Wacom vs. iPad Pro …are they comparable?

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Any digital artist with ambition has asked themselves, “which is better, Wacom or iPad Pro?” Is there something that stands out from any of these giants that can point an artist to which is the better option? Well, here we will cover two angles. We will tell you which one is better as a pen display and which one carries the day as a pen computer. 

But briefly; an iPad Pro’s clear advantage over any Wacom is its portability and versatility. You not only have something to work with on the go, but you also have a hub of other features that makes it a better choice. On the other hand, the biggest iPad is only 13 inches.

Wacom has 16, 24, and 36-inch models that give you a lot more working space. However, the size and other exclusive features will cost you a pretty penny. Even so, you can only pick something that will fit your digital art projects.

Wacom vs. iPad Pro – Who are they?

Wacom

Wacom is a Japanese company that makes and sells graphics tablets and other related products. Wacom was founded in 1983 and had the first pen tablet in 1984. Despite having its main headquarters in Saitama, Japan, Wacom has American headquarters in Portland and European headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

Wacom’s product lines include pen tablets, pen displays, and mobile pen devices for creatives. Some of the famous products include their Intuos models, Cintiq, and the Wacom MobileStudio. They also sell other accessories for their products including USBs and adapters. 

Wacom vs. iPad Pro

Apple

Unlike Wacom, Apple Inc. (as it is known today) came a little earlier in 1976 when Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs came together to make the Apple 1 computer. Throughout its existence, Apple has had some ups and downs that it’s managed to come out of.

After developing computers that feature graphical user interfaces, Apple went public and enjoyed some early financial success. The company fell apart late in the late 1980s but resurfaced with an attractive line of products that included the iMac, iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. 

Today Apple is a multinational tech company that develops and sells consumer electronics. Their main headquarters are in Cupertino, California, in the United States. Their line of products includes the iPad Pro and iPad Air which can be used by digital artists. The original iPad Pro has been improved with technology to make it more powerful and versatile.

Wacom vs. iPad Pro

Wacom vs. iPad Pro Pen Displays

There are several points to look at if you have to choose between a Wacom pen display and an iPad Pro. First, you have to know that both devices have their pros and cons depending on what you are looking for. 

For starters, the iPad Pro is a direct pen display compared to any Wacom version. You can see the image you are drawing as if you were doing it on paper. But the same can happen with a Wacom, right? Yes, a high-end Cintiq can give you the same kind of drawing experience as the iPad Pro – but it will be more expensive or you will still have to mirror it to a desktop – case in point, Wacom Cintiq 16. 

An iPad Pro is portable compared to any peer Wacom product. You will need a computer with you every time you use a Cintiq. The only Wacom that will function independently is the MobileStudio Pro which, again, is very expensive compared to the iPad Pro. 

Also, if the earlier versions of the iPad Pro were not fully optimized to use drawing software, the new version is better. You can now use the Procreate app and other Adobe apps with your iPad Pro. 

Another advantage the iPad Pro has over any Wacom display is that you can use it for other purposes other than drawing. It will come in handy when you have to check emails, use social networks, edit videos, and so much more. For Wacom, it’s all work and no play – which makes it a dull day in the office. 

But Wacom pen displays, despite having to connect to a computer to mirror the screen have a much more realistic and precise drawing experience. Unlike Apple, Wacom has focused on digital tablets for artists for a long time.

You will have to agree that the Wacom is much more professional compared to the iPad Pro. A Wacom Cintiq feels more like paper than an iPad Pro. A lot of artists have praised the new M1 iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.

They say the feeling is still slippery, but it’s a bit more stable compared to the earlier versions of the iPad Pro. However, the Wacom Cintiq just feels a bit more natural compared even to the improved iPad Pro.

Another advantage of a Wacom Cintiq over the iPad Pro is that it can work with the full versions of the digital art software. You get full versions of illustrator and Photoshop, which translates to more excellent file resolution and functions. Adobe has been making iPad apps that work perfectly with the new iPad Pro, but the functionality of the Wacom pen display is still a bit more top quality in comparison. 

There’s a bit more working space with a Cintiq 16 (which is cheaper than the iPad Pro) than there is on an iPad Pro. At the moment, you can only get a 13-inch iPad Pro, while this isn’t so bad for drawing and actually makes for improved portability, top pro artists will still need a lot more space to work with. The Wacom Cintiq provides that space in abundance. 

Wacom Cintiq 16

Wacom Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet

Dimensions: 13.6 x 7.6 inches | Display Area: 15.6 inches | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Item Weight: 1.9kg | Camera: No | Connection Type: USB/HDMI | Compatible with Keyboard: No | Processor: N/A | Memory: N/A | Shortcut Keys: Yes

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Who is it for?

If you ever need a cheap Wacom to make an argument against iPad Pro, this is it. The Cintiq 16 is the middle device for those who are graduating from the Intuos line, artists who can’t afford more cash to secure the high-end Cintiq Pro, and those looking for a cheap and efficient Wacom.  

Why we like it

Apart from the attractive price which Wacom hopes would persuade those who are looking for alternatives in XP-Pen and Huion, the Cintiq 16 comes with a 1920 x 1080 display, a Wacom Pro Pen with up to 8192 pressure sensitivity levels, and a fairly standard color gamut. You can also use the Pro Pen 3D with little to no parallax at all. Just to emphasize the price point, iPad Pro costs more than $100 more than this Wacom Cintiq.

The display size is 15.6 inches with a resolution that we just stated above. You get an LCD display that’s not an etched glass screen but rather an anti-glare textured one. Most people will love this display, it feels rather personal. If you want the “sliding on glass” feel, you will have to part with more money for the more advanced Pro Wacoms or the iPad Pro.

Under normal studio light conditions, the screen works okay – not as bright as the Cintiq Pro, but good enough. Expect a color gamut of up to 96% sRGB. It has a much lower Adobe RGB color Gamut but for the price, you can live with that. 

If you like propping up your tablet as you work, the Cintiq 16 offers flip-out legs on the rear that extend at a 19-degree angle. You won’t get a stand with this device unless you can search for a separate one; Wacom apparently makes separate stands for their Cintiq line of devices. 

We like the Pro Pen 2 that comes with this tablet. It has an excellent build and delivers awesome sensitivity. You won’t have to charge the pen as you would with the Apple Pencils. Even though the Cintiq 16 works with Pro Pen 3D, you will have to buy it separately (worth it if you do a lot of 3D modeling). 

Another thing we like about this device is the connection setup. We’ve had problems with tablets that have the connection on the side; they make the whole thing untidy. This one has the cord coming from the top back. It’s a single cable that branches into USB-A, HDMI, and a power connection. It’s probably bad news for those with a computer that needs a USB-C connection. However, an adaptor should help solve this. 

Flaws but not deal breakers 

One noticeable feature that is peculiarly missing from this device is touch support. This is probably bad news for photographers or iPad users who want a cheap Wacom. Photographers love the touch feature because it helps when zooming and rotating in Photoshop.

However, for digital drawers, this shouldn’t be a problem. Also, Wacom had to sacrifice something if you consider the cheap price here. It’s not too big a sacrifice if you don’t mind using the Pro Pen 2 to zoom and rotate in Photoshop. 

Pros 

  • A wide 15.6-inch screen
  • The Stylus is comfortable to use and doesn’t need charging
  • It’s cheap
  • A better connection setup (top back rather than side connection)

Cons

  • No touch support
  • You have to connect to two ports on your computer
  • A limited color gamut compared to peer devices

iPad Pro 

Apple iPad Pro

Dimensions: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches | Display Area: 12.9 inches | Display Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | Item Weight: 682 grams | Camera: Yes | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: Yes | Processor: Octa Core | Memory: 128GB to 2TB and 16GB RAM | Shortcut Keys: No

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The iPad Pro does not offer quite a large drawing surface as the Wacom Cintique 16, but it’s optimized for so much more. You will have to pay slightly more to get it but the money paid for it will be worth it. Let’s find out what you can expect.

Who is this for? 

First, it’s important to note that this is the iPad Pro version with the M1 chip technology. The tech gives this iPad Pro a bit more power compared to other iterations of the same product.

Also, there are two versions of the product that are only differentiated by the size of the screen; that is, there is an iPad Pro M1 with an 11-inch screen, and one with a 12.9-inch screen. You guessed right, we’ll go with the latter because it has more space. 

Photographers will love this device compared to artists who want to draw and are looking for something that offers more room for that. That doesn’t mean that you can’t draw on this thing, as you’ll see (later on in this review), this device has more to offer digital drawers. It has more power than ever and can support many apps that require it. 

Why we like it

It has a spectacular screen called a “Liquid Retina XDR display” by Apple. However, in simple terms, it’s a Mini LED screen. Despite the “crazy” new screen, the tablet is still mostly LCD as opposed to OLED. However, there’s more to it than a mere LCD screen. The new tech includes thousands of LEDs backlighting the screen.

This means you can easily control the screen contrast and blacks of the display. It also means that if you are working on a piece that needs different illuminations, this is the device for you – the local dimming tech works perfectly here. 

There’s also the power aspect placed into this thing – it’s almost like Apple was trying to make it into some mini laptop. It won’t really replace your laptop if that’s what you’re thinking, but it will do a lot in a short time.

That’s because Apple used the same processor they used to make the MacBook Air, Pro, Mini, and iMac. The power also distinguishes it from the earlier versions of the iPad Pro. What this means is that you will be able to do several things at once without having to worry about it slowing down. You can play music in the background, work on your drawing, and also switch into a game without any problems. 

Another great feature we like about this iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil and how it feels on this new screen. The Pencil remains the same as other previous versions, but the screen responsiveness aided by the 120Hz refresh rate makes working with the Pencil a breeze.

Perhaps the feel comes off a little hard at first – not as great as when you are working with a stylus on a drawing tablet – but after some time, it works just fine. 

Flaws but not deal breakers

This iPad Pro is equipped with great technology and awesome power that will support any app that you want to use (within the Apple store). However, there are minor things that might make you rethink your choice.

For starters, the Apple Pencil doesn’t offer the smooth feel that you’d otherwise have if you were using a stylus on a traditional drawing tablet. Also, despite the power, this device will not be a laptop substitute. There are issues with rendering the screen on an external monitor. Either way, this is still a great tablet that will give you a lot of control especially if you like to edit photos or videos. 

Pros

  • A fantastic screen with thousands of LEDs illuminating the display
  • The M1 chip makes it a powerful tablet
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • The Magic Keyboard is bought separately making it more expensive
  • The stylus doesn’t feel as natural when drawing
  • There are still issues with iOS

Wacom vs iPad Pro – Pen Computers

While the iPad Pro may have a slight edge over the Wacom pen displays, it probably lags behind as far as pen computers go. The only pen computer that works similar to an iPad Pro is the Wacom MobileStudio. This is because it doesn’t need to be plugged into a computer to enjoy full functionality. Also, it has a built-in computer OS, just like the iPad Pro. 

The Wacom MobileStudio includes both 13-inch and 16-inch versions. These pen computers are equipped with the Windows OS and can allow for a limitless number of software and applications to be used. The iPad on the other hand has been improved significantly and has a number of popular software (including Procreate, Illustrator, and Photoshop) that digital artists can enjoy.

It’s also cheaper compared to Wacom’s MobileStudio. 

The Wacom MobileStudio has a touch bar for navigating controls and can be optimized for any preference. The iPad Pro has a “Gestures” feature within the Apple Pencil that is more intuitive. Also, only the Procreate app is compatible with the Apple OS. You’ll probably have to download it as a third party on Wacom.

The biggest differentiating factor if you have to choose between a Wacom and an iPad Pro would be the price point. Even though the Wacom MobileStudio is just as portable as the iPad Pro, it’s extremely expensive in comparison.

However, the drawing experience and the range of software on the MobileStudio make it a suitable choice for top pros. As a personal choice, the iPad Pro stands out, however, there’s more to a Wacom MobileStudio.  

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro

Dimensions: 14.4 x 9 x 0.7 inches | Display Area: 13.3 inches | Display Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Item Weight: 1.44kg | Camera: Yes | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: Yes | Processor: N/A | Memory: N/A | Shortcut Keys: Yes

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Compared to the Cintiq line of products, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro looks and feels like the real deal. Not to disrespect the Cintiq products, but this one makes the Cintiqs look like toys. It’s sleeker, less boxy, and feels high-end even before you power the device on. Well, it doesn’t come cheap, so you’d expect to see high-quality materials used to make it. The overall weight also adds to its substantial feel.

Who is this for?

Well, this is a premium gadget for professional designers, photographers, artists, and illustrators. It’s one powerful device compressed into a convenient mobile tablet. You can use creative apps like Illustrator and Photoshop on this thing without a problem. 

Why we like it

If you plan to move the Wacom MobileStudio Pro around often, then you will probably need a pair of strong arms. This is not a very light device like the iPad Pro or the Surface Pro. But the extra weight is not a problem, it’s actually advantageous to have that much weight for this device.

That is because this is a top-level content creation machine that professionals will rely heavily on and needs to be sturdy. All you have to do is keep it on your desk for most of the time you are using it and you’ll be okay. 

Do you need a keyboard for this machine? If you want. It can be connected to an external keyboard and mouse. However, the 8 fully customizable express keys will probably be enough for creatives. The touch ring and other switches and ports and well placed for both right and left handers. 

What about the screen and the stylus, this is a drawing tablet, right? First, we’ll talk about the screen and stylus shortly, and second, this is not your normal drawing tablet; it’s a powerful computer as well. It has a powerful GPU paired with either an i5 or i7 CPU RAM depending on the model you buy. 

About the Pro Pen two in relation to the screen, there’s a lot to talk about. First, the Pro Pen 2 has a 60-degree tilt and up to 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. Paired with a 4K display that is color accurate, the drawing experience is exceptionally natural. The etched glass screen is positioned very close to the display which gives little glare compared to other devices like the Macbook Pro

The Pro Pen 2 and the screen work together to produce just enough friction for a uniform and lovely drawing experience. The stylus has a rubber grip that helps to ease fatigue as you draw. It also makes for accurate and easy simultaneous strokes.

Flaws but not deal breakers

For all its flair and wonderfully expensive stature, there are a few things that don’t quite stand out with this device. First, the adjustable stand is an optional extra and you’ll have to purchase it separately if you want.

Apparently, the guys at Wacom didn’t feel it was necessary to include it as a main accessory with the device. Even if you want the stand and decide to buy it, it’s not that glorious compared to what other brands have (think Huion and XP-Pen or even iPad Pro).

However, this is probably something that very few professionals will have to worry about. Many already have their drawing board setups to accommodate this device. 

Pros

  • It’s a powerful pen computer
  • It has an excellent build with premium materials
  • It offers an excellent drawing experience
  • It has an etched glass screen that reduces glare
  • The Pro Pen 2 works great

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • It’s quite heavy
  • The adjustable stand is optional and you will have to buy it separately

iPad Pro

Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Dimensions: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches | Display Area: 12.9 inches | Display Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | Item Weight: 682 grams | Camera: Yes | Connection Type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: Yes | Processor: Octa Core | Memory: 128GB to 2TB and 16GB RAM | Shortcut Keys: No

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We have already briefly reviewed the iPad Pro above. However, we’ll try and compare it to the Wacom MobileStudio Pro and see which one stands out. 

Who is this for?

The iPad Pro is better suited for photographers and video editors who are looking for something that’s both cheaper, and portable. It has a powerful GPU and CPU that can load many applications and help you work. But how does it compare with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro? Well, one thing we know is that the iPad is cheaper and lighter. What else is there?

Why we like it

One big advantage the iPad Pro has over the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is the camera tech used. Well, it’s arguable that no one needs a high-end camera on a 2kg tablet that is specifically meant for top professional tasks. Well, a photographer may need a snap or two with an iPad to make quick comparisons or for some other reason. The iPad is portable and has an ultra-wide-angle 12MP front camera. 

Another reason you’ll probably want to go with an iPad Pro over the bulky Wacom MobileStudio is the price. The iPad is extremely cheap compared to the gigantic machine that is the MobileStudio Pro.

You could get the iPad and some extra accessories and the price will still not be enough to get any iteration of the MobileStudio Pro. Besides, even though the Wacom product is better as a pen tablet and a computer, the iPad has enough power on its own to run some great applications. 

Flaws but not deal breakers

The most obvious flaw with the iPad compared to the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is that it cannot perform better than its counterpart. The Wacom is massively powered, has a super juiced battery, and a Pro Pen 2 and display that make drawing on it a breeze. With the iPad Pro, you get a bit of power and battery, but it may not perform well as a computer.

You’d better get a Mac than the iPad Pro. However, if your needs can be scaled down, then the iPad Pro is worth your consideration. 

Pros 

  • It’s less expensive compared to the Wacom MobileStudio Pro
  • Has better cameras
  • It’s portable
  • It has a better 4k screen for streaming
  • Has better accessories

Cons

  • It has less power compared to the Wacom MobileStudio Pro
  • The iPadOS is limiting
  • Only a single port which may limit flexibility
  • The drawing experience isn’t as smooth as Pro Pen 2 of the MobileStudio Pro

Wacom vs iPad Pro – Brand Differences

So, now let us look at what you can expect from these two brands. 

Quality

In terms of quality, it all depends on what Wacom product you are comparing to the iPad Pro. There are high-quality pen displays from Wacom that can rival the iPad Pro. One of those is the Cintiq Pro which offers 4K resolution and a much larger drawing space. You will still have to connect the Pro to a computer to enjoy full functionality but it has a much better drawing experience compared to the iPad Pro.

It’s also worth noting that Wacom is focused solely on making drawing tablets for creatives. Their tech is much more focused and may have better functionality (especially for high-end products).

Apple on the other hand does not advertise the iPad Pro as a drawing tablet. It’s a great device to have if you want to explore the mobile world and enjoy the Apple store applications. It’s a portable and cheaper drawing tablet if you want, but it’s not fully optimized to work entirely as a drawing tablet. Top professionals would rather have a Wacom than an iPad Pro. 

Functions

Any seasoned digital artist knows that Wacom is the go-to drawing tablet. 

Software and Drivers

With the improved iPad Pro, there is software that works just as efficiently as they do on any Wacom drawing tablet. The initial versions of the iPad Pro didn’t provide the full functionality of drawing software.

The new iPad has exclusive digital art apps that artists can work with and produce great pieces just as they would on a Wacom. For instance, Procreate is exclusive to the iPad Pro. Adobe has also developed Illustrator and Photoshop versions for the iPad Pro that work just as well as on any Wacom tablet.

Wacom on the other hand has never had a problem working with drawing software. Most of their devices are meant to only be used for drawing. All apps are fully functional just as if you were using a computer to draw.

Also, Wacom supports just about all drawing and modeling software. You only get 3D modeling and sculpting software if you use a Wacom. For iPad Pro, there are but a few apps like Forger, but it’s very limited compared to the full desktop version on Wacom. 

Customer Service

Wacom has a customer support page that you can quickly go to if you have any problem with your device. The customer support page is optimized to solve different issues. You can also create a ticket that will be addressed within 24 to 48 hours. Wacom also has a support system for orders and deliveries.

Apple is a giant company with a decent customer support system. They have a worldwide support system that will take care of your issue quickly. You can also get software updates and utility support. You can get any problem solved any day of the week. 

Warranty and after service care

With an iPad Pro, Apple will give you a standard-level warranty that will run for one year. You will also get up to 90 days of free technical support if you want. Apple also has a page with Q and As for when you need after service for your iPad Pro.

You can mail in your iPad or set up an appointment with a nearby Apple store or authorized service provider. If your iPad needs repair, the wait time is about 5-10 days. Unless your issue isn’t covered in the warranty, you will pay either an out-of-warranty fee or a fee to the AppleCare service.

Wacom has a standard limited warranty for its products. If you run into a problem with your device, you can call them to report the problem. The technical team will figure out whether they can repair the device and then ask you to send it to them. Be prepared to have a valid proof of purchase or a Wacom order number.

If you ship the product to them, you will receive a UPS tracking number when they ship the product back to you.

Accessories

You’d imagine a more expensive Wacom to have more and better accessories than an Apple iPad – after all, they are specifically meant for pros. Indeed Wacom has more and better accessories for their products. Expect a Wacom Expresskey remote and 3D pen, an Orangutan stand, and a tablet holder.

For the iPad Pro, things are a bit different as you won’t get any of the accessories mentioned above, but you will get a keyboard. However, this isn’t a dealbreaker or anything, you can still use one without the ExpressKey remote and 3D Pen. 

Affordability

In general, an iPad Pro is more affordable compared to any serious Wacom alternative – think Cintiq Pro and above. An iPad Pro is the closest thing to any serious Wacom and if you can get one at a better price then we don’t see why you shouldn’t go for one.

But it all depends on what you are looking for. If you are a digital artist looking for something portable and with improved efficiency, then an iPad Pro is your device it will cost much less and still allow you access to serious digital art software like Procreate.

On the other hand, why not get a Wacom that is dedicated to its job. A pro artist will at least consider this option. In our article, we reviewed the Wacom Cintiq 16, which isn’t Cintiq Pro, but it can do the job well and provide you access to full desktop apps. Besides, the Cintiq 16 is cheaper than the iPad Pro and has a larger working area.

Instructions 

Wacom has very clear instructions on how to use its products. They have information on just about anything you need to do with your device. You can find instructions on how to install the drivers, how to connect to a Chromebook device, how to download software, how to pair via Bluetooth, and so much more. 

For iPad Pro, Apple has general instructions on how to use their device. You will find information on how to customize your device, stay connected, use Notes, and more.

You can download their guidebook and read further instructions from the user guide page. You won’t need any drivers to download here – they are all updated by the manufacturer. 

Compatibility

The new iPad Pro has been improved and is now compatible with many drawing apps that artists use. Also, the easy and direct access to Procreate makes the iPad Pro an attractive choice. This improvement has allowed the iPad Pro to go toe to toe with Wacom. Wacom doesn’t have the Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop monopoly anymore; Apple has caught up and new apps are entering the Apple Store every day.

With Wacom, the biggest advantage is the ability to run the full desktop versions of the software that artists need. Also, Wacom can run both Windows and Mac software and apps. Serious artists who would rather have an array of options will choose to work with a Wacom over an iPad Pro.

But an iPad Pro is an exciting proposition, because, other than drawing, there is more you can do with it. 

Wacom vs. iPad Pro: Which should you choose?

Before the battle ends, we must point out who wins. Well, the new iPad Pro can run Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with similar file resolutions as Wacom – this is something that before would’ve made Wacom a clear winner. The Apple Pencil is also a serious stylus with improved tech.

Whereas Wacom gives you a touch bar and navigation controls, the Apple Pencil has the special “gestures” feature that works incredibly. 

The Wacom Cintiq 16 that we discussed in this article isn’t quite the serious alternative as the Cintiq Pro would be, but it’s still cheaper than the iPad Pro. However, it’s not as portable and versatile.

The MobileStudio Pro is the best portable pen computer on the market and has a lot to offer any digital artist. However, unless you have the budget for one, an iPad Pro can still play that role without losing you significant points. 

So, which is it, Wacom or iPad Pro? Well, iPad Pro for its portability, versatility, and affordability. The Wacom MobileStudio is incredible but it may be way too expensive for most people.

Related Posts:

Wacom vs. Huion

Wacom vs. XP Pen

Hunion vs. XP Pen

Wacom Vs. Surface Pro

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