When is it too early to give your opinions on a product? This seems a pretty blurred line. Dependent a lot of the time on the type of review you want to give. It’s a debate for another time, because I have had my hands on the new Magic Keyboard for my 2018 iPad Pro for just a few hours and already have loads of thoughts to share — but a full review will follow later.
I have, for the most part, been avoiding the weirdly negative reviews and comparisons that focus on small issues blown out of proportion. As I covered in my newsletter, I’ve been really excited to get this keyboard and it arrived a day later than it was supposed to. So I found myself consuming quite a few reviews to satiate my desire to use it. But that is not to say that if I had been forced to write this within the first hour or so of taking the Magic keyboard out the box my feelings would have been very different.
Let’s get this out the way straight away. Attaching the Magic Keyboard to your iPad Pro makes it heavier. Not just a bit heavier, there is a lot more weight and no avoiding this. This keyboard is not a Smart Keyboard by any stretch of the imagination. So if you’re looking for something similar you’re going to be very disappointed.
Many reviews have focused on this. While comparisons to the weight of laptops and other Windows variations are somewhat valid, they are a little logically flawed. Sure it’s about the same weight as a MacBook Pro, so is the argument that I should carry that instead? Whereas it’s down to the weight you want to carry. Without getting into the specs of the different machines and OS, there are some huge differences. I can’t take the screen off a MacBook, nor annotate a PDF by drawing on the screen, so we are not comparing Apples here. If I’m going to carry 3lb I will carry a 12.9” iPad and Magic Keyboard no question — whereas many others may not.
Now we have that out of the way, we can move on. There are numerous reasons for the weight of this accessory, which I wont go into here, but it ads a proper keyboard. Gruber summed it up best when he described previous attempts iPad keyboards as covers you can type on. There was nothing wrong with these versions, I used them very happily for a long time. Whereas this is a proper, full sized keyboard with back light and decent key travel. With a trackpad thrown in for good measure. This is tiny when compared to any other Apple version but about the same size as everything else on the market. One thing to note is that it is ridiculously loud when clicking.
The keyboard keys are’t quite as bad, but they are not far off. They give in my opinion a perfectly clicky feedback. With the right amount of movement in the keys to make typing a delight. Typing on them feels somewhere between the current Mac Magic Keyboard, with a little of the stiffness of the butterfly keyboard left in. But to be clear these are lovely scissor switches, so lets hope they last.
I have no reason to think they wont, because everything about the unit feels premium and worth the money. Sure this is an expensive accessory, but in a world where the Smart Keyboard Folio is £199, for the extra £150 you get much more for your money. One of my initial trepidation’s was the rigidity of the keyboard when using it on my lap, but I am happy to report there is zero flex. Both of the hinges for positioning the iPad feel study and robust, clicking into place with reassuring tactile feedback.
The Magic Keyboard floating style is quintessentially Apple. Say what you want about a better design, but this screams designed in Cupertino. You’re going to see loads of these in coffee shops when we are allowed out again. That’s not to say the design is the right choice, thats a very personal opinion. It just looks like something Apple would do. The design also brings the iPad closer to your face which is a nice touch, saving some neck ache. The two hinges allow movement from 90 to 130 degrees.
This range of movement sounds like plenty depending on your usage. I am not getting into the whole drawing mode debate comparing to something that has never been advertised, but unfortunately it isn’t much movement at all. I feel as if the screen positions are almost as limiting as they were before. This isn’t going to bother me going forward and I completely understand why it is like this. However the furthest 130degree position is just about suitable for my needs and at this point still feels a little top heavy when on my lap.
Wants For The Future
It is very early days in my usage, and despite my early disappointment I am happily typing away on it.
The Magic Keyboard feels very much like a first-gen product with some important lessons learnt from the covers that have gone before. There are design choices that have been made to get the best from the form factor. Ultimately boiling down to a few nitpicking details.
I’d love to see the power connector able to also transfer data so I don’t need any more dongles hanging out the side, but this would mean a redesign of the iPad technology rather than a better case.
I would also like to see the keyboard get a row of function keys or at the very least an FN key to perhaps use the numbered row. I don’t adjust the backlight to my keyboard very often, but when I do I expect it to be right in front of me along with volume control and screen brightness.
I will refrain from any major judgements just yet and save them for a full review, but there are surprisingly few things I would change, and none that put me off completely.
With all things said, this is the sort of keyboard I have always wanted for my iPad. The robustness of a proper keyboard was without doubt a limiting factor in previous years and one of the reasons I started using a Laptop again.
The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard is the best keyboard you can get for your iPad Pro but its far from perfect. This isn’t;t going to be for everyone. If you want a laptopesk experience on iOS then look no further. For anything else, move along.