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The Best Note Taking Tablets

posted by on February 04, 2020 in Tablets & eReaders, Computers and Software, Guides & Reviews, Top Picks :: 8 comments

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With their small form factor and light weight, tablets are the perfect device for taking notes. But not everyone takes notes the same way. Some prefer typing, which is great for verbatim capture, and others prefer longhand, which studies have shown to enhance your ability to remember material from a presentation or meeting. So in finding the best note taking tablets, I focused on products that let you do both with ease. Here are my top picks. 

The best note taking tablet: Apple iPad 10.2-inch (7th gen)

Apple iPad 10.2-inch 7th Gen

If you're looking for the perfect tablet for taking notes, Apple's new 10.2-inch iPad (7th gen) is the best choice. Head to the App Store to load up on popular note-taking apps like Evernote, OneNote and Google Keep. And if you are an Apple user,  Apple Notes and iCloud Sync will put all of your notes at your fingertips, regardless of which Apple device you access. As its name suggests, the Apple Pencil ($99 on Apple, check price on Amazon) feels like a pencil in your hand and has great precision (4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity), which means it's perfect for drawing as well as text. The iPad is also compatible with Smart Keyboard for iPad ($159, check price on Amazon), which is a full-size keyboard, standand and cover that attaches through the Smart Connector. 

Screen: 10.2-inch touchscreen LCD display
Pen: additional purchase, 4,096 levels of pressure
Storage: starting at 32 GB
Battery life: 10 hours
Weight and dimensions: 1.07 lbs, 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches
Processor: 64-bit A10 Bionic chip
Operating system: iOS 13
Price: From $329 plus $99 for the Apple Pencil at Apple, check price on Amazon (as of 2/4/2020, the price was $249)

For Android lovers: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

If you're looking for an Android tablet for taking notes, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. The S Pen, which comes in the box, has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, which makes it perfect for drawing as well as writing. The Galaxy Tab S4 weighs 1.06 pounds and measures 9.81 x 6.47 x 0.28 inches, so it will easily fit in your bag and with 16 hours of battery life, you'll have plenty of power for the day. Through the Google Play Store, you can load up on all of apps you need, including popular note taking apps like Evernote, OneNote and Google Keep. The Galaxy Tab S4 starts at 64GB of onboard storage and has a microSD card slot that lets you easily add more storage (a 128GB Samsung microSD card costs less than $20 on Amazon and 256GB card is less than $35). You can also purchase a Galaxy Tab S4 Book Cover Keyboard ($149, check price on Amazon) to turn the Tab S4 into a clamshell-style lap top. 

With a price tag of almost $150 more than the iPad, it's hard to recommend the Galaxy Tab S4 as the best note taking tablet. But for Android lovers, the ease of syncing with your other devices and access to Android apps may be worth it.

Screen: 10.5-inch touchscreen
Pen: included, 4,096 levels of pressure
Storage: starting at 64 GB, expandable with microSD card
Battery life: 16 hours
Weight and dimensions: 1.06 lbs., 9.81 x 6.47 x 0.28 inches
Processor: Octa-Core Exynos (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz)
Operating system: Android 8 Oreo
Price: $499 at Samsung, check price on Amazon

For Windows users: Microsoft Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go

If you want a note taking tablet that has the flexibility of a Windows 10 laptop and an excellent pen, the best choice is the 10-inch Surface Go. The Surface Go is easy to carry, weighing in at just 1.15 pounds and measuring 9.65 x 6.90 x 0.33 inches, gets up to 9 hours of battery life and has plenty of power for taking notes and writing papers with its Intel Pentium Gold Processor and 4GB of RAM. The Surface Pen ($99 on Microsoft, check price on Amazon) has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity for sketching as well as taking notes, and it has a rubber eraser at the top, which feels like an old-school pencil eraser. And, of course, you can write within Windows 10 apps, like OneNote, Microsoft Word and any other program that accepts pen input. The Surface Go comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home in S mode, which locks you into apps available through the Microsoft Store. You can choose to swtich out of S mode, though.

If you purchase the optional keyboard, the Surface Go Signature Type Cover ($99 on Microsoft if you buy with the Surface Go, check price on Amazon), the Surface Go can function as your primary laptop. You can even plug in a monitor, keyboard and mouse, if you purchase a Surface Dock ($199 on Microsoft, check price on Amazon). The Microsoft Surface Go costs almost $200 more than the Apple iPad, so the Surface Go doesn't make sense unless want to flexibility of turning your note taking tablet into a full fledged computer.

Screen: 10-inch touchscreen LCD display
Pen: additional purchase, 4,096 levels of pressure
Storage: starting at 64GB
Battery life: 9 hours
Weight and dimensions: 1.15 lbs, 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches
Processor: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
Operating system: Windows 10 Home in S mode
Price: starting at $399 plus $99 for the Surface Pen at Microsoft, (check price on Amazon)

Take notes on your existing smartphone or tablet

If your tablet has its own stylus accessory available, it’s worth buying. Styluses that are custom-made for specific tablets offer better integration, better accuracy and more features than any third-party stylus. Even though they’re more expensive, device-specific styluses are worth it if you want to take handwritten notes. If your device doesn't have a device specific stylus. Check out our pick below.

Adonit Mini 4

Adonit Mini 4

If you're looking to try out note taking on one of your existing devices, start with the Adonit Mini 4. Though writing with the odd disc-style tip of the Adonit Mini 4 may be a little tough at first, it makes for accurate handwriting and will make you a convert to handwritten digital notes. It can be used with any smartphone, tablet, or laptop with a touchscreen.

Price: $19.99 on Adonit, check price on Amazon

Updated on 2/4/2020 with new product picks.

[Image Credits: Adonit, Samsung, Microsoft, Apple]



Discussion loading

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No Stylus Pen with Galaxy Tab A

From Jewely on December 16, 2019 :: 10:29 am

I just purchased the Tab A from this article… and surprise, the Tab A - the 2019 version of the 10.1 does not come with stylus or a place to store it. AND it does not covert hand written to text. I do love the tablet, so I’m keeping it, spending $30 more to get a stylus, which my case has a spot for, and will deal with my horrible handwriting for taking notes at church. Other than that, I really do love the tablet!

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Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019

From Morgan on January 01, 2020 :: 11:24 pm

I had the same issue with my galaxy tab A - didn’t come with the s pen! I’m trying to use the tablet for taking my notes, but it seems to me that the Samsung notes app doesn’t even have palm rejection. Has anyone found a way around the palm rejection feature?

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I also bought the Tab A for the same reasons

From Martha Dauphin on February 03, 2020 :: 5:54 am

I went on the samsung website and spoke to a rep who said the s-pen is not compatible with the tab A 10.1. I really like the tablet, but I also want to write and draw on it. There is a handwriting to text feature on the keyboard but the space is quite small. If you press the smiley face with arrows button on the top left of the keyboard, it’s next to the gif button. I don’t know if I should invest in another brand for the stylus, and if it would be worth it.

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Same here

From Maza on January 01, 2020 :: 2:45 pm

Told it came with pen, nope, its a different version, tried friends mini iPad gen5 it’s amazing, convert handwriting to text so am going for apple. Love Samsung user exp so will keep anyway

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UPDATE YOUR PHOTO of the Ipad!

From djrobsd on February 04, 2020 :: 4:30 pm

I am quite a stickler for journalism accuracy.  You posted a photo of the 11 inch iPad PRO, which starts at $799 for the 64GB version, yet your article is reviewing the standard iPad for $329.  They look dramatically different and although the iPad Pro looks prettier, you should be showing a photo of the actual tablet you’re reviewing.

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Updated, thank you!

From Josh Kirschner on February 04, 2020 :: 5:10 pm

Yes, we inserted the wrong photo. Fixed with the correct one. Thank you!

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Samsung tab S3 still the best!

From Carol on February 09, 2020 :: 7:25 pm

I recently bought the Samsung Tab S3 because of its 4:3 aspect ratio, and I don’t regret!! It’s the best for reading PDf and notetaking. I personally don’t like too much the 16:10 aspect of the newer Samsung tablets, a little bit too narrow and tall for a notebook.
Ipad still preserves 4:3 for a good reason.
Besides that, the S-Pen that comes with the S3 is more conical and resembles a better realistic pen. It seems that the S-Pen has increasingly lost its shape release after release…
And regarding the performance, I do notetaking and paint with many layers in Infinite Painter and it is extremey accurate and I didn’t perceived any lag.

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You left some good options out of your recommendation!

From Stephen E Smith on February 10, 2020 :: 12:30 pm

Like the reMarkable and the Supernote A5 and A6

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