The best tablet for photo editing is more than just a way to view your images – it's also a powerful machine that can take your photos to the next level. With models to suit every budget from top-tier manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung, users have their pick of the best tablets for photo editing.
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There's no denying that editing on an ordinary laptop or desktop can give excellent results. However, with tablet processors increasing in power and screen fidelity consistently improving, it's no surprise that many photographers are investing in adding a tablet to their photo editing workflow.
With the introduction of the powerful iPad Pro 2021, which runs the M1 chip (also found in the Mac Mini M1, the iMac 2021 and some of Apple's best laptops), Apple has truly created a portable powerhouse.
However, while iPads used to be the obvious choice for the best tablet for photo editing, powerful rivals have appeared over recent years. Microsoft, Samsung and even Amazon have joined the action, introducing some fantastic photo editing tablets that can be whipped out at a moment's notice. Depending on your needs, preference and budget, you can be sure that there's a tablet that's right for you.
We've scoured the internet to find the very best tablets that are currently available – and we've also found the best deals available for them too. If you're working with a tighter budget, then don't worry – we've included some older tablets that are fantastic value for money. Meanwhile, if you've got the cash to splash on a tablet with all the requisite bells and whistles, we've got the crème de la crème as well.
Discover the best tablets for photo editing below – and discover a new, much more flexible way of working.
• See also: Best Wacom tablets
Best tablet for photo editing
The brand new iPad Pro (2021) 12.9 is definitely one of the best tablets for photo editing – or, indeed, pretty much anything creative that you want to set your mind to. The iPad Pro is the first tablet to ever house the Apple M1 chipset. This means that the 8-core CPU will be 50% faster than the previous generation, while the 8-core GPU will deliver 40% faster graphics (interestingly, the new iPad Pro will be an astounding 1500x faster than the very first iPad Pro!).
Outside of the introduction of the M1 chip, some of the other exciting features include a 2TB storage option, the addition of 5G (and in the US, users will be able to experience super-fast mmWave 5G) and a new 12MP ultra-wide front-facing camera with a 122º field of view. This new TrueDepth selfie camera is particularly intriguing, as it features the new Center Stage function, which is perfect for video conference calls and streaming content online.
The iPad Pro (2021) 12.9 is admittedly pretty expensive, so if you're on a budget then you may want to check out some of the other options in our guide to the best tablets for photo editing. However, if you've got the cash to splash, the substantial upgrades to the iPad Pro mean that there's no better investment for your money.
If you're in the market for a tablet running Microsoft's OS, you'll be hard pushed to beat the Surface Pro 7. Featuring the processing power of a laptop, a beautiful 12.3-inch PixelSense display and a longer battery life than many, the Surface Pro is, without a doubt, one of the best tablets for photo editing.
But what really sets the Surface Pro apart is its functionality. The device features the latest multicore processors, which means you're not limited to mobile versions of anything, including the operating system. The Pro 7 is able to run the full Windows OS and, perhaps more importantly, the full version of your favorite photo editing software too.
The Surface Pro 7 also has a dedicated full-size illuminated keyboard, touchpad and precise pressure-sensitive stylus (all sold separately) – the combined package providing photographers with everything they need for high-precision photo editing.
It might be a generation old now, but the iPad Pro 2020 is still a fantastic bit of kit. In general, as tablets go, this one is hard to beat when you take into account its big beautiful screen, portable and stylish design, useful peripherals and iOS running on Apple’s A12Z Bionic chipset. But does that make it one of the best tablets for photo editing?
The answer is, quite simply, yes. The Pro offers an attractive combination of high power and portability, which can run Lightroom CC Mobile and Photoshop CC for iPad without issue.
The luxury Retina LCD screen is one of the biggest on the tablet market – a whopping 12.9 inches – offering a crystal clear viewing experience and an excellent surface to draw on with the Apple Pencil (sold separately). The downside with the iPad Pro is the price. It doesn't come cheap so anyone thinking of investing would almost certainly be thinking of this as a laptop replacement. And if that's the case, be prepared to shell out extra for accessories (and check out the best iPad Pro cases).
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is the best Android tablet you can get right now. It's basically a laptop in terms of power, and makes for an excellent productivity tool and photo-editing base. With the S-Pen stylus included, it's easy to get cracking on your projects right away, with no extra cost, and the beautiful display has a refresh rate of 120Hz, making it smooth and enjoyable to use for long periods.
If you like editing with hotkeys, it's worth also picking up the Samsung Book Cover Keyboard. You do have to pay extra for this, but it's a satisfying tactile device that also includes a trackpad, providing more options for those who don't care for working on a touchscreen for long periods.
When you factor all this in, the large asking price of the S7+ starts to look a little less unreasonable. If it's stretching a little beyond your budget, consider the Galaxy Tab S7, which has a slightly less spectacular display and a smaller battery, but is available for a lower price, and will still do everything you need for photo editing.
While the S7+ and S7 steal the headlines, the Galaxy Tab S6 is still well worth consideration. Weighing in at just 420 grams, this is one of the lightest, most portable tablets on the market. But don't be fooled by its appearance, this lightweight device features enough power to handle precision photo editing on the go.
The S6 is equipped with desktop-like software, up to 8GB of internal memory and 256GB of internal storage (expandable via MicroSD cards), so plenty of space for uploading images. Under the hood the S6 is powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor, meaning it can handle photo editing software (including Lightroom and Photoshop Express) with ease.
The S6's 10.5-inch HDR-ready Super AMOLED display makes viewing imagery a pleasure, and unlike with Microsoft or Apple devices, the S Pen is included in the purchase price. The S4 also features a larger batter capacity (7,050mAh), meaning it can last up to 15 hours on one charge, and be back to full force in as little as 200 minutes with fast charging.
If you're an Apple fan but can't (or don't want to) shell out for the iPad Pro, Apple's all-new iPad Air is a more affordable but still highly capable option. A lot of attention has gone into this new model, powered by Apple's A12 chip, it's less powerful than it's older sibling, but still packs enough of a punch to be able to run photo editing software comfortably.
In fact, the processing power and RAM is really quite impressive when you consider it's working in a device that weighs less than half a kilo and is just 6mm thick. There is, as you would expect, less RAM in the Air, but still a respectable 3GB to play. The 2019 iPad Air also includes support for the Apple Pencil (first generation only), which will be music to many a photographers ears.
The cheapest tablet on our list by a mile, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a fantastic option if you want a portable device for light photo editing work. Its 10.1-inch full HD screen is more than adequate for showcasing work and its highly portable, weighing in at just 500g.
The Fire HD 10 is available as a 32GB or 64GB version, both of which have a microSD card slot to expand memory up to 256GB should you need it, and the battery life is said to last up to 10 hours after one full charge.
Very much part of the Amazon eco-system, the Fire HD 10 helpfully has Amazon’s Alexa voice-assistant onboard, however it does mean using the FireHD for anything outside of that system – Google apps, for example – isn't possible. That said, the ever-growing Amazon app store presents a number of lightweight photo editing apps so you won't be short on software. A basic but capable option for anyone wanting a device for light editing work on the go.
If you prefer to work with the Windows OS and on a budget, Microsoft's Surface Go is the less powerful but still very capable alternative to the Surface Pro 6 we mentioned earlier. With less power comes slightly less functionality and reduced performance, however the Surface Go has enough weight behind it to handle light photo editing work comfortably.
Unlike its bigger sibling, the Surface Go runs the locked down 10 S version of Windows, but also offers the option to switch to the full version for free. And by doing so, the Go offers the functionality of a standard PC, including running photo editing software, anywhere and everywhere.
Ok so we know that makes three iPads in this list, but each of these devices offer something slightly different and therefore all are worth consideration when choosing the best tablet for photo editing.
The latest iPad Mini is a top option if you spend a lot of time traveling. The lightest device on this list, the Mini weighs just under 300g, meaning it will fit in almost any camera bag and you'd barely notice its there.
The cheapest iPad option on the list, it also has the smallest screen size of all the tablets we've mentioned – but what a small but beautiful display it is. There's enough power in the Mini to run the mobile version of Lightroom comfortably and, like the iPad Air, new added support for the Apple Pencil makes the Mini a tablet well worth considering.
Choosing the best tablet for photo editing
Just because a tablet has some impressive numbers and a slick design, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best tablet for photo editing. There are a few features that you'll want to keep an eye out for, including the size of the screen and its resolution. You'll also want to make sure that the quality of the screen and its color accuracy is assured.
One important aspect to consider is the tablet's battery life. There's nothing more frustrating than sitting down to edit, only to realize that you've only got a few minutes of charge left. You'll also want to consider how much the tablet weighs and whether it'll fit into your camera bag.
Most crucially, you'll need to consider whether the device you're looking at is capable of powering your favorite photo editing software without any risk of unnecessary lagging. We've put together this guide to help you find the answers to these questions and help you make an informed decision on the best tablet for you.
Read on for our pick of the best tablets for photo editing and photographers, which includes options for iPad, iOS, Android and Windows users alike.
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