This comparison is for those who are wondering about the value of the Huion Kamvas Studio Pro 16 tablet vs the M2 iPad Pro 12.9 for drawing. I'll write comparison reviews vs the Samsung Tab S8 Ultra and Microsoft Surface Pro separately.
Here's a table comparing the specifications.
|Huion Kamvas Studio 16 (review)||Samsung Tab S8 Ultra (review)||Microsoft SP9||M2 iPad Pro 12.9 (review)|
|US $1699||US $1099||US $1899||US $1399|
|Display||15.8-inch, 16:9, 2560 x 1440 px, IPS LCD||14.6-inch, 16:10, 2960 x 1848 px, AMOLED||13-inch, 3:2, 2880 x 1920 px, IPS LCD||12.9-inch, 4:3, 2732 x 2048 px, IPS LCD|
|CPU||11th gen Intel i7-1165G7 (4 x 2.8Ghz)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||12th gen Intel i7-1255U||Apple M2|
|Storage||512GB||256GB, microSD card slot included||512GB||512GB|
|Pen||PW550S, included||S Pen, included||Slim Pen 2 (US $129, $93 discounted)||Apple Pencil 2 (US $129)|
|Stand||Built in + Huion ST200||-||Built in||-|
|Battery life||5 - 6 hours||8 hours||5 - 6 hours||9 - 10 hours|
|Other accessories||-||Stand* US $39||Slim Pen charger US $35, MS keyboard case US $179, stand* US $39||Stand* US $39|
|Total price USD||$1699||$1138 with stand||$2029 with pen and charger||$1528 with pen and stand|
If you compare the tablets above with similar specs (not all have 16GB RAM or 512GB storage though), the pricing of the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 is higher than M2 iPad Pro by US $171, Samsung S8 Ultra by $561. Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is way more expensive but Surface Pro 8 (review) pricing is comparable.
Let's go through the differences one by one:
If colour accuracy is not that critical to you, or you don't use colour calibrators, then it doesn't really matter which display is better because visual quality of both displays is very good.
The Huion has a 15.8-inch IPS LCD display running 2560 x 1440 px resolution (16:9) at 60Hz. Colour support is 100% AdobeRGB (measured) and maximum brightness is 262 nits (measured). This tablet has good colours, contrast, viewing angles and sharpness.
The M2 iPad Pro has a 12.9 IPS mini-LED LCD with 2732 x 2048 px resolution (4:3) at 120Hz. Colour support is 100% DCI-P3 and maximum brightness is 600 nits (advertised). This tablet has good colours, contrast, viewing angles and sharpness.
The Huion has larger and noticeable wider drawing surface area. Both sizes are spacious and comfortable to work with for drawing. The 11-inch iPad Pro is going to be significantly more portable.
The larger surface area allows you to show more palettes on the screen.
Drawing apps that have minimal UI elements work better on the iPad Pro. Apps such as Clip Studio Paint (above) will have smaller canvas area to draw on since space is taken up by the palettes which are more productive to have on screen.
Both tablets have good colour accuracy. The Huion's support for AdobeRGB means it's more suited for artists and designers working with print, CMYK.
Display P3 is a color space created by Apple based off DCI-P3. Display P3's gamut is approximately 50% larger than sRGB in volume and 25% in surface.
Both AdobeRGB and Display P3 are considered wide colour gamut which are required for work that requires colour accuracy. In the real world, the visible difference between AdobeRGB and Display P3 is probably not noticeable. But both will look better than 100% sRGB.
The main advantage this Huion tablet has is the display can be colour calibrated with a colour calibrator.
Colour calibration is needed if you work with multiple displays so that all displays can show consistent colours.
There are displays that are colour calibrated from the factory but it's always good to do your own colour calibration. As someone who has reviewed numerous iPads over the years, I've got to say that the colour calibration of those iPads look great out of the box. But for Windows tablets, even if the colours look good out of the box, it's better to have additional colour calibration just to get the best colour or get the correct colour profile. Buying a colour calibrator is additional cost.
Let's say connect an iPad Pro to a non-Apple external display, how can you be sure the external display has the same colour calibration as the iPad Pro? Or you can buy Apple displays, but that would mean you're locked into their eco-system and paying for overpriced displays. There are just more options for monitors when you look beyond the Apple brand.
If you have to work with print and CMYK, Huion is the better choice. You can work with print and CMYK with iPad too, but you have to check the colours on an external display that's calibrated.
Weight - iPad Pro
The Huion tablet at 1.7kg is very heavy for a tablet. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is just 682g which is way more portable.
For drawing purposes, both tablets will still need to be set on a stand for drawing.
It is possible to hold the iPad Pro in one hand and draw with the other but it gets tiring fast even if the tablet is much lighter.
The Huion display surface is etched for anti-glare and anti-reflective. The surface is still considered smooth when compared to matte textured displays or screen protectors.
The iPad Pro display surface is glass with rather effective anti-reflective coating. The surface is smooth when used with standard Apple Pencil tips.
The plastic tip of Apple Pencil has slightly more resistant on the anti-reflective coating. There's also the hard tapping sound when the pen tip is in contact with the drawing surface. Some people just don't like the way plastic nibs feel on glass which is why matte screen protectors are so popular. It is possible to buy $2 silicone Apple Pencil tips that offer more resistance and dampen whatever tapping sound.
Display on the Huion is considered smooth even though it's advertised as etched. Huion offers plastic and felt nibs and both feels similarly smooth on the glass with the main difference being the tapping sound is dampened with the felt nib, and there's more audible feedback with felt nib on etched glass.
Since the Huion display is etched or has texture, there is slight grain and colour noise added on top of the LCD, but thankfully that's too obviously.
Both displays on iPad Pro and Huion are laminated so there's almost no gap between the glass and LCD beneath. When drawing, the line will look like it's coming out from directly beneath the pen tip. Cursor tracking is also quite accurate up to the extreme edge.
External display support
Tthe iPad Pro can be used as a wireless external display to Mac via SideCar feature, and to Windows via Duet Display or some other third party display apps.
With the M1 and M2 iPad Pros, it is also possible to connect these tablets to external monitors with USB-C video cable for an additional desktop space. The UI for the external display isn't the same as MacOS or Windows so that has some learning curve.
The Huion tablet can be used as a wireless external display to a Mac via Duet Display app or some other third party apps. It can also be used as a wireless external display to another Windows computer (method here) but that's limited to just 30Hz. The Huion tablet cannot be used as a cabled external display because the USB-C port only outputs video and does not accept input.
The Huion tablet can be used with other wired external displays by connected a USB-C video cable. Through Windows settings, you can extend the desktop, mirror, or show desktop only on external so that you can use the Huion tablet as a screen-less pen tablet. The UI for extended display is the usual Windows UI.
The Huion PW550S pen has two side buttons which are customisable. The pen support tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It's not powered by battery so no charging is required. The pen is always on so no pairing is required. At time of this review, replacement pens are not sold yet. The PW517 pen is US $49 so that's an indication as to how much an extra pen will cost.
The Huion PW550S pen is more sensitive and can detect minimal changes to pressure more easily especially when you're drawing with minimal pressure.
Cursor hover is always present and can be turned off if needed. With certain drawing apps, the cursor is used as a brush preview.
The Apple Pencil 2 is sold separately for US $129. There are no side buttons but you can tap the side once/twice for shortcuts. I usually turn the shortcuts off because I can activate the shortcuts with accidental tapping. The pen supports tilt and pressure sensitivity.
There's no mention of pressure sensitivity levels specifically but the Apple Pencil can be considered to have good pressure sensitivity.
Cursor hover is only available with M2 iPad Pros (at this time). For iPads that do not support cursor hover, you won't be able to see the brush preview and this may not be ideal for painters, but doesn't really affect artists who mainly create line art.
Palm rejection and touch support
Palm rejection on the iPad Pro is almost flawless. There are also apps that has additional finger gesture support on top of the usual zoom, pan and rotate. For example, Procreate on the iPad offers many combination of finger gestures for various shortcuts.
While drawing on the Huion tablet, I don't usually have palm rejection issues because most apps have pen-only input which means it's impossible to create stray strokes with your finger or palm.
Palm rejection is mostly affected by Windows OS or apps with desktop UI. It is possible to activate buttons on palettes or taskbar beneath your drawing hand. Occasionally, my right hand may also slide out the Windows notification panel from the right. Personally for me, I prefer to have the Windows taskbar at the top, and move all the palettes from desktop apps to the left side to minimise accidental touches.
6 hours of battery life with the Huion tablet is no match for iPad Pro's 10 hours.
Even my 2018 iPad Pro which is about 5 years old now still has better battery life than the Huion.
If you have to use your devices outdoors with no access to a power source, short battery life can be a deal breaker.
The Huion tablet has two USB-C ports with USB3.2 transfer speeds, video output and charging.
The M1 and M2 iPad Pros have Thunderbolt 4 with faster transfer speed, video output and charging.
The Huion tablet uses Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 (4 core 2.8Ghz) and 16GB RAM. The iPad Pros from 2021 and 2022 have M1 and M2 chips. Both Intel and Apple processors are more than powerful enough for running the drawing apps smoothly.
The iPad Pro may look like it has smoother performance because it's using a 120Hz display so all the UI animations will appear smoother.
My general advice is to buy based on the app you're using.
There are many drawing and graphic design apps on both Windows and iPadOS. Desktop apps on Windows usually have more features. E.g. Tablet versions of Adobe and Affinity apps only offer a subset of features compared to the tablet version. At the time of this review, there's no CMYK colour mode for Adobe Photoshop on iPad. The only page publishing app I know on the iPad is Affinity Publisher 2. On Windows, there's also Adobe Indesign.
Blender, a popular 3D modeling and animation software, is available on Windows and Mac, but not on the iPad.
If you want to livestream while drawing, there's OBS Studio on Windows.
Windows has a smaller variety of tablet drawing apps that have minimal UI. On Windows, the popular tablet drawing apps are Sketchbook Pro, Concepts, Sketchable Plus, Adobe Fresco.
When it comes to desktop drawing or graphic design apps, there are so many:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Indesign
- Adobe Fresco
- All apps from Adobe Creative Suite
- Affinity Photo 2
- Affinity Designer 2
- Affinity Publisher 2
- Clip Studio Paint
- Corel Painter
- Medibang Paint Pro
- PaintStorm Studio
- Sketchbook Pro (tablet app)
- Concepts (tablet app)
- Sketchable Plus (tablet app)
- And more
On the iPad, there are
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Fresco
- Affinity Photo 2
- Affinity Designer 2
- Affnity Publisher 2
- ArtStudio Pro
- PaintStorm Pro
- Clip Studio Paint
- Infinite Painter
- Medibang Paint Pro
- PaintStorm Studio
- Paper by WeTransfer
- Tayasui Sketches
- And more
The most important difference for me is the desktop graphic design apps have more features. I'm talking about graphic design apps that handle text, layout and vector.
You can probably create whatever graphics you want on the iPad but sometimes it's just more productive with desktop apps on Windows. E.g. You can edit photos with Adobe Lightroom on iPad and Windows but is it really faster, and how are you going to handle the backups, exported files?
Desktop apps usually have more keyboard shortcuts than tablet apps and that can impact productivity. E.g. Many of the keyboard shortcuts I use with Adobe Illustrator desktop app are not available with the tablet version of the app.
OS and ecosystem
iPad is great if you already have a Mac because there are so many shared features such as AirDrop wireless file transfer, SideCar external display support and more. All the music and movies purchased from Apple iTunes will be available on the tablet.
Main downside for me with the iPad is the file management system is extremely basic. Apple wants you to use their file management in their way. You don't even get a timer to know how much time is left when transferring files. When transferring online files, there's no speed and no progress bar. If you cancel the download halfway or the Files app crashes, you will have a grayed out file that cannot be deleted.
iPads do not have the ability to format external storage devices.
When copying a file to a folder, you can't tap on a crowded page to paste.
Is there an extra step to opening files? Do you have to import the files first?
I don't have critical complaints with Windows.
If you want to backup the whole iPad, you can backup with the iTunes app (Mac/Windows) or with Apple iCloud which is monthly subscription with prices as follows:
- 50GB: US $0.99
- 200GB: US $2.99
- 2TB: US $9.99
The 200GB monthly plan may or may not be enough to backup your 256GB iPad Pro.
For Windows backup, you can backup to external drives or cloud storage. I use Microsoft OneDrive for backups and prices as follows:
- Personal 1TB: US $6.99/month or $69.99/year
- Family 1TB each for six: US $9.99/month or $99.99/year
Microsoft OneDrive provides more value for money in my opinion.
It is important to note that many drawing apps on iPad will save files within the app itself. If you delete the app for whatever reason, you also delete your art. This is obviously very different from uninstalling apps in Windows because all your files are in the folders elsewhere. This will affect your backup options and access to files. For artworks saved to OneDrive, you can access them from anywhere with any device. To access your artworks created with iPad, you have to open the drawing app.
Stand and accessories
For drawing on either tablets, you'll definitely want to have them on a stand for better ergonomics.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 comes with a kickstand and a separate Huion ST200 tablet stand. For iPad, you'll have to spend extra to buy the stand (I recommend the US $39 Parblo PR100 stand).
There are a lot more accessories for the iPad Pro such as covers, folio, cases, sleeves, stands, matte screen protectors, keyboards and more. For Apple Pencil, there are many types of tips, grips, cases and more.
For the Huion tablet, if you have to bring it around, I recommend you get case or sleeve that protects the display well.
If you want to draw and more more than just draw, Windows OS is just more versatile. And because of Windows, the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 can be the all-in-one digital sketchpad and computer. The iPad Pro is a great drawing device, sure, but it works better as a companion to another computer because of iPadOS limitations.