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Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: A Graphic Designer’s Comparison

It’s time for the battle of the best graphics tablet: Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro! Today we’re going over the things to consider when choosing whether to get an iPad or Wacom Cintiq drawing pad for graphic design. I’ve used both and enjoy them very much but they each have their strengths and weaknesses so this video will help you find the best solution for your needs.

Why the Battle of the Tablets?

I’ve always wanted to do this, and I’m glad you’re here! Collaborating and having greater involvement with my followers has been one of the things I’ve desired to do. Last month, we debuted the Q&A Monday series with the video above as the first part. I’d want to come up with something that’s a little lighter in tone but more substantial in content for Mondays on YouTube.

We get tons and tons of comments on our YouTube channel, which sparked the idea for Q&A Mondays. One of the comments that we see fairly often is the topic of this article: the Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro and which one a new graphic designer should consider investing in as their primary drawing tablet?

How to Compare

If you’re a creative graphic designer that loves to draw having a drawing tablet is really really important. You’ve seen me talk about this in past articles like the Seven Gadgets Every Graphic Designer Needs. I actually happen to own both of these tablets, but not everybody has that luxury. So how do you decide which one to buy whether you get the Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro? That’s what today’s article is all about and we’re going to help you make that decision. There are ten different things that you can, and should, consider when it comes to buying an iPad or a Wacom, and I’m going to provide affiliate links to make the purchase as painless as possible.

Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: Type of Display

So, the first thing you need to know is what kind of display they’re talking about. Is it a mirrored display, so if you connect a Wacom Cintiq to your computer via a USB or a lightning port, it goes into your computer, and then you have to connect that to power. It has to be powered up, so understand that this one will mirror your desktop. If you’re in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, for example, you’ll have a mirror of what’s on your Wacom Cintiq.

On the other side, with an iPad, you’re really using a variety of programs and applications, as well as various other things. The Apple iPad Pro has a mirroring function, though it also allows you to do both on the device, thus in that category, the iPad emerges triumphant because it allows for more flexibility.

iPad Pro vs Wacom Cintiq Pro: Mobility

The second consideration is understanding that one is very mobile. I can take this iPad and I can move it around, I can go anywhere in the world with this as opposed to a Wacom Cintiq. I actually have to go and plug it in, have it connected to a computer. I have to have my computer so that makes it a lot more challenging. There’s a lot more work involved with the Wacom Cintiq Pro. So if you want to actually be able to have a mobile laptop lifestyle, you’re really going to want to lean probably more towards the iPad Pro, something that’s going to give you more versatility, more freedom, and more abilities to travel. So this is a big deal and another consideration I want you guys to be thinking about.

Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: Display Size

The third consideration that I want you guys to take with the iPad versus the Wacom Cintiq is understanding the size of these displays. Now you look at the iPad Pro here—this is the biggest one that they make, it’s 12.9 inches. This is a great size, but it’s limited in comparison to the Wacom.

So this is an area where Wacom is actually going to come out stronger because the Wacom Cintiq offers multiple sizes. I think the smaller size is even bigger than the iPad Pro which is about 16 inches then from there goes to 21 inches then it goes to a 24-inch and then they even have a 32-inch display which is massive. So if you want a really big display to draw on and you have the money for it, I would definitely encourage you to go with the Wacom way.

iPad Pro vs Wacom Cintiq Pro: Standalone Status

However, the Cintiq isn’t a standalone tablet. The fourth factor to consider is whether you need a standalone or non-standalone device. A standalone device is one that is connected rather than not connected and has to be linked to a computer. I can fully utilize the iPad without connecting it to a computer, so this is something worth considering.

Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: Surface Quality

Next, I want you to take into consideration the difference between gloss and matte surfaces. I love drawing on this iPad Pro. I’m starting to get more and more used to it. But there’s a big difference between the surface of a Wacom versus the surface of an iPad. You have this nice, glossy display glass on the iPad and it’s really slick and smooth. It feels like a tablet, not a notebook.

On the other hand, on the toothed version of the display with the Wacom, it’s a little softer. It’s a matte finish so it doesn’t have that glossiness and you get more of that paper feel than you will on the iPad. So if you like drawing on that more–with that paper feel, or that textured feel–you’re going to be wanting to lean more towards the Wacom, and especially if you want that bigger size.

iPad Pro vs Wacom Cintiq Pro: Color Accuracy

The fifth consideration–and this is a big one if you really care about color–is color accuracy. Now, the color gamut as they call it has different availability on the iPad versus the Wacom. The Wacom actually isn’t going to have as high of a color gamut as the retina display in the iPad.

You know Apple produces really high-quality products, so the iPad Pro has a much bigger color game. I think the difference is about 115 versus the Wacom which has about a 96 color gamut. So the Cintiq definitely lacks in that but there are newer and better Wacom Cintiq tablets. I would just look at the specifications of the ones that you’re considering when you’re trying to make this decision. 

Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: Pen

The sixth consideration and this is a really important one as well because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with the pen in your hand; the pen makes a difference. If you take a look at the iPad 2 pencil, which is what I use, there is one nib here on the tip. On Wacoms, you actually have multiple nibs (in multiple styles) and they even have specific ones that are just made for 3D modeling.

So you can’t change these on the iPad, therefore you’re stuck with one and one alone; if you want to have different nibs, styles, or sizes, the iPad will essentially limit your options. So from that perspective, the Wacom is going to give you more choice than the IPad because it’s easier for a real artist not to be restricted to simply one nib and want flexibility. But if you’re a serious artist who doesn’t want to be limited just to this one nib with no flexibility, then the Wacom is probably the way to go.

iPad Pro vs Wacom Cintiq Pro: Weight

Number seven is one that’s really important for me because I do a lot of traveling. I’m speaking a lot. I’m going to conferences. I need to be able to take my drawing abilities with me. I just can’t do that with the Wacom and that’s why I never really even use my Wacom anymore because the iPad has been pretty reliable and pretty good for me.

There’s a big weight difference between the two. You’re gonna be looking at up to four pounds on a Wacom Cintiq and at least a couple of pounds on the low end versus the iPad Pro which is only a pound to a pound and a half. Now you have to take into consideration there are some accessories you’re going to be adding to that. That accessory could be the magic keyboard, it could be a generic keyboard, or anything else, really. But the core weight still is lighter on the iPad.

Side Note: Keyboard Concerns

This is an important piece to it as well; something that you need to be taking into consideration. One of the other things, just as a quick side note not necessarily a consideration but something to think about, is the tilt when you get a magic keyboard versus a more generic keyboard.

Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro: Ease of Use

The next consideration before we get to our very last, which is very important, is the ease of use and understanding the different uses and the different ease of use of these two different devices. So as far as the iPad goes, it doesn’t really get much easier than that; everything is right on your screen. You have your controls inside the programs that you’re using in your apps. But on a Wacom Cintiq, you have actual controls on the sides of the Wacom Cintiq. From zooming in to changing the different pen sizes to the brushstroke, you have complete control over it–but there is a learning curve.

There isn’t really much of a learning curve with the iPad Pro versus the Wacom Cintiq, which will have a little bit more of a learning curve. It is more for the genuine true artist. If you’re an artist and you just want to draw all day long and you don’t plan on traveling and going anywhere you’re just going to be sitting at your desk and want a nice big display, the Wacom is the way to go. If you’re a traveler, drawing, or expressing yourself with sketches, the iPad Pro is a really good tool for that; so it really just depends on how you plan to use it.

iPad Pro vs Wacom Cintiq Pro: Price

Now, the last consideration, and the one that actually initiated my creating the video above, is the price. You guys are probably wondering, “well what is the difference in price between the two?” Now, this is kind of subjective because it just depends on the type of Wacom Cintiq tablet you’re going to get, whether you’re just getting a small one like the 16-inch or you’re going to get a big one like the 32-inch. Those prices can be very varied.

So I tried to compare them very similarly. If you look at the 16-inch Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro at 12.9, you’re going to be looking at a price tag on the iPad about eleven hundred dollars so it’s pretty pricey compared to the $650 for the Wacom. The iPad is a lot more expensive because it’s not just only for drawing. It allows you to do a lot more than that versus the Wacom, which is simply just a display that is made for drawing. So being able to compare apples to oranges is really important.

The Verdict

So, understanding that you need to actually have a price that matches your budget is going to help you with that consideration. You can get a smaller iPad, but the smaller you get the more difficult it’s going to be to use it with any degree of accuracy. Now, when you go compare that to the Wacom Cintiq tablets, you can get those for as cheap as $650 which is a cheap price for an even bigger tablet.

So the Wacom is really a great place to start if you’re a beginner or if you’re just trying to take your paper sketches and start doing them digitally. This would be my recommendation. Start there; then, as you start to make more money and start to generate more revenue, you can afford to get more versatile and to get a standalone thing like an iPad Pro where you can use it as a computer, as your drawing tablet, and much more. Then, you’ll have both.

Final Thoughts

So these are the 10 things that I want you to consider when looking at the Wacom Cintiq Pro vs iPad Pro. I hope this helps you guys out. I hope to get more comments like this on future videos because I want to hear from more of my viewers and subscribers on YouTube. Thank you guys so much for reading. I’m Adrian Boysel, and I look forward to seeing you guys in the next article. As always, keep looking up!

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