Magic Keyboard review roundup: iPad Pro’s best keyboard yet

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iPad-Pro-Magic-Trackpad
The iPad Pro accessory we've been dreaming of.
Photo: Apple

iPad Pro’s exciting new Magic Keyboard, available to order now from $299, has already made its way into the hands of some reviewers. As you might have guessed, they all have great things to say about it.

Its excellent typing experience, unparalleled trackpad, and ease of use make the new Magic Keyboard one of the best iPad accessories to date, though it’s not quite perfect. Here’s what you need to know before you get yours.

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard review roundup

Apple accessories might cost more than third-party alternatives, but they rarely disappoint. You can expect the same great build quality, attention to detail, and support you get with pricier Apple devices themselves.

When it comes to the Magic Keyboard, Apple has delivered on its promise. It has nailed the essentials and ensured that despite its hefty price tag, this is a must-have accessory for many iPad Pro owners.

A terrific typing experience

It should be noted that the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro isn’t exactly the same as the Magic Keyboard found inside Apple’s newest notebooks. Although they are similar, there are subtle differences. That doesn’t mean iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard isn’t as satisfying, however.

“The most important part of any keyboard case is the keyboard, and I am happy to report that it is good,” wrote Dieter Bohn for The Verge. “There’s good key travel and a relatively satisfying thunk. In fact, I think Apple may have explicitly decided to give up on the cult of thinness on this product in order to improve the keyboard’s feel.”

“Typing is a pleasure thanks to Apple’s updated scissor-switch keys, and the fact that its key layout is nearly the same size as the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s means acclimating doesn’t take long,” described Chris Velazco for Engadget. “This keyboard feels dramatically better than Apple’s Butterfly-era laptops. The keys offer a full 1mm of travel and respond with satisfying yet subdued thumps even when you’re typing at full speed.”

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch wrote:

The Magic Keyboard offers a lovely, backlit deck that holds its own against the 16” MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air for best portable keyboards. The key travel is excellent — in between the two laptops in my opinion — and the feel is tight, responsive and precise. This is a first class typing experience, full stop.

“It lacks the key stability of a MacBook keyboard but it fully matches the sumptuous 1mm travel that makes typing on the MacBook Pro 16in and new MacBook Air so brilliant,” wrote Chris Phelan for Forbes.

The best trackpad

You won’t be surprised to find that the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad is excellent, too. Apple makes some of the best trackpads in the business, and although the Magic Keyboard’s isn’t as big or as fancy as a MacBook’s (it uses a traditional click rather than haptic feedback), it’s just as brilliant.

Velazco explained:

It’s totally fine for scrolling, and because it’s plenty wide, multitouch gestures (for swiping through open apps) worked beautifully. More importantly, the trackpad offers precision control for tasks that would’ve felt pretty fiddly on a touchscreen, like plopping the cursor into the middle of a sentence and selecting text to copy. I can’t overstate how much this thing helps the iPad feel like a machine I can get work done on.

“The Magic Keyboard’s trackpad is better than the Surface’s because it lets you click anywhere on the trackpad, not just in the middle or at the bottom,” added Bohn. “It’s also smooth, accurate, and there’s zero lag on iPadOS. Trackpad support on iPadOS is great, by the way.”

“The touchpad physically moves here, and is not a haptic pad, but it is clickable across its entire surface,” explained Panzarino. “It’s also a laptop-class trackpad, proving that Apple’s engineering teams still have a better idea about how to make a trackpad that works crisply and as expected than any other hardware team out there.”

“Its smooth surface, ability to scroll with multiple fingers, and inclusion of “soft touch,” where you simply tap instead of clicking in, gives the trackpad a full-experience feel for a device that was never meant to have one,” wrote Eddie Eng for Hypebeast.

Apple build quality

One of the reasons to pay more for Apple accessories is their top-notch build quality. When you pay $299+ for an accessory, you expect it to be excellently made — and the Magic Keyboard is just that.

“Among my biggest concerns was that Apple would get overly clever with the hinge design, making the the typing an exercise in wobble,” described Panzarino. “Happy to say here that they took the clear path here and made it as sturdy as possible, even if that was at the cost of variability.”

“The Magic Keyboard is built like a tank,” said Bohn. “There is nearly zero flex to the keyboard deck. The whole thing is stable on your lap and very well-balanced. It’s not tippy at all. That balance probably comes partly from the Magic Keyboard’s most unique design element: the floating screen. The iPad doesn’t just angle up from the back of the keyboard deck like your laptop; it floats a little. It’s quite pretty.”

Phelan described:

It is beautifully designed, to the last detail: even the Apple logo is in landscape orientation on the back of the case so it’s the right way up when the tablet is wearing its case (it’s a detail first introduced on the latest Smart Keyboard Folio).

“The whole thing is sturdy, elegant and surprisingly practical,” added Velazco. “If money is no issue, or if you’re just willing to splurge, the Magic Keyboard is the gold standard of iPad keyboards.”

It’s not perfect

Despite its brilliance, the iPad Pro’s first Magic Keyboard does leave some room for improvement. Reviewers note that its hinge is stiff and takes some force to open up, while others would like to see a larger trackpad.

Its limited number of keys is also an issue for some, and many note that the Magic Keyboard makes carrying iPad Pro a lot heavier than expected.

“After giving in and providing a clamshell design and a trackpad, leaving both the Esc key and a function row out seems obstinate,” explained Bohn. “You will still be reaching (or swiping) up to the Control Center to manage essential functions all the time.”

“At 700g for the 12.9” keyboard, it more than doubles the weight of the whole package,” noted Panzarino. “The larger iPad Pro and keyboard is basically the weight of a MacBook Air. Get the 11” if weight is a concern. This keyboard makes the iPad 12.9″ package feel very chunky.”

 

Velazco added:

With the Magic Keyboard attached, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is just a hair thicker than a modern, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and almost exactly as heavy … I wouldn’t call this a dealbreaker, but it’s something to consider if you plan to carry around a laptop and an iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard.

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: The Verdict

“The iPad Pro is a phenomenal tablet, and with a Magic Keyboard attached, it’s finally starting to feel like a proper computer,” Velazco concluded. “Typing on it feels excellent. The trackpad is a star.”

The Magic Keyboard “is an incredibly good, albeit expensive and heavy, way to use your iPad Pro like a laptop,” wrote Bohn. “If that’s what you want, this is a huge upgrade over what was available before, and you’ll love it.”

“For me, this is a highly inspiring accessory,” said Phelan. “Is it worth the money? Well, it’s true, it’s expensive, but it’s hard to see any other tablet keyboard coming close to the success of this experience.”

Want a Magic Keyboard of your own? You can order one today from the Apple Online Store. The 11-inch model is priced at $299, while the 12.9-inch model is priced at $349. Shipping currently takes up to four weeks.