Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks and Saad
Finding the best iPad for Procreate is something that an increasing number of digital artists are pondering over. Over the years, drawing on an iPad has evolved into a serious professional alternative to traditional drawing tablets.
Many creatives, like myself, nowadays prefer a high-end iPad plus an Apple Pencil over a drawing or graphic tablet, and for good reason. The primary advantage is one’s ability to use Procreate on an Apple device. However, this begs the question: which iPad is the best for Procreate?
In a nutshell, iPad Pro 12.9 is the best iPad for Procreate and creating digital art in general. It is the most powerful iPad with an incredible display to facilitate the drawing process. However, budget and size constraints can push artists to pursue other iPads for using Procreate. iPad Air and Mini are good options if the Pro version seems out of reach.
I have examined and graded the iPads on this list in terms of specifications most relevant to artists and, specifically, Procreate users. Read on to find out more about the best iPad for you!
|Display||12.9-inch retina (2732 x 2048)|
|RAM||Up to 16 GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 Hours|
Why iPad Pro 12.9 is the best iPad for Procreate?
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the best iPad on the market. With a 12.9-inch display, the artwork will simply seem stunning because of the iPad’s contrast and sharpness. The iPad Pro 12.9 is powered by Apple’s M2 CPU chip which means that its total performance is capable of handling Procreate without question. Additionally, the display’s refresh rate of 120Hz ensures excellent responsiveness so you can see your drawing in sync even if you draw really fast.
Without question, it is the greatest iPad for using Procreate and digital drawing in general. However, 12.9 is the most expensive iPad on the market so unless you plan on doing a lot of professional sketching and drawing, it probably offers far more computer and display power than you would need. Hence, in that case, buying a cheaper iPad on this list will be a better option.
It is also compatible with the Apple Pencil 2 which is one of the best styluses available right now. The Apple Pencil 2 performs admirably here, and the 120Hz screen contributes to the best responsiveness possible.
|Display||11-inch Retina (2388 x 1668)|
|RAM||Up to 16GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 Hours|
The 11-inch iPad Pro offers the same technology as a 12.9 but in a smaller package and at a cheaper price, making it an exceedingly good bargain. In essence, it offers the best value for money. While it employs much of the same technology as the 12.9, the 11-inch model provides additional flexibility with compatibility for Apple’s Smart Folio and Magic Keyboard, which is ideal for folks who want to write as well as draw. Of course, like 12.9, it also supports Apple Pencil 2.
The iPad Pro 11 is comparable to a desktop PC-level performance. However, similar to the 12.9 version, unless you are a professional artist engaging in heavy-duty artwork and 3D modeling, I wouldn’t recommend investing in this device as it is usually unrealistic for an intermediate or beginner artist to use the iPad to its full potential. An iPad Air or Mini might be a better fit for you in this case.
Why We Ranked iPad Pro 12.9 Above iPad Pro 11
While the 11-inch may be adequate for most people, there are some limitations for a professional artist. If you frequently work with high-brightness and high-contrast HDR material, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the ideal iPad for you. 11-inch may not provide such a detailed view and this can be troublesome for artists who like working on the finest details.
The new Liquid Retina XDR display of the iPad Pro 12.9 is designed to provide high brightness, deep blacks, and all of the tiny details that might otherwise be lost in the iPad Pro 11. 12.9 is great for viewing and editing anything with high brightness and contrast, such as HDR images. Furthermore, iPad Pro 12.9 also provides a larger canvas that complements fine-detailed drawing on Procreate. Once again, the comfort of a large screen may not be found in the 11-inch.
|Display||10.9-inch Retina (2360 x 1640)|
|Processor||Apple M1 chip with Neural Engine|
|Storage||Up to 256GB|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 Hours|
If you’re searching for an iPad that can be used for more than simply Procreate, such as editing and collaging, the iPad Air 5th Gen is a good option as it has double the storage space and is speedier than the 4th Gen.
The iPad Air 5th generation supports Procreate in any and every way. It makes use of advanced technology, including True Tone and P3 broad color. I found the illumination to be very even, color correct, and contrast to be excellent, making it an excellent iPad for all types of creative visual work, including sketching. Simply put, it offers a bright, clear, and colorful display that enhances the drawing experience, be it in Procreate or any other drawing app.
For a lesser budget, the screen resolution is comparable to that of the iPad Pro devices, which is great news! It is the best iPad for Procreate with advanced features at a lesser price than the Pro 12.9. The exceptional 8-core GPU provides quicker visuals and double the graphics performance, allowing you to sketch and filter in Procreate or even construct 3D models.
However, note that the iPad Air 5th Gen can’t compete with the Pro 12.9’s brightness levels. The 60Hz refresh rate also means your drawing takes somewhat longer to display on the screen. However, if you want to find a middle ground between the iPad Mini and the iPad Pro, this is your best bet.
|Display||8.3-inch Retina (2266 x 1488)|
|Processor||2.9GHz Apple A15 Bionic|
|Storage||Upto 256 GB|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 Hours|
Artists may also enjoy the iPad Mini in terms of its size(8,3-inches), and some even claim that the sketching experience is completely different. The iPad Mini is an excellent pick for any newbie who is just getting into Procreate. The latest iPad mini has more than enough computing power to run any Procreate design you can think of.
The iPad Mini is an excellent alternative for artists who frequently travel, as the larger iPad Pros aren’t the most portable option while working on the go. As an artist, I can understand the need to make art in public places, especially if you like to draw from live references. The new iPad mini is small and portable, but it still has enough power for drawing compared to the normal iPad.
However, as an artist who might be fond of using too many layers, you must note that RAM limitations can limit the number of layers being used in Procreate. Similarly, canvas size can also be limited based on the device. Larger the RAM, the greater the number of layers and canvas size. For more details on these restrictions, click here.
With compatibility with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, the overall size of the iPad will have no bearing on the ease with which creations will flow. As with most other iPads, 10 hours of battery life can help you draw for many hours before needing to charge again. The True Tone display has a high resolution which only adds to the color fidelity and as an artist, you can’t help but think of it as a plus point.
The A15 Bionic chip ensures that everything, including Procreate, runs smoothly, and there’s up to 256GB of native storage space, which is more than enough for an average user. Hence, running Procreate won’t be an issue on this device. I think it is the best beginner iPad for Procreate.
I want to emphasize that it’s 8.3-inches big, and the iPad Pro is 12.9 inches. There’s quite a difference if you compare their sizes side by side, so it’s not for everyone to draw on such a small device.
The iPad to Avoid: Regular iPad
Note that most regular iPads do not support Apple Pencil 2, and the 5th generation iPad is not even compatible with Apple Pencil 1, requiring a third-party stylus. While you may be able to download Procreate on a regular iPad, the lack of compatibility with an Apple Pencil 2 makes the experience rather painstaking as an artist misses out on the advanced features.
The Apple Pencil 2 charges wirelessly and allows a double-tap on the pencil to activate certain features, such as switching between drawing and erasing. When connected to the iPad, it charges automatically. Charging is a little awkward with the first-generation Apple Pencil. Thus, an iPad’s compatibility with Apple Pencil 2 is a dealbreaker for most professionals.
The display isn’t completely laminated. There’s a small gap between the glass and the screen. Using it with Apple Pencil feels laggy due to this.
How much does Procreate cost?
Procreate costs $9.99 as a one-time purchase. The price may slightly vary based on your region.
Does Procreate work on a regular iPad?
Procreate is compatible with the following regular iPads:
- iPad (9th generation) – NOT compatible with Apple Pencil 2
- iPad (8th generation) – NOT compatible with Apple Pencil 2
- iPad (7th generation) – NOT compatible with Apple Pencil 2
- iPad (6th generation) – NOT compatible with Apple Pencil 2
- iPad (5th generation) – NOT compatible with Apple Pencil 1 or 2
For iPad (5th generation), you would need any of the following active styli:
- Adonit – Jot Touch 4, Jot Touch Pixelpoint, Jot Script, Jot Script 2, Pixel
- Wacom – Intuos Creative Stylus 1 & 2, Bamboo Fineline 1, 2, & 3, Bamboo Sketch
What accessories do you need for Procreate?
Apple Pencil is a MUST-HAVE for using Procreate on iPad. There are two Apple Pencils on the market. Both Apple Pencil 1 and 2 support tilt and rotation detection while also offering good pressure detection. Hence, both make excellent use of the diverse brush inventory provided in Procreate. Both Pencils also have the same low latency.
However, you may see even lower latency on-screen when using Apple Pencil 2 with a compatible iPad Pro because of the high refresh rate. Hence, the iPad Pro coupled with Apple Pencil 2 offers the best possible drawing experience.
Note that the sensation of the Apple Pencil tip when it strikes the glass is rather firm which may not be pleasant for those who are fond of softer plastic tips. Of course, like any other feature, this really boils down to personal preference. I personally enjoy working with harder tips as they are more durable than softer ones.
Drawing on a slightly inclined surface from the back is a really pleasant position compared to drawing with your iPad laying flat. Using a stand for your iPad is a great idea if you plan on working for longer hours. There are a variety of tablet stands on the market. Some have several adjustment angles, while others are small and portable. While choosing a stand for yourself, make sure to find quite a sturdy one for maximum convenience.
When sketching, our hands are in constant contact with the iPad’s surface. You may frequently find your hands getting a bit sweaty after extended drawing sessions. This can be bad as sweaty hands stick to the sketching surface while making it challenging to have a strong hold on the Apple Pencil.
A high-quality artist’s glove absorbs sweat and keeps your hands dry. It prevents perspiration and oil from being transmitted from your hands to the iPad. It also minimizes friction between your palm and the iPad screen, allowing you to slide your hands effortlessly across the screen.
Matte Screen Protector
Writing with a plastic stylus on a slick glass screen does not provide enough of a realistic drawing experience as the Apple Pencil seems a touch too slippery. Hence, many artists choose the matte screen protector with a textured surface such as the one by Paperlike. Artists love it because it helps:
- Protect the screen from scratches
- Reduce reflection and glare while working outdoors
- Provide texture for better control, stylus handling and movement
Apple Pencil Grips
Many artists claim that using the Apple Pencil is difficult because its plastic shell, along with its tiny form factor, does not provide a good hold on sweaty palms. There is, however, a simple extension that enhances the breadth and grip of the Apple Pencil. We recommend the Uppercase Nimble Grip which is a high-quality grip with an angled
What’s the best way to learn Procreate?
If you’re just getting into the world of Procreate, things may seem a little overwhelming. There is a vast variety of resources you could use to learn Procreate. However, I have compiled a short and comprehensive list of my favorite resources to help you out:
iPad Art Created on Procreate
We went to Twitter and see what art people are creating using their iPad & Procreate app, and we found some amazing artwork inspiring.
Beginner Guide – How To Get Started With Procreate
The world of iPads can be intimidating for many Procreate users. With the latest features and excellent Apple Pencils, there is far too much to choose from. Nearly all iPads are powerful creative tools so picking the right one can be tricky. If you plan to take your drawing seriously, the best option is the iPad Pro 12.9-inches 6th gen (2022). There’s no question about it.
However, as long as you consider budget, drawing preferences, need, and utility, you should be able to find the best fit for yourself. Just take a look at the list above.