Artist Review: iPad Air 2020 vs Samsung Tab S7

I'm comparing the iPad Air 2020 and Samsung Tab S7 (not the Tab S7+) because the price difference is not big.

Here's a table for your quick comparison.

iPad Air 2020 Samsung Tab S7
Lowest price seen From US $599 From US $549 (Amazon US
Size 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm (9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 in) 253.8 x 165.3 x 6.3 mm (9.99 x 6.51 x 0.25 in)
Weight 458 g 498 g
Display 10.9-inch LCD, laminated 11-inch LCD, laminated
Resolution 1640 x 2360 pixels (~264 ppi density) 1600 x 2560 pixels, 16:10 ratio (~274 ppi density)
Chip Apple A14 Bionic (5 nm) Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865+ (7 nm+)
RAM 4GB 6GB
Storage From 64GB From 128GB, MicroSD card slot included
Stylus US $129 Apple Pencil 2 sold separately S Pen included
Port USB-C USB-C
Other notable features Samsung Dex, familiar file management
Other specs full specs full specs

Just to give you the bottom line up front, if you're not that big into drawing, the Samsung Tab S7 offers better value for money simply because it's cheaper and has better specifications. The latest price on Amazon US was $549 (after a $100 coupon) and for that price you get more storage, RAM and the S Pen included. The only edge that the iPad Air has is not the hardware but the huge variety of illustration and graphic design apps available from the Apple App Store.

But that's not to say that you can't get much drawing done of the Samsung Tab S7. Clip Studio Paint, an awesome illustration app, is now available on Samsung Galaxy tablets and that app is good enough that you won't need to use other drawing apps.


Both tablets look good. They are thin, lightweight for their size, and very portable.

Both screens look good. Colours are vibrant and screen is bright.


The Apple Pencil cost US $129 and is not included. So the total price of iPad Air 2020 and Apple Pencil is $728 whereas the Tab S7 is just US $549. The price savings with the Samsung tablet is significant.


Both displays are laminated so there's no gap between the pen tip and the line it creates.


I do find that the Apple Pencil is more sensitive when drawing with very light pressure. As long as the Apple Pencil tip touches the display, it can produce a line. You do need to press down slightly to get a line with the Samsung S Pen, but it's very easy to get used to. Certain drawing apps will also allow you to adjust the pressure sensitivity curve.

Both pens support tilt sensitivity as well and the Apple Pencil does it better in the sense that it's easier to get a wider range of stroke when you change the tilt gradually.

In terms of drawing performance, I would rank iPad Air slightly higher mostly because of the Apple Pencil better performance at low pressure and with tilt.

However, in terms of latency, Samsung Tab S7 uses a 120Hz display and the S Pen has been upgraded to the point even when drawing and writing fast, the gap is very minimal as the line tries to catch up with the pen tip. On the iPad Air, the animation of the line appearing can appear choppy, relatively speaking.

So each tablet and stylus combination has their own pros and cons.


Aspect ratio for Tab S7 is 16:10 which is wider than the iPad Air. It's more appropriate to use the Tab S7 in landscape compared to portrait orientation.


In vertical orientation, Tab S7's canvas area can be quite tight.


iPad Air's aspect ratio is close to 4:3 and is usable in both vertical and landscape orientation.


The main selling point of using the iPad Air, or of all iPads, for drawing is the huge variety of drawing and graphic design apps available from the App Store. This is one area where Android still has to catch up.

Here's a list of apps that I like from Apple App Store

  • Procreate - User friendly, lots of features, well designed for tablets
  • Clip Studio Paint - Same features as desktop
  • Adobe Photoshop - As powerful as desktop Photoshop but with different UI
  • Adobe Illustrator - Vector illustration and graphic design
  • Vectonator - Vector illustration and graphic design
  • Affinity Designer - Vector illustration and graphic design
  • Affinity Photo - Photo editing
  • Paintstorm - Geared towards traditional painting
  • Concepts - Vector illustration app
  • Adobe Lightroom - Photo editing


On Android there are

  • Clip Studio Paint - Same features as desktop
  • Concepts - Vector illustration app
  • Krita - Same features as desktop
  • Adobe Lightroom - Photo editing

There are other drawing Android apps like ArtFlow, Autodesk Sketchbook and ibisPaint X which are also not bad.

One area where Android apps is lacking is with graphic design apps. On the iPad, there's Affinity Designer and there's even Adobe Illustrator now. Say you want to create a thumbnail with text and photo for a Youtube video, it's kinda difficult to do that on Android. Maybe I'm wrong. In which case do recommend to me an Android app that can allow me to do what I can do with Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator.

While Android does not have that many drawing apps, it has Clip Studio Paint and sometimes if you have one good app, that's all that matters. It's not like you're going to use so many drawing apps even if they are available to you. People just use one or two drawing apps and stick with them. Clip Studio Paint is an excellent illustration app.

Things I like about Tab S7


Samsung Dex is the desktop version of Android. It gives you a taskbar, icons on the desktop, and ability to move windows around, resize them. I find Samsung Dex to be incredibly useful. Samsung Dex is best used when connected to an external display. I sometimes use it edit photos with Adobe Lightroom, upload the photos to my blog, and write my blog. You can do the same on iPad but the iPadOS file system does not make the job simple.

Samsung Dex is what makes Tab S7 behaves more like a computer than the iPad ever will be. When you connect iPad to external display, it just does a mirror so what's the point?

The other thing I like is the familiar file management system. There are some features missing from traditional Windows or MacOS file system but on a whole, the file system is very familiar. I can go on and on about the deficiency of the file system on iPad or iOS but I won't do that because it just makes me frustrated.


Let me give you one example. Recently I wanted to transfer some RAW photo files to Google Drive through the Files app. Transfer was successful but that RAW file (no on Google Drive) shown on Files app cannot be selected, and cannot be deleted. This inability to select certain files happens way too often, and sometimes there will not be any file extensions shown when I need the file extension to identify certain files. Files app and file management on iPad is very primitive.

If you're looking for a computer/laptop replacement and you don't need to use specific desktop software, Samsung Tab S7 is the better choice.

Also note that with certain apps on iPad, files are only saved within the apps. Eg. Procreate files are saved within Procreate. That means you're almost locked into the Apple ecosystem when you want to upgrade in the future.

Conclusion

From the artist/graphic designer perspective, the iPad Air is more versatile only because of the variety of illustration and graphic design apps available through the Apple App Store.

If you're not that big into drawing, I mean if you do occasional drawing, the Samsung Tab S7 offers good value for money. US $728 vs $549. That's $179 savings.

Clip Studio Paint is subscription based model on Android and cost US $25 per year. With the $179 savings, you can subscribe for 7 years. CSP does not lock you in because you can use CSP on iPad, Windows, Mac and Android.

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8 Comments

Hi Teoh, really thank you for

Hi Teoh, really thank you for this post and for your blog overall!

I want to buy my first drawing device ever soon and you can understand the dilemma that comes with such a decision about which one to buy specially for those who never dealt with such devices before hence that they aren't sure which one will fit them exactly. I am interested in drawing and making comics so i would love you if you refer me to one of your posts that can guide me as a beginner to which device and what type to choose and buy.

I have another question what is the major differences between the Drawing Tablets like the S7 lets say, and the Pen Display Tablets like the KAMVAS? i think i am a bit confused about the concept here and my question may look silly, any way thank you once again for all of your efforts.

Heya - I just did a quick

Heya - I just did a quick Google and it shows it as costing $8.99 per month or $71.99 per year for CSP on a Galaxy. I wonder if they have changed the pricing since this article was posted? Either way, just putting it out there for anyone curious like I was.

Great article btw :) Extremely helpful.

The original pens of Galaxy

The original pens of Galaxy Tab S7 Series tablet computers are not very suitable for painting. They are too small in diameter and light in weight. In addition, the pressure sensor almost reaches the worst level in EMR pens.

The initial activation force (IAF) of s-pen is relatively high, and the initial pressure sensing percentage reaches 18%, Samsung's free s-pen is obviously designed for note taking rather than painting.

If you use painting, it is recommended to buy a third-party zbook x2 pen because it has the best initial activation force (IAF) of 1gram, The percentage value of the initial pressure induction is 0.1%, Has the incomparable writing feeling, Pen performance and feel are closest to Wacom propen2

I summarized the different pen performance between the different UD EMR pens in the TablePCREview forum:
http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/2021-wacom-emr-pen-selection-ran...

I think wacom EMR pen has more advantages

1:The biggest advantage of Apple pencil is as high as 90% ° The tilt pen has the most sensitive recognition range, and apple provides the best tilt sensor for Apple pencil. Other pen solutions have a maximum of 60 ° The recognition range of tilt pen.

2:First of all, wacom EMR pens don't need batteries to work, which means they can be lighter and thinner. I prefer pens under 13g. The third-party pens with the same generation technology of UD EMR have incredible compatibility. Different pens have different design styles, provide different number of buttons and expand the function of eraser at the end of the pen.
In order to sell Apple pencil additionally, Apple has no open system interface API and qualified third-party Apple pencil substitutes, so it can only use the fixed 21g weight of Apple's official Apple pencil.

3:There is also the cost of the pen. The main components of the apple pencil active capacitance pen are all on the pen, and many microchip sensors are used, so the pen is very expensive. The sales price of Apple pencil is more than $100.
The main cost of wacom EMR is the electromagnetic induction digitizer under the screen, which is borne by the manufacturer. The cost of EMR pen is very low. EMR pens only have coil capacitors and PCB boards, and most devices are supplied with pens. At present, the best UD EMR electromagnetic pen, the additional purchase price is $35-85).

4:Because there is a battery inside the apple pencil, the life of the pen will be affected by the battery cycle. If the environment is extremely low or high temperature, the battery will fail, affecting the charging or pen operation.

5:Wacom EMR nib is thinner than apple pencil nib (the minimum diameter is 0.7mm). It has NIB types such as plastic, rubber, felt and so on. It is very comfortable to write. The apple pencil tip is too big (over 2mm) and very smooth. If you don't use the frosted screen protector that affects the clarity of the screen, it's very difficult to write.

6:Wacom EMR technology does not use capacitive touch screen digitizer to work, even if there is sweat and rain on the screen, the pen can work normally after the touch screen is closed. Apple pencil belongs to active capacitive pen technology. Touch screen digitizer is easy to be disturbed by static electricity, resulting in pen writing failure. In addition, apple pencil had better not stick too thick screen protector film, which will affect the signal strength of capacitive screen and aggravate the ripple line effect of slow diagonal writing jitter.

7:In terms of suspension sensing distance cursor, wacom EMR is the strongest, with a sensing distance of 10 mm, and the tracking speed delay at the highest position of the cursor is also very low (Hover cursor follow function, such as in Photoshop can see the size of the brush, tilt direction and so on is very convenient , iPad OS does not support suspension sensing cursor, no comparison).On the windows system which supports hovering cursor, the tracking response of hovering cursor of wacom AES and Microsoft MPP is not as good as that of wacom EMR。 Wacom EMR scheme relies on the most responsive hovering electromagnetic induction distance, and opens the "lgnore touch input when I'm using my pen" function to obtain the most reliable palm rejection performance.

8:In terms of pressure sense, the wacom 4096 level of ud emr pen is not false, Wacom EMR technology can input almost original handwriting. Pencil relies too much on software algorithm optimization, It feels unnatural to add handwriting prediction algorithms for lower pen latency

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