Tablet

6 Best Standalone Drawing Tablets That Work With A Pen Alone [2020 Update]

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There are some high-tech graphic tablets out there, but they are not your only option for creating digital art. A graphic tablet needs to be connected to a computer or laptop to function, whether or not it has a screen.

But thanks to brands like Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, we now have alternatives. We have found the best standalone tablets that work without a computer and give you equally amazing results.

But can they replace graphic tablets?

That is a judgment call. Graphic tablets were invented to be used by professionals. It was great when you needed to use a mouse for drawing and did not have enough specialized software for illustrations.

With a good quality digital pen or stylus and some new and improved graphic software, you can now turn your regular tab into a graphic tab. Here are our top picks for the best drawing tablets that don't need a computer:

Tablet

Operating System

Display Type

Screen Size

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Android 9.0 Pie (upgradable)

Super AMOLED

10.5” (266.7 mm)

Apple iPad (7th Gen)

iPad OS 13.1 (upgradable)

IPS LCD (Retina display)

10.2” (259.08 mm)

Apple iPad Pro (3rd gen)

iPad OS 13.4

IPS LCD (Liquid Retina Display)

12.9” (327.66 mm)

Apple iPad Air (5th Gen)

iPad OS 12.4.5

IPS (Retina display)

10.5” (266.7 mm)

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Windows 10 Home

PixelSense display

12.3” (312.42 mm)

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 16

Windows 10 Professional

IPS

15.6” (396.24 mm)

Samsung products are known to be premium. The Galaxy Tab S6 is probably one of their best inventions to date.


This device is running Android 9.0 Pie (now upgradable to Android 10), with a variation of 6GB or 8GB RAM. It has an octa-core processor and the user interface is considerably fast.

Device Specs:

  • Dimensions – 9.6 x 6.3 x 0.22 inches (244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm)
  • Weight – 0.92 pounds (420 g)
  • Screen size – 10.5” (266.7 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – Super AMOLED display
  • Resolution – 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • RAM – 6GB or 8GB
  • Internal Memory – 128GB or 256GB
  • Pen pressure sensitivity – 4096 levels
  • Battery – 7040 mAh

The Galaxy Tab S6 has a slim body of 0.22" (5.7 mm) thickness and weighs only 0.92 pounds (420 g) which means it is super light and easy to carry around. It comes in three beautiful colors – Cloud Blue, Rose Blush, and Mountain Gray.


It has a dual camera of 13MP and 5MP at the back and 8MP at the front. There is a fingerprint scanner on the screen to safely lock your data.

The S-Pen is included in the box and matches the colors of the device. It has some amazing features of its own. The pen is comfortable to hold with rounded edges and one shortcut button on the side.


It does need charging and apparently lasts up to 10 hours on standby. It attaches magnetically to the indent at the back of the tab and begins charging. This can also be used to carry the stylus with the tab.

The screen size is not too big at 10.5” (266.7 mm) diagonally, but it’s one of the things that make this a portable tablet. The resolution is great and colors are vibrant.


The pen has a rubbery nib that provides just enough friction so it doesn’t slip on the screen. It has over 4000 levels of pressure sensitivity, which lets you add almost as much detail to your art as you could on paper. This is the best Android tablet for drawing.


Not to mention, Samsung has improved its handwriting recognition, so you can take notes and the tab will convert it to typed text quite accurately.

Pros

  • Laminated screen. Minimum parallax, so drawing experience is great
  • Palm rejection is good, so you can comfortably place your palm on the screen while drawing (most of the time)
  • Stylus comes with the tablet
  • The tab supports multiple other digital pens, in case you’re not a fan of the S-Pen

Cons

  • You can mistakenly press the shortcut button with your thumb, and there is no way to customize or turn off that action.

There is no questioning the quality of an Apple product. With a 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, this is one of the most popular tablets in the market.


Its slim body of just 0.3" (7.5mm) will easily fit in your backpack. Consider both screen size and thickness (or maybe, thinness) and this is easily the best portable drawing tablet you can get. It comes in three elegant colors – Silver, Space Gray, and Gold.

Device specs:

  • Dimensions – 9.87 x 6.85 x 0.3 inches (250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 mm)
  • Weight – 1.06 pounds (483 g WiFi only), 1.09 pounds (493 g WiFi + cellular)
  • Screen size – 10.2” (259.08 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – Apple’s IPS LCD Retina display
  • Resolution – 2160 x 1620 pixels
  • RAM – 3GB
  • Internal Memory – 32GB or 128GB
  • Battery – 8827 mAh

This device runs iPad OS 13.1 (upgradable) and has a smooth user interface. Even though the RAM isn’t very high, performance is quite fast.


There is an 8MP camera with great image quality. The device can be locked with a fingerprint sensor, so nobody can steal your ideas.

The 10.2” (259.08 mm) IPS display is not ideal for drawing, but the side bezels are quite narrow, so it looks like you have a bigger working area. The resolution is pretty good and the screen gets pretty bright.

The iPad supports Apple Pencil 1st generation only. The pencil body has a smooth finish and is quite light. The whole thing is 6.92" (175.7 mm) in length – long enough for a secure grip.


There is a cap at the back that hides the lightning connector to charge the pencil. The pressure sensitivity levels are not disclosed by Apple, but must be very high – you will be able to tell when using it. Applying greater pressure produces thicker lines and it also has tilt support.

Pros

  • The tablet has great battery life
  • The screen is fingerprint resistant 

Cons

  • Stylus nib slides off the glass screen sometimes
  • You will have to buy the Pencil separately
Sale
Apple iPad (10.2-Inch, Wi-Fi, 32GB) - Silver (Latest Model)
10.2-Inch Retina Display; A10 Fusion chip; Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor; 8MP back camera, 1.2MP FaceTime HD Front camera

For even better specs and for more professional illustrations, you should consider the iPad Pro. It’s in the name.The 3rd generation has a larger 12.9” (327.66 mm) screen that is definitely better than its previous versions.


With a 0.23" (5.9 mm) thickness, this is Apple’s thinnest iPad. With its 4GB / 6GB RAM and Liquid Retina display, this one is the best tablet for graphic design that you can use without a computer.

Device specs:

  • Dimensions – 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches (280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm)
  • Weight – 1.41 pounds (641 g WiFi), 1.42 pounds (643 g WiFi + cellular)
  • Screen size – 12.9” (327.66 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – Liquid Retina display
  • Resolution – 2732 x 2048 pixels
  • RAM – 4GB or 6GB
  • Internal Memory – 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
  • Battery – 9720 mAh

It comes in two color options – silver and space gray – and both look elegant. The screen is fully laminated and makes images look super clear and life-like.


The average battery life is about 9 to 10 hours with heavy usage. It has dual cameras of 10 MP and 12 MP with an ultra-wide lens.

For this particular piece, you will need the Apple Pencil 2nd generation, which is quite an upgrade from the last one. It attaches magnetically to the side of the iPad for charging, which is also a comfortable way of carrying the stylus with your iPad.


This one is designed even more to look like an actual pencil. The matte body provides a good grip and the tilt support is really great – it creates a broader, less defined lines the same way a graphite pencil does. This stylus and the tab are the best combinations to create detailed illustrations or intricate designs.

The 12.9” (327.66 mm) display on the iPad Pro is perfect for detailed drawing and the screen resolution is incredible. The display is laminated and has True Tone display, which means the colors are richer and shades are more accurate.


It has a huge internal storage starting from 128GB to up to 1TB, so you can store your art files right in the device, however big the size may be.


Pros

  • The screen has an antireflective coating, so you can also use it outdoors
  • Compatible with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, which is an upgrade
  • Images are crisp, bright and colorful. The resolution is perfect for drawing and designing

Cons

  • You will have to buy the Pencil separately
Sale
Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi + Cellular, 512GB) - Silver (3rd Generation)
12.9-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion, True Tone, and wide color; A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine

The Apple iPad Air lives up to the tag “air” – with its 0.24" (6.1 mm) thickness, it’s probably one of the thinnest in the market. The beautiful slim metal body comes in three colors – Silver, Gold, and Space Grey.


It has a 3GB RAM and an A12 bionic chip, which is Apple’s latest. So even with an average RAM, the device performs well.

Device specs:

  • Dimensions – 10.09 x 6.85 x 0.24 inches ( 254.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm)
  • Weight – 1.0 pounds (456 g WiFi), 1.02 pounds (464 g WiFi + cellular)
  • Screen size – 10.5” (266.7 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – IPS Retina display
  • Resolution – 2224 x 1668 pixels
  • RAM – 3GB
  • Internal Memory – 64GB or 256GB
  • Battery – 8134 mAh

This device is mostly popular for being slim and light. It comes with an 8MP main camera with autofocus and HD video recording. The Touch ID sensor also works as a Home button like other Apple products.

It has a fully laminated display with antireflective coating. So you will see little to no parallax when drawing on it and you can use it outdoors.


It is a great device to carry when travelling, so you can make a quick sketch on the plane if inspiration strikes. This tab also features Wide color and True Tone display, so you will enjoy drawing on it.

To draw on this device, you will need the Apple Pencil 1st generation. It does support other styli, so you can try a third-party stylus too. The screen resolution is pretty good, though not as good as the iPad Pro.


Using this device is easy and would be one of the best drawing tablets for beginners. If you pick the model with 256GB of internal memory, you will not have to worry about clearing space at all.

Pros

  • Light as air (or as light as tabs can get)
  • Slim body, so easy to carry around
  • Laminated and antireflective screen
  • Third-party styli are also compatible

Cons

  • The OS version is older, so all updated features are not available
  • You will have to buy the stylus separately
Apple iPad Air (10.5-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray (Latest Model)
10.5-inch Retina Display with True Tone and wide Color; A12 Bionic chip; Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor and Apple Pay

In 2019, Microsoft launched one of its best in the Surface Pro range.


It has a large 12.3” (312.42 mm) display and Intel Core 10th gen processor – i3, i5, and i7. So you can pick yours based on your needs.

Device specs:

  • Dimensions – 11.5 x 7.91 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5 mm)
  • Weight – 1.71 pounds (775 g core i3 and i5), 1.74 pounds (790g core i7)
  • Screen size – 12.3” (312.42 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – PixelSense display
  • Resolution – 2736 x 1824 pixels
  • RAM – 4GB or 8GB or 16GB
  • Internal Memory – 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
  • Pen pressure sensitivity – 4096 levels
  • Battery – 5702 mAh

This device runs Windows 10 Home edition and comes in three variations of RAM – 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB. It comes with Intel UHD Graphics (for i3) and Intel Iris Plus Graphics (for i5 and i7). It has an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera.

The resolution on this screen is pretty good – the images are bright and sharp. It could be a bit higher for a 12.3” (312.42 mm) display but is still acceptable. The Surface Pen has over 4000 levels of pressure sensitivity, but does get somewhat jittery when drawing slowly.


But that may be more because of the screen, rather than the pen itself. It has a rubbery tip, so it provides good friction. It has tilt support and is compatible with any tablet in the Surface range.

It is a better option for work and to be used with the keyboard. It is not for professional artists. Overall, the performance of the device is pretty good and the features are great for something that was not designed to be a graphic tablet.


And since this is a Windows tab, there is a bunch of software or applications you can use for drawing – 3D drawing, animation – anything that runs on Windows will work here.

Pros

  • Palm rejection on the tab is very good
  • The Surface Pen has tilt support

Cons

  • Stylus has to be bought separately
  • Parallax is somewhat distracting
  • Battery life is not that great with heavy usage

Wacom has been most popular for creating pen displays and other graphic tablets. But to be included in this list, they also have a standalone tab you can use for drawing.


The Mobile Studio Pro 16 is a Windows-powered tablet that is designed for artists. There is a smaller version of this – Mobile Studio Pro 13 (but we’ll keep that one aside).

Device specs:

  • Dimensions – 10.31 x 16.46 x 0.83 inches (262 x 418 x 21 mm)
  • Weight – 4.63 pounds (2100 g)
  • Screen size – 15.6” (396.24 mm) diagonal
  • Display Type – IPS
  • Resolution – 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Express keys – 8 and 1 touch ring
  • RAM – 16GB
  • Internal Memory – 512 GB
  • Pen pressure sensitivity – 8192 levels
  • Battery – 4630 mAh

It is meant to be used on its own, but you can also connect it to a computer. It has a 15.6” (396.24 mm)display and Intel Core i7 processor. The screen is large and great for creating large and elaborate drawings.


The device is pretty heavy and not the best to carry around, even if it does not require a computer to operate.

There is an 8 MP rear camera and audio jack, and you can perform most activities on this like a regular tab. However, that’s not why you should buy this.

Since this is an actual graphic tablet, it comes with a pen, pen holder, replacement nibs, and drawing glove. It has 8 express keys for shortcuts and a touch ring, all aligned on one side. The center of the touch ring is a fingerprint reader, which is a nice surprise.

The screen has a matte finish, which is nice to draw on. But this is just preference, and some people prefer the glossy glass.


The high-resolution screen is incredible and designed for drawings. The Pro Pen 2 that comes with the tablet has over 8000 levels of pressure sensitivity but it does lag slightly. However, this varies based on what program you’re using. The pen does not require any charging, so you can use it for hours without interruptions.

This is probably the most expensive drawing tablet you will find in the market today. But if you want Wacom’s technology in a standalone device, you might want to make the investment.

Pros

  • The screen is laminated, so parallax is minimal
  • Resolution is perfect for drawing and creating illustrations
  • Battery-free stylus, so no charging required

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Battery life not great with heavy usage

If you are a professional artist, you may think the best graphics tablet is specifically designed for drawing. You’re probably right if you think these tabs may not be a replacement. You won’t buy one of these tablets for just drawing, will you?

They have added accessories and additional features as a bonus – so you can work conveniently in any place.

If you already have one of them, get a stylus and see how well they work.

If you have any other opinions or questions, we would love to hear them. Leave a comment below!


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