An entire market has sprung up around the idea that an iPad, paired with a keyboard, can be productive and possibly even substitute for a laptop. With that in mind, it’s important to know that Apple’s Magic Keyboard, as great as it is, isn’t the only option. This list compares some of the top iPad keyboards to help you make an educated decision with your money.
1. Apple Magic Keyboard
Apple’s Magic Keyboard features an excellent trackpad and USB-C pass-through charging. The adjustable stand provides really strong viewing angles for typing and keeps the iPad well within reach, so touch input still feels very natural. The trackpad works with multi-touch gestures, and its input is best in class. Battery life runs off the iPad itself, so as long as your iPad remains charged, so does the Magic Keyboard.
At the end of the day, is Apple’s Magic Keyboard the best option for iPad owners? If you have an iPad Air 4 or 2018 iPad Pro or later, 100 percent yes. It’s expensive, doesn’t offer much in the way of protection and lacks dedicated function keys, but the user experience is second to none. The keyboard is so incredibly comfortable for me to use with near-perfect travel between keys. The same can be said for its trackpad, which is absolutely my most favorite out of any iPad keyboard I’ve tried.
- Best typing experience for iPad
- Best-in-class trackpad experience
- No separate charging concerns
- USB pass-through charging with compatible accessories
- Designed for newer iPad Pros as well as iPad Air 4
- Doesn’t provide protection
- No row of function keys
- Have to detach iPad to use as a tablet
2. Apple Smart Keyboard
The predecessor to the Magic Keyboard, the Smart Keyboard, is the reasonably-priced option for owners of any 10.5″, 10.2″, 8th gen iPad and 3rd gen iPad Air. It’s lightweight with a springy keyboard that’s incredibly enjoyable to use and is definitely more of a tabletop/desktop option, as the keyboard doesn’t fold behind the iPad when not in use. With no battery required, the keyboard connects with the Smart Connector, so you only need to attach it to typing.
You may be thinking this is something you can use when you need to, that you can detach it when you don’t. For that purpose, we think it’s pretty great, and the typing experience feels very native to Apple. However, folding it behind the iPad is a little awkward and is not something I’d want to do on a regular basis. It also lacks protection, which means you need to be even more careful with your iPad here than you do with the Magic Keyboard.
- Easy to attach/detach
- No separate charging concerns
- Acts as a cover for the iPad when not in use
- Doesn’t offer any protection
- Awkward to use iPad when folded behind
- No trackpad
- No function keys
3. Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard
If there is any true competitor to the Magic Keyboard, it’s likely the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard. The biggest differences are the option to separate it from the iPad and a more flexible stand that can type, view, read and sketch. The trackpad is excellent, as is the keyboard, which comes with a row of function/shortcut keys. Connecting via the iPad smart connector, there is no separate battery to worry about.
If you don’t want the expense of the Magic Keyboard but still want most of the benefits, this is the keyboard I would go for. In fact, if I didn’t already own a Magic Keyboard, I would have purchased this the day it came out. Apple’s relationship with Logitech assures that this is Apple-certified, and both its keyboard and trackpad are proof of that. That it has more protection than the Magic Keyboard at a lower price makes it hard to pass up.
- Excellent keyboard and trackpad
- Multiple viewing angles with 50º adjustable stand
- Detachable keyboard with function/shortcut keys
- Cheaper than Magic Keyboard
- Takes up three times more desktop space than the Magic Keyboard
- Doesn’t sit as tall as a laptop/Magic Keyboard to reach your eyeline
4. Brydge Max+
Available in both 11” and 12.9” sizes, the aluminum build of the Brydge Max+ mimics the MacBook lineup, helping it feel like a real laptop. With a trackpad that is 1.7 times larger than previous Brydge iterations and a screen that rotates up to 135 degrees, it adds to the real laptop feeling. Connecting via Bluetooth 5.0, syncing is fast and sips battery life, allowing you more than three months of use before recharging. Add a shortcut row of keys along with instant-on connectivity, and you start to imagine the Brydge as a real laptop replacement.
The Brydge is heavy (two pounds) and around the same price as the Logitech keyboard but just looks so good. If I were someone who spent all day in a boardroom, this is the keyboard case I would want. The biggest downside is a reliance on Bluetooth instead of a Smart Connector.
- Beautiful design and layout
- Magnetic SnapFit case feels incredibly sturdy
- Reliable instant-on connectivity
- One of the heaviest options on this list
- No Smart Connector
- Trackpad not as good as the Logitech or Magic Keyboard
5. Zagg Rugged Book Go
If the Brydge is for the boardroom, Zagg’s Rugged Book Go is for the field. Equipped with a thermoplastic polyurethane case, the Zagg can withstand a drop from a height of 6.6 feet. Battery life will last around a year between charges. If you want to use your iPad as a tablet, the keyboard detaches. When connected, the keyboard’s laptop-like keys are comfortable with good key travel.
At the end of the day, the Zagg Rugged Book Go is a niche case for people who want extra protection for their iPads. It lacks a trackpad, which is likely going to be okay for most users, but it’s absent all the same. The keyboard is typical Zagg quality – good but not impressively good. The angled body is surprisingly comfortable on your wrists, since the keyboard is lifted up about half an inch in the back. If you don’t need a trackpad, the Zagg is a perfectly good choice.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Rugged design is perfect for use in the field
- Angled design adds extra support for the wrists
- No trackpad
- Keyboard is good but outclassed by competitors
- One of the heaviest options at 2.46 pounds
6. Logitech K380
If you’d prefer a keyboard for your iPad without the case, look no further than the Logitech K380. This multi-device Bluetooth keyboard offers a fantastic typing experience that pairs with multiple devices – not just your iPad. Weighing less than 15 ounces, it’s effortless to stick it in a backpack. The extra small footprint still allows for great finger travel as well as a quiet typing experience. The keyboard layout is familiar to most Apple users with a full row of function keys and Mac-inspired keys
The biggest downside of the Logitech is that it’s a separate unit from your iPad. Beyond that, it’s pretty great and a keyboard I have used for years. Its slim profile is great for minimalists, with the only downside being that the circular design of the keys takes a day or two to get used to. That you can use it for up to three simultaneously synced devices makes it a fantastic choice to sync to an iPad, iMac and iPhone all at once.
- Great typing experience
- Slim profile is perfect for minimalists
- Lightweight to take with you
- Does not attach to iPad; need a separate stand
- Shortcut keys designed for Mac, not iPad
- Doesn’t prop up beyond its default design
7. Typecase Touch
One of the most unique iPad keyboards available, the Typecase and Typecase Touch are inexpensive Magic Keyboard alternatives for the iPad. What helps make the keyboards stand out is a hinge that rotates 360-degrees, which makes for a near-infinite amount of view angles. The ten-color backlit keyboard adds three brightness modes. Battery life ensures you can run for up to 90 days without recharging. The standard keyboard layout includes a host of shortcut functions totaling up to 78 keys in all.
Additionally, it has a loop on the side to hold an Apple Pencil. Those who spend all day on their iPad may find the keyboard does not hold up to constant use. The backlighting on the keyboard is really only necessary if you’re a night owl typist.
- Unique hinge design
- Large number of viewing angles
- Shortcut keyboard row
- Backlit keys
- Must be extra cautious with hinge
- No separate protection for Apple Pencil
- Not always durable
8. Arteck iPad Pro Keyboard
Arteck’s iPad Pro for the 11” model (2018, 2020 and 2021 models) is a solid option for someone who just wants a keyboard and a basic leather case and doesn’t want to spend much. Two hours of charging will grant you up to 100 hours of uninterrupted use. The lower price point does mean trade-offs, including a clickier keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity, and no trackpad. The iPad can move to various viewing angles, thanks to 130º rotation, making it good for both a desk and in a lap. At one pound, it’s much more lightweight than most other keyboard options.
It’s cheap and won’t feel nearly as good as the Magic Keyboard or even the Logitech, but the Arteck is lightweight and does add some protection. That’s about as much as you need for this price. Still, it adds a two-year warranty, which is one more year than you get with Apple.
- Leather case adds some protection
- Solid viewing angles for viewing and writing
- Keyboard is good but not great
- No trackpad
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best overall keyboard?
At the end of the day, the Magic Keyboard is the best option for most people. There is no question that it’s also the most expensive, but its keyboard/trackpad combination is best in class, and the USB-C passthrough is just hard to ignore. Logitech comes in a very close second.
2. Do you need a keyboard for your iPad?
Of course not. This is something someone should purchase only if they can identify the right use case. We can debate forever on whether the iPad can replace a computer, but for many people, most tasks can be completed on an iPad with a keyboard.
3. Do I need a keyboard case?
Definitely not. As noted above, keyboards like the Logitech K380 are really great options. There is something to be said about having both the keyboard and a case in a single package, which is definitely easier for portability. However, add a stand for your iPad to prop it up, and a standalone keyboard can make a fantastic computer-like experience.
At the end of the day, this list only represents a fraction of the available keyboard options for the iPad. Most of the really solid options these days focus more on the iPad Pro models and the iPad Air as well. That’s not to say keyboard options don’t exist for the regular iPad, but if you want a really good keyboard experience, it should be paired with one of Apple’s stronger iPad offerings.
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