Photography has an entirely different feeling in 2021, and with that, we need a different way to edit, crop, and polish our photos in this new mobile age.
We’ve found that some of the most beautiful photographs to come out of the 21st century (so far) have been through iPhones, GoPro’s, and micro digital cameras—your entire photography career is mobile, so why isn’t your editing?
Here, we have the best tablet for photo editing, as well as a few runner-ups to hit different budget requirements, specification lists, and power. With these tablets, you’ll be able to go from a raw photo to a fully edited, filtered, retextured, glorious photo.
These provide the necessary hardware to get the most out of the apps you’re already editing with, at price points that you can afford based on your level of expertise with your photography career. Let’s take a look.
Best Tablet for Photo Editing – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Apple iPad Pro 12.9” Model
Even if you’re an Android fan, it might be time to make the switch. The iPad Pro delivers some of the highest performance out of every single tablet out there right now, and just to be fully clear, this is the second generation iPad Pro.
As a photo editing tablet, you have access to a high-end M12 processor that blows many Windows laptops out of the water. You’re not going to get the same computing performance from any tablet as you are a decked-out PC, but thankfully, the iPad Pro ensures the best experience for any mobile photo editor.
This also ends up being the best tablet for photography, despite being a bit bulky and awkward to use. You have a 12MP wide-angle camera on the front, and a 7MP powerful rear camera to take selfies with.
With a liquid retina display, every detail of your photos comes out in vivid color. Editing has its own challenges, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when you can see every fine detail up close and personal, so you don’t finish editing and say “Uh-oh, what’s that spot right there?”
Apart from offering visual clarity, the second generation iPad Pro also gives you excellent connectivity through a 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 internet connection, so any apps you’re using that require internet access will run smoothly with little to no hiccups.
While it’s not as keen for photo editing, some of us like to listen to tunes while we edit. For that, you have four speaker audio to give you surround sound in the palm of your hands. It’s excellent audio depth alongside a really generous volume control function.
Last but not least, we know photo editing can take longer than first anticipated, and the one downside to mobile editing is that the battery life runs out. Thankfully, the iPad Pro has a 10-hour battery life, and even after the first few hundred charges, you’re still looking at 8+ hours.
Size: 11.4” x 1.9” x 8.8”
Weight: 2.4 lbs
Display Resolution: 2732 x 2048
Memory: 64GB internal memory
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 w/ S Pen
Samsung is basically the Android equivalent of Apple—they’re innovative, they push the limits, and it’s what earned them this silver spot on our list. Their S4 tablets for photo editing come with an S pen, which makes it a lot easier to manage those micro changes that you need to make.
Samsung encourages you to grab a mouse and keyboard (with stand) to turn this into a full-fledged PC, though with their computing power, it’s important to remember that even if you do that, you’re still running a tablet.
For Android devices, this processor boasts the highest performance yet. The Octa-Core 2.35 GHz runs about half of the power that most high-end, multi-thousand dollar gaming PC rigs are running, which is more than enough for photo editing and basic tasks.
They keep the bezel on this tablet fairly narrow, all things considered, giving you the most space possible to manage your photo editing.
Throughout raw files and the albums upon albums of photos you’re going to have to edit, you need space more than anything else. The base model of the S4 tablet comes with 64GB of built-in memory, or the higher end version with 256GB of memory for the serious editor.
The S4 comes with an 8 MP webcam and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection, giving you plenty of power to stay online while you’re using any cloud-based software for editing. On top of that, they blow the iPad Pro’s battery life out of the water.
Apple is known for having a low battery life because of the power their CPUs take to run iOS, which is why I made such a big deal about their 10-hour battery life in that last review.
However, Samsung ensures a 16-hour battery life while using this to its fullest potential, so you’re not going to run out of juice anytime soon.
Size: 9.8” x 6.5” x 0.3”
Weight: 1.0 lbs
Display Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Processor: Octa-Core 2.35 GHz + 1.9 GHz
Memory: 64GB w/ option of 256GB
Warranty: One-year warranty
Microsoft LGP Surface Pro 6
In terms of editing photos, Microsoft LGP Surface Pro 6 has plenty of pixels to actually see what’s going on. Basic 1920 x 1080 HD isn’t going to cut it for high-end photo editing, and this isn’t just some middle school Photoshop trial editing you’re doing for a Facebook post. You’re editing photos for a career or serious interest.
I really wanted this to hit the list of the best tablets for photographers, but the camera isn’t as good as it could be. You’re looking at an 8 MP rear-facing camera with HD photographs, as well as a 5 Mp front-facing camera for selfies and conference calls. Not the best, but it’ll get the job done when you need it to.
When it comes to actual editing power, I don’t know if you’re going to be able to go back to anything else. You get a 128 GB SSD for good storage, with up to 13.5 hours of battery life—another testament to how Apple could be improving their battery game.
With the ultra slim design and included pen, you can achieve a much wider range of functions than a standard tablet. There’s 8 GB of DDR3 RAM in here to handle most tasks, and it keeps the price down.
It would have been a bit better to have 12 GB to prevent overloading the tablet on some things, but as long as you’re not intentionally trying to overclock it, I don’t think you’re going to hit that 8 GB ceiling.
Microsoft does a good job of not running too many background tasks, so you’re not devoting your available RAM to unnecessary things.
Last but not least, the warranty isn’t anything to be excited about. You’ve got one year of a limited warranty, which doesn’t cover much.
In my personal opinion as a buyer, I would purchase this with the understanding that you’re only protected against factory defects, and you should send it back (if you run into any major software defects or DOA-level hardware damages) right away instead of sitting on the warranty.
Size: 11.5” x 7.9” x 0.3”
Weight: 4.6 lbs
Display Resolution: 2736 x 1824
Processor: 1.6 GHz Intel Core I5
Memory: 128GB SSD
Warranty: One-year extended warranty
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro Tablet
Huawei might have just cracked the code on being in the perfect spot between value and power. While this isn’t the best tablet for photoshop, it’s certainly a contender when you look at all of its specs under the microscope.
Their MediaPad M5 produces excellent processing speed and power at 2.1 GHz in their Kirin 960 processor, as well as a 2560 x 1600 display so you can see every bit of what you’re doing.
With a generous 10.1” screen space, this truly is a mobile workstation that you can take anywhere you need. With their 2.5D curved glass, everything looks bigger and more immersive, which is a nice touch. It’s certainly not going to feel like an iPad in your hands, that’s for sure.
In total you have almost twelve hours of playback time, and that’s with video streaming going. You can only imagine what that half-of-a-day battery could do for your stretched photo editing sessions.
We’re here for photo editing, but it’s still nice to know that if an opportunity presents itself, you don’t have to reach for your DSLR right away. That’s because Huawei addded a 13 MP camera on the rear, and an 8 MP front-facing camera. That even blows Microsoft out of the water in this department.
However, that’s where some of the good parts start to fall off. You can only get a maximum of 64 GB of internal space, which as we all know, isn’t as much as it seems when you start loading up your work apps, editing apps, and actual photo projects on here. It can be expanded, but it would be better to have it on board.
I will give props to the audio. I know we’re not buying a sound system here, but the audio quality on this tablet is truly fantastic. If you’re listening to music while you work, this solid ear candy.
It also only takes less than three hours to go from dead to a full charge, so you don’t have to worry about streaming music and the drain it has on the battery.
The RAM is where we run into the number one problem, which is what placed this below Microsoft. Overall, RAM is going to impact your photo editing more than anything else, and that’s why we’re here after all.
You’re only rocking 4 GB here, so you’re going to have to prioritize tasks and understand what your apps are doing in terms of processing load.
Size: 10.1” x 6.7” x 0.3”
Weight: 1.1 lbs
Display Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Processor: Kirin 960 2.1 GHz
Memory: 64 GB internal memory
Warranty: One-year warranty
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
We’re back at it with one more from Microsoft before we go. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 is a high-end piece of machinery, and at the price they’re asking, it should be. You have a powerful 8th gen intel core processor, which runs on up to 16GB of RAM… if you upgrade it.
This is like a PC build in the sense that you have too many options to choose from. You could have an internal 126GB SSD, or up to 1TB—it all depends on what your budget allows for. That’s basically why they ended up on the bottom of the list.
I know I just dumped a lot on you, but it’s all a good thing. However, when you get into the battery, there’s a bit of a problem. On average, it lasts for the entire time, but when you have multiple apps open for photo editing, it can reduce down to 9 hours.
This battery is a bit finicky, but even if you overload this tablet and get 9 hours out of it, that’s still an agreeable battery life.
So if you’re wondering why it made it this far down on the list, it comes down to the processor’s maximum gigahertz. While having a Core i5 8400T processor is good, it caps out at 1.3GHz, which means less apps and slower rendering for some specific photo projects.
This Surface Pro is definitely good for the average business-savvy writer and photo editor, and carries out all the apps you know and use without an issue, it’s just not photo-specific; more like an all-purpose.
You’ll have the ability to flip from studio mode to tablet mode, and even use an attachable keyboard to turn it into a mini PC on the go. There’s a one-year limited warranty on the hardware, so as long as nothing slows down immensely or breaks, you won’t have to call on it.
Enjoy the super specific 2736 x 1824 resolution of your screen to view photos in one of the highest definitions of any tablet on the market, and turn your photos into masterpieces.
Size: 11.3” x 7.9” x 0.3”
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Display Resolution: 2736 x 1824
Processor: 8th Gen Intel Core Processor
Memory: 128GB internal memory
Warranty: One-year limited hardware warranty
Photo Editing Tablet Buying Guide & FAQ
Can You Edit Pictures on a Tablet?
You sure can, and we’re not talking about just using a crop tool found in your gallery or camera roll. Whether you go for an iPad or the best Android tablet for photo editing, there’s a lot of power and room for you to move around.
Most major apps, like Photoshop, Canva and GIMP can run on Android as well as iOS. Are you getting the full program with uninhibited restrictions?
Apps are made to be lighter than programs, because most of us aren’t carrying around 512 GB of memory on our tablets. Because of this, some niche features might be taken out of an app before it’s finalized and sent off to the App Store or Play Store, but you’re still getting the same basic functions.
Editing photos on a tablet is completely viable, especially with modern processors and the fact that some tablets carry around as much RAM as the next-gen 2021 consoles. That’s a lot of power.
Which iPad is Best for Editing Photos?
Now, being good for editing doesn’t inherently make a tablet the best tablet for taking photos. However, Apple is constantly making improvements to their cameras, since it’s one of the major selling points behind their mobile items.
Tablets aren’t really good for taking photos, and not because the camera is lacking in power or megapixels or anything like that. It’s just simply because
The best tablet for video editing is also the iPad Pro 2nd gen, simply because it has the necessary processor power to get the job done.
It’s not nearly as intuitive as doing it on a larger screen and on a PC, because you have a lot of little configurations and options in editing software that become difficult to access on your iPad Pro (or any tablet for that matter).
It’s safe to assume that going forward, Apple will only improve upon their previous models. We’re expecting to see higher resolutions in the next four to five years, and even better control with faster processing power. It’s good now, but it’s going to become stupendous as time goes on.
Which Apps Are Best for Pictures Editing on the Tablet?
You’ve got a top-tier tablet, but now you need to actually soup it up with some good apps that can take your photo editing from good to great. Each of these are available on Android as well as iOS, so take your pick.
- Adobe Lightroom
- Afterlight 2
- Photoshop Express
However, there are a lot of little-known startups that could also be out there. These are just some of the dual platform, paid and free apps out there for editing on your tablet.
Each of these comes with tablet support (not all apps that can go on your phone can go on your tablet), so you could get started with editing as soon as your new tablet arrives.
Can You Edit Videos on a Tablet?
It’s possible, but it’s not a good idea for the bulk variety of tablets out there. When you finalize a video edit, you have to render that video, and that eats up the processor’s capabilities.
With a tablet like the iPad Pro second generation model, you have more processing power than a lot of low- to mid-tier Windows laptops (varies by budget and brand), so many video editing softwares are available to be used on your iPad with excellent rendering capabilities.
Over the next few years, we’re going to see more and more tablets reaching high levels of processing power, but at a cost. These high-end tablets aren’t cheap, and sometimes can cost 20% more than laptops of the same magnitude.
But the intuitive design and mobility are fantastic, and if you have a tablet rendering your video edits next to your laptop/PC workstation, you’re sitting pretty as far as time goes.
Can You Get Photoshop on a Tablet?
You can, but there are vast differences between using Photoshop on a tablet and using Photoshop on a PC or Mac. Big differences.
We’re going to use the top model on our list to draw this comparison. The Apple iPad Pro comes with the most sought-after tablet tech on the market. Apple markets this as having a 128-bit desktop-class architecture, which is fair to say.
The M12 processor actually surpasses some basic laptop processors in terms of performance, but it still can’t match a decked-out PC in terms of power.
If you spent the same amount of money on a PC (just the tower, not the monitor and fixings), you could match or improve upon the power of the iPad Pro second generation model.
The thing is, most people don’t want one single station to edit on. Photoshop runs on an app on the iPad, but it’s a full program on PC and Mac. The features and performance differ.
You can absolutely get Photoshop to work well on your iPad with a very close level of performance to a PC or Mac. However, when it comes to video editing, I wouldn’t want to edit on an iPad for any serious project outside of a 60-second clip for Facebook.
The rendering time and processing is just vastly different, though I imagine in the next five to ten years, we will see a similar level of performance in tablets to the modern-day video editing software that we’re using.
Better Editing, from Top to Bottom
If you’re serious about photography, you can go for full power. If you’re just getting your foot in the door, there’s nothing wrong with starting out on a budget-level tablet for some seriously epic photo edits.
Nobody starts on the top tier models; you haven’t started taking photography seriously because you think that unless you have the best of the best, it’s not going to work.
I’ve got news: you already have the interest, you just need to get something you can afford, something that you’re comfortable with, and hit the ground running. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.