Apple Magic Keyboard expands M4 iPad Pro to its full potential [Review]


Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro★★★★
Every M4 iPad Pro buyer should at least consider getting the Apple Magic Keyboard.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

With its cool cantilever design, Apple Magic Keyboard was a standout iPad Pro accessory even before its recent upgrade. Now that Apple fixed some of the original’s problems by adding a glass trackpad, a row of function keys and an aluminum palm rest, it’s even better. Especially with an improved USB-C port.

But does the functionality (and sheer coolness) justify the epic price of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro? Read on to find out.

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Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro review

Among the best features of the iPad is that thetablet easily turns into an ultrathin laptop. With this convertible notebook, you can lie back on the couch and watch video, or attach a keyboard and lean forward to type out emails. It’s one of the main reasons I prefer iPad to MacBook.

There are plenty of keyboard/case options. Logitech and ESR each already announced their own accessories compatible with the M4 iPad Pro. the But Apple Magic Keyboard is the 500-pound gorilla of this product category. Especially because iPad buyers get sales pressure to buy one when shopping for their tablet.

Anyone tempted must pause (and gulp) when they get to the price: $349 for the version designed for the M4 iPad Pro. The one for the 11-inch tablet costs $299.

The 2024 version of the Apple Magic Keyboard replaces two earlier versions. While the second model was almost identical to the first, just tweaked for the slight increase in the width of the 2022 iPad Pro, the new model is a true redesign.

Table of contents: Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro review

A magical iPad keyboard design

Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Apple Magic Keyboard without the M4 iPad Pro.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

I’ve used dozens of tablet keyboards over the years, and none look as cool as Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad. The way the cantilever design makes the screen seem to float over the keyboard — brilliant. I’ve had strangers walk up and ask me where I got it as though it were some mysterious relic.

The new version doesn’t fundamentally change the basic design. It just makes it better.

The 13-inch M4 iPad Pro I’m using for this review weighs less than its predecessor, and that allowed Apple to move the integrated tablet stand farther back without unbalancing the accessory. Plus, Apple added a row of half-size function keys above the number/symbol keys. The result is that the bottom of the iPad crowds the letter keys less than its predecessor did. I can type away more comfortably than before.

The keyboard case offers excellent “lapability.” That’s a portmanteau that means using the accessory in my lap is as comfortable as typing on a MacBook. More comfortable actually — the iPad never heats up.

A drop in weight and thickness

Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro next to original version
Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro (right) next to original version (left).
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The 13-inch M4 iPad Pro weighs nearly a quarter of a pound less than its predecessor. The 2024 version of the Magic Keyboard comes in a half a pound less than the original. Put them together, and the new tablet in its keyboard case weighs just 2.3 pounds, compared to just over 3 pounds for the previous combo. It’s a very noticeable difference.

Compare that weight to the 2.7 pounds of the 13-inch MacBook Air and you’ll see this is Apple’s lightest laptop.

There’s a slight size difference, too. The 2024 Magic Keyboard measures 0.5 inches thick with the tablet inside, while the original model is 0.6 inches. However, it’s not quite as thin as the MacBook Air, which comes in at 0.44 inches.

Let’s do some typing

The whole point of the Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro is to type on it. Fortunately, it’s really well-designed for that. I have the 13-inch version, which provides plenty of room for a keyboard. The key area is 10.6 inches wide, and most keys are 0.6 inches square. There’s 0.12 inches of space between keys.

Apple’s Magic Keyboards use a scissor mechanism, not a membrane. The typing experience is smooth, not mushy. The keyboard is clicky. I asked a friend who’s a fan of clicky keyboards to try it, and she said, “10/10 recommend.” There’s not much key travel, though — the only downside of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro’s design. If you’re accustomed to a MacBook you probably won’t notice. But many desktop keyboards offer much more key travel.

I’ve already spent many hours typing on this new peripheral, and have never had it fail to register that I’ve typed on a key. There have been no inadvertent key repeats, either. I’m pleased with the new keyboard. It’s not as nice as my desktop one — I prefer more key travel — but it’s more than acceptable for an accessory meant to be used on the go.

Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro: Trackpad and function keys
The latest version of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro brings a larger trackpad and (finally!) function keys.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Bigger, glass trackpad

Below the keyboard sits a much roomier glass trackpad. It measures 4.4 inches by 2.6 inches, which makes it noticeably larger than the one on earlier Magic Keyboards for iPad. The glass trackpad doesn’t move, but haptic feedback makes it feel like it does when I tap on it. The surface vibrates slightly and fools my finger. This isn’t new in general, but is a nice addition to the Magic Keyboard for iPad.

The trackpad registers my finger movements and taps perfectly. It’s a significant improvement — the one in the earlier Magic Keyboard for iPad was not great.

For the 2024 redesign, Apple also replaced the Magic Keyboard’s plastic palm rest with an aluminum one. The change makes the keyboard look far more professional. And it’s easier to clean.

Finally, a row of function keys

The half-size function keys across the top of the number keys are a long-overdue addition. Virtually every third-party iPad keyboard has had them for years. They make controlling music playing in the background, adjusting the screen backlight, locking the device, or even opening the app switcher a snap. They are wonderfully convenient.

Improved second USB-C port for M4 iPad Pro

Improved second USB-C port for M4 iPad Pro
The Magic Keyboard adds a USB-C port to iPad Pro … sort of.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

I’m disappointed that Apple did not add a second USB-C port to the 13-inch iPad Pro. The Magic Keyboard adds one, which helps, but it’s of limited use because all it can do is charge the tablet.

I checked to be sure Apple hadn’t built in a surprise, but no — the USB-C port in the hinge of this accessory can only be used for power. Fortunately, it’s more functional than its predecessor. In my tests, it can send up to 38W of power to the iPad Pro. My earlier version of this accessory tops out at 20W.

I still can’t plug a screen and an SSD into my iPad without a USB-C hub. But with the Magic Keyboard, I can keep the tablet charged up while I have another USB-C accessory plugged in.

Room for improvement

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro M4
The new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro also comes in white.
Photo: Apple

However, Apple’s redesign of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro did not fix everything. Most Apple devices look beautiful. But the black plastic exterior of one version of the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is as ugly as a mud fence. I’m going to cover mine with a skin from SlackWraps. The white plastic version looks better but really shows dirt. You can clean it — the material doesn’t stain easily. But expect to clean it frequently.

Apple Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro final thoughts

The 2024 Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro redesign takes care of a couple of my complaints about the original. The trackpad is much better, and the bottom of the tablet screen doesn’t crowd the keyboard so much. I really like how slim and light it is, and that the USB-C port can bring in almost twice as much power.



The price tag for this accessory is a bit jaw-dropping. At $350, it’s about a quarter the cost of the base model M4 iPad Pro itself. But I can’t easily dismiss it as overpriced. It’s beautifully designed and extremely functional. And the price isn’t out of line with the competition — the rival Logitech Combo Touch keyboard case costs $230, for example.

So it comes down to your budget. Do you have the cash for a really premium iPad Pro keyboard case? Or should you go with something cheaper, like ESR’s Rebound Magnetic Keyboard Case 360 at about a third of the cost?

Apple did not provide Cult of Mac with a Magic Keyboard for M4 iPad Pro review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.


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