From a build and functionality perspective, the Magic Keyboard is great. It offers the best iPad typing experience, packs in handy extras like backlighting and passthrough charging and introduces a trackpad. It does all come down to the price, though. This is a real investment and as such, the shortcoming are a little more apparent. The lack of a function row of keys is my biggest qualm, and it's something that should be added in the next version.
- Great typing experience
- Seemless integration with the iPad Pro
- Magnet hold everything in place very securely
- Trackpad support is (mostly) well done
- It's very expensive for a keyboard
- Really needs a function row
- No doubting it's heavy
- Review Price: £299
- Magic Keyboard
- USB-C port
Alongside the iPad Pro 2020, Apple announced its most lavish accessory yet. The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is a floating keyboard for its latest tablet that happens to cost £300.
Apple has been selling a keyboard attachment for its iPad line for a few years in the form of the Smart Keyboard Folio, however this new Magic Keyboard is different in various ways – and not just the higher price.
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It packs proper keys that are backlit, a trackpad and a USB-C port for charging. With that being said, can an accessory ever be worth such a high price?
Design – Thicker, and heavier, than a MacBook Air?
While the Smart Keyboard Folio felt like a keyboard was tacked onto a typical iPad case, this is purely a keyboard. Yes, it offers protection on both front and back but you can’t flip the keys around.
Thankfully, due to the way it has been designed, it’s very easy to pop the iPad off the keyboard when you want to use it separately. The iPad attaches via lots of strong magnets and it’s really firm and rigid – you can even hold the setup by just the keyboard and the iPad will stay in place.
Once the iPad is in place it sort of floats just above the keyboard, popping the screen at a comfortable height for typing. You can tilt it slightly downwards, but only a small amount and I have found the default position it jumps to is the best. If a second version was to be made, then a slightly customisable position would be appreciated.
The whole setup is made from a soft plastic that seems, so far anyway, easy to clean and resistant to dings and scratches.
Keyboard and trackpad – The best iPad typing experience
It’s the quality of the keys that really make the Magic Keyboard such a great addition to the iPad. They mirror those found on the most recent MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with scissor switches and a decent amount of travel. Typing here is far more comfortable than on my 2016 MacBook Pro with its thankfully retired butterfly switches.
With the 12.9-inch version, the keys are well-spaced and large enough to type quickly without making too many mistakes. They’re backlit too, making nighttime typing a lot easier. The backlight comes on automatically when the lights dim, however you’ll have to bury deep into settings for any sort of customisation for the lighting.
My one criticism with the keyboard, and something I hope is addressed in a second edition, is the lack of a function row. There’s no way to alter the volume without reaching for the physical rocker on the top or easily skipping songs. I have often found myself reaching up expecting a brightness key to be there, only to be met by nothing.
Below the keyboard is a rectangular trackpad. It’s not as large as you’d find on a MacBook, but it properly clicks in when pressed and is very responsive. Trackpad/mouse support was added in the latest update to iPadOS and for the most part it works well. Check out the software section of our iPad Pro 2020 review for a deeper look at this cursor support.
Another benefit of the trackpad is gestures and a lot of these will be familiar to Mac users. A three-finger swipe sideways, for instance, lets you flip through apps while the same swipe upwards takes you into the multitasking menu.
Charging and power passthrough – A handy addition
You don’t need to charge the Smart Keyboard separately as it draws power directly from the iPad Pro thanks to the Smart Connector on either the 2018 iPad Pro or 2020 iPad Pro. There’s no setup either – just attach and start typing.
Another nice addition is the USB-C port, which lets you charge the iPad Pro and keep the other USB-C port free for, say, plugging in an external HDD. It is worth noting that you can’t plug these into the secondary port – that’s for charging only – and it’ll charge slightly slower. If you want full speed charging your best bet if the port on the tablet itself, however it wasn’t that much slower.
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Should I buy the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard?
From a build and functionality perspective, the Magic Keyboard is great. It offers the best iPad typing experience, packs in handy extras like backlighting and passthrough charging and introduces a trackpad.
It does all come down to the price, though. This is a real investment and as such, the shortcoming are a little more apparent. The lack of a function row of keys is my biggest qualm, even if it’s something I assume I will eventually get used to.
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