We review Apple’s own-brand first-party iPad Pro keyboard cover, catchily called the Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro, to see if it’s worth the £139 asking price.
The iPad Pro is designed for professional use and if you plan on doing a lot of typing, I’d recommend picking up a physical keyboard. It makes a massive difference to your typing speed compared with the Pro’s virtual board, providing a much more comfortable experience overall.
Apple has actually designed its very own keyboard accessory for the very first time, with the catchy monicker of Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro. But at 139 quid, it’s not a cheap addition to an already-pretty-damn-expensive tablet. So, should you stump up that extra cash?
The Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is a typically well-designed accessory that at first glance appears to be your standard iPad smart cover. It clips onto your iPad Pro’s edge via magnets as usual and keeps your screen protected while it’s in your bag. If you need to use your iPad but you don’t need the keyboard, simply fold it back behind the tablet as normal and you can clutch the iPad Pro and swipe away.
In its closed-up state, the Smart Keyboard only adds a little extra bulk to the iPad Pro. And when you need to use the board to smash out an email or edit a document, you can unfold it in one quick motion. The edge of the iPad fits into a magnetic groove so the board and the iPad stick firmly together, with no shake or other irritation when you’re typing. And you can even rest the board on your legs and type like that if you don’t have a flat surface to sit the iPad on, thanks to the careful balance and the angle of tilt.
When you get typing for the first time, you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you adapt to Apple’s keyboard, especially if you’re already a Mac user. The iPad Pro’s keyboard is the same size as a Macbook’s, so your fingers have plenty of space to move – you won’t get cramped hands even after a full day of typing. And although the board is made of a single piece of material, which helps to prevent damage from spilled liquids, each key is slightly raised and pushes inwards when pressed. This provides much-needed tactile feedback, which makes for an excellent touch typing experience.
Mac users will appreciate the familiar Apple shortcut support, so you can quickly cut and paste, mess around with fonts and skip through your apps. However, one minor annoyance for UK users is the layout of the keyboard, which comes in US only. That means you have a dollar sign shortcut printed on the board instead of a pound sign. Thankfully you can switch to a UK layout using a handy shortcut key, which allows you to type a £ instead of a hashtag.
I did notice a couple of little ‘bugs’ when using the keyboard. For instance, while the on-screen virtual keyboard usually vanishes from the iPad Pro’s screen when the keyboard is unfolded and in use, occasionally the virtual board stayed put. Thankfully this was a pretty rare issue, with the board and Pro behaving themselves most of the time.
As a final note, attaching the keyboard to the iPad Pro does drain the tablet’s battery at a slightly faster rate, but several hours of typing on the Pro so far today has only reduced the battery by 40 percent. Without the keyboard attached, the difference is practically negligible.
So, is the Apple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro worth that steep asking price? If you’ve already stumped up hundreds of pounds for the Pro and you’re planning on doing a lot of typing, then yes. It’s a very well-designed and rugged board that provides a quick and natural touch-typing experience, complete with full support for Apple’s usual shortcuts.
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