Hands-on With the Apple Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro M1

Fantastic typing at a high price

Key Takeaways

  • The new M1 iPad Pro 12.9-inch is perfectly complemented by the carefully designed but expensive Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad. 
  • I ordered the Magic Keyboard in white, and it looks great, but I’m worried that it may show stains. 
  • Keep in mind that the iPad plus the case weighs nearly three pounds.
Apple iPad Pro with an M1 chip on a white Magic Keyboard.

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad transforms the new M1 iPad Pro into a roaring productivity machine, if you can stomach the hefty price tag.  

The new iPad Pro 12.9-inch is already the best tablet computer I’ve ever used, with its superfast chip and gorgeous display. But the $349 Magic Keyboard is a must-buy for those who want to use the iPad to create and consume content. 

Keep in mind that nothing has changed except the size of the new Magic Keyboard from the previous model. You may be able to squeeze the new iPad Pro into the earlier version of the Magic Keyboard for iPad if you already own it. 

"I’ve tried dozens of cases and keyboard combinations over the years, and they all feel cheap and gimmicky while Apple’s version simply works perfectly."

Stunning Looks

I ordered the Magic Keyboard in white to brighten things up, although I was nervous about the possibility of stains showing up. I was happy with how it looked out of the box, making the iPad Pro look like an updated Macbook. So far, both the outside cover and the keys have been resistant to smudges. 

The keyboard is a pleasure to hold in your hands. The plastic cover has an excellent feel, although for the price tag it should have been leather. The magnets that hold the iPad on the keyboard work with a satisfying snap. 

The hinge mechanism that allows the display to swivel for a convenient viewing angle is an absolute engineering marvel. I’ve tried dozens of cases and keyboard combinations over the years, and they all feel cheap and gimmicky while Apple’s version simply works perfectly. 

One thing to note is that the combination of the iPad and Magic Keyboard is hefty. The 12.9-inch version of the Magic Keyboard weighs 1.6 pounds, actually heavier than the 1.41 pounds of the 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌. Together the devices weigh about three pounds, which is more than a ‌MacBook Air‌ and almost the same weight as a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Typing Instead of Tapping

I’m a picky keyboard user, and I love the feel of the Magic Keyboard with its deep travel and springy feedback. I was able to type this review on the Magic Keyboard at my usual rate of about 100 words per minute with no issues. 

The trackpad is excellent but not as roomy or comfortable as the one on my MacBook Pro. For long work sessions, I recommend connecting a Bluetooth mouse or external trackpad. 

Using the Magic Keyboard has entirely changed the way I work with the M1 iPad. It went from a machine that I mainly used to watch Netflix and browse the web to being a genuine laptop alternative. 

The Magic Keyboard for iPad has backlighting for dimly lit typing sessions. This feature works very well and makes typing possible even in complete darkness. I didn’t notice any particular drain on my iPad’s battery life even while making extensive use of the backlighting. 

Speaking of battery life, there’s a pass-through charge port on the side of the case that can charge the iPad Pro. However, when you use the extra port, the regular USB-C port on the iPad is also available, which you could use for a monitor. 

One of my favorite features of the Magic Keyboard is its ability to prop the iPad up at just the right angle. It’s great for watching movies or reading books. The magnetic attachment feature makes it easy to take the case off and tote the iPad around by itself. 

"For those who need to work on their iPad M1, the case is a significant productivity enhancer and could pay for itself in the long run."

I’m now able to get serious work done on the iPad Pro, thanks to the Magic Keyboard case. But while Apple supports gestures in iOS 13.4 that work with the trackpad, keep in mind that not all apps have been configured yet. I’m a heavy Google Docs user, and it doesn’t allow dragging to select text.  

The Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is a significant investment, costing about the same as a low-end iPad all by itself. But for those who need to work on their iPad M1, the case is a significant productivity enhancer and could pay for itself in the long run.

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