Apple's Magic Keyboard for the iPad, comes in two sizes, one for the iPad Pro 11-inch and the iPad Air, and one for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. While Apple aficionados will want nothing less than the official Apple design, let's start by saying that both options will set you back a fair amount for what is essentially a keyboard and an iPad cover with a port.
The smaller version costs $299 / £279, the larger version costs $349 / £329. That means that if you're buying an iPad Pro or Air as well as an Apple Pencil 2 ($129 / £119) – and we'd recommend getting the Pencil – you're adding a minimum of an extra $428 / £398 on to an already pricey purchase.
So, is it worth it? Well, it depends how much you care about typing on the iPad. If you just want to protect your iPad, then there are plenty of cheaper iPad cases out there which will do the job just as well. If it's the keyboard you're more concerned about, then you'll be pleased to know that there are other decent iPad keyboards out there.
But there are plenty of reasons why investing in the Magic Keyboard is well worth it. I've been using the Magic Keyboard with an 11-inch iPad Pro (2021) for just under a year now, and I'm overall really happy with it.
I use my iPad Pro for a number of purposes – mainly browsing the web, drawing with art apps such as Procreate, reading magazines and watching Netflix and other streaming platforms. I've taken the iPad with its keyboard out and about with me, too over the year, and it's in remarkably good nick a year on. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at what this magical keyboard has to offer...
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad: design and build
The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad comes in black or white. I've got the white version, which I now slightly regret but it's looking a little grubby after 11 months or so of use. I'd recommend getting the black version, although I do wish there were more colours available. A Forest Green like the one now available for the iPhone 13 would be nice.
The first thing you notice about the Magic Keyboard is how heavy it is. This isn't just a flimsy snap on keyboard and case, but more like a piece of kit in itself. It's a lot heavier than the keyboard I use for my MacBook – a Dell Wired keyboard (KB2161) – and it's interesting that Apple doesn't actually say how heavy it is. I weighed it on my kitchen scales and it was 609g / 1.34lb making the keyboard and the iPad Pro 1086g / 2.39lb altogether, which is pretty heavy for a 'portable' piece of kit. It's heavy enough to make you think twice about putting it in your bag for the day for sure, but not so heavy your back aches at the end of a day of carrying it around (hopefully not, anyway).
In terms of design, the keyboard magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro in a way that feels, well, quite comforting. There's pretty much no way that the Magic Keyboard can accidentally come apart from the iPad. The angle is adjustable in a way that feels natural, and you can close the whole thing up to protect your iPad, with the camera still visible. For drawing, my artist partner prefers to take it off the stand, and is perfectly happy to draw on it that way, but I wonder if a dedicated iPad stand for drawing might be more suitable.
The Magic Keyboard also provides an extra USB-C port on top of the one that's in the iPad Pro. That means you can charge up or connect your iPad with the cable tucked away at the back of your iPad, which is quite handy, although I will admit that I don't often remember to use this port. It's also worth noting that the Magic Keyboard doesn't come with a USB-C cable, which is a bit disappointing, but also, very Apple.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad: typing experience and trackpad
The Magic Keyboard for iPad keyboard has a scissor mechanism, and typing on it is a pleasant and quiet experience. Although the Magic Keyboard is relatively small, the keys feel well spaced out and I don't ever feel like my fingers are knocking into each other. In short, it feels pretty much like using a 'real keyboard', just smaller, and probably quieter. It's also fairly easy to add special characters or accents using the keyboard. You hold down Option and then the letter you want to add the accent to, so Option E plus E gets you é, for example (see Apple's guidance for more instructions).
Some may lament the top row of keys found on many standard keyboards, so there's no esc button, for example. I haven't really found that a problem, and there is also the option to programme other keys to work as the ones that are missing, if you like (MacRumors has a good guide to how to do this).
The keys light up when you're in low-light, which is a really nice feature. It's one of those Apple design features that you might not even notice unless it's pointed out to you because it works so well.
The trackpad works well too, and is pretty intuitive, although it can feel a bit fiddly at times. You're restricted by how well the software or app you're using works well with the trackpad/iPad in general. I find that when I'm trying to edit a spreadsheet on Google Sheets, for example, I end up getting frustrated because it's fiddly to select a cell and try to copy and paste it with the trackpad. But using the Apple Pencil or tapping the screen doesn't help much either, so this is probably the fault of the app and the iPad in general, rather than a problem with the trackpad.
After looking at the gestures for the iPad trackpad, I think I could also use more of them, which would probably improve my experience overall.
Should you buy the Magic Keyboard for iPad?
Whether or not you decide to get the Magic Keyboard really depends on what you're going to be using your iPad for, and how much you care about your keyboard and iPad case. Some may find other cheaper Magic Keyboard alternatives more suitable.
However, if you can afford it ($299 / £279 for the 11-inch iPad Pro or iPad version, $349 / £329 for the 12-inch iPad Pro version), you're planning to type a lot and you like to use the trackpad to navigate your iPad, then the Magic Keyboard is a great solution. The extra weight is something to think about though, because the Magic Keyboard does make your iPad quite heavy.
Also bear in mind that the Magic Keyboard's angle isn't ideal for drawing, nor does it magically transform your iPad into a laptop. The iPad is still a relatively small bit of kit, which isn't always suitable for long stints of work unless you hook it up to a larger monitor, and even then you may not find it ideal. However, adding the Magic Keyboard definitely means you'll be able to type on your iPad for longer, and the extra port is handy, too.
Read more: The best drawing apps for iPad