Brydge keyboards for recent iPads - a personal review

I have searched high and low for a good alternative to Apple’s Magic Keyboard for my iPad Pro 11" 2021. The criteria to get in the running:

  1. Good trackpad support
  2. Suitable for laptop/portable use
  3. Good overall experience
  4. Better price than Apple (admittedly a low barrier…)

It seemed only fair to try the Apple keyboard first, and I did. It was OK, typed well, etc. A little top-heavy on the lap, and of course, pricey. Then I tried the Kensington Combo Touch, which checked every box except for the second one. Its A-frame support of the iPad made it awkward, even difficult, for normal laptop use. But a good keyboard for on the desk/table usage.

I ordered a Brydge Air MAX+, which just arrived two days ago. Their constantly slipping shipping dates were a major source of frustration, but they assured me, multiple times, that it would be shipping soon, and that I would receive shipping notification. Well, it showed up Sunday, with no notification. Well, I take that back – Notifications (several) of shipping began arriving yesterday, 24 hours after delivery. Oh, well. At least it’s here.

So, how is the keyboard?

So far, so good. It was easy to set up/install. Everything has worked as indicated.

  • It is truly a laptop/clamshell configuration. Easy to open/close. No special motion needed, as with Apple’s Magic Keyboard that requires a compound movement. But such a First World Problem!
  • The keyboard has some weight, but that is necessary to keep the weight of the iPad from tilting the whole thing backward. Apple’s Magic Keyboard has the same need.
  • The trackpad is responsive. It is a “diving board” style, meaning that the lower part of the trackpad goes further down on a click than the upper portion does. But itt isn’t bothersome, and most of the time, I just take advantage of the “tap-to-click” setting. It doesn’t seem clunky.
  • The keys have a light and responsive feel. On my unit, the “down arrow” seems a little less sensitive than the other keys. Sometimes I have to press it twice, or just make sure I press it more firmly than I do most of the others. I’ve not yet decided if this is a weakness worth returning it for, or just use it and see what happens.
  • The built-in battery had a good charge. I charged it after a day or so, but don’t think it really needed it. A short USB-C-USB-C connector should allow charging straight from the iPad (?).
  • It wakes up easily. Usually, I just double-tap the space bar, and it wakes up, performs the Face ID, and is ready to go.
  • The Bluetooth connection has not become unpaired. Initial setup was all that was needed.
  • The function row contains the following keys: Home key // Lock // Keyboard light level - 3 levels plus Off // Screen brightness down // Screen brightness up // Disengage hardware keyboard (??) // Globe key (??) // Media rewind // Play-Pause // Media forward // Sound down // Sound Up // Bluetooth // Power on-off.
  • Some keyboards have a sound-off key in addition to the sound-up and sound-down. Not this one. On this keyboard, the pause-play button is what one uses to stop any playback sound.
  • The number row keys are standard, with the addition of a Euro and Pound Sterling option available.
  • The bottom row contains: Microphone // CTRL // Option // Command // Space Bar // Command // Option // Inverted T set.
  • Otherwise, the keys all appear to be a rather standard U.S. English QWERTY layout.
  • The iPad, in its rubber protection, is easy to remove from the magnetic cover. Similar to Apple’s Magic keyboard, I just pull it away from the magnetic portion, and I’m back in full tablet mode. With this keyboard, however, there are two differences, compared to Apple’s keyboard: 1) Bluetooth connection with the keyboard remains, so one can continue to use the keyboard, with say, the iPad propped up or even vertically oriented; and 2) the iPad is not “naked,” but protected on all sides except the screen, even in tablet mode.
  • I’m using an iPad Pro 11" with this keyboard, even though it is targeted for the iPad Air 2020. Brydge assured me that the Air MAX+, as well as the coming 11 MAX+ will both work with the iPad Pro 11" as well as the iPad Air. The coming model targeting the 11" iPad Pro apparently does away with the protection around the edges and back of the iPad, in favor of a sleeker, metal construction. Their tech support suggested this model, the Air MAX+ was more suitable for users wanting more protection against drops, whereas the coming model 11 MAX+ would appeal to those whose iPads are less at risk. Makes sense to me.
  • It is very stable on any hard surface – lap desk, table, etc. For lap use, if your lap tilts downard/away from you, it may want to tilt back. But I believe the Apple Magic Keyboard is similar in this respect.
  • Size: From the left edge of the Q key to the right edge of the P key is 6 9/16 inches (~16.8 cm). For comparison, on Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard I use with my iMac, the same span covers 7 ⅝ inches (~19.3 cm). For the iPad Pro 11", however, any attached keyboard will need to be narrower than the standard standalone keyboards.

Verdict? Jury still out, mainly because of the weaker down-arrow key. It may be weak; it may be a non-issue. I haven’t decided. But other than that, I like it.


I had an older Brydge for an older iPad, so I haven’t used one for a few years. At the time I was doing a lot of walking around the building, in and out of offices and meetings, and didn’t want to carry a laptop. The Brydge-iPad combo was excellent for this. The clamshell was sturdy but not too heavy yet had a good solid-build feeling.

I wasn’t using a pencil (first generation) much then, and don’t know how the Brydge would play with the current Pencil.

It has a cutout for the pencil.

The whole case when closed is very protective of the iPad.


I was thinking about the Brydge but no smart connector was a deal-breaker for me.