Apple Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is the most trending iPad accessory out there. Though a lot of Apple enthusiasts initially frowned at its high price tag, it is to be admitted that the new Magic Keyboard plays a pivotal role in taking the iPad Pro closer to being a laptop.
Given below is a detailed review of the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. Read on to find out whether or not the iPad Pro can fully replace your laptop.
At the end of the review, we have compared the Magic Keyboard with two of the best alternate keyboard options for the iPad Pro, so that you can arrive at an informed decision on which one to go for.
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Review
Apple’s new Magic Keyboard comes with premium build quality, satisfying user experience, has some cool features, is heavy, and expensive
There is a lot to say about the design of the magic keyboard for the iPad Pro. On the top side, it features a strong magnetic panel for holding the iPad Pro which also doubles up as a protective case for the front and back side.
The bottom part hosts the actual magic keyboard and the trackpad. The top magnetic panel and the bottom keyboard are held together by a hinge that features a pass through USB C Port. The entire Smart Keyboard setup is soft to touch and has a premium feel.
One thing that you will instantly note about the design of the magic keyboard for iPad Pro is how thick both the top and bottom panels are.
The Magic Keyboard set up alone weighs nearly 700 grams (which is quite high for a case), and weighs 1.3 kilograms when coupled with the 12.9 inch iPad-Pro.
This is higher than the weight of a MacBook Air (1.2 kg) and even catches up to the weight of the 13 inch MacBook Pro (1.4 kg). The iPad Pro coupled with the Smart Keyboard is thicker than the 13 inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
The thickness of the magic keyboard does have its perks. It adds to the overall rigidity of the magic keyboard. Unlike few other wireless iPad Pro keyboards out there, Apple’s magic keyboard doesn’t show the slightest signs of bend even under high pressure.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro offers a satisfying typing experience. It has close to a 4mm key travel, and employs Apple’s scissor cut mechanism. Though the magic keyboard is slightly smaller than the keyboards found in MacBooks, you wouldn’t notice much difference while using.
In fact, those of you who have used the 13 inch MacBook Pro will definitely notice a striking similarity in typing experience.
The trackpad is also decent and provides a good user experience. Both vertical and horizontal scrolling in the trackpad are precise and fast enough for smooth webpage and application navigations.
Magic Keyboard comes with backlit keys. Like the MacBook keyboard, these are automatic and can adjust their brightness depending on the external lighting.
The Keyboard does not have any dedicated sensors or buttons for adjusting the brightness, but relies on the brightness detection feature in attached iPad Pro.
At times, this can be a bit frustrating when you would want to manually adjust the brightness. You would then need to navigate to the settings section in the iPad Pro, and adjust the brightness accordingly. It would have been better if there were specific brightness controlling keys in the keyboard.
This use case brings us to a very important feature which is currently missing from the magic keyboard, the absence of function keys. The magic keyboard for the iPad Pro do not contain function keys.
A lot of Mac users who are used to executing a lot of quick commands using function key shortcuts may find their absence a bit disturbing.
Docking and undocking the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard is a very simple and quick process. Just put the iPad Pro on top of the magnetic panel, and you are done. And, when you want to use your iPad Pro as just an iPad, just take it out from the top panel. It is as easy as that, and there are no wires involved in the process.
Can the Magic Keyboard iPad Pro combination replace a laptop?
For most cases, Yes. The magic keyboard coupled with the iPad Pro can give a near laptop experience for most of the use cases.
For eg. Almost all of the high end memory intensive tasks that you perform in your MacBook Pro can also be seamlessly executed in the new generation iPad Pro, thanks to the A12X bionic chipset and new generation neural engine. Plus, there is the added benefit of having a touch screen along with the keyboard.
However, there are certain scenarios in which I would want to continue using my MacBook and not the iPad Pro. For instance, the absence of an esc key will make the user want to use the iPad touch screen for exiting full screen applications.
The overall user experience of iPad Pro with the magic keyboard still do not catch up with the what a MacBook offers. Though the Magic Keyboard has improved in terms of stability (as compared to its predecessors) when using on soft surfaces such as your lap (thanks to the thickness and weight here), the user experience is still better with a MacBook.
As mentioned earlier, the absence of function keys is yet another piece that takes out the laptop experience. Due to this, adjusting keyboard backlit brightness, speaker volume, or shortcut based quick operations become dependent on the screen.
Although the floating screen of the iPad Pro on the magic keyboard looks elegant and modernistic, there is a slight drawback here in terms of viewing angles.
Currently you get a viewing angle between 90 and 130 degrees when the iPad Pro is mounted on the Magic Keyboard. This is partly due to the restricted movement of the hinge that connects the top and bottom part of the magic keyboard.
In the case of a MacBook or any other laptop, the user gets a much wider spectrum of viewing angles which translates to a better viewing experience in some of the use cases.
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro – Pricing and Deals
Magic Keyboard costs $299 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $350 for the 12.9 inch iPad Pro are available at Amazon, BestBuy, Apple, and other retailers. Amazon often offers discounts and the magic keyboard can be picked up for much lesser rates.
Refurbished versions of the magic keyboard for iPad Pro are not widely available right now as it is a new release. However, a couple of months down the lane, you should be able to find refurbished versions at Amazon, BestBuy or other retailers for much lower price tags.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro vs Other iPad Pro Keyboard Options
The idea of using the iPad Pro as a laptop has been around for quite some time now. Hence, wireless keyboards for iPads have evolved over time with different brands such as Brydge offering budget friendly keyboard options.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro vs Brydge Pro+
Brydge Pro+ Keyboard uses two clamp structures to mount the iPad Pro whereas in the case of Apple Magic Keyboard the iPad Pro is mounted using the magnetic top panel.
Removing and mounting the iPad Pro into the magic keyboard is much quicker and easier than doing it on the Brydge Pro+.
Also, since the iPad is inserted into the two clamps in the case of Brydge Pro+, the iPad screen itself is in direct contact with the clamps. This may cause a risk to the screen on prolonged usage.
Magic Keyboard has an additional passthrough USB port which is absent in the Brydge Pro+. The additional USB in the magic keyboard can act as a direct power source freeing up the iPad Pro’s USB ports for connecting other peripherals.
The trackpad experience in the magic keyboard is much better than the Brydge Pro+. Overall typing experience was also found to be better in the magic keyboard for iPad Pro despite the Brydge Pro+ having a slightly higher key travel.
Since the Magic Keyboards connect via smart connectors and not bluetooth like the Brydge Pro+, there is zero delay while typing. Typing or scrolling experience in the Brydge Pro+ is not slow. It is just that the Magic Keyboard offers a better user experience.
Brydge Pro+ has a traditional design and looks similar to the bottom panel of a MacBook Pro. Though the iPad Pro and magic keyboard combination is modernistic, a traditional laptop look is achieved when you couple the iPad Pro with Brydge Pro+.
With the Brydge Pro+, you have a viewing angle ranging all the way from 0 to 180 degrees and with the magic keyboard it is much lesser. Hence, for certain use cases, viewing experience is slightly better with the Brydge Pro+.
Both the Magic Keyboard and Brydge Pro+ have backlit feature. Magic features the backlit with automatic brightness control, whereas in Brydge Pro+, you will need to adjust the brightness manually from the function keys.
One aspect in which the Brydge Pro+ completely overtakes the Magic Keyboard is in having function buttons for adjusting display/backlit brightness, volumes levels and other functions.
There is a considerable difference in the price tags of these two keyboards. The Brydge Pro+ is currently available at $149 for the 11-inch iPad Pro version, and $229 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro version.
Apple Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro
Both the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro are Apple Products. While the Magic Keyboard is relatively new, the Smart Keyboard Folio has been around for 4 years.
The Smart Keyboard Folio is much thinner and lighter than the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro and hence is easier to carry.
Unlike the Magic Keyboard, the Smart Keyboard Folio can be used as just a case by rolling the keyboard to the backside. This is quite convenient while watching movies or videos where you do not need the keyboard.
In the case of Magic Keyboard, you have to separate the iPad Pro from the magic keyboard in order to use it as just an iPad. But that again is not such a big concern as it is very easy to detach the iPad from the magnetic panel.
Magic Keyboard definitely offers a better keyboard experience. Smart Folio Keyboard is made of a single piece of fabric-like material. The key shapes are just carved out from this material, and as such are not individual key blocks.
This has its advantages and disadvantages. Since the entire keyboard is made of a single material, there are no gaps between the keys. Hence, dust and water cannot get inside the keys . This is something that prolongs the life of the keyboard.
But the disadvantage with the entire keyboard being a single piece is that there are chances you might overstep on the neighbouring keys while typing.
Magic Keyboard wins when typing in low light conditions as it has an automatic backlit keyboard which is not present in the Smart Keyboard Folio.
Trackpad experience in the Magic Keyboard is really great whereas in the Smart Keyboard Folio, there is no trackpad.
Overall, the typing experience in the Smart Keyboard Folio is no where near the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro.
Apple Magic Keyboard vs Brydge Pro+ and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
Though the Brydge Pro+ and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio offer decent typing experience, they are nowhere close to what the Magic Keyboard offers.
Of course, the Apple Magic Keyboard is at least $100 higher than the Brydge Pro+ and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio. But, it is still a worthwhile investment if you have enough money to do so.
If not the Magic Keyboard, we would recommended going for the Brydge Pro+, and to keep the Smart Keyboard Folio as the last option.
Image Source – Apple