio files, with free cloud storage for all Amazon content, and it’s also IPX8 waterproof for those accidental drops in the pool or even bathtub.
The new Paperwhite is also now capable of supporting wireless charging (or fully fueling up in around 2 hours with a 9W wired charger), and can operate fully wireless over 2.4 or 5GHz – no computer or cellular signal needed. With minimal use, a single charge can stretch up to 10 weeks – plenty of time to finish your summer reading.
6. BOOX Note Air2 Plus
This was among the most natural feeling note-taking we experienced with a tablet. The stylus pen effortlessly glides on the 10.3-inch HD Carta screen, picking up every detail and being especially excellent for drawing and sketching, at 227ppi resolution, but ideal for writing too.
It’s easy to stay organized from the start, thanks to the the option of different note-taking templates, even layering them like you would in a Photoshop project. Selecting your most-used tools is simple, as you can dock them to the top menu for anytime access. This runs on Android 11, and despite all its capabilities, still remains slim at 5.8mm thickness. There’s a built-in speaker, as well as a mic, for capturing your own ideas or recording meetings to back up your notes. Plus sharing your files are quick and cloud storage is included too.