Apple introduced a new Magic Keyboard in 2020 designed for the third-generation and newer generations of the iPad Pro. This same device is also compatible with the fourth-generation and newer generations of the iPad Air. The original model comes in black and a white color option was made available beginning in 2021. It is positioned as a more capable alternative to the earlier Smart Keyboard that was introduced in 2015 alongside the first-generation iPad Pro. This article reviews the pros and cons of the Magic Keyboard for iPad.
Pros of the Magic Keyboard for iPad: Main Features and Advantages
This peripheral input device from Apple elevates the iPad experience and takes advantage of the newer capabilities of the iPadOS. It transforms a compatible iPad Pro or an iPad Air into a laptop-like form factor with its standard keyboard layout and a trackpad. Take note that the newer versions of the operating system for the iPad have introduced several features for multitasking that support inputs using a keyboard and a trackpad. Below are the pros of the Magic Keyboard for iPad and reasons to get one:
1. Tactile Keyboard and Responsive Trackpad
One of the biggest advantages of the Magic Keyboard for iPad is its full-size backlit keyboard with well-spaced keys based on a scissor mechanism and a 1mm travel that provides a tactile, smooth, and quiet typing experience. Another advantage is the responsive trackpad for utilizing the mouse cursor and multi-touch gestures to support newer iterations of the iPadOS beginning in version 13. The supported gestures are similar to Mac. These include one-finger cursor control, one-finger and double-finger clicking, and one-finger and double-finger tapping. two-finger scrolling, two-finger and three-finger swiping, and dragging.
2. Wireless Pairing and Pass-Through Charging
It pairs with a compatible iPad via the proprietary Smart Connector. This same connector powers the device and supplies power to an iPad through pass-through charging via a dedicated USB-C port. This port frees up the specific USB-C port of an iPad for other accessories. The Magic Keyboard and the Smart Keyboard are the only peripheral input devices that use the Smart Connector of a compatible iPad. Non-Apple keyboards do not support this interface because it is a proprietary hardware feature. These devices from third parties pair via Bluetooth and draw power from either their internal batteries or via their USB ports.
3. Provides Front and Back Cover and Protection
The floating cantilever design of the Magic Keyboard for iPad is its most distinguishing design feature. It has reinforced hinges that open up to a 130-degree angle and provide steadiness while in use. This device also serves as a front and back cover that protects a compatible iPad from front and back scratches or accidental bumps when closed and transported around. The entire enclosure is made of a high-grade plastic material called polyurethane with a smooth and rubberized texture that provides some degree of scratch and tear resistance. Attaching this device to an iPad removes the need for an additional protective casing.
Cons of the Magic Keyboard for iPad: Notable Limitations and Issues
It might improve the iPad experience but it is not a must-have peripheral nor does it replace the full capabilities of a proper personal computer. The iPadOS still does not compare to macOS and Windows desktop operating systems when it comes to multitasking due to the limitations of its graphical user interface. There are also more affordable alternatives for those who want a keyboard for their iPad Pro and iPad Air devices but are on a tight budget. Below are the cons of the Magic Keyboard for iPad and reasons not to get one:
1. Added Weight Makes iPad Heavier and Bulkier
One of the main disadvantages of the Magic Keyboard for iPad is its weight. This peripheral input device weighs 601 grams for the 11-inch model and 710 grams for the 12.9-inch model. It is worth mentioning that the 11-inch iPad Pro weighs about 470 grams while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs around 641 grams. Attaching this device to an iPad would add noticeable weight and bulk that is closer to a 13-inch MacBook Air. This makes it less portable when carrying around and even less comfortable to hold in certain situations. The Smart Keyboard or an alternative from third-party manufacturers might be a better option.
2. Limited Angles From the Reinforced Hinges
An iPad attached to this device can be opened up to a 130-degree angle. This is a limited viewing angle. It does not provide the precision that some users require and it makes the iPad unusable for drawing or taking down notes using either an Apple Pencil 2 or the Apple Pencil USB-C. There are some reasons for this design decision. Apple limits the viewing angle to reduce the stress on the hinges. The hinges need to be stable and strong enough to support the weight of the iPad. Some also believe that the maximum angle is designed to promote good posture and force a user to use the iPad at a comfortable level.
3. High Price Tag and Limited Compatibility
Another disadvantage of the Magic Keyboard for iPad is that it is an expensive add-on device. The 11-inch model retails for USD 299.00 and the 12.9-inch model retails for USD 349.00. Some stores sell this at a discount. The fact remains that is still expensive and further bumps up the total cost of maximizing the user experience of the iPad Pro and iPad Air. It is also important to highlight the fact that it is not compatible with other generations or models of the iPad. The first-generation and second-generation iPad Pro cannot fit. The same is true for older generations of the iPad Air and the entire iPad line.
Verdict: Pros and Cons of the Magic Keyboard for iPad
The aforementioned pros and cons of the Magic Keyboard for iPad suggest that it might not be a good decision to get one. Some might not need it and others are better off purchasing cheaper alternatives. It is still important to note that this is the best keyboard for compatible iPad Pro and iPad Air. Those who need the best keyboard accessory for their devices and do not mind spending a couple of hundred of dollars are recommended to get the Magic Keyboard. It is the most compatible full-sized keyboard with a trackpad among all other options.