Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is a pricey accessory, but it does promise that you can finally work well on your iPad. We put it to the test and have extensively tested the Magic Keyboard for iPad !
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro review: introduction
“Is the iPad a real laptop replacement?” That is a question that left many people with when Apple once again claimed that you could now leave your MacBook at home. With the Magic Keyboard for iPad, Apple offers exactly what people have asked for: a sturdy keyboard cover with trackpad that really lets you use your iPad like a laptop. And with improvements in iPadOS , it also feels more and more like a laptop. But all that convenience does cost money: if you buy an iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard, you will lose almost as much as you would for a MacBook. And in terms of thickness and weight, you might also want to choose a MacBook. Is it all worth it? In this review of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro we try to answer that.
Magic Keyboard in short
These are the main features of the Magic Keyboard:
- Built-in trackpad
- Suitable for iPad Pro (also earlier models)
- Magnetic mount with multiple viewing angles
- Scissor mechanism, similar to the latest MacBooks
- Charging via USB-C port
- Available from May 2020
Design of the Magic Keyboard for iPad
Of course, if you paid $ 339 or more for the Magic Keyboard, you don’t want it to feel like rubbish. On that point, Apple does not disappoint. The keyboard feels sturdy and both the design and the construction have been well thought out. The whole is rigid but also robust and therefore easy to use on your lap, without it becoming unstable.
The floating effect is of course what immediately stands out in the design. This construction is very smart, because it ensures that you can place the screen at any viewing angle. You can also bring the screen closer to you when you are working. It looks nice and it is also practical to use.
You can open the keyboard in one smooth movement and place it at the correct angle, although you need two hands to do so. Just a bit more clumsy than a MacBook , whose lid can be opened with one finger. But on the other hand, you are more flexible with the iPad Pro. If you don’t need a keyboard, you can just leave the cover at home.
You may think, “Leave at home? If I have bought such a nice cover, I always use it! ” But the problem is, this cover is quite big and heavy. Apple does not provide official weight figures, but the combined weight of a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard is 1351 grams, which is heavier than most MacBooks. If you are unsure between a MacBook Air or iPad Pro , there are quite a few things to consider today. The Magic Keyboard turns the iPad into a ‘real laptop’ at first glance, but it may well be that you better put your money into a good MacBook .
You should also keep in mind that the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard takes up quite a bit of space in your bag. That’s the price you pay for the fact that everything feels so sturdy and robust, making it a pleasure to type on.
On the side of the Magic Keyboard is a USB-C port, which you can use as a passthrough for charging. It is not suitable for data, so you cannot attach an external screen or USB hub. Nevertheless, it is useful that this USB-C port is there, because it allows you to keep your iPad charged and conceal the cable inconspicuously, without disturbing cables being visible.
All in all, the Magic Keyboard is very similar to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, especially in terms of material. A silicone material in anthracite gray has been chosen, a neutral color that will appeal to everyone. It is a pity that this material can wear out quickly with the iPhone cases, causing ugly spots. This is undesirable with such an expensive cover and we would have preferred Apple to have made this keyboard of a slightly more durable material.
A big difference is of course that the Magic Keyboard is thicker and heavier than the covers that we are normally used to. But there is also a lot more hardware in it. This was already apparent from a teardown and X-rays .
A similarity with previous covers is that the keyboard gets power from the iPad itself, via the Smart Connector. So you don’t have to charge, but it also means that your iPad battery drains faster with intensive use.
Magic Keyboard keyboard and trackpad
The Magic Keyboard’s keys are slightly larger than those of the original Smart Keyboard Folio and they are backlit. It is a lot more pleasant to use. Previously you were tapping on a cloth mat, while now you can press the keys much more (approx. 1 mm). The keys spring back more after pressing, giving you a more laptop-like experience. I write blindly with 10 fingers and had no trouble finding the right key. And because it feels much the same as Apple’s separately available Magic Keyboard, you don’t have to get used to it either. It all feels much the same.
Below the keyboard you will find the trackpad, which is a bit smaller than on a MacBook. Still, it is pleasant to use and large enough for finger movements. You quickly get used to the fact that you now have a cursor. You no longer have to move your hands to the screen, but can control the cursor on the keyboard itself. You can also use the swipes and shortcuts, such as dotting with two fingers to scroll through documents. Or dot with three fingers to go back to the home screen.
There are also special finger gestures for the iPad , for example to move the cursor. The mouse pointer automatically changes shape to a circle or adapts to buttons and disappears when needed.
Do you really need this? The more you have to type and the more skilled you are on a keyboard, the more you will benefit from this cover. If you tap with 2 fingers, you can use any type of keyboard, even one with hardly any travel . For me as a 10-finger typer, a ‘real’ keyboard is a must.
Magic Keyboard in use
The great thing about this cover compared to the normal Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad is that you have more options to put the screen at a certain angle. With the normal cover there are only 2 positions. With the Magic Keyboard you can tilt the screen between 90 and 130 degrees. Tilting it a little further would have been more ideal, especially if you plan to use the iPad often on your lap.
Another point to consider: if you keep the iPad close to you, it is fine to use. However, if you slide the iPad too far towards your knees, you have a chance that the iPad will tilt and fall due to the weight of the screen. The construction is a bit top heavy due to the floating iPad.
There are still a few more small points of interest. For example, the autocorrect remains active when the iPad is in the case, so you tend to tap the screen to delete a word suggestion. It would have been more convenient if the auto-correct is automatically turned off when using the cover. Now you have to do it manually and turn it back on when you take the cover off.
What is also less convenient is that you cannot fold the cover backwards. This is the case with normal iPad keyboard covers: you fold the cover back and can then use the iPad as a tablet. With this cover you can only fold or use in ‘typing position’.
Finally, the fact that you can only rotate the screen 40 degrees, namely between 90 and 130 degrees. This makes it less flexible than a laptop, which you can open much further. We would have liked to have seen a row of function keys and an escape key, although we did not immediately feel disconcerted. Most functions can also be reached in another way – but then you have to touch the screen again.
- Nice experience while typing
- Great trackpad
- Sturdy construction
- Also good to use on your lap
- Difficult to open
- Heavy, thick and not that easy to carry
- Material can wear out
- No function keys and escape key
The keyboard, but also the trackpad and the adjustments in iPadOS make the Magic Keyboard feel more like a laptop. Apple has been trying to ask what a computer actually is in marketing materials for a few years now. It used to be a large cupboard under your desk, then a portable laptop. The iPad Pro in combination with this keyboard cover is the next step: a versatile and portable device that you can use for work as well as for leisure and creativity. The Magic Keyboard is not a necessary accessory yet, but if you have to do a lot of serious work on your iPad Pro and you have the money to do so, we definitely recommend it. It is currently the best conceivable solution if you want to use your iPad Pro as a work computer.