Apple Smart Keyboard Review: An iPad Pro Necessity?

Can you replace your laptop with an iPad Pro and Apple Smart Keyboard? That’s the focus of this review, as Apple has released its second edition, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, with the first edition and 12.9-inch display.

Apple released the first iPad Pro in 2015 to great fanfare, and in the second round Apple shrunk the screen and limited memory while adding some interesting new display features.

The new iPad Pro won’t replace the laptop in the way Apple hoped unless the buyers are too prefer Apple Smart Keyboard or something similar. Is the keyboard cover worth the high price? How well does it meet the typing needs of an iPad Pro user?

Apple Smart Keyboard Design

Apple Smart Keyboard

People familiar with Apple’s Smart Cover will recognize the design language in the Smart Keyboard. It snaps into place thanks to magnets on the left edge of the iPad Pro (in portrait mode). The keyboard folds out from the inner cover, and the back of the Apple Smart Keyboard bends in the middle of the back of the cover to form a triangle.

The Smart Connector on the left edge of the iPad Pro sits on the ledge behind the number keys on the keyboard. This keeps iPad Pro at a comfortable viewing angle for typing on the tablet and enjoying multimedia content. The connector also transmits data between the tablet and keyboard so the user does not need to rely on a Bluetooth connection. This also powers the keyboard so we don’t need a cable to charge it. Finally, it will update the keyboard’s firmware whenever Apple sends an update.

Note the three-pin connector on the edge of the iPad Pro.

Note the three-pin connector on the edge of the iPad Pro.

Tap a text input box in an app or iOS 9; A shortcut bar appears at the bottom of the screen to show things like text formatting and autocorrect suggestions. An arrow at the right end of the toolbar hides it if it’s on the way.

ipad pro smart keyboard keyboard on

Apple designed the Smart Keyboard with a textured polyurethane outer layer. A very dark gray, almost black color. The keys are not raised too high, making it thin enough not to interfere when stored in the foldable cover to protect the screen.

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ipad pro apple smart keyboard in watch mode

Fold it right and the keyboard only works like a stand for what Apple calls “tracking mode” (see above).

Users cannot find crumbs, dirt or debris under these keys, as they are integrated into the outer layer of material on the keyboard cover.

iFixit's Apple Smart Keyboard disassembly feature demonstrates its unique key technology.

iFixit’s destruction of the Apple Smart Keyboard Demonstrates unique key technology.

The design looks dark and conservative, something most business professionals would prefer, but many artistic types may want more flashy colors. I would love a red Smart Keyboard, although I mostly use it for work.

The edges around the keyboard and cover look a bit sharp and some may not like it. Also, when placed inside the cover and folded over the iPad Pro screen to protect it, half of the cover rises slightly above the other half due to the integration of the keyboard. This looks bad and sounds frustrating, but that’s attribute collection.

ipad pro apple smart keyboard cover

The magnetic attachment holds firmly, but not enough to lift the iPad just holding the keyboard and hangs under the iPad. You drop your iPad Pro and most likely crack the screen or create an indentation on one or more of the edges.

Apple Smart Keyboard Typing Experience

The appearance of an iPad keyboard is important to some, but for those trying to replace their laptop with an iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard, the typing experience is paramount.

Typing on the keyboard takes some getting used to. It’s easy to mispress the keys because the keys are so low. But after about 10-20 minutes, I got used to the keyboard and was able to type almost as fast as I could on my 13-inch MacBook Pro. As good or better than typing on the Type Cover of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

logitech creation vs apple smart keyboard

There is an earlier comparison review comparing the Apple Smart Cover to the Logitech Create iPad Pro keyboard. Watch the video review below:

Should Users Trust the Apple Smart Keyboard?

Typing on Logitech’s keyboard feels better, but moving the keyboard more than doubles the iPad Pro’s thickness. A Bluetooth keyboard may offer users a better typing experience, but it is not as convenient as carrying the Apple Smart Keyboard with you. So it is the best option for people who change their laptops. I don’t need to connect or charge a Bluetooth keyboard, and the Apple Smart Keyboard doesn’t add much weight or bulk. For times when I want to use the iPad Pro as a tablet, I can quickly remove the Smart Cover and go without it.

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I don’t like that the keyboard cover doesn’t protect the back and sides of the iPad Pro. For this, users will have to spend extra. $79 to get Apple Silicone case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro or $69 for the 9.7-inch version. Apple charges a lot for these accessories. Apple Smart Cover costs $169 for the 12.9-inch model. and for $149 9.7 inch version. Despite these high prices, the Apple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro offers users the best option, as it easily beats the heavy and bulky Logitech Create iPad Pro keyboard, is more convenient than even the best Bluetooth keyboard, and users work more efficiently. Typing on the iPad Pro screen using the soft keyboard on iOS.

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