Can a Tablet Replace a Laptop for Photo Editing?

There are some tablets currently available that can help you edit photos very well and possibly replace a laptop. But with high-end performance in mind, serious photographers and editors will still likely want access to a laptop

This post will examine whether a tablet can realistically replace a laptop for photo editing. I’ll explain what modern tablets are capable of and why you still might want to keep using a laptop. The goal is to help photographers and editors get the devices they need. 

Let’s get started. 

Key Takeaways

  • Some tablets currently available do an excellent job relating to photo editing and can serve as a replacement for a laptop. 
  • High-end laptops will still offer the best performance for photo and video editing needs, and serious or professional photographers will likely want access to one. 
  • Casual photographers might not need a tablet or a laptop for editing and can get by using their smartphones. 

Tablets vs Laptops for Photo Editing 

Photo editing has come a long way in recent years. What once was a complex task that required specialized equipment and software can now be completed with phones and apps by people with little experience. 

If you are familiar with photo editing, then chances are you have used many or all of the currently available electronic devices to help you complete this task. Tablets, laptops, desktops, and smartphones are all capable of doing so. 

But can a tablet replace a laptop for photo editing? The answer really depends on what level of photo editing you are involved with and any other needs or preferences you might have. And it also depends on your budget and some other factors. 

We’ll look at these factors in more depth in the section below, but know that professional photographers will probably appreciate the added performance that a laptop can offer, while amateurs might like the lower price of a tablet. 

Are Tablets or Laptops Better for Photo Editing? 

If you look at things strictly from a performance perspective, laptops are still better than tablets for photo editing. Laptops are more powerful machines and can handle more complex tasks, which is an advantage for photo and video editing. 

But high-end modern tablets can also do a great job with photo editing. And they can work for many photographers in various situations. You don’t need both of these devices, but you might want to. 

If you are a professional photographer and need the best technologies and capabilities at your disposal, then you will likely benefit from using a laptop over a tablet for photo editing. Increased performance has many benefits, especially if people are paying you to edit. 

If you are an amateur photographer who doesn’t need the latest technology or extremely powerful editing performance, then you will probably be just fine with a tablet. You can get a lot done with a tablet. 

Tablets are more affordable and smaller than laptops most of the time. This makes them a better option for anyone on a budget or who travels often. But traveling and editing on the fly is still possible with a laptop.

How to Choose a Tablet for Photo Editing

Here are a list of key factors that we recommend you take into consideration.


Every tablet comes with a unique operating system, and each one offers access to its own app store. Always consider what photo editing apps you want to use (if any) before making your final purchase.

While some are available across multiple stores, that’s not true for every program. If there’s something you want for editing, double-check to make sure the tablet you’re getting can run it.


When working with photos, you want them to look good. Editing on a tablet with a poor display makes it harder to discern different colors or changes making it less enjoyable.

Though it tends to cost more, you should do your best to get a good screen. High-resolution options should always take precedence over ones with worse specs.

Battery Life

Nothing is more frustrating than having your tablet die on your mid-edit. To prevent that, get a model with a long-lasting battery. Many top devices come with different hours, but you ideally want something that runs for at least nine.

Even if you don’t plan on using your tablet for that long, it will still allow you to work or relax without constantly worrying about having to find a plug.

What’s the Best Tablet for Photo Editing?

There are many tablets that can work well for photo editing. The iPad is a favorite among photographers because it’s a very powerful device with many editing apps available. There are several different kinds of tablets you can explore.

In my opinion, the iPad Pro will give you the most power and also features the largest screen. But it comes with the highest price tag and is one of the most expensive tablets available. But it’s definitely one of the best if you can afford it.

If you want to use Photoshop or don’t like using Apple products, there are plenty of other tablets available from other manufacturers that will do a good job of photo editing. Make sure to research to find which is best for your needs or preferences.

1. Apple iPad Pro

The iPad Pro has long been one of the strongest tablets on the market, and that extra processing power makes it an excellent way to edit your photos.

Not only does this device give you access to many programs through the iOS app store, but it also has the inherent functionality needed to both take and alter high-resolution photos.

What makes the iPad special is how well it balances both work and play. While you can edit to your heart’s content, when that’s over you can play games, access the internet, and view your favorite shows on the device’s incredible Retina LCD screen.

Everything comes across as vivid in full high-resolution color. You also have the option to get the Apple Pencil if you so wish, which gives you more ways to edit.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a great choice for photo editors who need extra processing power. This device has multi-core processors. As such, you get the full Windows operating system rather than a less powerful mobile system. That comes to life through the 12.3-inch PixelSense display that looks great at any angle. Everything is then powered by one of the strongest batteries on the market.

2. Microsoft Surface Pro

If you want extra functionality, the Surface Pro has an optional illuminated keyboard, touchpad, and stylus. Each item, while sold separately, increases the device’s editing versatility.

This model also boasts an impressive 10.5-hour battery that will help you work for extended periods of time with little interruption. It charges quickly as well, which means you don’t have to wait long when you do need to plug it in.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Few photo editing tablets give you as many options as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. This model is one of the lightest and most portable photo editing tablets on the market.

It runs Android’s operating system and can be taken just about anywhere. That makes it great for editors who like to work out of the house. It is also easy to move and maneuver on any surface.

While this is light and easy to move around, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s low on power. The model is packed with a range of impressive specs, including 8GB RAM, 128GB of internal storage, as well as a 2.99 GHz Snapdragon processor.

That gives you the space to hold plenty of letters as well as the ability to run any programs or software you might need. All of that comes to life on the 11-inch HDR-ready screen. There is an included S Pen here as well.


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about whether a tablet can replace a laptop for photo editing. 

Can a tablet be used for photo editing? 

Yes, a tablet can certainly be used for photo editing and is a solid option for many types of photographers. These devices are lightweight and portable, making them easy to travel with. Tablets might give you less control and power for editing purposes than a laptop will. 

Can you use Photoshop on a tablet? 

You can use Photoshop on Android-based tablets, as a version of the app is available for these. This is a good way to take advantage of using your tablet for photography and can help you complete edits on the move. 

Is it better to edit photos on a laptop or iPad? 

A laptop is probably better than an iPad if you want the most editing control. But you can still do a lot of editing work on an iPad, and it is easy to travel with, so you can use it if you plan to travel often. Both devices are capable of doing good photo editing. 

Final Thoughts

A tablet can technically replace a laptop for photo editing purposes, but you might not want to do so if you are a professional photographer. A laptop will give you more power and arguably more control over the editing process. 

If you want to save some money or travel a lot, a tablet is a good option for many photographers. Modern tablets can edit at a high level, and there are plenty of options to explore. 

Do you edit photos often? Do you prefer to work with a tablet, laptop, or phone? Let me know in the comments below. 

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