There’s no denying that the iPad is comparable to a laptop nowadays; a handful of iPads in the current lineup already have an M1 Chip (which is even more powerful than most Intel I7 chips), and the screen on some iPad, especially the 12.9” iPad Pro, are literally better than most laptops, and the upcoming iPadOS 16’s Stage Manager really transforms the iPad into something a bit more similar to a Mac.
Although, the iPad doesn’t have a built-in keyboard that’ll let people type documents like you would on any laptop. While your standard Bluetooth keyboard and mouse/trackpad can do wonders, a keyboard case that you can bring anywhere is still a must for others. To solve this, Apple and some third-party companies made keyboard cases that’ll make the iPad more viable as a laptop replacement, and today, we’re taking a look at the best ones that you should consider getting!
Apple Magic Keyboard
- Effortless to use
- Has a very attractive and functional design
- Great backlit keyboard and excellent trackpad
- Doesn’t have a row of function keys
- Doesn’t fully protect the iPad
First up, and the best on this list is the Apple Magic Keyboard which isn’t a surprise to a lot of people. The best thing about the Magic Keyboard is that it’s so easy to use and remove, what do I mean by that? An iPad is still an iPad, some would use it as a laptop replacement, but at the end of the day, you’d be mostly using it by touch, and you’d need to have an effortless transition between keyboard/trackpad mode to touch mode, and that is something that the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio do through the Smart Connector on the iPads.
But we’re here to talk about the Magic Keyboard. You’ve probably seen a picture of it on the internet before, it has a great design that magnetically attaches the iPad to the case and makes it look like it’s floating. But, it’s more than looks though, that design also balances the iPad so it won’t fall forward as most third-party keyboards do. The hinge is smooth and sturdy and it has a USB-C charging passthrough as a bonus!
For the typing and trackpad experience, it’s simply the best that you’ll experience on any keyboard case (available on the iPad). The keyboard has full-size keys with classic scissor switches which feels great even when compared to other laptop keyboards. The trackpad also works well, it might be a bit too small for the liking of some people, but despite all that, it’s responsive, the gestures work well, and it’s satisfying to use.
Overall, the seamless integration with the iPad plus its great typing and trackpad experience makes the Magic Keyboard the best keyboard that’ll work with the iPad, and it even makes the hefty price tag worth it to a lot of people (mainly with people using the iPad as a laptop replacement).
Logitech Folio Touch
- Uses the Smart Connector
- Convenient and comfortable keyboard complete with function keys
- While the trackpad might seem too small for some, it’s precise and great to use
- Fully protects the iPad
- Has a cutout for charging Apple Pencil and a strap to keep it in place
- Only works well on desks due to the kickstand design
- Heftier and thicker than Magic Keyboard
Next up we have the Logitech Folio Touch, what’s special about this keyboard is that Logitech is licensed to create products that work with the smart connector so no Bluetooth and batteries here, the moment you take off the iPad from the case, it’ll automatically and physically disconnect from the iPad.
There are several keyboard cases made by Logitech, but the one I’ll recommend the most is the Folio Touch, it’s not dirt cheap, but it’s definitely worth what you’re paying for, and the Folio Touch has few to no drawbacks (depending on whom you ask) from its more expensive sibling the Logitech Combo Touch.
The feature that the Folio Touch can beat the Magic Keyboard with is the several viewing modes, four to be exact: Type mode (standard), Sketch Mode (low-angle), View Mode (standard, but the keyboard is flipped), and Read Mode (keyboard folded away).
The keyboard itself has a lot going for it; it’s backlit, it resembles the Magic Keyboard both in looks and in dimensions, each key has a scissor-switch which is comfortable and satisfying to type on despite having low travel, and before I forget, this keyboard has function row keys (which the Magic Keyboard doesn’t have).
This keyboard case also has a trackpad! It works like the one on the Magic Keyboard although it still uses a diving board mechanism, which means you can’t click on the upper portion of the trackpad.
This keyboard doesn’t have an incline so some people might not be comfortable with this, but generally, typing on it is good enough since the wrist rest (and pretty much the whole keyboard) has a fabric-like material that’s slightly soft to the touch, plus the great switches make this a good keyboard case.
Brydge Max Plus
- Durable aluminum body
- Large trackpad
- Doesn't use clamps, instead, it uses a magnetic panel similar to a Magic Keyboard
- Easy to use, effective, and satisfying keyboard
- Since it's aluminum... it's heavy
- Even though the keyboard is great, some people might need some getting used to the wobbly keys
- Weak spot on hinges
- The trackpadhave good palm rejection
People who type a lot on a keyboard will probably have a preference, mostly long key travel, and properly spaced keys, and most iPad keyboard cases don’t have that, but if typing experience and great looks are a must and you don’t want to dash out a lot of money for the Magic Keyboard, we have the Brydge Max Pro. It’s a keyboard case that gives the iPad a laptop-like look. It’s incredibly easy to use and makes typing on your iPad feel like you’re actually using a laptop.
For connectivity, this keyboard doesn’t have a Smart Connector, but Brydge made good firmware and gave it Bluetooth 5.0 so it can turn on and connect from sleep almost instantaneously, they call it “Instant-On” and yes, it’s almost as fast with Smart Connector-equipped keyboards. If you’re concerned about battery life, this keyboard will last you 3-months before needing a recharge
Each keystroke is crisp and responsive, and there is no lag between pressing keys and seeing them appear on the iPad, more than that, the key spacing is just perfect, and both features are great for fast typists. The keyboard also has backlit keys, which makes it easy to see in low-lighting conditions.
It’s comfortable and effective to use, but it’s also satisfying to type on; the key travel is similar to old MacBook keyboards (not the butterfly switches!), although, like the old MacBook keyboards, the keys here are a bit wobbly.
The case itself is made out of aluminum, which not only makes it durable but it’s also nice on your palm, and it doesn’t use clamps to mount the iPad anymore (which Brydge does a lot on their older products, clamp mounts aren’t reliable and can damage the iPad), instead it has a magnetic panel and mounting it is much like mounting an iPad to a Magic Keyboard, and with that, the back of the iPad is also fully protected.
Lastly, it has a large trackpad, which is easy and satisfying to use, although, its palm rejection could’ve been better.
Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
- Connects through the Smart Connector
- The keyboard is comfortable, convenient, and effective to use
- Now has a sturdier construction
- Light and portable
- While the keyboard is comfortable, it isn’t satisfying to use; the keys feel mushy
- Doesn’t have a trackpad
- Still expensive
Next up we have another first-party keyboard case from Apple, it’s the Smart Keyboard Folio which has been around ever since the first iPad Pro was released. It has gone through a redesign so it’s a bit more sturdy now than the previous generation which works like a flimsy origami.
The new Smart Keyboard Folio only works with the redesigned full-screen iPads since those have more magnets on the back which this case utilizes to produce a sturdy attachment. In contrast, while the new Smart Keyboard Folio is much more sturdy, it is however limited in viewing angles; you can’t flip the keyboard away for watching movies anymore, and when you hold the new Smart Keyboard Folio with the keyboard behind the iPad, on the previous keyboard you’ll have the microfiber lining to touch, on this newer model, however, you have nothing to touch but keys.
While the newer magnets make the case’s attachment with the iPad more sturdy, it does make removing the iPad a chore, especially when compared to the old keyboard which you just yank away from the iPad and it’ll pop off with ease.
The typing experience on the new Smart Folio Keyboard mostly remains the same compared to the previous gen, it still has the fabric over the keycaps which might feel mushy and result in an unsatisfying experience for most people. Although, no matter how much we complain about the keycaps, typing on it is quick, effective, and easy which still makes it one of the best keyboard cases for iPads.
Zagg Rugged Book Pro
- Protects iPad with durable case
- Has color and brightness adjustable backlighting
- Tactile and easy-to-press keyboard
- Sturdy kickstand
- Rounded keycaps might be weird for some people
- Doesn’t have a trackpad
- Needs to be charged and connected via Bluetooth
Are you clumsy? Do you want extra protection for your expensive iPad? We have the Zagg Rugged Book Go for you! It boasts a lot for half of the price of Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but its main selling point lies in its durability and unconventional but oddly functional reverse kickstand.
Most iPads with third-party cases or even the Smart Keyboard Folio will have a weird center of gravity which means the iPad can and might topple forward when used on your lap or an unbalanced surface. The kickstand solves this by adding extra support, although at the cost of having a larger overall footprint.
The keyboard itself feels good to type on, the case automatically tilts the keyboard a bit to make it more comfortable to type on, but since there’s nothing to support the keyboard underneath, it’s fairly bouncy. The keys are full-sized and easy to press which are both great for a fast typist, if you’re an average typist this also has the backlighting to help you out at night.
The keyboard is battery powered and it does last a good amount of time before needing a recharge, and it also connects to the iPad via Bluetooth, not only that, it can also connect to two devices which is incredibly useful if you’re simultaneously working on your iPad and a computer.
This is the Zagg Rugged Book Go, and as the name suggests it’s incredibly rugged, I think the case and the iPad it protects will survive a drop or two (although I’m willing to test that). I like the ruggedness of the case and keyboard itself, although some people who tried this keyboard found that the iPad buttons (volume and power buttons) were too hard to press.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a keyboard for an iPad worth it?Absolutely! It's even better if you do a lot of typing-intensive tasks. If you use your iPad for work or school, a keyboard will be a worthy investment.
Do iPad keyboard cases need charging?Not necessarily. There are options that let you connect it to your iPad so that it can use the device as a power source.