Last Updated: 16th November 2021
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“The difference between using a tablet and a mouse is like the difference between using a paintbrush to paint, and a brick.”
These days, photography is more about the editing and adding of digital effects than the actual taking of the photo. The word “photoshop” is even in the Oxford English dictionary to describe an image which has been digitally manipulated.
Can you really run Photoshop or Adobe’s other package, Lightroom, on a tablet? The answer is both yes and no, depending on your tablet. A cutdown version of Photoshop, known as Photoshop Express, can be run on most tablets, and even some smartphones.
To run a full-blown version of Photoshop, known as Photoshop CC, you would need a powerful tablet that runs Windows 10. Although Photoshop CC will be coming soon to iOS and the iPad Pro, Lightroom currently runs on all tablets.
What should photographers look for in a tablet? After trying to answer that question, we will recommend five of our favorite tablets for photo editing on the go.
What to Look for in A Photo Editing Tablet
It makes sense that the most important factor of any tablet for photo editing is the quality of the screen. It would just be stupid to try to edit your photographic works of art on a low-res and dimly-lit screen. At the very minimum, you will need a Full HD display, and the higher the pixel count, the clearer the image will be.
Editing photos, especially those with more pixels, or RAW files, will require a higher level of processing power and RAM. Try to choose a tablet which has a minimum of a quad-core processor for speedier processing of your photos. Remember, more intense tasks will also be power hungry and you will need a decent battery life.
Finally, consider the OS of the tablet and what apps or packages are available for it. Apple has always been seen as offering the best tablets for creative types, and the App store tends to have more professional photo editing apps than Android. You can always use a cutdown version of Photoshop or Lightroom on your tablet, and sync with the desktop via a cloud.
The Best Tablet for Photo Editing
We have looked at many of the top-selling tablets to bring you, in our opinion, the top five best tablets for photo editing. Although some are more expensive than most premium cameras, consider how much photo editing you will use it for. Do you want it as a replacement for your desktop, or just some casual photo editing?
Best Overall—Microsoft Surface Pro 6
We did say the “best” tablet for photo editing and not the “cheapest,” didn’t we? The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is never going to win any prizes for the best budget tablet, but it does offer a full laptop experience—a pretty decent one at that!
Photographers and video makers are always searching for the ideal mobile device to not only upload but also edit pictures. Many considerations, including size (wall and appliance), weight, battery life and much more, come into play. As you wrestle with the buying choice, sleep is wasted. Do you want to pack a laptop? No, it’s too large for the camera purse to nestle. It’s going to fit in a rack.
With the 12.3-inch Multi-Touch Surface Pro 6, the company is bridging the gap between the laptop and the tablet, bringing the power and capabilities of the laptop to the photographer with the benefits of the tablet. such as the reduced size and functionality of the touch screen. Thanks to the touch screen functionality, you have a digital pen that makes the touch screen a fast interface, a task that allows you to perform a high-precision editing job.
Surface Pro 6 is bigger than the average tablet, but it as light as an iPad, for instance. It features a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port that you can use to connect a camera or card reader. Microsoft Surface Pro works with Windows 10 Home which you will find familiar if you use a Windows computer at home or in the office. Giving the fact that mobile operating systems are limiting the ability to work on photos after taking them, as well as the fact that Surface Pro operates on a Windows system, we can conclude that the Surface Pro 6 can do real photographic work.
There are a huge number of photographers who own graphics and digital tablets. They used them with pens so that they can do some photo retouching using a stylus on a touchpad. With the Surface Pro everything becomes much easier. The included digital stylus is easy to use and more efficient than ever. Graphics tablets can now be replaced with this model, as it has all it needs to edit photos fast and easy, using the same apps. Therefore, when buying the Surface Pro 6, you no longer need a traditional laptop or a computer for these heavy editing tasks.
This latest Surface Pro is the most powerful yet, with 8th Generation quad-core Intel processors. A stunning 4K PixelSense display features 2736 by 1284 resolution in a 12.3-inch screen. It even beats the Apple Retina display PPI of 264, but only just, with 267 PPI.
Out of the box, it runs a full desktop version of Windows 10 Home, which can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro. With the powerful processor and 8GB of RAM, it easily meets the required specifications of all the major photo editing software, including the Adobe suite.
Unfortunately, you will have to buy the keyboard cover and stylus as extras, to make the most of the Surface Pro. The Surface Pen is recognized as one of the best you can get and features 4096 levels of sensitivity.
With full-sized USB ports, an HDMI out and SD card slot, this is truly a laptop replacement. The compatibility and power to run all those Windows photo editing packages makes this the ideal tablet/laptop for photographers.
- Powerful Intel 8th Gen CPU and 8GB RAM can handle even the largest of RAW files.
- Photos look great on the high definition, high pixel density display.
- Full Windows 10 operating system.
- Fast SSD drive, configurable to 1TB.
- Works with all Windows-based photo editing software, including all Adobe packages.
- Full sized USB-3 ports for connection to external accessories, including hard drives.
- SD card slot for expanding storage.
- The Surface Pen offers 4096 levels of pressure, ideal for fine detail editing of photos.
- Long 13-hour battery life.
- Very expensive—even more with official Surface Type cover and Surface Pen.
- No 4G cellular option. A missed opportunity for uploading photos in free Wi-Fi areas.
- Magnesium alloy body makes it heavier than other tablets, at 1.7 pounds.
Best Apple Tablet for Photo Editing—Apple iPad Pro 12.9” (2018)
This latest version of the iPad Pro features what Apple claims is its best screen ever on a tablet. The new A12X Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture is so powerful that Adobe plans to launch a full version of Photoshop CC for iOS in 2019.
Photographers have had a dream. They dreamt of an iPad that can be used as a portable editing station. The new Apple iPad is the best proof to date that that dream has come true. Nowadays, many of the tools and applications available turn the iPad Pro into a serious tool for professional creatives and photographers.
Apple has brought to the market its most powerful mobile processor to date: the A12X Bionic. Besides that, it has included the Neural Engine and some machine learning abilities. The chipset of this tab is extremely fast, or even faster than most laptops. This makes it easy to work with raw files from the tablet in Photoshop Lightroom.
The editing process on the iPad Pro is fast and responsive. It is considered to be better at it than the average laptop, which is mindblowing. The optimizations made by Apple must be appreciated, as both the iOS and the hardware of the iPad Pro deliver an outstanding performance. The Photoshop app is a good example as it can load 50 megapixel raw images from a medium format camera and edit them without any delay.
Working with the 12.9 inch iPad Pro is an amazing experience – photographers love the way the display works, as well as the Liquid Retina screen that lets you take pictures in their entire splendor. The last 12.9 " iPad has become smaller in size and the 11" version offers a larger display without increasing the footprint of the device.
Apple has taken the concerns of users regarding the screen seriously and came back with an outstanding display for color-critical applications. ProMotion technology is also emerging for fast refresh times that make changes and movements smoother as you keep editing.
Another advantage is an anti-reflective coating that limits reflectivity to only 1.8%. Mix this with a brightness of 600 cd / m² and you should have no problem working outside on sunny days.
Those who like to do retouches will love the second generation of Apple pencils.
This tab’s pencil has a flat side that prevents it from rolling. Also, it has a touch-sensitive side that makes it easy to change settings, and a magnetic accessory. Its responsiveness is high, allowing you to make selections and changes fast and easy. Lag virtually does not exist, which confirms Apple’s statement that this tablet can be more powerful than some laptops.
The stunning Liquid Retina display of this new iPad has a resolution of 2732 by 2048 pixels, with 264 pixels per inch. The wide color display, ProMotion technology, and TrueTone capabilities scream out for showing off your photos as well as editing them.
The iPad Pro has all the features you need to work in either Photoshop or Lightroom, and many other professional apps too. An extra purchase, the Apple Pencil, allows you to work with more precision. The 12MP rear camera also makes it a decent device for shooting photos on the go, if rather cumbersome.
Apple fans will love this tablet; if you already work on a Mac, it’s the ideal partner. However, it is crazy priced— when you add the cost of the keyboard or stylus, you could get a pretty decent laptop for the same price. And, as usual, there’s no option for boosting the memory or external storage.
- The slim design, 0.26 inches, is ideal for fitting in the pocket of your satchel or backpack.
- Stunning, fully laminated Liquid Retina display goes corner to corner.
- Powerful A12X Bionic chip with neural engine makes light work of rendering photos.
- Magnetic charging now included for the Apple Pencil.
- 10-hour battery life is ideal for editing more photos or rendering a 4K video.
- Fast Gigabit-class LTE cellular data for a quicker upload of photos.
- Hundreds of quality photo apps in the App Store. Photoshop CC will be available in 2018.
- Extremely expensive
- No external storage facility.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Android photographers finally have many options available to them in terms of performance tablets. The Samsung Galaxy S4 might not be the market’s favorite tablet, but it isn’t far from the 10-inch iPad Pro in some areas. The Galaxy S4 is part of the fourth generation of tablets from Samsung and proof of the fact that these devices become better and more refined by the year.
The Galaxy S4 offers a lot of features that photographer will want to test and work with. As for the screen, it has a high-resolution and highly responsive 9.7-inch OLED display. Its 12-hour battery life, high RAM and processing power, and quick loading times are quite satisfactory. When launching Lightroom Mobile on this tablet, it moves fast, without interruptions or lags.
The camera is not as good as expected, but it still has a resolution of 13 MP (pixel size of 1.12 μm) and a fast aperture of F1.9. It isn’t as good as Samsung’s smartphones camera, but it has decent image quality for Skype calls or basic pictures. Just like any other tablet that is suitable for photo editing, the Tab S4 features an S-Pen that allows for easier retouching. Samsung’s DeX platform is present on this tablet and replaces the old Android interface with one that looks more like a desktop operating system.
This makes it much easier for users to work on their photos and multitask.
Also, the access to files has been adapted to the needs of those who would usually use a laptop.
This tablet is capable to translate, cut pictures and edit. Its battery can hold up to 16 hours in a single charge. The Galaxy Tab S4 is therefore a great option for photographers who are always on the go for a number of reasons. Besides the pen, it also includes a keyboard. Therefore, you can also work in your studio or office comfortably.
All you have to do is attach the keyboard cover and turn the tablet into a PC. That said, the Galaxy Tab S4 has the all-in-one feature for retouching your photos.
Apple iPad Air
If you have used the iPad ever since it was released, then you will know what to expect. Except, it has improved a lot since then. This tablet has maintained the habit of becoming thinner and lighter. Today, it is a slim device that weighs approximately 1 pound and has thick bezels that are designed to make room for the Touch ID.
One of the things that you will like about the iPad Air if you are a photographer, and looking for a smaller tablet to edit your photos with on the go, is the display. This tab comes with a laminated screen that makes pixels look closer to the Apple Pencil. Its coating is antireflective, unlike the one on the previous model. More than that, it integrates Apple’s True Tone technology. This allows you to adjust color temperature, depending on the ambient lighting at every moment.
Although initially, Apple announced that the Apple Pencil will only be available for the iPad Pro, it decided to add it to this model, too. It was a great decision that made a lot of users happy. However, it uses the first-generation Pencil, not the new model, which is indeed compatible only with the iPad Pro. Apple has upgraded all operating systems on all of its devices to the iOS 12.
This version is responsive and stylish, but doesn’t look so professional. However, as a photographer, this is not something that will have a big impact on you.
If you are after a tablet that has reasonable size and is extremely lightweight, this is a device that will satisfy your needs. The design isn’t the only thing that makes it valuable. Thanks to its processor, it is fast, responsive and can perform multiple tasks at once.
The reasons why it is great for photo editing is the fact that you can do retouches easily using the pencil and there are a lot of functions that you can use to bring your pictures to the desired shape.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 9.7 inch
The beginning of a career in photography or photo editing isn’t always easy. It sometimes implies calculating your budget extremely well. This also means that you may have to choose to work with good devices that are more affordable than the premium products that the market has to offer. The Asus ZenPad 2S s a 9.7 inch tablet that lets you edit your photos thanks to its advanced functions.
It is an inexpensive tablet that doesn’t feel premium at all, but has a beautiful design and a lot of pros. For instance, it is powered by a Hexa-Core Mediatek 8176 processor that gets things going. It is a processor that makes the table run fast and avoid lags.
The reason why this is a good one is that actually it is comprised of two processors: a 1.7 GHz ARM Cortez A53 and a 2.1 GHz ARM Cortez A72. The first one is a quad core and the latter is a dual core. The tablet comes with 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage that should be enough for starters.
The fact that it has a 2048 x 1536 screen resolution and a size of 9.7 inches, as well as a pixel density of 264 ppi, gives it accuracy and clarity. It runs Android operating system, so you will be able to download and use a lot of photo editing apps. Its display is bright and the pictures that you will be working with will look vibrant.
The Vivid preset is available in Settings, but if you want a realistic effect, it is recommended to keep balanced settings.
Just like any tablet worth using for photo editing, it includes a stylus that Asus has named the Z Stylus. It has pressure sensitivity of 1024 levels, a 1.2 mm writing tip and 150 hours of battery life. While it isn’t as impressive as other digital pencils that accompany premium tablets, it does the job it was created for.
Most Portable Tablet for Photo Editing—HP Pro 608 G1 7.86”
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The HP Pro 608 G1 is a professional style Windows 10 tablet with a stunning Full HD QXGA screen. Although only a 7.86-inch screen, it is one of the most lightweight tablets you can currently buy for photo editing or Photoshop use.
The importance of a quality screen is paramount when editing photos and this tablet certainly doesn’t fail to impress. Packing a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels into a 7.86-inch screen it has a higher pixel density than the Microsoft Surface tablets.
A 24-bit color depth for each pixel offers the vibrant visuals and high definition images you need for editing photographs. The optional pen offers 1024 levels of sensitivity for more precision in your Photoshop or Lightroom work.
Running Windows 10 Home edition, you can run the Adobe CC suite on this tablet including full-blown versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. However, armed only with a 1.44GHz Intel Atom processor it’s not quite as powerful as other Windows tablets. Processing data-heavy files like the RAW format can take some time.
The HP Pro 608 G1 offers a reasonably powered tablet for photo editing, with full Photoshop CC compatibility. It includes a USB-C port for connecting external accessories and a MicroSD slot for expanding the storage. A versatile, yet affordable tablet for the casual photo editor.
- Compact and extremely lightweight at just 0.79 pounds—ideal for use when traveling.
- Pixel rich display with QXGA resolution.
- BrightView WLED technology for more contrast.
- Windows 10 Home offers compatibility with more photo editing software and apps.
- Highly responsive pen, not included, adds to the fluidity of Photoshop editing.
- Expandable storage up to 2TB with MicroSD SDXC support.
- Lower computing power means heavy duty Photoshop tasks can often take more time.
- The 21 WHr battery only provides about 6 hours of use.
Best Android Tablet for Photo Editing—Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7”
Although the Galaxy Tab S3 has been replaced by the DeX supporting Tab S4, this tablet still includes all you need for photo editing. The DeX software on the new tablet is purely aimed at giving a more Windows-like desktop, which you don’t really need for photo editing.
What sets this tablet apart from other tablets in the price range is the HDR display, with a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels. High Dynamic Range, or HDR, offers higher contrast ratios and highlights to your on-screen images. Although most content you download isn’t HDR yet, for anybody editing photos, it’s a powerful feature to have.
Using a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon processor and with 4GB of RAM, it has enough power for most photo editing tasks. An S Pen is included in the box for precision editing from day one. A detachable keyboard is also available, to unlock the full potential of the S3.
When equipped with the keyboard and S Pen, the Tab S3 is a powerful tool for Photoshop or Lightroom tasks. It has the power to work with larger files, even those processor hungry RAW files. If you need more storage space, you can easily upgrade up to 256GB with a MicroSD card.
The Samsung offers excellent value for money as an effective photo editing tool. There are many apps now available in the Google Play store, which offer features similar to Photoshop CC. And there’s always Photoshop Express and Lightroom which can sync with your desktop.
- Compact and lightweight at just short of one pound.
- Fast quad-core Snapdragon processor for multitasking or heavy duty tasks.
- SuperAMOLED HDR enabled screen provides contrast rich and sharp images.
- Includes an S Pen in the box. Precise and pressure responsive and never needs charging.
- Memory can be expanded with MicroSD card.
- Optional keyboard for a smoother workflow when photo editing.
- Impressive rear camera with 13MP, quality images even in low light.
- 7,300 MAh battery offers up to 12 hours of battery life and fast charging technology.
- No LTE models available, you’ll need to rely on Wi-Fi.
- A full glass back, rather than metal, can be fragile and slippy to hold.
Best Budget Apple Tablet for Photo Editing—Apple iPad 9.7” (2018)
Although we have already looked at one Apple device, the 2018 entry level iPad addresses the one big issue we had, the price. It’s not often you will hear an Apple product referred to as budget, but with added stylus support, the 9.7 iPad just got even closer to the costly iPad Pro.
The main reason so many creative types and photographers love their Apple products is the stunning displays. This latest iPad manages to pack a 2046 by 1536 display into a 9.7-inch Retina screen with the same PPI as the iPad Pro. Images appear vibrant and pin sharp, ideal for those photo editing tasks.
Obviously, at under half the price of the Pro, compromises have been made. The screen isn’t fully laminated, and a noticeable air gap can be a hindrance when using the stylus. The older LED technology used on the screen also lacks contrast when compared to the newer AMOLED displays found on other tablets.
A custom Apple A10 chip offers a powerful performance for editing photos and other productivity tasks. The App Store is full of professional photo editing software, like Affinity Photo, which can be used to open and edit PSD files.
This is a great little tablet for occasional photo editing on the go, you could always use Photoshop Express and save to the iCloud for later work. At less than half the price of the iPad Pro, it should be enough to keep Apple fans happy.
- Slimline design at just 0.29 inches.
- Stunning HD Retina display, with one of the industry’s leading pixel densities.
- Now supports the Apple Pencil.
- Powerful A10 processor with embedded M10 graphics coprocessor.
- Fingerprint scanner for added security for your photos.
- A 32.4-watt-hour battery offers up to 10 hours of use.
- Plenty of quality photo editing apps, including Lightroom and Photoshop Express, in the App Store.
- Less powerful processor than the iPad Pro—no support for Photoshop CC app.
- Poor quality cameras.
- No facility for external storage.
- Still uses Lightning connector rather than USB-C.
A Final Snapshot
Although Photoshop CC is incoming to the iPad Pro, at the moment the only true way of running a full Photoshop package on a tablet is with Windows 10. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 offers a high specification tablet which can replace your desktop in every way.
For editing photos using Photoshop or Lightroom, it features one of the best screens on any tablet, and a powerful processor for faster editing. The Surface Pen and the optional Surface Dial offer great tools for more precision editing which would need an additional graphics tablet on a desktop PC.
The cameras may not be too great on the Surface Pro 6, there are certainly better cameras on much cheaper tablets. We’re not talking about taking photos though, rather tablets which can be used for editing your photos. Anyhow, you could look ridiculous holding up a large slab of metal to take a photo.