Magic Keyboard for iPad: My experience and perspective

For a little over 10 years Steve Jobs introduced us to the iPad and he did it explaining clearly what it was for. The focus was on entertainment: viewing your photos, listening to music, watching videos, reading books, etc. Jobs even said “If there is going to be a third category of product, it is because it will be better to do certain activities than a smart phone or laptop, otherwise it does not make sense to exist.” I firmly believe that this product proposal is sustained but that it has evolved along with those who use it.

The iPad was a success and became the generic of a tablet, for many people it has been the first computer thanks to simple and friendly software. With its own evolution, many of us have tried to adopt it as a productivity tool and even Apple has progressively supported this group of users with various signals. The first and most evident is the existence of an iPad Pro as well as continuous improvements to iOS (now iPadOS) with the focus of being more productive without losing its simplicity.

Apple has recently presented the Magic Keyboard with a simple proposal: an external keyboard / cover that privileges being able to use the iPad Pro as a laptop (which, I clarify, is different from a Macbook). If you have a 2018 or 2020 model iPad Pro, you can use it perfectly. You just open the Magic Keyboard and with strong magnets the iPad Pro is well placed. With this setup you have a totally friendly keyboard with the iPad Pro in a “floating” position and with perhaps the more welcome addition, a trackpad.

The iPad Pro is held very well and feels robust, even if it is not so difficult to separate it. Many miss a special row for “functions” and some others defend the position that it is not necessary to have them. I share with you a point of view on essentially what is the experience of using the Magic Keyboard from a practical perspective.

What advantages have I found using the Magic Keyboard on an iPad Pro?

- Maximum comfort possible for typing text; it feels very good.
- It greatly reduces having to touch the screen since from the keyboard you can do almost everything with the trackpad.
- It becomes fully functional as a laptop with long battery life, agility and portability that has always characterized it. Along with software that has evolved, the user experience is no longer so limited.
- The keys glow in the dark.
- Perhaps of little relevance, but I really like how it looks.

What are the disadvantages of using the Magic Keyboard on an iPad Pro?

- You lose the so-called “tablet” functionality, that will no longer feel comfortable to read in bed or on the couch. It is no longer possible to have a position where the keyboard is left behind and present a clean iPad Pro in the front. If you want to use it in “tablet” mode, you need to detach the iPad Pro from the Magic Keyboard. Doing so is relatively simple, but not ideal.
- Using the Apple Pencil for notes or drawing is still possible, but the position is awkward and in the same way, if you want to use it for a long period of time, chances are you’ll end up separating the iPad Pro.
- It weighs more. The Magic Keyboard needs to be heavy to hold the iPad Pro and it shows a lot, if you have the 12.9 ″ model you will be carrying almost the same weight a as a MacBook Air or Pro.

Apple is not promoting that all iPad Pro users should buy a Magic Keyboard to have the full experience of their product, it has simply given versatility to different types of users. If someone wants to keep it as a device to function as a tablet and eventually write, there is the Smart Keyboard that offers an external keyboard, it is cheaper, lighter and does not sacrifice tablet mode. Of course, it does not have a trackpad, it is not comfortable to type and it lacks friendly position angles. If your approach is to use it as a consumer tool and do not type too much, you can even choose to put the Smart Cover or some third-party cover using your finger to point and the on-screen keyboard.

The price is high, but I do not consider it a disadvantage since to evaluate it, everyone must make a cost-benefit assessment. In the case of the Magic Keyboard there are other options to use a keyboard with trackpad on the iPad Pro. The difference is that with this accessory, you receive the best possible experience if you want to work like this. Is it worth the investment? everyone will decide, but it is certainly not a cheap product, however for many it will be worth it.

If you are looking for your iPad Pro to become a tool to improve your productivity, the Magic Keyboard is probably a fully validated purchase, but if you use it more as a content consuming product, entertainment and simple things, not only would it feel very expensive, but it will get a lot in the way. It is very possible that if you have a Macbook that you already consider portable, this combo will have to be seen as a complement to your mobile productivity center. If you only have an iMac (or desktop computer) or a 15/16 ″ Macbook, it can add portability with high effectiveness. If it is going to be your only computer and you need portability, an iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard are also a great option as long as you don’t use specialized software that is only found in conventional operating systems.

If the trend continues where it seems, it is very likely that Apple will continue to favor this way of using the iPad in its next operating system updates.

The Magic Keyboard is clearly for those who want to make their iPad Pro the laptop they will be using. It competes for the same space as a Macbook, but it’s not the same. Using an iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard offers advantages that a Macbook does not have and vice versa. Many complain that they still cannot do everything from a Macbook on the iPad and if this is your case, buy a Macbook, because that means that it is what you need. However, the combo of iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard adds a new perspective and now it is also valid to say that a Macbook cannot do everything that an iPad Pro does either. Which one suits you? It is everyone’s decision but I do make it clear that with the Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro has become a device that essentially solves the need for portable productivity with the same level as any laptop with benefits and limitations of its proposal. It is convenient for us as users to open to this and choose the best option according to our needs.


Great review. Job well done.

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I agree with most everything said by the OP. I would add that the iPad with cellular adds additional flexibility when used as a laptop.


Thanks for the helpful review. I use the smart keyboard folio and regularly attach/detach it. You mentioned this is “simple but not ideal” with the Magic Keyboard. Could you please elaborate on what you mean by “not ideal”? For me, I enjoy the easy detachment of smart keyboard folio when i am reading but will quickly reattach if i suddenly need to type an email reply or something like that. Sounds like the Magic Keyboard would allow for that simple back-and-forth…but, again, curious by your comment about it not being ideal…


Hello, thank you for reading the post. Concerning the statement that it is not ideal I think I can elaborate. I moved from the Smart Keyboard to the Magic Keyboard, so I was used to have my iPad Pro as a productive device but also when work was finished, quickly pick it up in one piece and lay on the bed or coach for content consumption. Doing this with the Smart Keyboard required no need to detach the iPad Pro, it was an immediate action. Also, in “tablet” mode I felt the iPad Pro protected with the Smart Keyboard behind. I like to do some sketching in Procreate with the Apple Pencil, so the process to do so was quick to set up. When I finished using it, I closed it with one movement and every time the case (Smart Keyboard) was there, attached. Now with the Magic Keyboard I need to remove it if I need to change to tablet or sketching mode. I know it is not a first world problem, but I do not like it. Even if I understand the reasons, it was a little frustrating for me to discover that the Magic Keyboard does not allow to have a confortable set up for sketching, note taking or content consumption away from a desk (in bed for example). When I detach it to use it as a tablet, the iPad Pro feels to me naked and and when I finish using it, there are times when the Magic Keyboard is not close. Then I am forced to leave my iPad unprotected or go where the Magic Keyboard is. Also, when I want to do a sketch in my desk, I need to detach the iPad Pro and leave the Magic Keyboard getting in the way in my work space. Again, this is not critical but do I miss to have all the iPad set in one piece without detaching it. This is of course a minor problem compared with the great benefits the Magic Keyboard brings for productivity. I am quite open to the possibility this process is more sensitive to me since I moved from the Smart Keyboard to the Magic Keyboard and do not want to lose something I liked.

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Must agree with this. Whilst I have seen the occasional reference being made to this, I cannot but help think that the single biggest drawback of the MK is that a detached iPad is essentially ‘naked’. I for one would be very uncomfortable using an iPad like this.

At a push, it would be OK at home, but couldn’t see this working in an office/work environment. That would make it unlikely for me to ever detach it, which effectively results in the iPad becoming a virtually ‘permanent’ tablet-laptop. Not saying that this is a fatal flaw, but just something that is giving me much to consider in terms of evaluating whether or not the MK is for me.

Is the trackpad functionality really useful? I’ve only tried it for a few minutes with an old bluetooth trackpad and I didn’t really see the point.

It depends on what you use the iPad for. I do a lot of text/code editing and the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad has made my iPad almost indescribably better for me. I also generally dislike touch interfaces, so it’s been nice for that too, but that’s a pretty subjective thing (though having almost not fingerprints on the screen is really quite wonderful).


@OBG888, again, my sincere thanks for the helpful original post and very thoughtful reply. I am very happy with the Smart Keyboard but there are times when I would benefit from having an accessible track pad. Most of the time, I use my iPad Pro naked for reading and casual work, and love it that way. The smart keyboard is always within arms reach to easily snap back on for the occasional typing. My issue has been that my trackpad usually isn’t near. It does sound like given my personal preference for how I use it, the Magic Keyboard does make sense. My concern was that it wouldn’t be as easy to snap on and off, but your review and reply helped clarify.

Now I just need to decide whether an accessible track pad is worth $400 when I am otherwise happy with Keyboard folio or do I wait until a future iPad upgrade to buy…I have the 2018 iPad Pro 12.9 and absolutely love it.

10/10 review. Would read again.

My thoughts are very similar to yours. I especially like your quote ‘It competes for the same space as a Macbook, but it’s not the same’. Nailed it right there.

(Edit: Replied to the wrong person sorry!)

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Thank you very much :slightly_smiling_face:

That’s the beauty of the “Naked Robotic Core” © Siracusa. if you want to you can just drop it into a folio if you wish. I regularly switch between a Brydge Keyboard (without a trackpad) and a folio and it’s so simple.

If I had the dough I’d buy a Magic Keyboard and replace the Brydge, but I can’t justify it.


FWIW, I realized (only) today that the trackpad I was trying it with isn’t supported for a lot of the features as it’s the old 2 AA battery model.

I have the same one and was underwhelmed with it as well. It really makes no sense to me that the functionality is so limited with that model.

For those who have the Magic keyboard for ipad. How hardy is it.

I have the Smart Keyboard for iPad 12.9” which I put in and out of my bag most days and it gets used a lot, but the coating has rubbed off in certain places and is wrinkled in others. I’m changing iPads and will need a keyboard for at least 3 years, I’m loath to spend that much money (Smart or Magic keyboard) if it’s going to look terrible within 18 months.

I ordered one as soon as they were available. Mine has not suffered the same wrinkling that both of my Smart Keyboards had despite being made from (seemingly) the same material. It’s held up very well and I use it extensively every day.

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I would say mine looks pretty good after a couple years. There’s some waviness on the edge where I usually rest my palms.

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