Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen for Artists

This review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch is written by Jose Cua.

Hello my name is Jose Cua. I'm a concept artist working in the games industry and I'll be reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab A. I use a Cintiq 24hd at work and a Cintiq Companion at home so I have fairly high expectations when looking for a mobile sketching device.

I've previously owned an iPad 3 as well as a iPad Mini 2 but after having gone through a few 3rd party styluses and having to read countless reviews online to hunt for the perfect pen, I never found one that delivered a satisfactory result.

I decided to sell the iPad off and give the Samsung's Galaxy Tab A a shot. I've been using it for around 2 weeks as of now and I absolutely love it.

It's a no nonsense solution that comes with its own stylus which uses wacom technology, the pen itself also doesn't require any batteries or charging. It is little thin compared to other styluses out there but I didn't have a problem adjusting to it after a few sessions.

There is a handy little slot on the tablet to slot the pen in when not in use so there's very little chance of you forgetting or losing it.

Accuracy and pressure sensitivity works great which seems like a basic feature, but it was a nightmare looking for a pen that just worked for the iPad. Performance of pressure sensitivity is highly dependent on the apps themselves so having tried a few I highly recommend Sketchbook pro (which comes as a free download when you register an account at the Samsung app store). I’ve also recently tried Artflow which I quite like as well. These apps give great pressure range and perform very well on the device.

Being a mid-range tablet the specs seem to be on the low side. It comes with a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcom Snapdragon, 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage but there is an available micro-SD slot so you can expand your storage to up to 128GB.

The screens resolution maxes out at 1024 by 768 which worried me at first, but in the end being only 8 inches, it was actually sufficient for such a small screen. Video’s look sharp and crisp, text can sometimes be pixelated in certain situations, however it doesn’t make it hard to read so it wasn’t really a dealbreaker for me.

As I said, the specs are definitely on the low side especially when comparing to the higher end Samsung tablets out there which come with twice the firepower so I was very doubtful at first. But after making numerous trips to the electronics stores to sketch with it I was pleasantly surprised. The device seems to be optimized enough that I don't experience much lag in Sketchbook Pro or Artflow, even when working at a 2048x2048 image. And at only 0.69 pounds (312 grams), the 8-inch model is light enough to hold up with one arm while drawing with the other, making it great for creating artwork on the go. I’ve used it while standing up in the subway, sitting inside buses, or rested on a table and it has been a joy to sketch with.

Note that there are two versions of the Galaxy Tab A, one that comes with the s-pen and one that doesn’t so make sure you double check before your purchase. S Pens that are sold separately will have compatible models listed alongside.

I got the 8.0” Inch, Wifi version of the device at a local “Challenger” outlet (Singapore) for 398 SGD. It came with a free 16GB micro SD card, as well as a Samsung Smart Foldable Case. If you fancy a larger size you can the tablet also comes in a 9.7” (keep in mind the specs are exactly the same so the low 1024x768 resolution will become even more apparent, and it will also be on the heavier side)

All in all, at a very affordable price the tablet delivers as a no nonsense, portable, digital sketching solution. Despite its low specs It allows me to sketch on the go with zero or minimal lag. Although the slightly lacking resolution was kind of a let down, I quickly forgot as soon as I started sketching. The 8.0” model is so compact and easy to use, just whip out the tablet, pull the pen out from the dock and boom your sketching in no time! I’m very satisfied with my purchase, and I truly believe that this is a bang for buck sketching device. I highly recommend my fellow artists or hobbyists out there give it a try.

Extra notes from Parka:

An important point to note is there are versions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A that comes without the S Pen. And the S Pen for this model isn't easy to find, so check out eBay if you can't find one. Also, the tablet that do not come with the S Pen is not going to have that dedicated pen slot to keep the pen.

I've personally tried the Tab A before at a local shop and I like the drawing experience on it. The fine point nib makes it easy to see what you're drawing. The pressure sensitivity works well even though I was just using the default note taking application. The only downside is perhaps the small size of the pen. That will need time to get used to. But comparing it to the iPad and many styluses I've used, I prefer the Samsung S Pen.

The S Pen usually comes with the Note series, and not the Tab series of tablets from Samsung. So this particular Tab A with the S Pen is sort of an exception.

The other tablet models with S Pen that are good for drawing would be the Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 (artist review). They have much better specifications but are also much more expensive, like USD $474 and $647 respectively (as currently listed on Amazon). The Galaxy Tab A is more than $200 cheaper, but doesn't come with S Pen on Amazon.

The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen is a great portable drawing device, and if you can find it with the S Pen it should be a good deal.


Check out more reviews on Amazon with these direct links. Make sure it comes with the S Pen before you buy. | | | | | | |

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Hi! I'm currently considering

Hi! I'm currently considering buying this tablet, i read that there are 9.7 and 10.1 inches varint but unfortunately only the 8 inches is available in my country. And that's the size you used in this review right? Is it okay to ask if you're still using this tablet for drawing and how's the performance since you had it? Is it still performing well in the long run? I cannot afford Tab S3 or Ipad Pro, so I'm hoping that tis tablet will be the bang for the buck for me....

Hi there. Yes there are newer

Hi there. Yes there are newer models out there. The most important thing you should consider is that it is the model that comes with an S pen. What I reviewed was the 8 inch one, and I felt that for what I used it for (sketching in the train, or in cafe's) it was more than capable. I used sketchbook pro so it was very optimized for it. If you are using something like artrage it will be a bit laggy.

I would still recommend this model. Its definitely more of a bargain compared to the Ipad and the higher end S3.

I want to buy this... but

I want to buy this... but right now Tab A8 is 2 years old, have non-removable battery, low to med specs (by current standard), android 5, and expensive. The only redeeming feature is the Wacom MRE... So is it worth it to buy it now? Or should I buy some 7-8 inch tablet and buy a decent drawing stylus instead?

Im thinking to buy this one

Im thinking to buy this one and I was initially shocked that it is already 2yrs old and no recent upgrades in Tab A with S-Pen line. But I am still really tempted to buy this, particularly because of the S-Pen feature (I cannot afford the Tab S3 or S4). So, my question is, how was using it in the long run?

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