Which is the best tablet with a stylus in 2020? There are a lot of choices with Android, Windows 10 and even iPads. I review almost every tablet. Scroll down to find the best ones with pen support.
Pens for tablets haven’t been popular for a long time. However, that changed with the Microsoft Surface Pro and Samsung’s S-Pen tablets. By now, you can even get all current iPads with an active stylus. And even though Apple is late to the game, they managed to release a great tablet with pen support that is cheaper than the competition.
There are a lot of other choices out there. I’ve tried most of them and here are the best I reviewed in the last year.
Best Value Overall: iPad 7
I think the 7th generation Apple iPad 10.2-inch is the best value overall if you are looking for a tablet with a stylus. It is powerful, offers a great build quality, and a lot of optimized apps. You have to buy the Apple Pencil separately, but the pen is widely supported in iOS.
However, the screen is not laminated. So, if you need to make very precise drawings, you should check out other tablets on this list. Especially the other iPads further down.
With that being said, unless you need a pen professionally, I think the iPad 7 is the best value overall if you are looking for a tablet with stylus support.
Read: My Apple iPad 7 Review
Best Android Tablets with Stylus
Here are the best Android tablets with a stylus you can get right now.
Best Samsung Tablets With S Pen Support
The best Android tablets with pen support for most are the devices from Samsung with their S Pen. That’s because they offer lots of software features for their pens including a great notes app and lots of special features and shortcuts. I also like that their S Pens are interchangeable. If you don’t like the one that comes with your devices, you can just get another one. You can also use exactly the same pen on your Galaxy Tab tablet and your Galaxy Note smartphone, for instance.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with S Pen
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the best Android tablet available right now. Additionally, it is the best Android tablet that supports an active pen. In fact, the S Pen is included at no extra charge and works great. It supports 4096 points of pressure sensitivity and thanks to integrated Bluetooth, you can use it to control apps like the camera and Microsoft’s Power Point.
With this tablet, we get an outstanding 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, a very fast processor, and Android 9 Pie with likely updates in the future. It also has a lot of premium features. Among those are four speakers, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and a premium build. Sadly, it is the priciest Android tablet too.
As I said, the S Pen is great and Samsung ships this tablet with tons of features for the stylus.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 with S Pen
If you don’t want to spend a crazy amount of money on the Galaxy Tab S6, you can check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. Sure, it’s a year older than the S6 but it continues to be a very powerful tablet. In fact, the S Pen features are almost identical. It even has a very similar 10.5-inch AMOLED screen and it got updated to Android 9 already.
There are some differences, of course. While the Tab S4 does not have a fingerprint scanner, it does feature an Iris-Scanner which you can use to unlock the tablet together with facial recognition. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor is not super fast but fast enough for almost every task. Including premium games like Fortnite.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen is the best and only option if you are looking for an 8-inch Android tablet with pen support. It comes with an S Pen at no extra charge. Unlike with all current competitors, the stylus is thin enough to fit inside the body of the tablet. As usual, Samsung pre-installed a lof of software optimized for the pen.
You can see the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 (2019) as a middle-class tablet that is good enough for most. It features a full HD screen, a decent performance, and well optimized Android 9.0 Pie. Premium features like a fingerprint scanner are missing though.
Other Android Tablets With Pen
Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite 10 with M Pen Lite
I think the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite 10 is the best affordable option if you are looking for an Android tablet with pen support that does not come from Samsung. For this one, Huawei is offering the M Pen Lite which you can buy separately. It runs off a standard battery and supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. As with the M5 Pro, there are not many apps pre-installed that make use of the pen. So, you have to get them from the Play Store.
The MediaPad M5 Lite 10 itself is a good middle-class tablet. While it is not as fast as the Galaxy Tab S6, it is powerful enough for most. The screen is not as high-resolution, but then again, it is much cheaper. Its highlights are its premium features which include four speakers and a fingerprint sensor.
Windows Tablets with Stylus
Windows tablets with a stylus have been around for a long time. In fact, the first ones were released over ten years ago. However, they haven’t been popular until Microsoft released the Surface Pro series. And, as you can read below, I think the Surface series are among the best Windows tablets with a stylus out there. But if you are looking for something different or cheaper, check my recommendations below.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 with Surface Pen
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows tablet with a stylus. And I think for most, it is the best tablet with a pen overall. With the Surface Pro 7, we get an amazing build quality, a great display, and fast processors. Additionally, the Type Cover is a very good keyboard. And, while you have to buy it separately, the Surface Pen is an outstanding stylus. It is nice to hold, uses a standard battery, and features 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
You can get the Surface Pro 6 with Intel Core i3, i5 or Core i7 10th generation processors, as well as with up to 16GB of RAM and an up to 1TB SSD. Because of this hardware, it is as powerful as high-end notebooks are. At the same time, there are a lot of pen features build into Windows 10 like handwriting recognition and Microsoft OneNote. Its only downside is its price. You have to pay a premium price for a premium tablet.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Surface Pen
If you want to save some money, you can try to get a good deal on the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. While it’s 8th generation Intel Core i processors are not as fast and you don’t get a USB C port, everything else is almost the same. In fact, the Surface Pen for the Pro 6 and Pro 7 are the same one.
So, especially when using notes apps, you probably won’t notice a difference. But if you need lots of performance for programs like Adobe Photoshop CC, it could be worth it for many to invest a bit more in a bit better performance.
Microsoft Surface Pro X with Surface Slim Pen
I can recommend the Microsoft Surface Pro X for very few people only. It is a very premium-feeling tablet with an almost perfect design and a very pretty 13-inch screen. You can use it with the normal Surface Pen or the newer Surface Slim Pen.
However, since the Surface Pro X is shipped with an ARM processor, older desktop apps like Adobe Photoshop CC run much worse than on the Surface Pro 6 or 7. That means it’s a great choice for handwritten notes and drawing only. But certainly not for more professional designer apps. If you’re thinking about getting the Surface Pro X, you should read my review to get to know all up- and downsides in more detail.
Microsoft Surface Go with Surface Pen
While the Microsoft Surface Go is much smaller than the Surface Pro 6, it is much cheaper at the same time. I think it is very interesting if you are looking for a small tablet with the Surface design and the Surface Pen. In fact, the Surface Go works with exactly the same Surface Pen you can get for the Surface Pro 6. Because of that, the stylus is outstanding on here too.
The Surface Go features a 10-inch display with a full HD resolution and an Intel Pentium Gold processor. You can get it with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and a 64GB storage or 128GB SSD. It’s not really fast enough for intense Photoshop work but is fine for less demanding tasks.
Best iPad With Pen Support
Apple didn’t want us to use a stylus with an iPad for a very long time. But this did change in the last couple of years. Now you can get the so-called Apple Pencil which works with all current iPads including the cheapest 2018 and 2019 iPad. I mentioned above that I think that one is the best and cheapest option for most. However, if you need a higher-end device you should check out an iPad Air, iPad Mini, or iPad Pro. The newest iPad Pro models work with the Apple Pencil 2 only.
If you don’t want to get the pricey Apple Pencil then you can check out the Logitech Crayon as a cheaper alternative. That one works with all current iPads as well.
iPad Pro 11″ and 12.9″ with Apple Pencil 2
If you have a lot of money to spare, the 2018 iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch are the best pure tablets with pen support you can get. The Apple Pencil 2 is pressure sensitive and can recognize if you tilt it. It is charged through inductive charging on top of the iPad Pro. You can double-tap its side to switch tools in the notes app, for example. The pen is widely supported by iOS and a lot of third-party apps.
The current iPad Pro tablets are the fastest pure tablets available thanks to their Apple A12X SoC. In fact, they are faster than all iPhone or Android tablets. Among its highlights are high-resolution screens with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, full metal bodies, and Face ID which works great.
I’ve been using my 11-inch iPad Pro since the end of 2018 all the way through to the beginning of 2020 and I continue to love it.
iPad Air 3 (2019) with Apple Pencil 1
Apple iPad Air 3 is the best alternative if you don’t want to spend tons of money on an iPad Pro and want a more premium-feeling device than the standard iPad. This iPad Air supports the original Apple Pencil which you have to buy separately. The pen is pressure sensitive and works great all-through the operating system.
The tablet itself is almost as good as the iPad Pro. It features the same Apple A12 processor that we’re familiar with from the iPhone XS already. As usual, we’re getting a full metal body, Touch ID, two good speakers, and a pretty 10.5-inch display.
Read: My iPad Air 2019 Review
iPad Mini 6 (2019) with Apple Pencil 1
iPad Mini 2019 is the best 8-inch tablet you can buy. And, since you can use it with the original Apple Pencil, it also means it’s the best 8-inch tablet with a stylus you can get. You’ve read it before: The Apple Pencil 1 works great, is pressure sensitive, but has to be bought separate. It works on the iPad Mini just like on every other current iPad.
While the design of the iPad Mini almost did not change at all compared to the first iterations, it is very powerful thanks to an Apple A12C chipset and 3GB of RAM. Its build quality is very high-end, Touch ID is build-in, and iOS will be updated for many years to come.
Read: My iPad Mini 2019 Review
Apple iPad 7 with Apple Pencil 1
The Apple iPad 7 is the cheapest current tablet from Apple. Just like its predecessor, it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil which you’ve got to buy extra. It works just like it does on the iPad Air and iPad Mini. With that being said, unlike the Pro, Air, and Mini, the standard iPad 7 does not have a laminated screen. That means you can see a small air gap between the IPS panel and the touchscreen glas.
With its Apple A10 Fusion processor, it is the slowest iPad on this list but it is faster than many Android devices. Thanks to its 3GB RAM, it should continue to get regular iPadOS updates for the years to come.
Read: My Apple iPad 7 Review
How To Decide Which Is Best For You
Which is the best tablet with pen support for yourself? That depends on your personal needs, of course. First, you should ask yourself if you specifically need a certain operating system. Do you need a tablet with Windows 10 because you also want to run a program that does not exists for the other ones? That narrows down your options quite significantly. Or do you want an iPad because you’re also using an iPhone? Or do you prefer a Samsung tablet because you’re using a Galaxy Note smartphone and want to use the same pen?
After you thought about that, you should think about your budget. If you don’t have a limit, then the iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface Pro 7, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 are amazing choices. They’re the best of the best. But all of them are quite expensive, and unless you need lots of performance, you’ll get a very similar experience with one of the cheaper ones.
You should also consider the screen sizes. The 12-inch iPad Pro and Surface Pro 7 are very big. You’ll need a proper backpack or laptop bag to transport them. The iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen, on the other hand, will probably fit in the pocket of your jacket or your purse.
How I Review Tablets
To get comparable results, I review all tablets the same way. Usually, I start by running a couple of benchmarks to test their performance. I also do a battery test and check if they’re capable of running Netflix in HD. After I’m done with that, I use them as my daily driver. I watch YouTube and Netflix, play games, browser the web, and work with them with apps like Microsoft Word.
If the tablet supports an active pen, like the ones on this list all do, I also test the stylus. Does it support different levels of pressure sensitivity? Does it have a battery and do you need to recharge it? How do you recharge it?
Usually, I use the pens to write down handwritten notes and, if the tablet supports it, to edit photos in apps like Adobe Photoshop. Handwriting notes in apps like OneNote are a great way to test if the tablet supports palm rejection and how good it is. All tablets on this list are very good at that.
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