The Best Tablets for Architects and Engineers in 2022
For architects, engineers, and contractors, a tablet is a perfect partner to embrace digitalization.
It helps you get access to all your files and data no matter where you are. And it helps you document information while you are on the go, such as meeting notes, photos, markups, and more.
Are you currently in the market for a new tablet? I know, there’s so much choice out there, it can be difficult to figure out just which one is right for you. But I’ve got good news; this guide will make it easier for you.
Our aim is to help you find a tablet that truly suits your needs. We’ve done hours of research to uncover what are currently the top tablets for architects and engineers.
Also, we’ve included the most important selection criteria that you should pay particular attention to when choosing your tablet.
So, let’s dig into it!
- Why a Good Tablet is Essential for Architects
- Most Important Tablet Selection Criteria
- Best Budget Tablet | Best Small Tablet | Best Overall Tablet
Don’t feel like reading the entire article?
Here are our top four tablets for architects and engineers:
|Best Budget Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
Starting at $299
Read more ↓
|Best Small Tablet
Apple iPad Mini 6 (2021)
Starting at $499
Read more ↓
|Best Overall Tablet
iPad Pro 11-inch M1 (2021)
Starting at $799
Read more ↓
|Alternative Best Tablet for Architects
Samsung Galaxy S8 11-inch
Starting at $699
Read more ↓
A tablet is ideal for people that work in the construction industry and that are often on the road.
- A tablet has a bigger screen than a smartphone which makes it easier to read and write long pieces of text, or to view detailed floor plans and other documents.
- Compared to laptops, tablets are less clunky to carry with you. They are lightweight and easy to carry, which is perfect for construction professionals visiting clients and construction sites.
- You can protect your tablet with a rugged case, and avoid it getting damaged by the typical dust, rain, or drops on the construction site.
- A tablet can be turned into a small laptop device by adding a keyboard. This makes it easy to switch from taking photos during site inspections to taking notes during meetings for example.
- There are so many useful apps at your disposal to use in the field. Think about viewing drawings, creating quick notes, filing presentations, annotating models, drafting site inspection reports, measuring, sketching, and more. With your tablet and the right apps, you can do all of this digitally while you are on the road vs using pen and paper all day long and having to wait until you’re back in the office to process all that information. For sketching designs with an app more specifically, one major advantage of tablets over pen and paper is the number of iterations of designs you can easily overlay without the bulk of lots of paper.
In summary, a tablet is your perfect partner to embrace digitalization.
OK, so you’re with me and you realize that you do need a tablet.
But when you start searching online you notice quickly that a quality tablet easily costs $500 or more. But if we consider the bigger picture and the cost of NOT having a good tablet, for example, wasting time — and therefore money — doing any of the following:
- Writing worksite notes with your phone’s small keyboard, or with pen on paper
- Zooming in and out of your phone’s tiny screen to search for the correct area on your floor plan, or printing out and carrying around floor plans
- Recharging your old tablet because it’s always running out of battery
- Waiting on documents and files to render on your slow, old tablet
- Redoing your work because an app or your tablet crashed
- And the list goes on…
Still with me?
So your challenge is to find the right tablet…
Everyone has their own tablet preferences. Some like Android while others love Apple. To give you a framework rather than only a list of good picks, we’ve put together the 8 most important selection criteria you should use to find the perfect tablet for you.
First things first. Device specs like “8-inch tablet” or “11-inch tablet“ refer to the length of the screen when you measure it diagonally.
The ideal screen size is a matter of personal taste. It really depends on what you want to accomplish and how you want to use your device. There’s something out there for everyone and most retailers make it easy to compare different tablets based on your usage requirements.
If you use your laptop during client meetings and your site inspections are limited to taking photos and noting down some keywords, then a smartphone could very well suffice. Many of our ArchiSnapper clients rely only on their smartphones.
Also, the line between the smartphone and the tablet has blurred over time as phones have swelled in size, moving to 5.5 or even 6 inches as popular sizes for a so-called “phablet.”
Construction professionals who prefer a smartphone for practical reasons (because it’s still compact enough to fit into your hand and take a photo for example), and who rely on their smartphones for business applications, will like a 5.5-inch screen size as opposed to the smaller displays. Apple, Samsung, LG, and Xiaomi Redmi are a few of the well-known brands that manufacture smartphones with a 5.5-inch display.
Portability is the main concern with phones that flaunt super-sized 6-inch screens, as it typically no longer fits into one’s hand or pocket.
Regular sized tablets
Want to read and write longer pieces of texts, scrutinize and markup detailed blueprints and models, or use your device in a conceptual phase for sketching? If so, a regular-sized tablet like a Samsung Galaxy Tab or iPad Pro with a 10 to 13-inch screen will probably be your best option.
10-inch tablets, especially those that support external keyboard attachment, are very popular among business users because they are great for multitasking and efficiently running a variety of business applications. The screen size of these tablets is smaller than laptops but still large enough to offer a laptop’s display-like viewing experience. Some of the popular 10-inch tablets are Apple iPad 10.2 (2021), Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 10.4 (2020), Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, Apple iPad Air (2019), Lenovo Tab M10 Plus, and Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus.
If you want to use your tablet regularly for tasks along with your laptop (e.g. using the Microsoft Office suite while you are on the go or on your couch), the 11-inch screen size would be your best option. Along with productivity, the 11-inch screen tablets still provide good portability. Among the best and latest 11-inch tablets, Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021), Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (2020), and Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, are popular.
Tablets with 12 and 13-inch display sizes are good alternatives to a laptop. They look like a laptop , however, they are not fit for use as a secondary gadget. I would not recommend them for use on the construction site.
There’s also a third option, in the form of smaller tablets with a screen size of 7 to 9-inch. It will fit into your coat pocket and still be more convenient than a smartphone for scrolling through blueprints, or reading and typing text. A good example is the iPad mini with an 8.3-inch screen or Android models of a similar size.
Devices with this screen size offer great portability and at the same time, provide a screen large enough for good productivity. That’s why this is a popular format among our ArchiSnapper users. Some of the well-known 8-inch tablets are Apple iPad Mini (2021), Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.4 (2020), Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite, Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020), and Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite.
Still in limbo about whether you need a smartphone, tablet, or both? Maybe this article can help you decide.
What kind of connectivity do you need? Generally, tablets come with either “Wi-Fi only” or “Wi-Fi plus Cellular connection.”
Devices with a cellular connection are more expensive. To give you an indication, the extra price for a cellular option ranges from $130 to $150 for iPad models. Plus, there’s the cost of paying a provider for your data usage.
Keep in mind, though, that most construction sites don’t have good Wi-Fi coverage. So ask yourself:
- Do you often need an internet connection on the go?
- Do you use apps that require an internet connection?
- Do you frequently need to check your emails, access files, or send field reports or other communications to colleagues while you’re on the go?
If the answer is yes, you should probably go for a more expensive tablet with 3G, 4G, LTE, or 5G wireless. That way, you can be online at a moment’s notice without hassle. You won’t regret it when you need quick access to an email or document to back you up in a discussion.
Of course, if you only need an internet connection from time to time, you can always create a temporary hotspot with your phone. Just be aware that this will consume data.
In the end, you may decide that you’re fine without an anytime-anywhere connection for your tablet. Whatever the case, consider your connectivity needs and weigh them against the price increase before you choose your tablet.
An operating system (OS) is a software program that enables the computer hardware to communicate and operate with the computer software. The OS determines the layout of the touchscreen interface, and which apps it can run.
The 3 main players are iOS, Android OS, and Windows.
iOS | Apple
iOS, the oldest operating system for tablets, is hugely popular because of its intuitive setup that requires almost no learning curve. Another advantage of iOS devices is that they’re all part of an ecosystem that can easily connect all your Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and iCloud).
iOS is considered to be the most secure OS because you can’t go rogue when it comes to adapting settings and installing apps. You’re limited to Apple-approved apps available in the Apple App Store, and the approval process to showcase an app is quite demanding. Fortunately, a wide range of apps are available. If you’re interested, check out our list of the best apps for architects.
Another advantage of Apple’s OS is Apple CarPlay, which you can use with a tablet that has a cellular connection. If your car has this functionality, you can connect your iOS device with your car and control apps like Waze and Spotify immediately from your car’s display.
Android OS | Google
The keyword to describe Android OS is flexibility.
And that’s what immediately sets iOS and Android lovers apart. Whereas iOS fans mostly love smooth and streamlined processes, Android aficionados go wild about the wide variety of customizations they can set up on their devices.
The biggest disadvantage of this flexibility is security. Google Play Store is less strict in accepting apps, which makes it easier for developers with bad intentions to add malware. So, be sure that the vendor offering the app you want is trustworthy.
As for developers, as great as the Android OS system’s flexibility is, it’s incredibly difficult — if not impossible — to test applications on all Android devices. There are just way too many of them. That’s why we’d advise that you go for an Android device of an established brand like for example Samsung; you’ll be less likely to run into frustrating software issues.
Windows | Microsoft
The Microsoft Windows OS is an established operating system for laptops and desktop computers. But for mobile devices, some improvement is needed.
The big advantage of using Windows tablets, like a Microsoft Surface, is that your Microsoft Office programs work on both your Windows PC and your tablet. This opens many opportunities when using professionally used, for example, to continue editing a doc or file when leaving the office and switching to the tablet.
However, the range of apps available is still very limited, and that’s a big disadvantage for architects that want to streamline their workflows.
We see Windows tablets more like laptops with a touchscreen, and that’s also the reason you won’t find any Windows tablets in the selection below.
Which OS is for you?
Choosing the best OS is a very personal matter.
If you already own an iPhone or Mac, it makes sense to stay within the iOS ecosystem. You’ll immediately understand how the device works and you can easily synchronize all your devices, for example with iCloud.
If you already own an Android device and like Android’s flexibility, it’s definitely an option to stick with that setup. There are top-quality Android tablets on the market, so no need to switch to iOS to get a top-performing device. Android devices also tend to be less expensive compared to iOS.
Before buying an Android tablet though, make sure the apps that you really want to use are available on Android as well. Some of the top apps for architects are only available on iOS, for example, Shapr3D, RoomScan, Morpholio and Procreate.
One of the reasons many architects invest in an iPad is because of the option to use these great sketching apps – like Morpholio, Concepts, or Procreate – in combination with the Apple Pencil. It gives a great sketching experience and bridges the gap between analog and digital. The Apple Pencil draws, writes, and highlights exceptionally well and has a high level of precision.
One thing to remember is that storage is different from memory. Storage is what is used to store files such as photos and music while memory, which is known as RAM, is where data is processed (see point 5 below).
As with the other criteria in this list, it’s tempting to get the least available storage as it lowers the price of the tablet but sometimes this can be a false economy and ends up causing a lot of hassle.
If you’re capturing a lot of photos and videos with your tablet, then 32 GB is a minimum. If you do design work with your tablet, then you’ll need to start looking at either 256 GB or 512 GB.
Most Android devices let you add an external memory card (SD card) to expand the memory. This is impossible with Apple tablets, so make sure to invest in enough storage space upfront if you’re considering an iPad.
You also need extra storage for your device as you need somewhere to back up your files. You can either use portable hard drives or cloud storage.
Cloud storage, where your data is stored on remote servers accessed from the internet, allows you to access your data whenever you want, as long as you are online.
iPhone users should look at Apple’s iCloud service as it works seamlessly. The first 5GB is free and then it costs $0.99 a month for 50GB or $2.99 a month for 200GB. Google Drive, which can be used with Apple and Android devices, offers 15GB of free storage. From there, 100GB costs $1.99 a month or $2.99 a month for 200GB.
You can set up these apps to make automated back-ups. Doing so you’ll need less storage capacity on your tablet, and your files will always be safely backed up and accessible.
I would say that this is THE most important factor to consider when buying a new tablet for professional use in the construction industry.
The RAM memory is a decisive factor in the speed of your device, including how fast your tablet will be able to take and save photos or render models and floor plans. The more RAM a tablet has, the better it will function because every app installed on your device consumes a portion of RAM.
So how much do you need?
Different tablets come with varying RAM sizes ranging from 1 GB for budget models to 16 GB for high-end models.
We advise ArchiSnapper users to go with an absolute minimum of 3GB of RAM. You’ll notice that the devices that made our list all have 4 GB of RAM or more.
As for a construction professional, a tablet is a professional tool to work efficiently throughout the day. Slowdowns or crashes are expensive, I would advise going for a device with at least 4 GB of RAM.
Architects and engineers can give their productivity a boost by taking advantage of the best apps available. Modern architects use their tablets to edit models, view documents and drawings, perform site inspections, take meeting notes, sketch ideas, measure rooms, and more.
This means that not having your tablet available because of a dead battery will be very annoying. You’d have to switch back to taking notes with pen and paper and wouldn’t have access to your documents in the cloud, and so on.
So, you don’t want this to happen.
If you’re often on the road, a tablet that will last through the day without a recharge is a must-have. So, look for devices with at least 9 hours of battery power on a single charge.
Apart from the battery life of the tablet, here are some tips to avoid running into problems while you’re on-site for a punch list meeting, or presenting a design to a client.
- Make sure you’re able to charge your tablet in your car while driving from one meeting to another.
- Buy an external battery pack.
- Apply these tips to save on battery consumption for your Android device or these tips for your iPad
While they may seem unnecessary, little accessories like a stylus, keyboard cover, or protection case can make a BIG difference in how you use your device.
A stylus can help you make changes to your renders on the fly. The Apple Pencil really is a world apart, it draws, writes, and highlights exceptionally well and has a high level of precision. The Pencil 2, in particular with its magnetic attachment and wireless charging, is practically a miracle. Response time is super-fast, and when drawing on the laminated display of the iPad Air and iPad Pro, it’s almost like drawing directly onto paper. As mentioned, one of the reasons architects invest in an iPad is the option to use these great sketching apps – like Morpholio, Concepts, or Procreate – in combination with the Apple Pencil.
The best experience is mostly with the stylus that comes with your device, like the Apple Pencil for iPad and S Pen for Samsung tablets.
A rugged case is absolutely crucial to protect your tablet against some of the hazards of construction work, including rain, dust, bumps, or drops on hard surfaces. When your phone or tablet is at risk, you want it wrapped in highly protective materials. Think of it as a helmet for your brain. Well-known brands for rugged cases in the construction industry include Otterbox and Griffin, but obviously, it depends on your specific tablet model so you want to search for proactive cases that match your tablet model.
A keyboard cover, which you can connect to your tablet as needed, is much better for typing than a touchscreen keyboard. It allows you to continue working on your tablet in the construction barrack, on the go, or during a client meeting. It lets you type as you would on your laptop or desktop. This way, you won’t have to switch between your tablet and your laptop all the time.
There are many options available, but the Logitech K480 is one of the best-rated tablet keyboards. The overall size of the keyboard is similar to a standard laptop keyboard, and the keys offer a good depth of travel for tactile feedback. This keyboard easily connects to any device running Windows, Android, or iOS.
And of course, make sure you’re able to charge your tablet while you drive from one appointment to the next. You can’t afford not to be able to conduct a site visit or take that important call — especially when a $30 car charger, cord, or adaptor can save you from all of those embarrassing and inconvenient situations.
Keep all of these accessories in mind when choosing your tablet. You will find a huge difference in the end-user experience.
Want to explore more essential accessories? Read 14 must-have accessories and tech tools for Architects and Contractors.
Of course, the price will play a deciding role in your choice of tablet, although it shouldn’t be the only consideration.
Given an hourly rate of, say, $60, the extra cost of more RAM, larger battery capacity, or 4G will be easily offset by the time savings you’ll benefit from not having to wait a minute or more while loading a floor plan due to insufficient RAM, or not having to switch back to paper and pencil due to a dead battery, or not being able to access the most recent version of floor plan because of connection problems.
We selected a number of devices based on the specs for the criteria above and how they would fit for professional use in the construction industry.
We then narrowed it down by checking the reviews for these devices.
And then tested this final selection of devices by using ArchiSnapper and a couple of other apps for architects.
For architects and engineers, a tablet is an important professional tool, so we’re not considering any of the tablets available in the price range of $100 to $200.
At $299, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a suitable candidate for architects that are looking for a decent tablet but that are not willing to spend higher amounts (yet).
It’s a sleek, lightweight tablet and comes with an S Pen, which works comfortably for drawing and note-taking. This S Pen doesn’t ever need charging and it can be attached magnetically right to your tablet, so it’s always ready to go. Its natural grip, low latency, and good pressure sensitivity makes it a good instrument for example for drawing and editing documents. I like the S Pen. It’s not like the Apple Pencil 2nd gen, but it’s good.
The device also supports Samsung DeX. Samsung DeX is the way to get a PC-like experience with your Samsung tablet.
The battery life is still ahead of the pack when compared with similar devices. It easily stays charged for 13 hours — a huge advantage for use at construction worksites and while you’re on the go. An extra plus is the superfast USB-C charging option.
The $299 version comes with 64 GB storage, and you can expand your storage space anytime up to 1 TB with a microSD card.
With 10.4-inch, it has a pretty handy dimension.
When it comes to taking amazing photos for your website or portfolio, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite may not be the best option for this. But for other purposes, the front 5 MP and back 8 MP cameras will do.
The processor (2.3 GHz) and RAM (4 GB) are good enough for professional use and will let you switch between apps and multitask without any problem, but it will obviously be inferior to the more expensive tablets mentioned below. So it depends if you want to go all the way – rendering and editing models, annotating floor plans, huge punch lists.., or not.
One disadvantage to consider is that Samsung chose to add an LCD screen for the Samsung S6 Lite versus an AMOLED screen for the Samsung S6. This essentially means that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite will deliver a poorer display experience. The choice of TFT LCD is certainly one of the S6 Lite’s weaker points. If you’ll frequently work with your tablet outside, you might want to consider going for a tablet with an AMOLED screen, which deals with sunlight better.
However, if you’re used to Android and really want the best price/quality possible and if you’re not ready to spend $400 or more, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite remains our #1 recommendation.
In summary, with an included S Pen, decent performance, sleek build, and up to 13 hours of battery life, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a good intro device for doing more on the go.
Here you can find all specs for this device.
Overview of useful accessories:
- Keyboard: Samsung has a Tab S6 Lite Book Cover Keyboard that comes at $100.
- Stylus: The S Pen is included in the price.
- Protection cover: The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Book Cover protects your tablet on both the front and back and clicks into place with a magnet. It even has a pocket for the S Pen, so you can’t overlook it. This cover comes at $70, so it’s not cheap.
- Screen protector: A screen protector avoids damage to your screen. You can find some over here, they cost about $10.
- Additional storage: If you need more storage than the standard available 64/128 GB, you can use a micro SD card, for example, a SanDisk 128GB MicroSD which comes at about $20.
Alternative budget tablet: iPad 10.2 2021 (10.2-inch, 64 GB, WiFi) – $329
If you work in an iOS system environment, then the best budget tablet option for you is the iPad 10.2 (2021).
This 10.2-inch iPad is the tablet for everyone. It is not only the most affordable iPad, but it’s also good value for your dollar. If you need a device for mainstream tasks like viewing documents, editing images, taking photos, and answering emails you will get good value out of this.
Thanks to its Apple Pencil (1st gen) support it can also be used for sketching and drawing. And you can also pair it with Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
This iPad starts at $329, but that doesn’t include the Apple Pencil, which you can purchase separately for about $99.
The iPad 10.2 comes with 64 or 256 GB of storage space. We’d recommend the 256 GB model if you’re planning to download a lot of apps, or if you take lots of photos and videos on-site. The 256 GB comes in at $479, versus $329 for the 64 GB version.
Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, the iPad has less RAM, but a better processor, making these two devices comparable in terms of power and speed. This device won’t be as speedy and powerful as the iPad Air or iPad Pro but during our tests, it performed OK for switching between apps, multitasking, taking photos, etc.
Related to using your tablet outdoors, which is often the case for architects and engineers, this is the first time the entry-level iPad has come with True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the display based on the ambient lighting for the best viewing experience.
The photos taken with this model are sharp and clear. Not like any recent iPhone, but if you’re using your camera while using productivity applications – like a site report app or punch list app – or other instances where image quality isn’t absolutely crucial, it will more than suffice.
Watch out: Although the iPad 10.2 is compatible with the Apple Pencil 1st gen, if you want to go all the way with sketching and drawing on your tablet, the improved screen of the iPad Air (4th generation), and that tablet’s support for the Apple Pencil 2nd gen make it a much better choice. But then again, with a price tag of more than $600, it’s not really a budget device.
This entry-level iPad is simple to use and offers excellent value for money. If you’re already using iOS, on a budget, and don’t need Apple’s top tablet features, this is the one to get.
You can find an overview of the iPad 10.2 specs over here.
Choosing between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite or iPad 10.2 may just be as easy as looking at the phone you’re using. If it’s an iPhone you’ve already probably made up your mind to stick to the same ecosystem. If you want more info, you can read this in-depth comparison between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and iPad 10.2.
The advantage of a small tablet like the iPad mini is that you can still hold it in one hand easily so it’s small enough for you to carry around and put away easily. It’s a convenient, portable, and light device. If you don’t need a larger screen and you commute a lot, the iPad Mini (or other tablets with similar screen sizes) is a great option.
It has a Liquid Retina display screen size of 8.3-inch and it’s bright enough for outdoor use. For architects and designers, this screen size is even just big enough for light sketching and drawing – but it’s probably a bit too small if you intend to use this as your main sketching tool for apps like Trace, Concepts, and Procreate.
Don’t expect super-long battery life from the iPad mini 2021, but the battery life is good enough to last you for a full day of normal use.
The iPad Mini is available in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and cellular options and it comes with 64 GB or 256 GB of storage. FYI: the new iPad Pro goes up to 1 TB of storage
5G is also now available on the iPad mini, which is a first for Apple’s smaller tablet. That means you can connect to next-gen networks if you opt for the cellular version and have a supporting carrier.
This tablet is compatible with the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, which architects are a big fan of. One of the main reasons why the iPad Mini 6 is a viable solution for architects, engineers, and designers, is because of this 2nd Gen Apple Pencil.
The rear camera has 12MP. It’s fine and, while it’s no substitute for your smartphone camera, if you’re using it for augmented reality experiences or with other apps that need to use the rear camera, it’ll be satisfactory.
The iPad mini 6 2021 is powered by Apple’s new A15 Bionic chipset, which is the same processor as the iPhone 13 series, and it’s powerful enough to run any app, as well as for multi-tasking. It isn’t as powerful as the iPad Pro’s M1 chipset, but we found it to be more than capable for everything we wanted to do on the iPad mini.
It isn’t the absolute-best iPad, but it’s the best tablet you can buy if you’re looking for a small device. So, if you’re an architect or engineer that’s looking for a combination of premium performance and portability, then this compact powerhouse is your best choice.
Downsides? As mentioned, the main con is when it comes down to sketching with apps like Mortpholio Trace or Procreate. The screen size is a bit too small to sketch holding the Apple Pencil in your hand (half) on the device and at the same time keeping enough overview of the model/drawing. With 11-inch devices, you have more screen estate which is really useful if you’re using your tablet as your main sketching companion.
Here you can find an overview of all the specs.
Overview of useful accessories:
- Keyboard: While technically you can use any wireless keyboard with your iPad mini 6, you don’t want some big keyboard that reduces the portability advantage. In that case, you could go for this Logitech Keys-to-Go ultra-portable keyboard ($69.99). If you prefer to let your fingers spread out over a regular-sized, familiar keyboard, you could consider Apple’s Magic Keyboard ($99). It’s lightweight and streamlined, and it works perfectly with your iPad mini 6 or any other Apple product.
- Stylus: The Apple Pencil 2 ($129) is the only Apple Pencil compatible with the sixth-generation iPad mini. It features low latency precision drawing, and it magnetically attaches to your iPad mini 6 for easy pairing and charging.
- Protection cover: The best all-around case for iPad mini 6 is probably the Apple Smart Folio ($59). It is thin and light and offers front and back protection for your device. It automatically wakes your iPad when opened and puts it to sleep when closed. Spigen’s Rugged Armor ($34.99) is a good alternative.
- Screen protector: A screen protector will most definitely protect against scratches and might even protect the screen from shattering in a fall. Here you can find some of the best screen protectors for your iPad mini 6.
Alternative small tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (8.7-inch, 64 GB, WiFi) – $199
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite was unveiled in 2021 as a cheaper, lighter, more compact spin on the Galaxy Tab A7, one of the best Android tablets you can buy. It’s quite a handy little device that’s well worth your consideration if you need a capable portable Android tablet on a low budget.
The Tab A7 Lite has an 8.7-inch screen which is very similar to the iPad mini 6. The screen looks pretty good in most situations, though can have an annoying reflection in bright light – as can often be the case on a construction site.
It’s compatible with Android 11, has an average 8MP camera, and it comes with 4GB RAM to handle everyday processes pretty seamlessly. Be prepared for some glitches and slow down when you open a lot of apps simultaneously or when working with more demanding applications.
Useful for architects, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 lite has good battery life and it packs a USB Type-C 2.0 port that can help charge the battery really quickly.
When compared with the iPad Mini 6, this tablet’s biggest advantage is its price, you can buy it for $199 for the 64GB model.
You can use the tablet’s MicroSD card reader to slot in up to 1 TB of additional storage. There’s also an option to buy a model with support for 4G LTE for an additional $40.
Summary: overall, it’s a decent portable and budget tablet that’s good enough for simple daily tasks like emails and file management but not for more demanding applications. On the flipside, it has average cameras, limited internal storage (32GB or 64GB), and does not support 5G.
There’s no way around it — the Apple iPad Pro remains the best overall tablet out there for architects.
If you’re an architect, working in an iOS ecosystem, ready to adapt your workflow, and ready to use a tablet for more than administration and emails, then the Apple iPad Pro is for you.
Why we chose the iPad Pro 2021 as the best tablet for Architects
This 3rd generation iPad Pro is an incredibly fast and powerful device. The M1 chip, which is also in the latest MacBook Pros and the 2021 iMac, is phenomenal. You can easily multitask thanks to the split-screen option, and it responds accurately to every swipe or touch of the Apple Pencil. If you use your tablet only for reading or email you will not notice the difference between this and the previous iPad Pro versions. But architects that use it for more powerful purposes – like punch lists, rendering complex files, drawing, sketching, or marking up plans – will notice the difference.
Compared to previous models, the iPad Pro has greatly improved graphics. The Retina 5K display is incomparable to any other screen on the market. Adobe Apps work fast and smoothly which is another reason why this is a great tablet for architects.
For architects and engineers, the 11-inch version is a better choice than the 12.9-inch version. The 12.9-inch version is the largest iPad that Apple has to offer, with a screen that rivals the size of most small laptops. For an architect using a tablet for site inspections and client meetings, this is somewhat cumbersome though. The weight and size of the 11-inch version make it much easier to carry around and make it completely versatile. If you mainly use your tablet for drawing or presentations though, then the 12.9-inch model might be better for you.
The iPad Pro has two cameras with smart HDR, with a 12 MP camera that can take stunning photos, 4K videos, document scanning, and AR experience. The iPad Pro is the only device that has a LiDAR scanner to assist with taking measurements using apps like Polycam or RoomScan LiDAR for example.
Conclusion: the iPad Pro 11-inch is a very powerful device that will allow you to run any app or task you need as an architect. It’s lightweight and portable to carry around during site visits, yet big and powerful enough to use for ideation and sketching. If you are looking for ways to improve your productivity, this is a great investment.
Especially when it comes to sketching and ideation with amazing drawing apps like Procreate or Morpholio Trace, the iPad Pro in combination with the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen is my all-time favorite. It makes drawing so easy, that you won’t even need another piece of paper in your life.
The only major downside of the iPad Pro is the price. If you can find a good deal for an older iPad Pro model, you might still be fine for several years to come. After all, these too are very powerful devices. If you plan to use your iPad for sketching, browsing, and administration, you might save some money by buying an older version. If you want to use the iPad Pro for making ultra-wide landscape pictures, rendering complex files, and more advanced AR applications, then you’re better off with the iPad Pro 2021.
Here you can find an overview of all the specs.
Overview of useful accessories:
- Keyboard: Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio will cost you around $179 for the 11-inch model. Or you can opt for the more expensive Magic Keyboard for $299 and practically turn your iPad Pro into a laptop. If you plan to use the combination of iPad plus keyboard often during client meetings for noting, I recommend going with the Magic Keyboard which is a bit more comfortable and robust.
- The Apple Pencil: The Second Gen Apple Pencil ($129) together with the iPad Pro is a dream combination. It’s very pressure-sensitive and will react in absolute unison with your hand’s movements. You can charge it with a magnetic connection, which means it automatically recharges while you’re not using it.
- Screen protector: The iPad Pro is a costly device, so if something happens to your screen, it will be a costly repair. So you want to make sure to keep it safe with a screen protector, for example, the amFilm 2-pack Tempered Glass Screen Protector. You can check out other iPad Pro 11 compatible screen protectors here.
- Protection cover: if you have a Smart Folio or Magic Keyboard then you already have some protection for your device. If you don’t use an external keyboard and you’re looking for a more heavy-duty protection case, you could consider iPad Pro 2021 11-inch compatible Otterbox Defender Series ($46).
If you can afford the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, then get them. They make having the iPad Pro much better. The problem is that once you add the cost of the iPad Pro 11-inch (from $799) and these two accessories ($428), you’re looking at $1,227. And that’s for the lowest storage available, 128 GB and WiFi only.
Check out this video to see how architect Eric Reinholdt from 30X40 Design Workshop integrated the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil, and the Procreate app into his designing workflow.
If you prefer the Android operating system and you want a premium tablet, definitely consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 – which got just released in February this year.
It costs around $699 for the lowest 128 GB storage version. If you need more storage, you can pay $779 to get a model with 256 GB of space instead. SD card support gives you the option of up to an extra terabyte of storage.
This is a high price for an Android device, but it’s a premium tablet. It’s the successor to the 2020 Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which we called the best iPad Pro rival in the previous version of this article. It’s one of the best tablets on the market.
It has an ultra-fast chipset and 8GB RAM memory which means that you can easily multitask and it works extremely fast. It will let you read all the drawings that you need to bring up.
The new Multi-Windows feature that comes with the S8 makes multitasking with different windows even better. You can adjust the height and width of each layout to create the ultimate personalized workspace.
The Galaxy Tab S8 has a great set of cameras for an Android tablet. On the back, you have a 13 MP auto-focus lens and a 6 MP ultra-wide lens. The 12Hz AMOLED display guarantees sharp contrast and color quality
It has a power-efficient battery and a fast-charging USB-C port.
Add the redesigned S Pen, which comes included, and the $139 Galaxy Tab S8 Book Cover Keyboard Slim and you’ve got a tablet that’s great for work on the go and that will help you optimize your productivity.
The S Pen is comfortable to hold and use, and lets you draw, sketch ideas or annotate PDFs smoothly and accurately. The S Pen is now even faster than before, with almost zero latency.
The keyboard gives you a seamless experience, and when used together with DeX you get a PC-like experience with a single tap. For the S8 11-inch version though, the keyboard may appear a bit small and unhandy, especially if you have large hands.
If an 11-inch tablet is too small for you, then there’s also the Galaxy Tab S8+ (12.4-inch) and the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra (14.6-inch). Compare all three here.
Conclusion: if you’re not into iOS but you want a superior quality tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is a great place to look for architects. It’s powerful enough to let you do the more demanding tasks like rendering complex files, comes with a good stylus for sketching or annotating, and combines PC-like performance with smart multitasking features. It allows you to replace your laptop with a tablet, so you can enjoy a lightweight, portable solution with the processing power to move you through your day.
It’s quite expensive for an Android tablet, but still cheaper than its main rival the iPad Pro. However, it’s also not quite as good as Apple’s Pro range.
Here you can find an overview of all specs of this device.
Looking for tips to get the most out of your Android device? Check out this guide.
We hope this review helps you select a tablet you’ll love — one that truly fits your needs, both on and off the worksite.
However, our most important advice is that you sit down, consider what you really want to use the tablet for, and jot down your most important criteria for it.
Only then can you find that perfect tablet that will ultimately increase your productivity and free up your time for more important things.
- How to Get the Most out of your Tablet or Smartphone on the Construction Site: The Ultimate Guide
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