My Impressions of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

I received a Magic Keyboard for my 2018 11-inch iPad Pro yesterday, so this is not a full review, but rather a series of impressions.

The first thing I noticed is how much more solid this thing is then the Smart Keyboard Folio I’ve used for years. Of course, that includes the weight, but the overall build quality feels much, much better. This thing is stiff and exact, whereas the old style always felt a bit flimsy at times.

Speaking of weight, here are some numbers for you, at least according to my cheap kitchen scale:

  • Bare 11-inch iPad Pro with LTE: 479 grams
  • Magic Keyboard: 592 grams
  • The Whole Shebang: 1,078 grams

For comparison, the old Smart Keyboard Folio weighs 316 grams.

A lot of the Magic Keyboard’s quality is thanks to the hinge. It glides open easily, but I do wish it would let the iPad tilt back a little farther. The adjustability is nice compared to the old keyboard, but I’d like to see more range out of this one.

Of course, the Magic Keyboard is part keyboard and part stand. When you take the iPad off of it, the case is left behind, standing upright, as some sort of testament to your mobile productivity.

Taking the iPad off isn’t as easy as you would think. The magnets are incredibly strong. I think I could sling the keyboard around pretty well before my iPad would want to break free.

There is one downside of the new design, in that the keyboard can no longer fold back behind the iPad. Until I popped this new case on, I didn’t think about how often I used the previous keyboard in this fashion. I suspect I’ll be removing my iPad from the keyboard and carrying my iPad around without a case a lot more than I used to when I’m wandering around the house.

The keyboard itself feels fantastic. The keys have a surprising amount of travel for a device like this, and really do feel like the keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and new MacBook Air. The addition of backlighting is just icing on the cake.

When compared with a MacBook Pro, this keyboard does feel a little cramped. Keys around the edges are smaller than on the Mac, but are not all that different from the Smart Keyboard. However, this thing feels tighter then the old one. I think it is because the rest of the experience is so much like a traditional notebook.

I have owned a 12.9-inch iPad Pro before, and while it is not for me, I can’t help but wonder if the keyboard experience would be a little better. The main key caps are the same size between the two, but I keep hitting = when I reach for Delete.

Lastly, there’s the trackpad. It’s about an inch and a half tall and just shy of four inches across. That’s tiny compared to what is on Macs, but it is big enough to work well with iPadOS, even if I would like more room. I suspect both the keyboard and trackpad feel more laptop-like on the larger iPad Pro.

I bet that I will adjust over time, but right now, I find myself forgetting about the trackpad. I will be mid-gesture on the screen and think “Oh yeah, there’s a trackpad now.”

I don’t think the Magic Keyboard is going to radically change the amount of time I work on my iPad Pro; I am still a Mac-first kind of guy, but when I do reach for my iPad, I’ll do so knowing that the experience will be better than ever.