Finding the Best Tablet with a Stylus

Contents

For those looking for the advanced features and capabilities a tablet can offer, adding and integrating a stylus into both your work flow and general day to day usage, can dramatically increase its functionality.

Suitable for anyone from a digital artists looking for more than just drawing features, to professional and genera leisure users who require an adaptive powerful portable tool, a tablet and stylus bridge the gap between convenience and performance.

In this article, we discuss and review our favorite (and best) tablets with a stylus on the market, aiming to provide a clear sense and direction of where to begin your product search.

What is the best tablet with a stylus?

Firstly for speed and efficiency we have reviewed and shortlisted the below top 7 products that form a list of what we consider to be the best tablets with a stylus currently available on the market today:

Best Overall Winner: iPad Pro

Best Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Best Upgrade: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Best For Portability: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Best For Large Working Areas: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Best Dedicated Digital Drawing Display: Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet

Best Tablet & Stylus For Drawing: Wacom Intuos Pro

In a hurry?

For those in a hurry, the below shortlist provides a quick overall summary of our selected top 3 tablets with styluses. For further information, scroll down to our product review and specification section…

Our pick

Apple 11-inch iPad Pro
Pros:
  • Excellent battery life.
  • High processing speed and performance.
  • High-resolution display.
  • Face ID.
  • Good response time.
Cons:
  • Lacks matte display.
  • No stylus pen supplied.
  • Expensive.
  • Limited external device support.
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The iPad Pro is our top pick for overall performance, portability and stylus functionality. It has fantastic features for a general purpose tablet, as well as high quality applications and hardware to support drawing. Combined with the Apple Pencil, its capabilities put it well ahead of the competition and open up a world of opportunity for professionals and artists through to the casual user.

Runner up

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Pros:
  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Awesome display and color accuracy
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Slow software 
  • A bit expensive
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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the iPad Pro of the Android world. It has great hardware capabilities, a beautiful display, and a stylus that is wonderful to work with. While the world of Android doesn’t have drawing apps nearly as good as those on iOS, they get better every day, and the Galaxy Tab S6 is built to take full advantage of what they have to offer and offer a great user experience.

Also very good

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Sharp and robust …this tablet builds upon Microsoft’s flagship 2-in-1 Windows tablets

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If you like to work in Windows, the Surface Pro 7 is a great tablet/laptop hybrid that gives you the best of both worlds. It can run professional software like Adobe Illustrator and Fresco at the level of a MacBook Pro 16 while maintaining the portability of a tablet.

Who is this page for?

This guide has been written for anyone who seeks a high performance tablet capable of both professional and leisure use. Whether you are a digital artist just starting out, or someone who travels and commutes for work, these tablets provide much of the same functionalities as a laptop whilst remaining highly portable, light, and versatile.

Not only do they come fully equipped with a stylus and fantastic drawing capabilities but they also allow users to efficiently and effectively take notes, sign e-documents, read and watch digital content, as well as general all purpose online use. Which is an area that many dedicated drawing and graphics tablets full short on, unless for example you are considering a standalone and portable drawing tablet.

In summary, we feel that the best all-round and overall winner of this tablet and stylus combination and category is the above and below iPad Pro, however as you can see from the roundups and reviews that follow, there are of course several other very good contenders all sitting at different price points.

…and you follow the links provided to check the latest prices

Product reviews – Winners

01 – iPad Pro – Overall Winner

Apple 11-inch iPad Pro
Pros:
  • Excellent battery life.
  • High processing speed and performance.
  • High-resolution display.
  • Face ID.
  • Good response time.
Cons:
  • Lacks matte display.
  • No stylus pen supplied.
  • Expensive.
  • Limited external device support.
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New Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 256GB) – Space Gray (4th Generation) Apple Computer

Dimensions: 11.54 x 8.9 x 1.97 inches | Display Area: 12.9 inches | Item Weight: 1.41 pounds | OS: iPad OS | CPU: Apple A12Z | RAM: 6 GB | Storage Capacity: 128 GB | Front Camera: Yes | Back Camera: Yes

Who is this for?

Considering all of the iPad Pro’s features, and when compared to a dedicated and professional drawing tablet (take the below Wacom Cintiq for example), this tablet and stylus provides an excellent platform for both beginners and hobbyists. It is of course a general all purpose tablet that is capable of much more than just drawing; users can expect to play HD videos, play games, enable professional workflows involving different document types, and even render AR.

For artists, it should be noted that the iPad Pro is not the perfect tablet for running production grade workflows, and it doesn’t have many standard professional drawing features.

But when looking for a general all-purpose tablet that just so happened to be suitable for drawing and graphic design, this is an fantastic choice, and it does a lot of things very well when combined with its high performing Apple Pencil and a sleek design.

Why we like it:

The biggest win for many Apple products, including the iPad Pro, is the aesthetics. This little baby is as sleek as they come. The shape is ergonomically designed, for both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, the screen is beautiful at 2732 x 2048 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, and a brightness of up to 600 nits. The screen also comes with special anti-reflective coating. This all adds up to a great viewing experience.

We also love the power on this little tablet. In many ways, it’s like having a mini computer in your hands. Sure, the A12Z processor is still based on A12 architecture, which is a year old, and is the same processing architecture in the iPad Air and the iPhone XS.

However, you get far more GPU in this model than any of these and it makes working with augmented reality wonderful. This is great for artists because you get to play around with augmented reality as part of your work.

You also get more RAM with this edition. At 6GB, it’s the most RAM on an iPad yet, so expect a very fast performance. In case you’re into video editing as part of your work, you will enjoy how well the processor handles multiple video streams at 4K resolution. 

One particular feature we’re in love with, as far as augmented reality is concerned, is the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system. This is the same as the technology self-driving cars and mapping vehicles use to detect objects and measure distances. In the iPad Pro, it helps to make for more accurate AR.

While it doesn’t come in the box with the iPad, our next favorite aspect about the iPad Pro is the second generation Apple Pencil. It is lightweight, classy, and useful for a lot more than just art. You can also use it with great graphics-related applications on the iPad, such as Procreate and Sketch. 

Flaws, but not dealbreakers:

There are a few things about the iPad Pro that some users may not like, though can probably still work with. For starters, the art-related applications on the iPad Pro aren’t meant for a production environment. It just can’t run high-end software.

Another problem we have is that the Apple Pencil does not support rotation. Tilt and rotation support are standard in professional drawing styluses, but the Apple Pencil only supports tilt.

While making angled brushes, they can only flow in one direction. If you want to change their direction, you will have to rotate the iPad itself. While we’re at it, the iPad Pro also lacks standard programmable buttons that are found on other tablets, although for some users this may be a plus.

The other great problem is cost. The starting price for the 11-inch iPad Pro is about $800. If you want the fully loaded version, that price can easily double, depending on where you buy the extra features.

That said, if you were looking for a high performance multi-purpose tablet and stylus, it’s hard to find anything better than the iPad Pro. It runs circles around the competition, and will serve far better than anything else currently on the market.

Pros

  • It is stylish
  • Includes AR technology
  • Apple Pencil performs very well

Cons

  • Can’t be used in production environment
  • Very expensive

02 – Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 – Runner up

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Pros:
  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Awesome display and color accuracy
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Slow software 
  • A bit expensive
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Samsung Galaxy Tab S6- 10.5″ 256GB, Wifi Tablet- SM-T860NZALXAR, Mountain Gray Samsung

Dimensions: 0.22 x 6.28 x 9.63 inches | Display Area: 10.5 inches | Item Weight: 1.68 pounds | OS: Android 9.0 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | RAM: 6 GB | Storage Capacity: 128 GB | Front Camera: Yes | Back Camera: Yes

Who is this for?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is often compared to and aptly named the iPad Pro of the Android world. It’s a great tablet and stylus combination for anyone looking for an introduction into the world of digital art, through to professionals that require a lightweight and mobile device.

We wouldn’t however recommend it for professional digital workflows, and certainly wouldn’t strictly put it above an iPad Pro in absolute terms. But there are certainly areas where it outperforms an iPad Pro …just not that many.

Overall, it makes more sense (and is probably more accurate) to say that it’s the best Android tablet with a stylus on the market.

Why we like it:

Considering the fact that this tablet was released in August of 2019, it’s rather impressive that it has continued to maintain its position as a top Android tablet. There are two available models, based mainly on storage and LTE capability. However, they both come with a stylus and they both have 6GB of RAM. They also both have a micro SD card slot if you want to have even more storage. 

We love the design of the Galaxy Tab S6. It has a thin profile and sleek bezel. It’s also very light at just 420 grams. You can easily hold it and use the stylus at the same time without becoming uncomfortable. It also has a thickness of 5.7mm, which is very good.

In terms of processing power, this tablet operates on a Snapdragon 855. We haven’t noticed any lag with the processor while using an S6, and that’s when we’ve got multiple applications running. 

The screen is far better than what you get on the iPad Pro. It’s a 10.5-inch OLED display. Of course, this is smaller than the 11-inch and 12.9-inch options for the iPad Pro, but the resolution is far higher.

You get 2560 x 1600 pixels, which allows you to watch 1440p YouTube videos. You can’t do that with an iPad Pro, by the way, because the video playing apps don’t have support for it. The colors are also vibrant, with incredible contrast levels.

The display on the Galaxy Tab S6 is laminated, which means there is no gap between the drawing surface and the actual screen. This reduces parallax significantly when you’re drawing with the stylus. 

Speaking of the stylus, the S Pen is a great stylus that has support for both tilt and pressure levels. It also doesn’t need a battery to use, though it does have a small battery for wireless features. There is also a neat slot in the back of the tablet where you can store the S Pen. It attaches magnetically to the slot, and the slot also charges the small battery in the stylus.

When you purchase the Galaxy Tab S6, you get two replacement nibs for the S Pen. There is a white one with a soft tip and a black one with a hard tip.

The soft tip is great for drawing while the hard one is better suited to taking notes. Generally speaking, however, both tips are softer than the one on the Apple Pencil, and they produce less of a tapping sound when they come into contact with the screen.

In case the tips wear out, you can easily buy replacements on Amazon, where you can get 5 replacement tips for less than $10.

There are lots of Android drawing apps you can use, including Ibis Paint, Sketchbook, Infinite Painter, and Concepts. They may not be as full-featured as the ones on iOS, but they’re pretty good, and they get better each year.

Flaws, but not dealbreakers:

For the most part, the flaws of the S6 are the same as the ones on the iPad Pro. This tablet isn’t the kind you want to use in a drawing production environment, but is an excellent platform for all round use, that offers an alternative to Apple. 

Apart from that, we would say that the drawing apps available on Android aren’t in the same class as those on iOS. They’re still pretty good, though, and someone who has never tried the drawing apps on iOS will never know. 

The stylus has a bit of input lag, where the line drags behind the nib as you draw, but this is also present in the iPad Pro, so it’s not a unique problem to the S6. 

Pros

  • Very thin and lightweight
  • S Pen is not powered by battery
  • Has great palm rejection
  • Includes Micro SD card slot for storage expansion

Cons

  • Not for production work
  • Stylus has a bit of a lag
  • Does not include a headphone jack

03 – Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Also very good

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Sharp and robust …this tablet builds upon Microsoft’s flagship 2-in-1 Windows tablets

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Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.68 x 9.21 inches | Display Area: 12.3 inches | Item Weight: 1.7 pounds | OS: Windows 10 | CPU: Intel Core i5 | RAM: 16 GB | Storage Capacity: 256 GB | Front Camera: Yes | Back Camera: Yes

Who is it for?

This tablet is excellent for those who like to work with Adobe Illustrator and Fresco. The biggest win for the Surface Pro 7 is the fact that it runs on Windows, giving you the power of a full PC in the form of a tablet.

In fact, if you combine it with the keyboard (sold separately) and the Surface Pen (also sold separately), you have a complete tablet/computer hybrid capable of performing at the levels of a MacBook Pro.

Adobe has released versions of of Illustrator and Fresco that work perfectly on the Surface Pro, so artists whose workflows involve these two will feel right at home.

Why we like it:

There is a lot going for the Surface Pen. It has a 12.3-inch screen, which puts it at roughly the same size as the iPad Pro. The models range wildly in price, starting from the Core i3, 4GB, 128GB model at $749, all the way to the Core i7, 16GB, 1TB model for about $2200.

It also includes the Surface Pen for drawing. This stylus uses a small AAAA battery which you can easily find a replacement for on Amazon. Note that it is not rechargeable. That said, it’s a great pen with a lightweight feel and superior performance. It feels a lot like the Apple Pencil.

As far as drawing and stylus use on the Surface Pro 7 are concerned, it’s not a bad experience at all. The pen supports tilt and pressure sensitivity at 4096, which is more than enough for most users. The screen resolution is 2736 x 1824 pixels. This is less than the 2732 x 2048 pixel resolution on the iPad Pro, but it is still great enough to work with.

Another great function of the Surface Pro 7 runs on Windows, giving you the complete desktop experience on a tablet. That means you have a wider range of tools and apps to work with than you would if you were working with a basic tablet.

It works excellently with Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Adobe XD, as these were reconfigured to work well on its screen. That said, you should pick the right combination of specs to run these applications without a hitch. We would recommend the Core i5 model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB storage for $1400 and the Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB storage for $1500.

Flaws, but not dealbreakers:

For starters, the color gamut isn’t the best. It has just 79% AdobeRGB. This gives you far less subtle shading and gradients than you would get with an iPad. What is most disappointing here is that these settings have persisted for at least two generations of the Surface Pro, way back from the Surface Pro 4.

Apart from that, the fact that the stylus is battery powered is also something of a flaw, especially when you consider the fact that it isn’t rechargeable. You have to replace the batteries when they run out. While they can easily be found on Amazon, they are hard to find in local stores, which can be frustrating if the battery runs out at an ungodly hour.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Runs on Windows
  • Can run production grade apps like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Stylus is not the best
  • Color gamut is subpar

Product reviews – Also Worth Considering

04 – Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
Pros:
  • Great build quality
  • High resolution display
  • Battery-free pen
  • Laminated display
  • MicroSD slot
Cons:
  • No holder for S Pen
  • No replacement nibs for the S Pen
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Dimensions: 11 inches | Display Area: 11 inches | Item Weight: 1.1 pounds | OS: Android 10 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | RAM: 6 GB | Storage Capacity: 128 GB | Front Camera: Yes | Back Camera: Yes

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 comes in two versions: there is an 11-inch version that comes with 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution 6-8 GB RAM, and 128-512 GB storage. There is also the Galaxy Tab S7+, which has a 12.4-inch screen with 2800 x 1752 pixel resolution and the same RAM and storage ranges as its tamer cousin. Both have Micro SD slots for storage expansion.

The design is great, with thin bezels – thinner than on the iPad Pro, actually. The corners are rounded and the selfie camera is located on the longer side of the tablet. It can make 1440p videos for YouTube, as well as play them back, and has very vibrant colors, thanks to the super AMOLED display. Both models come with the S Pen included, though there are no replacement nibs.

That may not be a big problem, since it’s possible to buy them for cheap on Amazon. The S Pen’s color matches with the tablet’s, which comes in silver, bronze, and black. The body has a matte texture, which is great for drawing, and the build quality of both the tablet and the S Pen is good.

The S Pen is light, but comfortable to hold. It’s actually very similar in design to the Apple Pencil. Note that it’s a different design from the S Pen on the S6. It has a more tapered tip, which allows you to see the tip of the pen easily, regardless of how you hold it.

It can also snap magnetically to the back of the tablet and does not need battery power to work. It has an improved latency of 9ms, which matches the Apple Pencil, and the refresh rate of 120Hz on the screen makes the latency hard to see.

Overall, you can use Android drawing apps on the S7, which may not be as good as on iOS, but they’re still pretty great and get better every year.

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Great battery life
  • Great performance on the new S Pen

Cons

  • Does not include a headphone jack
  • S Pen does not come with replacement tips

05 – Microsoft Surface Go 2

New Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5" Touch-Screen
Pros:
  • Great sleek design
  • Low price for the base model
  • Great build quality
Cons:
  • Need to buy pen, cover, and stand separately
  • Comes with Windows S
  • Pen is fairly limited in capabilities
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Dimensions: 10.5 inches | Display Area: 10.5 inches | Item Weight: 1.2 pounds | OS: Windows 10 S | CPU: Intel Core m3 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage Capacity: 128 GB | Front Camera: Yes | Back Camera: Yes

The Surface Go 2 is an upgrade from the Surface Go, and includes lots of upgrades. It comes with a charger in the box, with the Surface Pen sold separately. If you want to use it for drawing, you will have to buy the Surface Pen to take full advantage of its capabilities.

It also comes in different versions, though we would recommend the one that comes with the Intel Core m3-8100y with 8GB of RAM and 128GB NVMe SSD storage. Luckily, it includes a Micro SD slot so you can always expand the storage if you need more.

The display is 10.5 inches large and has a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels. Not very remarkable, but good enough for 1080p. It’s also a laminated display, which means there is no gap between the drawing surface and the screen beneath. This effectively eliminates parallax when using the stylus.

The Surface Go 2 comes with Windows 10 S. This is a stripped down version of Windows 10. We would recommend switching to Windows 10 so you can install more powerful desktop apps, such as Photoshop. Windows 10 S restricts you to installing only apps that are available on the Microsoft App Store.

You can do lots of digital art work with this tablet, including work with Photoshop and Lightroom. Drawing performance with the Surface Pen is just fine, though the activation force of the Surface Pen is higher than for other styluses on professional tablets. It makes it hard to draw thin lines with large brushes.

Other than that, the other features, like pressure and tilt sensitivity, work just fine, as covered when talking about the Surface Pro 7.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not very powerful
  • Surface Pen sold separately

Product reviews – Dedicated Drawing Tablets

06 – Wacom Cintiq 22

Our Pick
Wacom Cintiq 22 Drawing Tablet

With Wacom firmly positioned at the top of most of our guides, when it comes to architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, the Cintiq 22 is a clear winner with its exceptional performance and large high quality drawing area.

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Dimensions: 21.5 inches | Display Area: 21.5 inches | Item Weight: 18.8 pounds | OS: Windows/Mac OS | CPU: N/A | RAM: N/A | Storage Capacity: N/A | Front Camera: No | Back Camera: No

The Wacom Cintiq is a dedicated drawing tablet, so in that respect its drawing capabilities are way ahead of many of the other options in this review. Although it is just a drawing platform and should be thought of as something of an interactive monitor for your computer, which gives you control via the Wacom Pro Pen 2 stylus, rather than a portable tablet.

It’s been designed mainly with hobby designers and art students in mind, having features halfway between the Intuos line and the Cintiq Pro line.

The good news is that the Cintiq 22 comes with the Pro Pen 2 stylus, which is the same as the one on the Cintiq 16, Intuos Pro Pen Small, Intuos Pro Paper Edition and the MobileStudio Pro 16.

It has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity and is battery free. When not in use, you can store it in a fabric loop on the side of the display.

The pen is hefty and substantial. It has 2 shortcut buttons which you can operate with your thumb and forefinger. It also has an eraser on the back for fast erasing while working.

This tablet also comes with a free adjustable stand, which is not included with the Cintiq 16. The stand makes work easier, as it can be adjusted through a wide range of tilts (from 16 degrees to 82 degrees).

The screen is 21.5 inches large, with full HD 1080p resolution and a great color gamut. While the brightness is a little low at 143 nits, it has great contrast and should work in soft light.

Pros

  • Large screen
  • Great color gamut
  • Very powerful stylus
  • Comes with an adjustable stand

Cons

  • Not very portable
  • No multitouch capabilities
  • Low brightness

07 – Wacom Intuos Pro Small

Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 7.87 by 6.3 inches | Display Area: 6.0 by 3.7 inches | Display Resolution: 2540 LPI | Item Weight: 240 grams | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB-C/Bluetooth | Compatible with Keyboard: No

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Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.2 inches | Display Area: 6.2 x 3.9 inches | Item Weight: 1.5 pounds | OS: N/A | CPU: N/A | RAM: N/A | Storage Capacity: N/A | Front Camera: No | Back Camera: No

The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is a fantastic drawing/graphics tablet for beginners. It measures 12.6 inches by 8.2 inches, which puts it at roughly the same size as the iPad Pro. While it may not be perfect for professional artists doing production work, it is great for beginners or professionals who need to do some quick touch ups on their work.

This is a graphics tablet, so it does not include a display. You will have to connect it to a computer and watch the computer screen as you draw. That may need some adjusting for artists who are not used to using graphics tablets, but you get used to it after a while.

The Intuos Pro Small uses the Intuos Pro Pen 2, which is a joy to use. It feels hefty and is ergonomic. It also has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as support for tilt. Also, it’s battery free.

You can also use this tablet as a trackpad, as it has touch functionality. It’s easy to program different gestures via the Wacom Desktop Center. I personally don’t use a graphics tablet for that purpose, but it’s a nifty feature to have if you’re into that sort of thing.

My favorite feature is the touch ring and ExpressKeys, which can be customized to a number of functions, making work easier and faster. If you’re looking for a serious tablet to start your digital art career on, this is a great option. And it’s not even expensive!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Has shortcut buttons
  • Powerful stylus

Cons

  • Does not have a display
  • Can only be used when connected to a computer

What makes a good tablet and stylus combination?

Pressure sensitivity

A good tablet should have multiple pressure sensitivity levels, allowing you to draw thicker lines with your stylus by pressing harder on the screen. It’s an added bonus if the stylus has support for tilt functionality, at the very least.

Portability

Since it’s a tablet, it should be portable enough that you can take it with you and draw on the go. A portable tablet makes drawing something you can do on a whim, rather than limiting you to only doing it when you’re at home or in the office, seated at a desk.

Size of active drawing area

You want the active drawing area to be large enough that drawing is enjoyable, but not so large as to adversely affect portability. A good drawing area should be somewhere between 10 and 13 inches large.

Accuracy

A good tablet with a stylus should have high accuracy with minimum lag. Drawing should feel natural, and you should feel like the stylus is reproducing lines exactly as you intend while drawing them. 

FAQ’s

Can a stylus be used with any tablet?

That depends on the type of stylus you get. There are capacitive touch styluses, which are designed to mimic your finger when used with a touch screen. These can work with any tablet, but can only draw broad lines like you would with your finger.

More specialized styluses, both battery powered and battery free, tend to work on specific devices.

Do all tablets support a stylus?

Yes, depending on the type of stylus. At the bare minimum, a capacitive touch stylus can work with any tablet with a touch screen.

Which tablet has a detachable keypad, stylus pen, and touch screen?

There are many such styluses. In this review alone, the iPad Pro is a great example, as is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. Usually, the detachable keypad and stylus are sold separately.

Be sure to read manufacturer specifications to find out if they are available for the specific tablet you want to buy.

Which Galaxy tablets have the S Pen?

These include the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, S6, S7, S7+ and Tab A.

Conclusion

And with that we come to the end of our review of the best tablets with a stylus roundup. As you can see, there are lots of options to choose from, each with their own merits, and pros and cons.

Most of the products reviewed here can be summarized as general all purpose tablets. For digital artists in particular, that may want something more specialized, the Wacom Cintiq 22 and Intuos Pro Small are far superior options. Until next time, happy drawing!

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