When tablets first emerged in the mainstream tech market, they were mainly regarded as expensive toys, suitable for some light gaming and playing audio tracks and movies.
Today, however, the highest-rated tablets are actually much more powerful than low- to mid-range laptops. If you're a serious photographer, perhaps you haven't yet considered the benefits of tablets.
Not only are they fast and smooth, but the addition of accessories like pens, combined with considerable display sizes, give the best tablet for photo editing a significant edge over computers when it comes to a more precise and customized experience.
So if you’re ready to invest, you’ll certainly appreciate our reviews and buying guide of the best ones below!
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Best Tablets for Photo Editing
Ready to find out what your new photo editing tab is going to be? Then you better get into our reviews. Here are the top tablets for photo editing, reviewed in detail.
1. Apple iPad Pro 12.9”
The general consensus of Apple products is that they certainly perform well, although they cost a lot. But the iPad Pro does more than just that. It's in the name: this is a device specifically designed to help professionals like you achieve your highest aspirations.
With its 12.9" screen, it's also one of the best tablets for photo editing on the market since the iPad Pro 12.9 2018, which is certainly an attractive feature for most photographers, we would imagine.
Boasting the highly efficient A12X Bionic chip, the iPad Pro is one of the smoothest and most functional machines on the market for anything at all. That's thanks to the addition of Apple's Neural Engine, which has the capacity to run 5 trillion operations per second.
If you're interested in using heavy-duty photo editing apps, therefore, you can only imagine the convenience this would afford you.
Another one of the Apple iPad Pro tablet's most prominent features is its integration of ProMotion technology, which refreshes the resolution 2048 x 732px display screen at 120Hz. If you'll be using an Apple Pencil stylus with the iPad, you'll no doubt be blown away by the smoothness of the Liquid Retina display.
And speaking of the Apple stylus, it's also pressure-sensitive-- the photo-editing possibilities for this tablet are endless, stylus or no! That is, of course, if you can afford it. To no one's surprise, the iPad Pro is the most expensive tablet on the market.
Generally, however, we find that the high price of the device only mirrors the absolutely premium experience of using it.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9”
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Yes, Apple products have certainly earned their place in the market and the hearts of thousands of premium-loving users worldwide. But don't forget the OG: Microsoft!
Microsoft took the market by storm with their Surface Pro tablet series not long ago. It is today widely regarded by numerous professional photographers as one of the best tablets for photo editing. This tablet offers cutting-edge features, a beautiful LCD screen display, and Windows 10 desktop computer functionality.
Surface Pro 7 is the one we will be discussing today. It is not simply a tab, but a laptop-tablet combination, making it the ideal choice if you are looking for a machine that can do more.
The sizable 12.3" touchscreen of this tablet not only affords you greater control but lets you enjoy more real estate when editing your raw images. If you bring the Surface Pen into the mix, there's no limit to what you'll be able to do (and perhaps you won't have to buy that Wacom separately!).
And as anyone experienced with Windows will tell you, it's an OS that combines versatility, comfort, and customizability like no other.
For the photographers reading this who prioritize the finer details, we can imagine no better match than the Surface Pro 7, which is equipped with the best-in-class Intel i5 or 17 processors (much more than your predecessors would have expected from a tablet for photo editing).
Not to mention, you'll be able to access a wide range of Windows-only programs besides, of course, Windows 10 desktop versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.
One drawback of the Pro 7 tablet that we have found is the battery life. Unfortunately, it does not outshine the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 battery (some have even compared it to the battery of the Microsoft Surface Go).
Although Microsoft claims that you can get up to 10.5 hours out of a single charge, this goes down significantly if you're doing some heavy-duty editing.
However, given what it can do and its lower price tag (compared to the iPad Pro) and new features (compared to the Surface Pro 6), we're willing to give this a pass. We live in the 21st century anyway, there's no lack of charging ports!
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
3. Apple iPad Air (2020)
If you long for the iPad Pro (who wouldn't want that Liquid Retina display?) but find yourself with insufficient funds for a tablet for photo editing, you might be interested in the iPad Air tablet.
It's a more affordable, albeit smaller, version of the iPad Pro. While it lacks some functionality that professionals might miss, it's still one of the highest-rated Apple machines on the market.
Let's look at some specs to understand better what the iPad Air tablet can do. It has a screen measuring 10.9 inches (significantly smaller than the Pro but still enough to carry out editing comfortably) that can project your images in 2360x1640px.
It comes with a RAM of 3GB and is available with either 64GB or 256GB of storage space. You can easily use your favorite apps, like Lightroom CC mobile.
However, we find that when it comes to tabs, 64GB is hardly adequate storage space for not only your photos but other apps and processes as well. As such, only the 256GB variation is, in our opinion, worth buying if you expect to use your tab frequently and for multiple purposes.
That being said, it's worth considering that the processing power the iPad Air is fitted with is just as powerful as those you will find in the other latest iOS devices. As such, you'll experience the characteristic smoothness of iOS devices.
Of course, you can always avail the full functionality of the Apple Pen (should you choose to dish out the additional amount).
Apple iPad Air (2020)
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
Anyone who has ever used a Samsung device can attest to the brand's knack for brilliant engineering. Well, if you're looking for an Android tablet for photo editing, we really doubt you can find a better one than the S7 tablet. Thus, it’s considered among the best tablets for photo editing.
Despite having specs that not only rival but even surpass the Apple iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro 7's, this tablet is also one of the most affordable photo editing tablets on the market.
Let's start with our favorite bit: the large, ultra-usable 12.4" screen with an impressive resolution of 2800x1752px. This screen has the capacity to operate at 120Hz, with a DPI of 274 (higher than the 265 DPI of the iPad Pro).
As you can imagine, using this Android tab will not only be super easy and smooth but a veritable pleasure, making it quite a gem as a tablet for photo editing.
Something else the S7 tablet offers that sets it apart is its inclusion of a microSD port. This one is certainly a crucial feature in tablets for editing photos, particularly for photographers who are always on the move or don't always have access to the cloud.
With lower downtime, you'll be able to get your edits done faster and keep up with your clients' no doubt demanding deadlines.
Oh, and did you know that the stylus compatible with the S7 tablet does not have to be purchased separately? That's right, but should you choose to buy the S Pen, you'll love turning your tablet into a Wacom.
If you like using Photoshop, though, this is not the right tablet for you as it's not compatible with the software. Given that you have a wide and varied range of other high-end photo editing apps, however, we think it's a small trade-off for what is without question the best Android tablet for photo editing.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
5. Apple iPad 10.2 (2020)
For our final pick today in photo editing tablets, we have selected for you the 8th generation Apple iPad, released in 2020. It comes with a Retina display measuring 10.2", impressive battery life, and offers compatibility with most photo editing apps. And also, it's the most affordable Apple product on our list.
With its A12 Bionic chip and associated Neural Engine, this iPad boasts as much functionality, smoothness, and efficiency as any other Apple device can offer you. Some users might find the 128GB onboard memory lacking, but it really depends on how you sort and organize your resources.
While the screen of the 8th gen Apple iPad is certainly shiny and bright enough, it's worth noting that it does not sport the benefits you would get from features like ProMotion.
However, this is reflected in the lower price, so you can't really blame them. Besides, you'll still have easy access to Adobe Photoshop and other most-wanted editing programs, and you can always enlist the help of an Apple Pencil stylus.
All in all, this is a good choice for those looking for a photo editing tablet with decent screen size on a tight budget.
If you're expecting to be able to spend more in the future, however, we would certainly recommend waiting and getting yourself the iPad Air instead. That's not to say that this is not a good device for editing photos and won't serve you well; just don't expect to be able to move mountains with it!
Apple iPad 10.2 (2020)
What Things to Consider Before Buying a Tablet for photo Editing
What sets a regular tablet apart from tablets that allow you to edit your photos with ease and efficiency? Look out for the following features when selecting your new tab!
Of course, one of the most important features of a suitable photo editing tablet is a high screen resolution and high pixel density that allows you to view and edit your images in high quality. Imagine how many details you might miss due to a lower resolution.
You don't want your edits to be any less than perfect. A related display concern is the size of the screen. You don’t want to have to zoom in and constantly scroll to be able to see your photos in detail. However, if you’ll use your tab for editing infrequently, you can probably get away with buying a tab with a smaller screen.
In the realm of photo quality, color accuracy, and high color depth are also important considerations. While some mid to low-end tabs may be fitted with capable processors that can run photo editing programs with ease, they fall short in terms of representing true color.
If that sounds concerning to you, make sure to look into tablets with a high bit depth—the higher that is, the more shades of color each pixel can accommodate.
No matter how high the processing power or how beautiful the display of your new tablet is, it won't matter unless it can handle the demands of a busy photographer. Particularly if you intend to make your new tablet your only editing tool, battery life is not something you should compromise on.
And remember, tablets are meant to be portable. Poor battery life is a sign of a poorly made tablet in the first place.
How much does your new tablet weigh? Can it fit comfortably into your laptop or camera bag? Is it designed for easy on-the-use go? Do its accessories (charger, stylus, or pen) take up too much space?
The answers to all of these questions combined will determine the portability of your tablet. If you’re a photographer who is always on the move, a too-heavy tablet would reasonably be considered a deal breaker.
OS & Compatibility
As you probably already know, the market is dominated by three operating systems: iOS, Android, and Windows, and so it is for tablets as well. Chances are you're already well acquainted with at least one of these systems.
So if you've been using iPads for most of your photography career and are used to handling iOS, it wouldn't make much sense to switch to a Windows tab.
That being said, it's also important to remember that not all tablets can run all photo editing software. For example, Adobe Photoshop is only available on iOS devices (which usually come in a high price range). You won't be able to use it on an Android or Windows tablet.
Meanwhile, some Android and Windows users find the higher customizability to be beneficial, with some tabs from the latter offering Windows 10 functionality as well.
Another consideration is whether your tablet can be used with accessories, such as the Apple Pencil or Samsung S Pen. These additions to a tablet can significantly enhance ease of usage and convenience and allow you to properly utilize a good display.
And of course, it means the tablet can also double as a drawing tablet or graphics tablet (it's no Wacom, but it sure as hell gets the job done!).
As with all electronic devices with a storage capacity, the available internal memory of a tablet should be selected according to the user's needs. Even if you're storing your raw images in the cloud, you'll have to account for the space taken up by your editing apps and their processes.
And if you'll mainly be working offline, there's no question that you'll need more space on your tablet.
When all is said and done, we are quite compelled to name the Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft as the best tablet for photo editing, with access to full-size editing applications, easy laptop conversion, and high-range tech specs.
Not interested in a 2-in-1 tablet like the Microsoft Surface? Then the iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet is where you should set your sights, although it will certainly leave a sizable hole in your bank account.
May your photos always be gorgeous. Good luck with your new tablet!