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The best stylus tablets for note-taking and drawing

Bring your note-taking and drawings to life with the best stylus tablets. The ones we chose feature fast processors, built-in stylus charging ports, and beautiful displays.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor and  Sean Jackson, Contributor
Reviewed by Amy Lieu
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | Best stylus tablet overall
samsung-galaxy-tab-s8-ultra
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Best stylus tablet overall
View now View at Samsung
Apple iPad Pro | Best stylus tablet running iPadOS
ipad-pro
Apple iPad Pro
Best stylus tablet running iPadOS
View now View at B&H Photo-Video
Microsoft Surface Pro X | Best stylus tablet for Windows users
microsoft-surface-pro-x
Microsoft Surface Pro X
Best stylus tablet for Windows users
View now View at Staples
Apple iPad Air (2022) | Best lightweight stylus tablet
apple-ipad-air
Apple iPad Air (2022)
Best lightweight stylus tablet
View now View at Amazon
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook | Best 2-in-1 stylus tablet
lenovo-ideapad-duet-5-chromebook
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook
Best 2-in-1 stylus tablet
View now View at Walmart

Nothing beats the portability and accuracy that a stylus tablet offers when it comes to content creation -- at home, in-between classes, or on the go. With a larger canvas than even the best stylus phones, tablets are excellent for photo- and video-editing, notetaking, sketching, and more. 

Moreover, the best ones offer long battery life, extensive stylus support, and the processing prowess to power through any application.

While the iPad and Apple Pencil are arguably the most popular tablet-stylus duo, there are plenty of other top-tier tablets on the market that, in some cases, benefit your workflow even more. We've hand-picked the very best stylus tablets for students, professionals, and casual users below.

Also: The 5 best stylus pens 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large, Super AMOLED, 14.6-inch display
  • 2.8 millisecond latency on the included S Pen
  • An ultra-flagship tablet with the latest processor
Cons
  • Pricier than other stylus tablets
  • Large size can be uncomfortable to wield
More Details

Display: 14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED 2,960 x 1,848 display | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, microSD up to 1TB | Memory: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB | Colors: Graphite | Cameras: 13MP and 6MP rear. 12MP and 12MP ultrawide front camera | Weight: 1.6 lb | Dimensions: 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches | Connections: USB-C | Battery: 11,200mAh

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the latest and greatest tablet from the Korean tech giant. Launched in February of this year, it caught the eyes of artists, designers, and S-Pen lovers, because -- frankly, it's a big tablet. With a 14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED panel, the Tab S8 Ultra is arguably the largest tablet on the market (not counting 2-in-1s).

Besides providing an immersive entertainment experience, the 14.6-inch panel makes for an unbounded canvas, or at least it feels like it. Samsung's S Pen, which comes included with the tablet, now carries a 2.8ms latency. That means your inputs and strokes appear on the screen the moment the stylus touches it. The Tab S8 Ultra also carries some nifty S Pen tricks that play hand-in-hand with the software experience. Air Commands, for example, allows you to capture and edit screenshots by pressing the S Pen's hardware button.

Review: ZDNET goes hands-on with the Tab S8 Ultra

On the spec front, the Tab S8 Ultra is as beefed up as any flagship Android tablet can get. Under the hood is Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, a quad-camera setup for video calls and 8K recording, and a massive 11,200mAh battery.

It's not a compact tablet by any means, but for the same price as the Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch), the Tab S8 Ultra is the stylus tablet to buy if you favor a large screen.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Robust and optimized app support with iPadOS
  • Seamless integration with an Apple Pencil
  • Bright and color-accurate Liquid Retina XDR display (12.9-inch model)
Cons
  • Price can add up with extra accessories and 5G
  • Apple Pencil sold separately
More Details

Display: 11-inch Retina or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display | Processor: Apple Silicon M2 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB | Biometrics: Face ID | Colors: Silver, space gray | Cameras: 12MP rear, 10MP ultrawide, 4K video. 12MP FaceTime ultrawide camera | Weight: 11-inch: 1.03 pounds; 12.9-inch: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11-inch: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches, 12.9-inches: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25-inches| Connections: Thunderbolt/USB 4 port | Battery life: 10 hours

The latest iPad Pro is Apple's tried-and-true stylus tablet. On its own, the iPad Pro is capable of running the most graphics-intensive programs, like LumaFusion and Procreate. (You have Apple's in-house Silicon M2 to thank for that.) Toss in 5G connectivity and an Apple Pencil, and you get a productivity beast for your on-the-go duties. Both of those add-ons do come at a cost, but for the enhanced iPadOS experience, we've reasoned that they're worth the money.

Also: How to take notes on your iPad with an Apple Pencil 

Coming in either the 11-inch or the 12.9-inch, the biggest differences between the iPad Pro configurations are display quality and battery life. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers a Liquid Retina XDR display, with XDR being Apple's slang for HDR. This difference is key if you want the most accurate color representation for graphics designing and color-coding videos. The smaller 11-inch iPad is much easier to hold and less of a burden to carry around.

Both tablets utilize Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports, ideal if you plan on connecting the iPad Pro to an external monitor, storage device, or dock. ZDNET's Jason Cipriani covered the feature in his full review and found the increased speed and performance match that of his pricier MacBook Pro.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • A familiar Windows experience in a portable body
  • Excellent battery life for a day's use
  • Available with LTE
  • Lightweight and responsive Surface Pen
Cons
  • ARM-based processor limits to 32-bit apps
  • Slim Pen 2 and Signature Keyboard sold separately
More Details

Display: 13-inch PixelSense display | Processor: Microsoft SQ 1 or Microsoft SQ 2 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB | Memory: 8GB or 16GB | Biometrics: Windows Hello face unlock | Colors: Matte black or platinum | Cameras: 10MP rear, 1080p video. 5MP front-facing camera | Weight: 1.7 lbs | Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 inches | Connections: 2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect, 1 x nano SIM | Battery life: 15 hours

One of the best Windows-powered stylus tablets comes in the form of Microsoft's Surface Pro X. The 2-in-1 runs on the latest Windows 11 operating system and is now offered with an SQ2 ARM-based processor for improved performance and battery life.

The Surface Pro X is most compatible with the Surface Slim Pen 2, a wireless-charged stylus that enables you to sketch, write, and navigate the tablet with what Microsoft calls "Zero force inking". As the name suggests, using the Slim Pen 2 on the Surface device produces near-zero latency, giving your inputs 4,096 points of pressure and a sense of realism. Like the Apple Pencil, you will have to buy the Slim Pen 2 separately, and if you want Microsoft's Signature Keyboard with a housing for the stylus, then you'll have to pay extra.

Still, the Surface Pro X is arguably the best Microsoft-owned stylus tablet on the market and offers a familiar Windows experience in a slim and lightweight form factor. It also comes with an LTE variant if you're expecting to use the tablet outdoors.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lightweight and portable tablet
  • iPadOS feature-set is the same as that on the Pro
  • Starting price of $551 is fairly affordable versus the competition
Cons
  • Base storage of 64GB may not be enough for power-users
  • Second-generation Apple Pencil is sold separately
More Details

Display: 10.9-inch Retina display | Processor: Apple Silicon M1 | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Silver, space gray, pink, purple, blue| Cameras: 12MP rear, 4K video. 12MP FaceTime camera | Weight: 1.0 lb | Dimensions: 9.74 x 7 x 0.24 inches | Connections: USB-C port | Battery life: 10 hours

The Apple iPad Air (2022) is a worthy alternative to the aforementioned iPad Pro. As the name suggests, It's the most lightweight tablet that Apple offers, and with the latest 2022 model, you're not only getting a revamped design, but a magnetic frame to snap a second-generation Apple Pencil onto.

While a step short of the performance and capabilities of the Pro model, the iPad Air still runs on the latest version of iPadOS. That means you'll have a very similar software experience, access to the same catalog of Apple-approved tablet apps, and use the Apple Pencil the same way as you would on the more expensive Pro.

The iPad Air sports a 10.9-inch Retina display and weighs exactly one pound. Together, you get a highly portable stylus tablet that gives you 80% of what the Pro model does, for significantly less money.

Review: ZDNET's Jason Cipriani reviews the iPad Air (2022)

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 2-in-1 form factor provides flexibility
  • Gorgeous and sharp 13.3-inch OLED display
  • Battery-efficient tablet
  • Responsive stylus pen
Cons
  • Lack of professional app support on Chrome OS
  • Lenovo USI sold separately
More Details

Display: 13.3-inch OLED display | Processor: Qualcomm ARM Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 | Storage: 128GB | Colors: Abyss Blue | Cameras: 8MP rear, 1080 video. 5MP front-facing camera. | Weight: 1.5 lbs | Dimensions: 12.05 x 7.32 x 0.27 inches | Connections: USB-C port | Battery life: 12 hours

Users who crave the simplistic Chrome OS experience can look to the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 for $599. While much cheaper than other stylus tablet options, the Duet 5 carries a spec sheet that's worth a look.

For starters, it's a 2-in-1 Chromebook, meaning you can detach the 13.3-inch OLED display and use the Duet 5 as a standalone tablet, or keep it stationed to utilize the physical keyboard and trackpad. Under the hood is a Qualcomm ARM Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor and 8GB of RAM, which is more than enough power to run through the cloud-reliant Chrome OS. The battery efficiency that we've come to expect with Chromebooks is also present with the Duet 5. From testing, we found the 2-in-1 to last up to 12 hours on average.

Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 review

The Duet 5 plays well with the Lenovo USI Stylus, which boasts 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, over 150 days of battery life (via AAAA batteries), and is optimized for Chrome OS. A stylus sells for $39.

What is the best stylus tablet?

The best stylus tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra due to its massive display that's just as satisfying to interact with as it is to look at. It features a long-lasting 11,200mAh battery, up to 1TB of storage, and a new S Pen that's both accurate and Bluetooth enabled. Here is a look at how the best stylus tablets stack up to each other in pricing, processor, and display: 

Stylus tablet

Price

Processor

Display

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

$400

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED

Apple iPad Pro 

$800

Apple Silicon M2

11-inch or 12.9-inch, 120Hz, Liquid Retina XDR

Microsoft Surface Pro X

$569

Microsoft SQ 1 or Microsoft SQ 2

13-inch PixelSense display

Apple iPad Air (2022)

$551

Apple Silicon M1

10.9-inch Retina display

Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 5

$459

Qualcomm ARM Snapdragon 7c Gen 2

13.3-inch OLED display

Our main goal was to find the best options to appeal to different purposes and budgets. That way, you had a diverse selection of options. 

Which is the right stylus tablet for you?

Depending on your use cases and needs, one (or more) of the aforementioned stylus tablets should be a match. All of the tablets are the latest and greatest from the respective manufacturers. It means you're getting the best technology that's available. Beyond sketching and precision input, each stylus tablet pick will serve you well as traditional, portable slabs for browsing, entertainment, and picture-taking. Here is a look at the unique purposes each of these stylus tablets serve: 

Choose this stylus tablet...

If you want...

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

The overall best featuring a large display with a 14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED display

Apple iPad Pro 

A tried-and-true stylus tablet that only gets better for Apple users with its M2 chip 

Microsoft Surface Pro X

A Windows-powered tablet with the stylus built-in and exceptional battery life 

Apple iPad Air (2022)

Portability and the efficiency of Apple's M1 chip with a starting price under $600

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5

A premium 2-in-1 that's simple to use, features a sharp 13.3-inch OLED display. and excellent battery life 

How did we choose these tablets?

After testing each of these tablets for an extended period of time, we found them all to perform exceptionally well as standalone devices, and even better when paired with a stylus.

Form factor was another consideration. Whether you're planning to use a stylus tablet for work, business, or during a commute, there are available options that prioritize portability and comfort, and ones that do best when stationed.

Lastly, some consumers prefer Apple's clear-cut and user-friendly iPadOS, while others enjoy Windows for the customization and PC-like experience. That's why there's a recommended pick for every popular operating system. 

Can I use any stylus with my tablet?

Tablets are built with capacitive touch screens which allow your fingers to interact with them. That said, most styluses have capacitive tips that function and replicate the same physical input. In turn, it allows them to tap and swipe on virtually all touch screen displays. 

Still, smart features found on the Apple Pencil and Samsung S Pen are hardwired to their respective tablets, limiting the functionality when used with anything else. That's why it's vital to choose the right tool for the job, as it maximizes the benefits of using them. 

Also: The 6 best iPad stylus of 2023

What if the stylus breaks?

Whether your stylus breaks or is nowhere to be found, most manufacturers offer replacements at an additional cost or free with a qualified insurance plan. Some insurance options also won't charge a deductible if it's due to a mechanical breakdown. With others, you'll have to fork over a fee, that oftentimes, can be just as much if not more than just replacing the part. 

The Apple Pencil, for example, can be purchased on Amazon. Meanwhile, you can normally find stylus pens through electronic retailers or your cellular provider. 

Are there alternative stylus tablets worth considering?

We chose options from Android tablets to Apple iPads. If you want more choices, here are several worthy ones to consider:

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