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iPad Pro Magic Keyboard review – Just when you thought the iPad couldn't get any better

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard review - Just when you thought the iPad couldn't get any better 1

When Apple unveiled its updated iPad Pro model back in March, it wasn’t the supercharged processor or new LiDAR scanner that caught people’s eye… it was the new keyboard accessory. In almost every image of its new tablet, Apple fitted the device with the stunning case – which makes the iPad Pro appear to float above the keys.

And now, one month after the new iPad Pro models launched worldwide, Apple has started to ship the eye-catching new accessory.

Here is our in-depth review…

First of all, let’s get the bad news out of the way – the Magic Keyboard for the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Pro is stupendously expensive. Adding it to your online shopping basket costs a hefty £349. To put that into perspective, that’s the same price as the entry-level iPad.

If that cost doesn’t give your credit card heart palpitations, there are so many things to love about this awesome new Apple accessory. Until you’ve had it in your hands it’s really hard to convey just how well-built it is.

Unlike most keyboard cases, which wobble around like jelly in turbulence, the new Magic Keyboard is so rigid you can easily use it on your desk or lap without any issues.

The design team in Cupertino deserve a slap on the back for the way the iPad Pro clips so neatly into the case. Ludicrously strong magnets snap the tablet in place every time and once inside the Magic Keyboard, you never feel as though your expensive tablet is going to come unstuck.

Once the serious work is done and you want to remove your tablet for some reading or Apple Arcade, apply a small amount of pressure in the right place and, hey presto, out it pops – the whole thing a design masterpiece.

Once you’re all clipped in, you’ll find a clever cantilevered design allows the iPad to magically float above the keyboard and, like a laptop, you’re free to tilt the display to any angle between 90 and 130 degrees.

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Of course, the whole point of a keyboard case is that it allows you to bash out emails, messages, and your next essay without needing to touch the screen.

Apple already has its origami-like Smart Keyboard Folio, which launched alongside the original Pro back in 2018, but the Magic Keyboard truly ups the ante. First, the inclusion of scissor mechanism keys means typing feels far more like a traditional laptop. Using these keys offers a satisfying tap as you punch each letter and makes using this full-sized keyboard an absolute joy.

In comparison, the Butterfly mechanism-style keys found on the Smart Keyboard Folio don’t offer the same MacBook-like typing experience.

When the lights get low, the Magic Keyboard will now treat you to glowing backlit keys so you can keep on working long into the night. Finally, there’s the addition of very good trackpad which, combined with the new iPadOS 13.4 software, brings the ability to move a cursor and interact with the screen without needing to touch it.

It’s worth noting that this is not the fabulous Force Touch technology found on the Apple’s MacBook range, but the firm has still managed to make sure you can click anywhere on this trackpad, which is good.

The whole experience the Magic Keyboard offers really is really first class. We’ve been using it for days on end and it’s easily as good as any keyboard found on a traditional laptop form-factor.

Having the in-built trackpad is also a very welcomed addition and really makes the iPad feel far more than just an expensive tablet. One final feature worth mentioning is the extra USB-C charging port in the case. Tucked neatly at the rear, it allows you to refill the Pro – via pass through charging – whilst keeping the built-in USB-C port free for other accessories like memory sticks or external displays.

When you’re done for the day, the case folds up neatly and offers full protection for both front and back of the tablet. It also disables the microphones for anyone worried about security.

There’s no question the Magic Keyboard is an absolute joy to use and adds an extra dimension to this already brilliant tablet.

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However, we do have some niggles.

Unlike the Smart Folio case already available in the Apple Store, you can’t flip the Magic Keyboard around when you don’t want to be faced with a keyboard. That means it has to be fully detached if you want to use the Pro as a tablet.

It’s also pretty heavy and once combined with the iPad it actually weighs more than a MacBook Air. There’s also no function keys, which is a real shame as it would’ve been nice to dim the screen, pause music and adjust the volume without touching the display – or searching around with the mouse.

Some might also be highly annoyed that the escape button hasn’t made an appearance on the Magic Keyboard as this can be really useful for all manner of applications.

Finally, Apple hasn’t made it very easy to dim those backlit keys at night. Admittedly, the clever ambient technology automatically adjusts the brightness depending on how light it is in the room but if you do want to change things manually you have to dig deep into numerous and very random settings.

It’s no deal breaker but it’s very unlike Apple to have made something so simple so unnecessarily complicated.

We guess our final point is – does anyone really need this £349 case?

Unfortunately, that’s a question really only you can answer. There’s not an ounce of doubt this case improves the overall productivity of the iPad Pro and, if you want the ultimate keyboard for your tablet, this is leaps ahead of anything that has gone before it.

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