Tablets (Ipad / Ipad Pro / Samsun S3) for architects - field, etc

  • Hello all, I'm thinking of buying a tablet for field / office use for my practice. I see the uses as:
  • Having PDFs of the drawings for field discussion and markup.
  • Showing clients pitch materials at initial meetings.
  • Downloading technical PDFs (codes / ANSI / etc) and having them on a quick touch format instead of having print out for use
  • Typing up meeting minutes quickly and in the field so I can have it out and done quickly.

Obviously, there would be recreational use as well (media, web, etc).

I figure it's either:

  • IPad Pro (9.7, last model)
  • IPad normal (current 9.7)
  • Samsun S3 Tab

Pros/Cons as I see them:

  • Ipad Pro 9.7
    • Pro: Fast, pen support for high level pen, integrates with my office computer (Mac, ACad LT 17, SketchUp) 
    • Con: Priciest option new, older tech that others, pen / keyboard extra $, at this point, resale market
  • Ipad normal - 128 GB
    • Pro: Price competitive with Samsung, integrates with office Mac, new tech
    • Con: No pen support (can still use stylus to sketch, but not as detailed as Pro / S3), no integrated keyboard (bluetooth covers work, but not integrated)
  • Samsung S3 Tab
    • Pro: Good blend of price and tech, pen included (though not sure how it compares to Apple Pencil), Android operating system better at file organization? , expandable flash card memory
    • Con: Doesn't integrate with Mac at office, keyboard extra, not the same level of tech support as Apple, is the pen as sensitive?


If I'm being honest, I don't probably need the Apple Pencil connectivity as I sketch well as an architect, but like most of us, my sketches are more diagrams and quick perspectives, not illustrations or renders.

Am curious about the S3 pen to Apple Pencil comparison, can't find it on the web in a useful way.


What say you, are you an architect? Do you use a tablet? Do you have advice?

Many thanks!

Sep 18, 17 3:35 pm

We started with iPads back in 2011, and now have fully made the switch over to the Surface last year.  We did it mostly because it's windows-based like everything else in our office so everyone (younger staff through older PMs/Principals) knows how to use it.  A lot of the older managers got very frustrated with 1) Apple's design/constant updates to their iOS, 2) difficulty in transferring documents/marked up PDFs from the iPad to our company server, and 3) the use of a 3rd party stylus made markups look so terrible they were almost illegible.  

I'm not sure what the integration is like now; I hope it's much better.

Sep 18, 17 4:04 pm

The tablet users in my circle are all using Surface tablets.  I think some are even running BIM and CAD on them.

We had iPads for a while but ditched them for reasons similar to those in thatsthat's comment.

Sep 19, 17 2:06 pm

All, I appreciate the input.

The only thing that hits me funny is since I'm the oddball Mac architect (running AutoCad LT / Sketchup Pro on Mac Pros), that the integration would be better for me than the typical Windows / architect environment.

Still, I greatly appreciate the advice!

Sep 19, 17 7:10 pm

I wish so much that my firm worked in a Mac environment. We have just barely convinced the principals that Revit is worth the money so it'll be a cold day in hell before we get to make the switch to Mac.

x intern

Tried the ipad and surface for CA and just couldnt make it stick.  They are delicate, small screens and slow with a big drawing set. 

After a couple of site visits i always end up back to half size sets.  The time it takes to locate the different drawings on arch and mep, locate the issue and solve is a beating.

I still think the surface is good in a meeting and i think the punch list possiblities are good. 

Surface is garbage for production work.  Small screen and limited horsepower make it frustrating.

Sep 20, 17 11:58 am

In terms of storing/viewing an entire drawing set, we had this issue with the 2011 iPad, with a 200 page set, but it's seemed to be resolved with the Surface. Not sure if it was an iPad issue or a program issue. However, on some of our larger projects, the contractor has iPads on site that the design team can check out to view the set while walking the site. The contractor is responsible for keeping copies of all construction documentation on the iPads used on site.  (For one of these projects, the bid set alone was over 1000 pages.)  So for our larger projects, we are using Surfaces for marking up docs, sending emails, etc., where we don't necessarily need the whole set.


Current office does not use tablet but I use my personal ipad for all the mentioned above, ICC website, google earth, adobe sketch, photos, pdf's note taking, dates etc.. something i have been doing past 3yrs or so, plus i hava an iphone and up until 5months ago had a pro, but now we have went to dell pc's

Sep 20, 17 2:42 pm

You can consider the products by apple and the features that you have mentioned are available on the device and it has the best user experience. You can choose any product or know about it from apple customer service number

Oct 11, 18 2:57 am

A colleague of mine who is an architect and has his own firm uses an ipad pro and loves the convenience of it. uses it very often to sketch, do diagrams, sketch over pdfs. the sensitive of apple pen is very good.

can't speak to the samsung one. i wouldn't bother with the ipad if you can't use a pen with it.

i would buy the ipad pro, try it and return in a few weeks if you dont like it.

Oct 11, 18 12:14 pm

I completely agree that the pencil makes the difference. However, the current iPad now supports the pencil as well. You don't have to go all the way to Pro anymore.


I have an iPad Pro 9.7 that I've been using about 18 months now.  I use it primarily for note taking and referencing PDF sets.  It took some trial and error to work out a process with Bluebeam that doesn't completely suck.  I'm still wrangling with the punch list process, it almost does what I want it to.  Beats doing it on paper.  Having the cellular version makes a big difference, as I frequently forget to sync Bluebeam until I'm at the job site.  

There are some Surface users in the office too.  The nice thing for them is it's the same tool, just a different screen when at the desk.  Obviously that's not a feature you'd use though.  

Oct 11, 18 9:29 pm

you should buy a ipad pro for your needs . I have one to taking notes , sketch . It's really portable and no hassle to use , it is also nice for drawing, 

On the other hand, if you need more advanced programs and will do things like photobashing and 3d-work then the Display Drawing tablet would be the logical choice, as those are things the iPad just isn't equipped for.

I have a Xp-pen Artist 15.6 Pro ( )  Drawing Tablet With Screen .  it has 1920x1080 resolution of 15.6 inch ips screen , 88 percent of NTSC color gamut . the tablet monitor has 8 hotkeys and 1 Red Roller wheel , the stylus has 8192 pen pressure levels and support pen tilt function . I can't find any flaw, tracking is accurate and the screen is great. 

Jan 30, 19 10:06 pm

My iPad Pro 12.9” has been so useful for school and work, both architecture. I only use my 15” 4K Alienware for Revit now, everything else is on the iPad. There are super cool drawing apps such as Morpholio for using trace paper and really easy PDF markup apps for the iPad. It super high quality and syncs with my iPhone so life is easy with it.

Jan 30, 19 10:28 pm

Nice Post about the Tablets (Ipad / Ipad Pro / Samsun S3)..Thanks for sharing...Technology guest post write for us tips

Apr 4, 19 7:13 am

Surface Pro has become good enough to be a category killer in this space for architects. With a quad core i5 processor, it has much more real processing power than consumer tablets and the ability to run real software with tablet convenience. I ditched my iPad for for Surface Pro 6 and have not looked back.

Apr 9, 19 5:08 pm

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