The best iPad keyboards for 2020

The Apple iPad is the best tablet you can buy, and finding the right one for you is easy, as Apple has an extensive range at a variety of different prices. Typing on the touchscreen is surprisingly fluid and natural, but there’s nothing like a physical keyboard for getting work done quickly and efficiently. We know from experience, having typed than 7,000 words on the iPad Pro 2020 and Apple’s Magic Keyboard during our recent review.

But which iPad keyboard should you buy? Our recommendations take into account budget and which iPad model you may own, to help smooth the transition between relaxing with Netflix on your iPad, to furiously working on a Word document seated at your desk. Stick around to the end of the article for information on keyboards that aren’t part of a case, and go here for the best iPad cases, or here for the best iPad drawing apps.

If you’re still deciding which iPad to buy, then maybe a good deal will help drive your decision. Here are the best iPad deals out there at the moment, and make sure you check the best Black Friday offers as well.

Best iPad keyboards at a glance

Best iPad Pro and Air (4th gen) keyboard: Apple Magic Keyboard

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends.com

Why you should buy this: It provides a superb typing experience, a trackpad, sturdy construction, and a pass-through USB-C port.

Who it’s for: Anyone with a 2018 or 2020 iPad Pro in either size, or the 4th-generation iPad Air, who wants to turn the tablet into a very effective laptop alternative.

Why we picked the Apple Magic Keyboard:

The Magic Keyboard is the very best keyboard case we’ve used for the Apple iPad. When it launched it was only compatible with the Apple iPad Pro 2018 and 2020, but Apple then made the 4th-generation iPad Air compatible with it too. That’s great news, as these represent the pinnacle of Apple’s iPad range.

The keyboard is very comfortable to type on. Each key has 1mm of travel, and gives precise feedback with each press, making it easy to type at full speed without much practice. The entire keyboard is backlit for use in low light and doesn’t flex, so it’s suitable for use on both a desk and your lap. The trackpad looks small in the pictures, but it never feels like it. Combined with iPadOS 14 the trackpad makes using the iPad Pro more like a laptop.

The angle of the iPad Pro’s screen can be adjusted easily, and the floating design looks fantastic, while the strong magnets ensure the tablet won’t accidentally come close. The case has a USB-C connector on the side which can be used to charge the iPad Pro, while leaving the tablet’s USB-C port free for a USB hub or other accessory. It has proved durable too, with no alteration in performance or key feel nearly six months in.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard is expensive. The 11-inch version costs $300 and the 12.9-inch $350; but if you want to work on your iPad in any serious way, it’s a great investment. If you buy the 10.9-inch 4th-generation iPad Air, you should purchase the 11-inch Magic Keyboard.

Apple Magic Keyboard review

Best Apple Magic Keyboard alternative: Brydge Pro+

Why you should buy this: A high-quality package offering a keyboard and a trackpad that costs a little less than the Magic Keyboard.

Who it’s for: If you want to spend a little less on your iPad keyboard, but still want a cohesive and attractive design, and a trackpad.

Why we picked the Brydge Pro+:

If you want your iPad to function more like a laptop, but don’t want to spend a ton, then the Brydge Pro+ keyboard accessory is for you. While Brydge makes a keyboard for most iPad models, it has recently released the Pro+ model, made for the 2018 and 2020 versions of the iPad Pro. This makes it a direct competitor to the Magic Keyboard, but for less money. The 11-inch version costs $200, while the 12.9-inch version costs $230.

The design is highly reminiscent of a MacBook’s keyboard, and when attached to the iPad tablet, the similarity to a MacBook is uncanny. It’s especially noticeable because of Brydge’s use of an oversize trackpad, which is much larger than the one fitted to the Magic Keyboard. The keys are backlit with three levels of brightness, and everything integrates with iPadOS 13 using the Brydge Connect app.

The internal battery of the Brydge Pro+ will last for three months before it needs recharging, and the tablet’s screen can be angled up to 180-degrees, meaning it can be laid flat. The aluminum keyboard comes in a space grey color, and the package includes a metal cover that snaps on the back of your tablet. If you don’t own an iPad Pro, don’t worry, as Brydge makes a keyboard for all models of the iPad, including the iPad Mini.

Best iPad and iPad Air (3rd gen) keyboard: Apple Smart Keyboard

Why you should buy this: Versatile and highly portable, the Apple Smart Keyboard doesn’t add much bulk to your tablet, and is reasonably priced considering the quality.

Who it’s for: Owners of the 10.5-inch and 10.2-inch iPad models who want an Apple keyboard and case.

Why we picked the Apple Smart Keyboard:

The $160 Apple Smart Keyboard works with the 8th generation (2020) iPad and the 3rd generation (2019) iPad Air, along with the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and attaches to the tablet using magnets. When not in use, it covers the screen and provides a degree of protection, and unlike the Magic Keyboard, does not have to be removed when you want to use the tablet as a tablet.

It’s very well made, has a soft lining so it won’t scratch the iPad when closed, and feels like it will last for many years. In fact, the one we’ve been using on an original iPad Pro still looks and operates like new, despite being five years old.

How about the typing? The keyboard is full-size and each key has a springy, accurate movement. It does not feel like a laptop in the same way as the Magic Keyboard, and does require a little getting used to, but once you’ve adjusted it’s easy to type quickly. There isn’t a backlight, and the keys are quite noisy.

We like how light the Apple Smart Keyboard is, and also how easy it is to attach and detach from the tablet. It’s not heavy, but does add a little bulk, and because of the way it folds down the case has a ridge when flat against the screen. It’s solid enough to be used on your lap for short periods, however, it’s definitely more suited to desktop use for complete stability.

Best iPad keyboard with case protection: Logitech Combo Touch

Logitech Combo Keyboard
Matthew S. Smith / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: The Logitech Combo Touch has a keyboard and a trackpad, sturdy construction, and is tough enough to protect your expensive tablet too.

Who it’s for: iPad owners who don’t have the option to get a Magic Keyboard, but still want a dependable keyboard for work.

Why we picked the Logitech Combo Touch:

The Logitech Combo Touch is a solid pick if you want a functional, protective iPad keyboard case. The thick and durable construction includes a substantial rubber bumper on all sides of the device, as well as a thick layer of padding. It’s hard to imagine breaking your iPad with this case installed.

It doesn’t have the sleek design of Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but the Combo Touch does make up for it with other features. Keys have reasonable travel and a spacious layout making maximum use of the space available. The touchpad is larger than you might expect — as larger as some 13-inch PCs — and feels responsive.

A kickstand props up the iPad when you want to use the keyboard on a desk or in your lap. While lap use isn’t as easy as with a laptop, it’s close. The kickstand is secure and prevents any worry that the tablet might tumble on to the floor.

So far, so good, and at $150 it’s a good value. What’s the catch? Well, the Logitech Combo Touch is bulky by every measure, on all sides. The iPad is still easy to carry with the Combo Touch attached (maybe even easier, because of its texture exterior surface) but the added heft will be noticeable while using the iPad as a tablet.

Read our in-depth Logitech Combo Touch review

Best keyboard for the iPad Mini: Zagg Rugged Book

Why you should buy this: It provides an excellent typing experience, and plenty of protection, for the smallest iPad you can buy.

Who it’s for: iPad Mini owners who want both a case and a keyboard, but also the flexibility to not carry both all the time.

Why we picked the Zagg Rugged Book:

The Zagg Rugged Book comes in two parts — a super-tough case, and a detachable keyboard. The case is made from polycarbonate and silicone, so it will withstand knocks and drops from up to 6.6 feet. It adds some bulk to your iPad Mini, but as the tablet is ideal for carrying around outside, this could be very welcome.

The detachable keyboard attaches to the case and supports a range of viewing angles. The keys are backlit for use in low light, and the keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to the tablet. Due to the size, it’s hard to imagine working for hours on the Rugged Book and the iPad Mini, which is why we like the fact it’s detachable.

The Zagg Rugged Book has a battery inside but don’t worry too much about charging. The company says with an hour’s use each day the battery will last for two years before it needs plugging in. It is heavy and will add two pounds, or almost 1kg, to the overall weight of the iPad Mini.

Also consider buying a Bluetooth keyboard

If your iPad is already safely inside a case, preferably one that doubles as a stand, you may not want to splash out for another case just to add a keyboard. The good news is you don’t have to. The iPad’s Bluetooth connection will happily link up to any Apple wireless keyboard and the Apple Magic Trackpad too, or many other non-Apple keyboards provided it’s running iPadOS 13.4, giving you an alternative to one of the combined options.

Apple’s own Magic Keyboard costs $100 and contains a rechargeable battery, and has a full-size keyboard for a great typing experience immediately. While it doesn’t have any provision to hold the iPad, and isn’t especially portable, it’s still versatile as it can be used with other Bluetooth enabled devices too, whether that’s a desktop setup or another tablet. If you don’t plan on using the keyboard that often, but would like to have one available, this is a great way to save some money while still increasing your tablet’s usefulness.

Editors' Recommendations