The Apple iPad is the best tablet you can buy and there are multiple versions to make finding one that’s suitable for you easy. 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. Finally, take a look at the end of the article for information on keyboards that aren’t part of a case.
Best iPad keyboards at a glance
- Best iPad Keyboard overall:
- Best Apple iPad Pro Magic Keyboard alternative:
- Best Apple budget iPad keyboard:
- Best keyboard for the 10.5-inch/10.2-inch iPad and iPad Air (7th-gen):
- Best keyboard for the 7.9-inch iPad Mini:
Best iPad keyboard overall:
Why you should buy this: It provides a superb typing experience, a trackpad, sturdy construction, and a pass-through USB Type-C port.
Who it’s for: Anyone with a 2018 or 2020 iPad Pro, 11-inch or 12.9-inch, 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. Yes, it’s only compatible with the Apple iPad Pro 2018 and 2020, but as they represent the pinnacle of Apple’s iPad range, we’d recommend them over other models if you’re serious about using your iPad as a laptop alternative.
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 lowlight 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 13 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 lose. The case has a USB Type-C connector on the side which can be used to charge the iPad Pro, while leaving the tablet’s USB Type-C port free for a USB hub or other accessory.
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.
Best Magic Keyboard alternative:
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 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 budget iPad 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 7th generation iPad and the 3rd generation 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 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 a desk or your lap, however it’s definitely more suited to desktop use due to improved stability.
Best keyboard for the 10.5-inch/10.2-inch iPad:
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 device, as well as a thick layer of padding. It’s hard to imagine breaking your iPad with this case installed.
Owners of the iPad and iPad Air can’t get a version of Apple’s Magic Keyboard for their tablets, but the Combo Touch does make up for it. 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, its 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 its 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.
Best keyboard for the 7.9-inch iPad Mini:
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 lowlight, 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.
Zagg’s keyboard 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.
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