Review: XPPen Magic Drawing Pad: 12.2-inch Android tablet for artists

Review unit provided by XPPen (Facebook | Twitter)

The XPPen Magic Drawing Pad is a 12.2-inch Android tablet with a pressure sensitive pen that uses Electron Magnetic Resonance (EMR) technology. This is a tablet designed for artists and uses XPPen's own pen tech. Price of the tablet is USD 499. Free shipping may or may not be included depending on location.

This tablet competes with the following tablets at its price category:

  • 10.2-inch Apple iPad 10 (2022) with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage: USD 449, Apple Pencil 1st gen $99, upgrade to 256GB +$150
  • 11-inch Samsung Tab S9 FE (2023) 6GB RAM & 128GB storage: USD 449
  • 11-inch Samsung Tab S9 FE (2023) with 8GB RAM & 256GB storage: USD 519
  • 12.2-inch XPPen Magic Drawing Pad with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage: USD 499
  • 11-inch Xiaomi Pad 6 (2023) with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage: USD 350. Xiaomi Smart Pen 2 is ~USD 70
  • 11.6-inch OnePlus Pad (2023) with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage: USD 479, OnePlus Stylo $99

At a glance, the XPPen tablet has the largest display. Under the hood, the processor is the weakest but it's still powerful enough to run drawing apps smoothly.

Video review

Bottom line


This is a beautiful, well made tablet with solid build quality. The display is matte textured and colours are vibrant and bright. The pen is quite smooth on the matte display though so that will take time to get used to. Battery life is 8-10 hours. Sound quality from 4-way speakers is surprisingly good. Overall performance is smooth.

The pen supports 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity and is indeed quite sensitive. Palm rejection works quite well. There are two downsides to the pen. First, there's no tilt sensitivity. Second, there's cursor misalignment when the pen is held at an angle. There's no workaround for the lack of tilt, but for cursor misalignment, you can rely on looking at the cursor instead of the pen tip.

Pricing is quite reasonable compared to other products.

Can I recommend this? Mostly yes. Overall drawing experience for me is good but do note the pen limitations.

Key specifications

  • Display size and type: 12.2-inch TFT-LCD (IPS)
  • Resolution: 2160 x 1440, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Brightness: 350 nits
  • Colour gamut: 109% sRGB, 82% Adobe RGB, 77% NTSC
  • Laminated display: Yes
  • Display surface: Matte with anti-glare
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • MicroSD card slot: Yes
  • Ports: USB-C 2.0
  • OS: Android 12
  • Processor: 8-core MT8771
  • GPU: ARM G57 MC2
  • Dimension: 27.9 x 19.2 x 0.69 cm
  • Weight: 599g

For the full specifications, just visit the product page

Things included

  • 20W USB-C charger
  • USB-C to USB-C charging cable
  • XPPen X3 Pro Pencil
  • 4x plastic nib and 4x felt nibs
  • Nib remover
  • SIM ejection tool
  • Artist glove
  • User guide and warranty info
  • Case

The plug for the charger will vary depending on country.

Design


Design of this tablet looks beautiful. Corners, including the LCD, are rounded off. Bezels are quite thin. Build quality is solid and the feel is premium.

The tablet is quite thin at 6.9mm and weighs 599g which is considered lightweight for a 12.2-inch tablet.


Even though that tablet is lightweight, relatively speaking, it's still too heavy to be held in one hand by the side. I usually have my hand under the tablet while sketching outdoors. Make sure your fingers do not block the cameras which will affect auto-brightness, and to do that I usually have the cameras below instead of above.


The matte textured back actually has more texture than the matte display. The 13MP camera is by the corner and there's another 8MP on the front with face unlock and auto-brightness. The auto-brightness is kinda too sensitive and will change quite quickly when camera is accidentally covered.


The power and volume buttons are separated on two different sides of the tablet.


There are two speakers at the bottom of the tablet, a USB-C 2.0 port and the microSD card slot with support for 1TB (tested) storage capacity.

There are two more speakers on the other side. The speakers are loud, clear and have good surround. The 4-way speakers are much better than I expected.


The TFT LCD (IPS) display has colour support for 109% sRGB, 82% Adobe RGB, 77% NTSC and brightness is up to 350 nits. Refresh rate is 60Hz.


Colours look vibrant, visuals are sharp with 2160 x 1440 resolution. Pixelation is not really noticeable from one arm's distance away.

A matte display will usually affect image quality. Rougher surfaces provide better tactile drawing experience but will have more grain, fuzziness and colour noise to affect image quality. Smoother surfaces have better image quality but have less tactile drawing experience. So it's always a compromise between tactile experience vs image quality.


The matte display is quite smooth so it will take some time to get used to the pen gliding smoothly on it. The felt nib provides slightly more resistance but it's not a significant improvement.

The matte display is not susceptible to fingerprints.


Brightness is high enough for outdoor use as long as there's no strong light source (above) reflecting off the display (e.g. sky). When used indoors, small light reflections will be diffused and not too distracting, and the brightness is high enough to go through the diffused reflections.

The display has good viewing angles affected only by the matte display or diffused reflections.


The display is laminated so there's no gap between the LCD and the surface. The cursor is always visible.


There is cursor misalignment when the pen is held at an angle. There's no driver for pen calibration so you will have to rely on calibration provided by your drawing app, if available. As far as I know, only Ibis Paint X and Clip Studio Paint provide calibration to put the cursor directly beneath the pen tip.


The included case is not a flip case so there's no way to prop up the tablet. You'll need a proper tablet stand to prop up the tablet and I recommend the Parblo PR100 stand.


The case provides protection for the sides of the tablet with extra bumper protection for the corners.


Back of the case is quite susceptible to fingerprints but thankfully the frosted design don't show much fingerprints. There's a pen holder on the back. When the pen is in the holder, you can hold tablet vertically easily by using that part for more grip.

OS and features


The tablet runs on Android 12 and there's Google Play Store.

XP Pen has added some features on top of Android such as...

  • There's option to show apps in tile mode with app switcher
  • There's PC/desktop mode
  • Many beautiful wallpapers are included
  • There's auto-brightness and face unlock


Unfortunately, there's no way to set tile mode to default for app switcher.


Desktop mode is there is you need it. The tablet cannot output video through USB-C port


To exit PC mode, first you have to open the App Drawer before you can see the Exit button at bottom right.

If you need more features, you can always install your own launcher.


These are the pre-installed apps:

  • ArtRage Oils - Drawing
  • Concepts - Drawing
  • IbisPaint X - Drawing
  • Medibang Paint - Drawing
  • Bambook Paper - Note-taking
  • Microsoft Sfart - News
  • NXTVision - Utitlity
  • WPS Office - Utility
  • Adobe Acrobat - Utility
  • SpaceDesk - Wireless display app

There's a 3-month free subscription for IbisPaint X.

These apps do not take up much storage but you can uninstall them if you want. Android OS took up 28GB out of the 29GB already used when you first power on the tablet. Thankfully there's 256GB internal storage and microSD card for storage expansion.


The tablet comes with 8GB of RAM and processor is the entry-level Mediatek MT8771. Overall performance is smooth enough, and more than powerful enough for drawing apps. You can game on this tablet but don't expect the best image quality or highest resolution.

Pen


The included X3 Pro Pencil is said to use EMR technology and supports palm rejection and 16,384 levels of pressure sensitivity. This is XPPen's own pen tech. Wacom EMR pens cannot be used with this tablet.

The pen is lightweight with good build quality. The surface is matte textured and comfortable to hold with good grip. It is possible to use other XPPen X3 pens if you want a larger grip.

The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required. There's no eraser.


There's only side button and the shortcut will vary depending on the app you use.

The pen tip has slight movement to it but not really noticeable unless you're looking out for it.

Line tests

Below are line tests created with Medibang Paint.


1. Thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush selected as initial activation force is very low.

2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply.

3. This is the true test for pressure sensitivity. Thin lines can be drawn easily after drawing thick lines. This pen is capable of detecting minimal changes in pressure when drawing with minimal pressure.

4. Consistent line width can be drawn easily by maintaining consistent pressure.

5. Dots can be drawn easily.

6. Cursor misalignment can cause lines to overshoot or leave gaps when joining lines. The workaround is to look at where the cursor is instead of where the pen tip is while drawing.

Diagonal line wobble or jitter is not a problem.

There is no support for tilt sensitivity.

Overall performance for pressure sensitivity is fantastic. This pen is as sensitive as the other X3 Pro pens from XPPen.

Drawing experience


This was drawn with Infinite Painter on location. It was raining and I was really lucky to find a seat to sketch this.

The sketch took me an hour to sketch and colour and I had to let the tablet rest on my forearm. Even when I let the tablet rest against my lap, it's still kinda tiring to hold the tablet by the side.

The most challenging part about drawing is just how smooth the pen tip is gliding on the display. Even the felt tip is quite smooth.

Due to cursor misalignment,I had to undo several lines to join them properly, e.g. to prevent lines from overshooting.

To draw more accurately, you can look at where the cursor is instead of where the pen tip is. For quick sketching, it's not practical to always look at the cursor.

If you use a drawing app that can adjust cursor alignment, such as Clip Studio Paint or Ibis Paint X, drawing experience will obviously be better.


This was drawn with Concepts while commuting on the train. I was standing and sketching and had to rest the tablet on my forearm to draw.

The pen does not support tilt. I actually use tilt brushes often so the lack of tilt is definitely a downside for me. I usually use tilt to draw the broad strokes for colouring large areas with Concepts. With Infinite Painter, I get get thin and thick lines with pressure, and extra broad or textured strokes with tilt. There is unfortunately no workaround for the lack of tilt.

Conclusion


Drawn with Infinite Painter

My overall experience with the XPPen Magic Drawing Pad is quite positive. The tablet is beautiful and well made. The quality of the tablet is much better than I expected. It's so rare for a tablet to have a matte display and that really helps with unwanted reflections. Unfortunately the pen tip glides around too easily on the display so that will take time to get used to.

Visual quality of the display is also better than expected. Sound quality is also better than expected.


The pen is sensitive but drawing experience is affected by cursor misalignment and the lack of tilt support. Hopefully XPPen can fix these two issues with their 2nd gen product if they decide to make a new model in the future.

I did not know what to expect with XPPen's first portable drawing tablet, but I can say that it's surprisingly better than whatever I expected.

Pricing is also quite competitive compare to other tablets, especially the Samsung tablets with pen support.

Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design and solid build quality with premium feel
+ Large 12.2-inch display
+ Vibrant, sharp and bright display
+ Laminated display
+ Matte drawing surface
+ Case included
+ Pen included, interchangeable with other XPPen pens
+ 16K levels of pressure sensitivity
+ Palm rejection
+ Good pressure performance
+ Good audio quality
+ Smooth overall performance
+ MicroSD card slot
+ Competitive price
+ Android 12
- There's cursor misalignment when pen is at an angle
- No tilt support
- Matte surface may be too smooth for some
- OS takes up 28GB
- Tablet held underarm can only be held with camera below

Availability

You can find the XPPen Magic Drawing Pad from XPPen online store.

If you have intention to buy this, consider using the affiliate link to make your purchase. I earn some commission at no extra cost to you. And your support helps me put out more reviews such as the one you just read.

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