Sure, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard is like having a laptop, but what if you have the 11-inch iPad Pro?
I don’t like Apple’s Smart Keyboard or Smart Keyboard Folio. I find the key feedback to be a bit…mushy. I think it’s a genius design, and for some, it’s a wonderful experience, but it’s just not for me. I prefer keys that are a bit more clicky, springy, even a little noisy. So when Apple announced the Magic Keyboard with trackpad for iPad Pro in March 2020, I threw my money at my computer screen with a celebrated, “huzzah!”
Because I love the Magic Keyboard for the iMac. It’s my favorite keyboard experience, and I’ve tested out a lot of different keyboards. Combining my love of the best keyboard ever with my love of using a keyboard with a trackpad on my iPad Pro was a no-brainer. Apple Card: charged.
At this point, all the big tech bloggers and vloggers have already told you what’s great and what’s not-so-great about the Magic Keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but what about the smaller one? I don’t want my iPad setup to be as big as my laptop setup. If I need a laptop size workspace, I’ll use…my laptop. The best iPad for me is smaller, more portable. If, like me, you want to know is whether the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard configuration could be a comfortable laptop-like experience, too, you’re in the right place. Let’s dig in.
And yes, I wrote and published this 11-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard review exclusively using the combo.
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Bottom line: A typing experience on iPad like no other. This keyboard case turns your iPad Pro into a mini iMac-style laptop running iPadOS 14.
- Thin profile
- Excellent key feedback
- Backlit keys
- Tactile trackpad
- Unique design
- Limited view range
- Still wobbly on laps
- Missing function keys
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Price and availability
The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard comes in two sizes: 11-inch and 12.9-inch. The 11-inch size is compatible with the 11-inch iPad Pro as well as the iPad Air 4. The 12.9-inch model is compatible with the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021) and previous generations of the 12.9-inch, but the older version of the 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard is not compatible with the newest iPad Pro, presumably because of changes in thickness and weight. You can find the previous 12.9-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard from retailers like Amazon while supplies last.
While the original iPad Pro Magic Keyboard launched only in the black color, it is now also being sold in a new white color. The 11-inch version is normally $299, but Amazon has it for $199 right now.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Clickity-clack this keyboard is stacked
As part of my 11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard review, my first question was, is the keyboard all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the question everyone is asking. Keyboards are definitely a personal experience, especially if you like mechanical keyboards. Some don’t really have a strong opinion. They are “keyboard agnostic.” Others have very strong opinions about what makes a good keyboard, and the slightest changes to tactility and feedback have a huge effect.
Here’s how I’d describe the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro; It’s like the Magic Keyboard for the iMac, but with a cloth under the keys. I don’t mean that they are mushy like the Smart Keyboard for iPad. There is plenty of springiness and bounce. But the click is less clicky and more thumpy when you type.
The keys themselves have rounded edges. They aren’t sharp like the iMac’s Magic Keyboard, but also not as soft as the Smart Keyboard for iPad. The keys have just the slightest bit of a concave curve. It’s almost unnoticeable, but you can feel the curve if you run your finger across the keys.
On the iMac/Mac’s Magic Keyboard, keys are loose. They sort of wiggle when you move your finger around on the keyboard. They’re much tighter on the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. There isn’t as much of a clickety-clackity experience.
How well does this keyboard size work with the 11-inch iPad Pro? Much better than I would have imagined.
How well does this keyboard size work with the 11-inch iPad Pro? Much better than I would have imagined. There is enough room between keys to make for comfortable travel. The keys don’t feel cramped into the small space at all. There is plenty of wrist pad room for me to rest my palms next to the trackpad without accidentally clicking it.
The overall setup, however, is a little too small. This has nothing to do with the keyboard itself and more to do with the fact that an 11-inch “laptop” is a little too small to be a daily use, 8-hours per day computer. I can’t keep my arms in any sort of ergonomic position. It gets uncomfortable after a couple of hours of straight typing. This is just a general observation on an 11-inch computing setup. It is no reflection on the Magic Keyboard case.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Magnetic personality is strong
The folio part of the keyboard case, the magnetic backing that the iPad Pro sticks to, is where most of the unique design aspect comes into play. For my 11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard review, I examined just how well it works.
As far as material and general fit and feel, it’s very similar to the folio part of the Smart Keyboard Folio. It uses the same silicon exterior material and the same soft microfiber lining. There is a single bendable joint about a quarter of the way up from the bottom. This joint locks into position at a 30-degree angle. It is adjustable up to that degree, but not past it.
Instead of a case that you snap the iPad Pro into, it’s designed so you can simply plop the iPad Pro onto the mount magnetically. There are multiple strong magnets on either side of the mount to keep the iPad Pro in place. There is no chance your iPad will slip away from the magnetic connection without a serious jolt.
There is no chance your iPad will slip away from the magnetic connection without a serious jolt.
Where the magnets are positioned on the mount, in conjunction with the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector support, means the iPad snaps into place. There’s no question whether you’ve lined up the back camera hole correctly. If you’re really sloppy about placement, you might connect it with a crooked angle, but it’s also easy to correct that mistake with a simple sliding up or down of the iPad Pro, so it reconnects with the correct magnets. It’s a very elegant design.
The magnets are very strong, which means you’ll need to use two hands to remove it from the mount. Or really, one finger resting on the keyboard while the other removes the iPad from the mount.
I was actually able to disengage the iPad Pro from the magnets with one hand by grabbing it right next to the angled backside and pulling it forward, but it was a little awkward.
Still, I’d give up one-handed removal from the mount in exchange for a reliable magnetic connection, which I think Apple was betting on when the design team came up with this system.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Hinge design
In a lot of 11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard reviews, writers talk about the hinge design. The magnetic mount and multiple-angled hinge design give the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro its unique “hovering” aesthetic. It’s also how the design team figured out how to account for weight and balance. Since the iPad Pro, which would essentially be the display part of a laptop, is so top-heavy (because it’s a whole computing device, not just a display), the anchor hinge at the base and the mount angle hinge had to be adjusted to correct for too much weight on top. That’s why the iPad Pro lifts up and moves forward before angling backward.
This hinge design makes this case stand out from every other iPad keyboard in existence. But is it the best possible design?
There are things about it that I love and things about it that I think are * overdesigned*. Let me explain.
It was pretty ingenious to come up with a way to counterbalance the top heaviness of the iPad Pro while still allowing for some angling freedom. Most cases either have an awkward kickstand on the backside, which is pretty uncomfortable on a lap, or only offer two or three stationary angles, with the bottom of the iPad anchored down to the keyboard base magnetically (think, Smart Keyboard design).
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, however, has a maximum angle of 30 degrees, which is adjustable, but all adjustable angles are too inward to be useful to anyone. You can only angle downward from the open-most angle. No one uses an iPad at a 15-degree (toward the keyboard) angle. It’s an over-designed idea.
There are things about it that I love and things about it that I think are * over-designed*.
There aren’t a lot of options for an iPad keyboard that doesn’t end up with an imbalance between the base and the iPad. Brydge, actually, seems to have come the closest with an infinite number of adjustable angles, though if you go past the sweet spot, it’ll start to tip over.
I’m not saying the unique angling isn’t a good idea. It’s certainly one of the best ideas I’ve seen for a keyboard case. I’m just saying I think it suffers from being overly designed.
Moving away from angling and into hovering, I really like the way the iPad hovers over the keyboard. I don’t think Apple could have made the keyboard as roomy if it weren’t for the fact that the iPad is up and out of the way.
If you were able to place the iPad directly onto the keyboard base at the exact angle it sits when fully open, you’d cut off the number keys row entirely. This hover design allows for plenty of keyboard space, while also providing enough wrist pad distance for you to comfortably set the palm of your hands if that’s how you type.
The only problem with the hover design is that my fingertips will oftentimes inadvertently tap the iPad whenever I’m reaching for a number or the delete key. It stops me in my typing tracks every time I reach for any key in the top row. Angling the screen downward fixes that problem, but the screen is no longer in my ideal position at that point.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Weight
I’ve heard a lot of reviewers mention that the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is a lot heavier than they anticipated. I’ve been typing on my iPad Pro with the Brydge Pro+ for a few months now and got used to the extra weight that comes along with a keyboard and trackpad combo. To me, the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is just about right, in terms of weight. Holding just the cases up, I think it weighs about the same, maybe slightly less than the Brydge Pro+, but only slightly.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro actually wins a lot of points for its thinness.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro actually wins a lot of points for its thinness. It’s significantly thinner than most keyboard cases I’ve used. Not thinner than the Smart Keyboard case, of course, but much thinner than the Brydge Pro+.
This, I really like, because the palms of my hands don’t mash into the edge of the keyboard base while I type.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Stability
I have to be honest, I expected the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro to be more stable when it’s on my lap. I wanted it to work miracles. It’s just…fine. But still suffers from a bit of wobbling. It still tips back just a little, making me feel compelled to hold down the base with the palms of my hands in order to avoid any potential spillover. It doesn’t tip, but it always feels like it could if I’m not careful. If I raise my wrists up from the base in an attempt to practice good typing positioning, I get a lot of bounce.
My lap has to be in a particular position for the setup to feel truly stable.
I also noticed that my lap has to be in a particular position for the setup to feel truly stable. I have to be sitting in a chair low enough for my knees to be at a 90-degree angle, which doesn’t happen all that often. Chairs are usually a little too tall for me. When my knees are angled even slightly lower than 90-degrees, the weight balance is off and there is no new angle I can reposition to in order to fix it.
On any flat surface, the stability is irrefutable. It’s a solid keyboard system. Nothing bounces. Nothing tips. It feels like a laptop on a table or desk. The base is solid with no bounce at all. The angle of the iPad is pretty much perfect. Not too high. Not to low. If you’re sitting in front of a flat surface, this is going to feel amazing.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Trackpad
The trackpad is where the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro really shines. I’ve had limited experience with multiple brands of trackpads, but so far, this is the best one I’ve ever used. Where other trackpads tend to misstep is in scrolling. When trying to scroll down large amounts of text, other trackpads either stutter or go too far to fast. Even with adjustments in settings, I still struggle with this.
The trackpad on the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is incredibly smooth and intuitive.
The trackpad on the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is incredibly smooth and intuitive. The cursor moves into position perfectly and reacts to buttons, text fields, and action bars perfectly. This, in my opinion, is what makes the iPad experience feel more like a laptop experience.
Though I’m happy that Apple chose real clicking buttons for the trackpad, not haptics, I prefer Tap to Click with my trackpad usage, which this trackpad also supports.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: No function keys
I am very aware of why Apple didn’t include a row of function keys with the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. It just wouldn’t have fit. The overall experience would have been full-time poorer as opposed to only been poorer once in a while when you want to use function keys.
I really miss having those keys, though. When I want to turn the volume up or down on my music, or want to hop back to the Home page, or increase or decrease my screen brightness, the function keys have always been there for me within a finger’s reach.
What I miss the absolute most are the media control keys. I really wish Apple had included volume, playback, fast forward and rewind keys, even if they were buried under another key layer.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Battery life
I managed to get about nine hours straight of working on my iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard attached with about 25% battery left. That’s with standard work-based activities like email triage, two 30-minute meetings in Google Hangouts Meet (a serious battery hog), writing this review and uploading it to our system (along with the photos), planning content for the website, checking in with my coworkers in Slack regularly, and a few other work-type things.
It does suck up a few percentage points of juice over the day, but it’s still within Apple’s battery performance estimate of 10 hours of usage for the iPad Pro, so the drain is negligible.
When charging via the Magic Keyboard port, I noticed that it doesn’t juice up nearly as fast as if I were to charge directly through the iPad (about 1% per minute versus about 3 or 4% per minute), but if I need the iPad’s USB-C port free for other peripherals, it’s good to know I have a different method to charge.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Price
When we all found out how much the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro costs, I think we had a collective double-take. At a time when you can get a brand new iPhone for $399, a $299 keyboard case seems a bit tone deaf. It’s $120 more than Apple’s next most expensive keyboard case, the Smart Folio.
I love that I can have the same scissor switch, bouncy key, springy feedback keyboard with my iPad Pro.
Now, I love the Magic Keyboard. I love that Apple has transformed it for mobile and I can have the same scissor switch, bouncy key, springy feedback keyboard with my iPad Pro. There’s no denying it’s worth a few extra bucks.
I was disappointed enough, however, in the functionality to consider this not an instabuy (even though I insta-bought it). Apple didn’t truly solve the pain points of typing on laps. It’s still wobbly. The keyboard still angles upward if your lap isn’t in the exact right position, and to add to the frustration, you can’t simply angle the iPad further back to accommodate an imbalance. It’s an amazing keyboard, but not the be-all-end-all experience I was hoping for.
There are plenty of features that make this keyboard worth considering at this price; the trackpad, the unique look, a charging port, the ultra thin (for a keyboard case) design, the fact that it is distinctly Apple (everyone will know you’ve got the Magic Keyboard as soon as you open it).
But I still think it’s a little overpriced for all its pluses.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Competition
There are a lot of keyboard cases out there for the 11-inch iPad Pro, but none of them quite have the same design as the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard. However, one of the best competitors that I’ve tried is the Logitech Folio Touch for 11-inch iPad Pro. This is a full on protective case for your iPad Pro with an attached keyboard and trackpad. While the Magic Keyboard is missing the function key row, the Folio Touch has it with all of the basics, including a dedicated Home button, media playback, brightness control, and more. The trackpad also has incredibly smooth scrolling as well from my experience, and thanks to the folio style, you can have way more flexibility with viewing angles. And even if you don’t need the keyboard, you can just fold it back all the way and just use your iPad Pro normally, while keeping it safe and protected from bumps and scuffs.
Another bonus about the Logitech Folio Touch? It’s almost half the cost of the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard, with slightly more functionality. What’s not to like about that?
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if…
- You enjoy Apple’s scissor-switch keyboard experience and want it for your iPad
- You want a protective keyboard case that won’t add a lot of bulk and has a unique design
- You want a seamless trackpad experience for the iPad
You shouldn’t buy this if…
- You want more flexibility when it comes to viewing angles
- You need a function key row with basic features like media playback buttons
- You are on a budget
I love the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. I love the springy, bouncy tactile feedback I get when typing away. The keys are stable — no wiggling — and have a low enough profile that key travel is comfortable. The keys are spread out enough, even on the 11-inch iPad Pro, that it doesn’t feel cramped or compact. The trackpad experience is second-to-none. The ease of which I can toss the iPad Pro onto the case and remove it is simply a joy. When I close it all up, I can take it with me without it taking up extra space thanks to the ultra-thin design.
The way the angled design addresses top-heaviness is especially ingenious but suffers from a little too much designing. It’s unnecessarily complex at the expense of limited viewing angles. And in the end, it doesn’t really solve the problems of tying on a lap. It still wobbles around and tends to tip backward just a bit if you don’t have your knees angled at exactly 90 degrees.
I would like to tell you that it’s the best keyboard case ever made for the iPad Pro and you should throw all your other keyboards away, but at this price, I think it’s more of an Apple fan’s luxury buy than any true reason you shouldn’t ever try any other keyboard case.
There are still very few good iPad keyboards with trackpads on the market, and the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is top-of-the-line. I definitely recommend it, and anyone that uses it is probably going to fall in love with the typing experience. The Magic Keyboard looks and feels like using a laptop, even on the 11-inch model. It’s only real flaw is that it doesn’t magically make lap typing less annoying.
Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Bottom line: While you can get other keyboard cases for less, the Magic Keyboard is simply that — magical. It has a unique design and the keyboard itself feels excellent, even if it’s missing some function keys.
Review Changelog, April 2021
This article was originally published in April 2020. It was updated in April 2021 with the following changes.
- Added price and availability section with information about the 2nd-generation Magic Keyboard and new white color.
- Added competition section.
- Changed “The bottom line” section to “Should you buy it?” and added bulleted lists for who should and shouldn’t purchase.
- Updated buy links.
- Added 12-month later review.
11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: 12-month later review
It’s been over a year since Apple introduced the first-generation iPad Pro Magic Keyboard. Apple also revealed the second generation of Magic Keyboard at its ‘Spring loaded’ event, alongside the new iPad Pro (2021). You may be thinking about picking up one of the Magic Keyboards to go with a brand new iPad, especially the insanely powerful 12.9-inch with the Liquid Retina XDR display.
But how has the Magic Keyboard held up over the past year? After all, this is an accessory that costs at least $300 brand new, so it’s something that you definitely want to hold up for at least a year or more.
It has held up quite well, all things considered.
Overall, it has held up quite well, all things considered. Since it is made with a soft-touch silicone material, it can get scuffed up a little easier, but it’s easy to wipe it away when necessary. As long as you take care of it and store it properly when not in use, the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard will still look decent, even a year later. Mine has mostly been stowed away in the box since I actually prefer the Logitech Folio Touch as my daily iPad Pro keyboard case, but I did use the Magic Keyboard regularly before getting that one. It has been through multiple bags and carried around by hand, and still looks good. There may be a few visible scuffs and marks here and there, but my iPad Pro itself is still in pristine condition.
As far as typing with the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard a year later, I’ve grown accustomed to mechanical keyboards since, so even though the Magic Keyboard uses Apple’s improved scissor switch mechanism, it’s not what I personally prefer to use. However, if you aren’t a fan of mechanical keyboards, then yes, Apple’s scissor switch still feels excellent for what it’s worth.
However, one of my issues with the 11-inch iPad Pro Magic Keyboard specifically is that my fingers often hit the bottom of the iPad when I type out numbers or need to get to the Delete key. This is simply due to my typing style, the more compact size of the 11-inch version, and the fact that the iPad is floating above the keyboard. It also doesn’t help that the -, +, return, and right shift keys are smaller than normal, due to the much more compact layout. Not to mention the lack of a function key row with buttons for going to the Home screen, media playback, and more, and I honestly kind of regret my purchase. The Logitech Folio Touch is what I’ve been using to make up for the shortcomings of the Magic Keyboard, and honestly, I believe it’s the better keyboard, especially when you factor in the price.
Still, if you much prefer Apple’s Magic Keyboard over others, then the Magic Keyboard is still a great power accessory to turn your iPad Pro into a laptop replacement. Just understand that the 11-inch version may be a little cramped to work with comfortably, so the 12.9-inch version would be best, even though it’s more expensive (and you need the larger iPad Pro too). But keep in mind that there are also some great alternatives that can even do more than the Magic Keyboard for a fraction of the cost.
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