When it comes to technology in art, it is difficult to have a conversation without mentioning Wacom at least once. After all, the Japanese firm’s brand name has been synonymous with drawing tablets for well over a decade, and top artists all over the world use their products. Wacom has been in the tablet business for over 35 years, having launched its first device in the early 80s.
But we know that when Apple does something, it does it right. And from the last few releases of the iPad series, it is clear that the Cupertino-based tech giant now has its crosshairs set on the creative crowd, one that is a loyal user base of Wacom. And if you had to choose a winner in a Wacom Cintiq vs iPad Pro comparison — Wacom and Apple’s best tablets — which tablet would you pick? The answer is not simple, which is why we wrote this detailed article for you. Read on to know more!
Wacom Cintiq vs iPad Pro
Wacom has traditionally dominated the drawing tablets market until a few years ago when rivals like XP Pen and Huion made their appearance. And now Apple has joined the fray. The Cintiq is available in variants such as Cintiq Pro and regular Cintiqs in different sizes, whereas the iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models. For the sake of keeping the devices as similar as possible, we are going to compare the Cintiq 16 with the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9”.
One critical fact about this comparison that swayed us is that the Cintiq series needs a PC or Mac to run properly, as it is essentially a large external monitor that you can draw on. In sharp contrast, all you need to draw on the iPad Pro is an app. So clearly, the iPad Pro makes more sense as a device that can do it all. But that oversimplifies the situation, as many people still prefer Wacom drawing tablets.
Let’s take a closer look at both tablets to understand why — starting with the pros and cons of each device.
Wacom Cintiq Pros
- Offers good value for money
- Features-wise works well for both professionals and beginners
- The Wacom Pro Pen 2 stylus doesn’t need charging
- Screen texture is preferred by artists
Wacom Cintiq Cons
- No touch controls
- Needs a PC or Mac to work with
- You have to pay extra for a stand
- Weighs over 4 lbs
- Requires connecting to two ports on your computer
- Mediocre resolution
iPad Pro Pros
- Packs a beast of a chipset — the new M1
- Is a full-featured tablet, unlike the Cintiq
- Has a stunning and high-resolution display
- Beautiful design
- Portable; you can work on the move
iPad Pro Cons
- You need to shell out an additional $128 for the Apple Pencil
- The Apple Pencil needs charging
- No SD card slot
Now let’s inspect the features of the Wacom Cintiq and iPad Pro, side by side.
|Model||Wacom Cintiq 16||2021 iPad Pro 12.9”|
|Display||15.6 inchesLCD1920 x 1080 pixels||12.9 inchesMini-LED LCD120Hz refresh rate2048 x 2732 pixels|
|Battery||None, needs to be plugged in||10758 mAh Li-Po18W fast charging|
|Memory||N/A||128GB 8GB RAM 256GB 8GB RAM512GB 8GB RAM1TB 16GB RAM 2TB 16GB RAM|
|Rear Camera||No||12MP + 10MP + TOF 3D LiDAR|
|Ports||3-in-1 cable port only(HDMI + USB + power)||USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4)DisplayPortMagnetic connector|
|Connectivity||No||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, hotspot|
|SIM Support||No||Yes, Nano-SIM|
|Dimensions||16.6 x 11.2 x 1.0 inches||11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches|
|Weight||4.1 lbs||1.5 lbs|
|Price||$599||$1,228(128GB + Apple Pencil)|
Wacom Cintiq vs iPad Pro: Features Face to Face
If you’ve gone through the table above, it’s pretty clear that the devices are pretty different in many ways. While the iPad Pro is an all-purpose device, the Wacom Cintiq targets artists, painters, photographers, image editors, and 3D artists. To better understand the differences, let’s analyze each feature and break them down.
Wacom isn’t exactly known for revolutionary design, whereas Apple is known for — well, revolutionary design. And this is evident when you line up both devices side by side because the Wacom Cintiq looks clunky and purely functional, whereas the iPad Pro is a visual treat.
Apple has used metal, glass, and plastic to put together the iPad Pro, whereas the Wacom Cintiq looks and feels like low-quality plastic, especially the back. One may have more subjective views on the stylus that each device offers because the Wacom stylus is a very popular design, but the Apple Pencil has its fair share of admirers as well. But when it comes to design, the iPad Pro absolutely crushes the Wacom Cintiq.
This is the first of the divisive features — the display. The Wacom Cintiq carries a 15.6-inch LCD display, and most artists prefer to pay for as much screen real estate as they can afford. The matte texture on the Cintiq has its fans, whereas the iPad Pro’s glassy, laminated surface is also popular with artists. The iPad Pro is a bit limiting for artists in the drawing area but makes up for it with a crisp 4K mini-LED LCD screen.
The parallax effect on both devices is minimal. One point for the iPad’s corner comes in thanks to the touch controls — the Cintiq does not offer any. This can be a workflow issue for some artists, who are used to touch controls for rotating the canvas or zooming out. The color gamut on the iPad Pro is excellent as it touches almost 115% of the sRGB color gamut, whereas the Cintiq manages about 96% of the same.
After some thought, we would give this round to the iPad Pro simply because of how good the Retina Display is.
Alas, the Cintiq does not come with any speakers or the ability to connect to speakers, as it is just a graphics tablet. The iPad, in contrast, comes with stellar speakers. You get 4 stereo speakers that are pretty loud and work well with both music and movies.
There isn’t much going on with the Wacom Cintiq in terms of hardware specs as it is a display and lacks any powerful chipset or impressive RAM options. All the computing power you need to operate the Cintiq will come from the PC or Mac that you connect the device to. So in a way, there isn’t much that can go wrong with your Cintiq 16 besides the wear and tear of regular use.
The iPad Pro 2021, on the other hand, comes with the powerful M1 chipset that made its debut in 2020 and eventually appeared in last year’s iPad. You also get 8GB of RAM in the entry models and 16GB of RAM on the top models. Besides this, you also get FaceID on the iPad Pro, thanks to the powerful front-facing camera module.
If you’d like to read more about all the fantastic features in iPads over the years, read our article on all iPad models since 2010!
The software you install on your computer is responsible for how your Wacom Cintiq behaves, and we must say that it’s expansive. You get to control the nitty-gritty of the tablet from the Wacom Desktop Center software, and any additional tweaks can be taken care of on your editing software like Photoshop, Corel Painter, Autodesk, etc. One key difference is that you can get 3D modeling work done on the Cintiq, which you can’t do on the iPad Pro. At least, not yet.
The iPad Pro runs iPadOS, which is currently at version 15.3, and it’s smooth and responsive, thanks to the immense power that comes with the M1 chipset. The most popular drawing app on the iPad currently is Procreate, and a simple search on YouTube will show you just how amazing the app is. Photoshop comes in second, but it’s not as popular among iPad users.
Here’s a great intro video on Procreate on the iPad Pro:
In terms of software, the iPad comfortably leaves the Cintiq far behind.
Wacom has a good reputation for consistent performance and dependability, but then again, its duties are relatively basic. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, has to run your software and offer you high-level graphics at quad HD resolutions, compared to the modest full-HD resolution on the Wacom Cintiq.
The iPad Pro is excellent in performance regardless of how many apps you have open or how large your Procreate project is. It packs enough RAM, and the chipset doesn’t break a sweat no matter what you throw at it. Thanks to its impressive specs, the iPad Pro comfortably wins this performance round.
The Wacom Cintiq doesn’t have a camera built into it, so it’s an easy win for the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro’s cameras are easily the best that you can find on a tablet, with a 12MP wide primary camera and a 10MP ultra wide-angle camera present on the rear. On the front, you have another 12MP ultrawide snapper that also features Apple’s Center Stage technology, keeping you in focus when you’re on Facetime or other video conferencing apps.
Accessories / Peripherals
This might be the most critical part of the comparison as the stylus maketh or breaketh! In this case, it’s a tough one — both the Wacom Pro Pen 2 and the Apple Pencil 2 are equally fun and responsive on their respective tablets. So let’s look at what makes them different.
The Wacom Cintiq runs on a technology called electromagnetic resonance. Basically, there is an electromagnetic sensor under the display, which powers the pen. In short, this is also why you never need to charge your Wacom pens, unlike the Apple pencil.
Besides the Wacom Pro Pen 2, you can also purchase a stand, which in our opinion, should have come with the tablet because there is no way you can operate a device this heavy without a stand. You also get accessories like keyboards, ExpressKey remote controls (hotkeys to use with various software), gloves, and nibs.
We love the range of settings that Wacom’s software allows you to play with. When it comes to configuration, you can fine-tune the tablet’s responsiveness, palm detection, pressure settings, pen tilt, sensitivity, and scores of other tiny details. In comparison, using the Apple pencil is pretty straightforward — for example, you can only set the Pencil pressure to hard, soft, or custom, as this video demonstrates:
As for the iPad Pro, we already mentioned how expensive the Pencil is — you can either buy the Pencil 2 for $129 or go for the first-generation Pencil 1 for $99. You can also invest in a Magic Keyboard or a Smart Keyboard Folio, but these will cost you a pretty penny. When it comes to peripherals, we give both the Wacom Cintiq and the iPad Pro a tie.
Also Read: Wacom Intuos vs Wacom Intuos Pro!
The Wacom doesn’t really have a UI, as it is a second screen for whatever software you are operating on your computer. In comparison, the iPadOS is a full-fledged operating system with the best software experience that you can have on a tablet, period. iPadOS is smooth and responsive, the animations are fluid, and everything works exactly as it’s supposed to. Easy win for the iPad Pro!
Not only does the Wacom Cintiq need a computer connected to it, but it also does not come with any battery backup. So if you plan to work off your laptop, you better find a wall outlet, or you’re not going to get anything done. This is a pretty big problem compared to the iPad Pro, which can run for well over 10 hours, offering you peak performance throughout. You also get 18-watt fast charging support, so even if you do run out of juice on the iPad Pro, you’ll have it recharged again in no time.
Wacom Cintiq vs iPad Pro: Quality and Reliability
Thankfully, we’re talking about market leaders here, so regardless of whether you buy an iPad Pro or a Wacom Cintiq, you are in for a stress-free experience as both of these devices have excellent reputations. Both the tablets have large communities online where new features, troubleshooting, and tips and tricks are discussed, so owning either of these devices is a wholesome experience.
The Wacom Cintiq offers a 1-year warranty in the USA, Canada, Latin America, Japan, Asia-Pacific, and China and 2 years of coverage in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Apple, on the other hand, offers you 90 days of complimentary technical support as well as 1 year of hardware repair coverage under a limited warranty. You can always go for AppleCare+, which extends your coverage to 2 years. This also includes up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months. This can be purchased for $149.
The customer service departments at both Wacom and Apple are excellent and will ensure that your device is back in working order if ever you need their assistance. You can reach out to Wacom on their official support page, and if you need to reach out to Apple, this is where you can start.
Standout features: Cintiq vs iPad Pro
Both of these tablets are radically different — one is a professional device for artists, while the other is a tablet that is not just for the occasional sketch but can easily keep you entertained for hours while also being a dependable workhorse. The speed at which creative people are moving over to iPad Pros tells us that it’s quickly becoming a force to reckon with for Wacom.
Given that the iPad Pro is a standalone device, has cameras, has a powerful chipset, is well-designed, plus you can do a lot more than just draw, we would pick the iPad Pro over the Wacom Cintiq any day!
Here are the prices for both gadgets in various specs:
Cintiq 16: $599.00
Cintiq 22: $1,199.95
iPad Pro 2021
11-inch iPad Pro 2021 128GB + Pencil 2: $928.00
11-inch iPad Pro 2021 256GB + Pencil 2: $1028.00
11-inch iPad Pro 2021 512GB + Pencil 2: $1228.00
11-inch iPad Pro 2021 1TB + Pencil 2: $1628.00
12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 128GB + Pencil 2: $1228.00
12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 256GB + Pencil 2: $1328.00
12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 512GB + Pencil 2: $1528.00
12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 1TB + Pencil 2: $1928.00
12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 2TB + Pencil 2: $2328.00
These are the WiFi models. To include cellular capabilities, simply add $200 to the price.
In a Cintiq vs iPad Pro battle, it really comes down to what the end-user is looking for. After all, some people love the no-frills approach of the Wacom Cintiq, which aims to do one thing and do it well. In comparison, the convenience and portability of the iPad Pro make it so endearing to its owners.
In short, if you need a large graphics screen that you want solely to sketch on and not have any other distractions, then the Cintiq is a great device to start off on, as many professionals find it excellent too.
But if you’re someone who wants not just a graphics tablet but an electronic companion, then the iPad Pro is the answer.
If you enjoyed our Wacom Cintiq vs iPad Pro comparison, we’d love to hear from you. Did we manage to sway your opinion? Leave us some love in the comments!