How to choose the best keyboard case for the new iPad Pro 2021

The iPad Pro 2021 a year old, but it’s still a beast with its M1 processorgorgeous display and 5G optional. But like before, it doesn’t come with an iPad keyboard. That’s where keyboard cases come in. If you’re looking to use your iPad Pro as intended, you’ll need a keyboard case that can help you type emails, essays, and more by a wink. It can make your tablet feel like a real laptop.

iPad Pro keyboard cases add a lot to the picture, especially with a trackpad. Cases that have both a keyboard and a trackpad really feel like they’re helping the iPad turn into a laptop. True, the operating system is different. But Apple’s support for keyboard shortcuts and multitouch trackpad gestures work great on iPadOS. In 2020, I compared the options. Now I do the same.

iPad Pro keyboard options: Logitech Combo Touch (left), Magic Keyboard (middle), Brydge Max 12.9+ (right).

Scott Stein/CNET

Apple has its own fancy and expensive magic keyboard Case. Two other manufacturers are also worth noting: Logitech makes a removable keyboard case with a kickstand that’s perfect for Zoom/FaceTime calls using this new zoom center stage camera, while Brydge has a new case with an extremely large trackpad and a design that most closely resembles a laptop.

They all have their advantages and all work well, but I still prefer Apple’s Magic Keyboard for size/performance over others. I tested all of these on the 12.9-inch 2021 iPad Pro, which isn’t compatible with many older accessories due to its slightly thicker size. The smaller 11-inch Pro works with all 11-inch iPad Pro accessories dating back to the 2018 model, as well as cases for the 2020 iPad Air. Prices below are for the 12.9-inch keyboard version.

Scott Stein/CNET

Advantages: Compact design, easy to attach/detach, bonus USB-C passthrough charging port, somewhat lap-friendly

The inconvenients: Expensive, limited viewing angles, lack of dedicated function keys

Apple’s keyboard, originally released last year, offers a comfortable typing experience. The keys, especially on the 12.9-inch, are well-spaced and feel like typing on a MacBook. That hasn’t changed much since last year, but the new 12.9-inch cases are a bit larger to accommodate the slightly thicker dimensions of the new Pro.

I really got used to the design of this Magic Keyboard, and it’s sized well to fit on smaller desks or laps in no time. But there are downsides. Angle-adjustable magnetic top cover doesn’t bend as much as a normal laptop. The hard case design also makes it almost useless as a tablet case for drawing with a pencil. The case doesn’t offer much protection, exposing the sides of the tablet and easily coming off when dropped. There are no dedicated function keys like the MacBook Air (and other iPad cases). The lack of volume/play/pause/screen brightness adjustment keys is a disappointment.

The side USB-C passthrough is useful as it adds an extra charging port while using the side Thunderbolt port for other dongles. The case is powered by the iPad Pro. It’s made of a soft material that can be scuffed and sometimes ripped or dented depending on how you use it.

Scott Stein/CNET

Advantages: Huge size trackpad. Dedicated function keys. The improved design has a magnetic back to easily attach to the iPad Pro. Very suitable for the knees. Folds back for wide viewing angles.

The inconvenients: Requires connection via Bluetooth.

Brydge’s latest premium keyboard case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, coming in mid-June, takes a big leap forward from previous Brydge keyboards. The redesigned Bluetooth keyboard has more travel in its keys than Logitech’s or Apple’s keyboards (more like the 2015 MacBook Pro used to backtrack). There’s also a terrific multitouch trackpad that’s larger than the MacBook Air’s, which works great with multitouch gestures on iPadOS. But this iPad keyboard is also more expensive than existing Brydge accessories. Still, it costs $100 less than the Magic Keyboard.

A snap-on magnetic back cover offers a little more protection than older Brydge keyboards, and it’s also much easier to attach/remove the iPad, but it also means the iPad can’t fold up at such a wide angle than before. . Still, this is by far the most laptop-friendly iPad Pro keyboard case, and it really does give the whole thing a shocking MacBook Air-like feel.

Bluetooth connectivity is easier and more instantaneous than before, but it’s not perfect. Sometimes I found that the connection dropped (as it does with Bluetooth), and sometimes, rarely, the trackpad gestures felt a bit finicky.

Scott Stein/CNET

Advantages: The iPad case can be removed from the keyboard and used alone with a kickstand. Comes with an extra row of function-based keys that the Magic Keyboard lacks. This iPad keyboard is more affordable than the new high-end cases from Apple or Brydge. The case provides solid protection.

The inconvenients: Requires plenty of table space for back support and keyboard base. Needs a stable flat surface to use (not good for lathes). Keyboard must be connected to case to use (works with Smart Connector power supply).

Logitech’s latest iPad Pro keyboard case is a pro-sized version of the company’s Combo Touch case available on smaller iPads. It works as well: the detachable keyboard and trackpad are quite generous, although the trackpad is much smaller than the giant Brydge’s. The extra row of function keys for volume, screen brightness, play/pause and other useful shortcuts are really useful, just like on the Brydge keyboard. Apple’s Magic Keyboard lacks this.

I found Logitech’s keyboard responsiveness really good, but the design also means you’ll have to sit at a desk. Much like Microsoft’s Surface tablet keyboards, the bottom connection design won’t really work in a turn. The standalone case offers the best protection of any of these three: The rubberized sheath should help protect against impact. The adjustable rear kickstand is also useful as a viewing stand for family zooms. The case’s more versatile design means you can flip (or remove) the keyboard for non-typing needs, like drawing with a pencil or reading, without having to take it out of the case.

Leave a Comment