Living with the Magic Keyboard and the iPad Pro: Battery Life is a Real Problem

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At least with mine…

I’ll say right up front that I think my case may be the exception, rather than the rule with the Magic Keyboard. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it is taking a major toll on my iPad Pro’s battery life right now. You can see a good example highlighted in the chart above, which shows me dropping a massive 50% of battery life with only 2.5 hours of screen time on Thursday. That time was split between working on an article and marking up some PDFs for work. That is downright terrible performance that I don’t even see during gaming or watching movies.

I mentioned noticing diminished battery life in my previous installment in this series, but the more data I get, the worse things look. For instance, the night that I posted that article, I dropped 50% of battery life during the course of my writing. I was careful not to overstate the role of the Magic Keyboard in that post, but the data I have since clearly points to it being the primary culprit. The question now is why.

So what is the problem? Right now I assume that the Magic Keyboard’s backlight is playing a leading role, but I am getting into testing that out in more detail now. Backlit keys have an impact on any battery, laptop or tablet. However, what I am seeing isn’t normal in comparison with any iPad Pro keyboard case that I’ve ever used. That includes the Logitech Create and the Logitech Slim Combo, both of which have backlit keys and use the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector.

I have manually turned the backlight on the Magic Keyboard all the down today to see if performance improves. Hopefully it will, because backlighting isn’t something I need all the time. I use my work laptop without the keyboard backlight on unless I need it. I have no issue using the MK without it on in good light if it will improve my battery performance.

I am going to start mixing in using the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Brydge Pro to see how iPad Pro battery life compares directly while them. My new Brydge Pro+ will also be arriving either today or Monday and I will be using it for review as soon as I get it. Hopefully they will help me definitively establish that the MK is the cause of these problems.

If you are reading this as a review of the Magic Keyboard, I would caution against that. This is just me documenting my personal experiences with this new accessory. While people have complained about battery usage, I am not seeing anyone reporting on the Magic Keyboard who is having the same level of issues that I am. That makes me suspicious that something else is contributing to these extreme periods of battery drain. Maybe my Magic Keyboard is defective. That seems strange since it works in all other respects, but it is a brand new product. Stranger things have happened. It could also be battery wear affecting my iPad Pro, but I think I would see that show up more in use without the MK.

So I will be making an effort to do more testing without the Magic Keyboard over the course of the next week to confirm what’s going on. If there is a problem with the MK, I need to figure that out now, as I would prefer to send it back to Apple during the 14 day return period than deal with warranty replacement. If it’s my Pro, then I’m not so sure what I will do about that. I had decided there was no reason to upgrade to the 2020 12.9″ iPad Pro, but maybe that will change if my 2018 model is starting to struggle.

Is anyone else out there having battery drain issues while using the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro? If so, have you found any solutions or workarounds other than turning the backlight off? If so, let me know in the Comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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13 thoughts on “Living with the Magic Keyboard and the iPad Pro: Battery Life is a Real Problem”

  1. No problems with the 2018 iPad Pro. No noticeable impact on battery live.

    1. Something is definitely up with mine. I did a little digging and saw where iMazing, which I’ve used for other things before, has a battery diagnostic for iPad. I downloaded it and checked its readings and it showed my iPad’s battery is still running at 94% capacity. That’s not bad for a year and a half of consistent use. So I feel pretty comfortable saying it’s not my Pro’s battery now.

      1. My current Magic Keyboard is still working well and still isn’t consuming the battery the way my first one was.

  2. I am having a similar issue. Definitely a problem with my magic keyword as I don’t see any issues without it or my old keyboard folio case

  3. As someone who is actively researching a first iPad purchase and working setup for authoring novels I’ll be watching your updates. I had already looked a little beyond the Magic Keyboard mainly because of full iPad protection features, but it’s still a very nice piece of tech to me.
    Thanks for taking the time to inform us all.

    1. No problem and thanks for reading. I love getting the opportunity to help Apple users out with questions they have.

      Even though I’ve been more critical than many other bloggers, it’s still a great piece of hardware. Buyers just need to be sure the way they use the iPad Pro fits with the Magic Keyboard’s more limited scope.

      If you do a lot of writing and won’t be using the iPad as a tablet in a place where it’s susceptible to damage, then the MK may be a perfect fit for you. I will he writing more about how differently it matches up with how I do things at home and at work soon. I’m also covering the Brydge Pro+ Keyboard with trackpad, which I just got yesterday, so stay tuned. And if you ever have any specific questions, feel free to let me know here or on Twitter.

  4. No issues with my 2018 iPad Pro 11 and magic keyboard. Battery seems absolutely fine. Been using for about a week. Still having the battery issues?

    1. Yes. Anytime the backlight is on, battery life is terrible. I was able to use iMazing to confirm that my iPad Pro’s battery is not the problem. It is still working at 94% capacity, so it’s not the culprit. It also isn’t restricted to users who are on the Developer Beta builds of iPadOS.

      Most don’t seem to be having this issue, but I’ve gotten enough responses from people who are having problems like me to know there’s something going on. Either there is a software problem affecting some devices or there are early MKs with defects.

  5. I just want to add my experience. I have a new 2020 IPad Pro 256 and magic keyboard and something does seem wrong. I closed the iPad/magic keyboard so it was on standby mode with screen off which should have hardly any impact on battery. A few hours later the battery had gone from 50% to 40%, so the keyboard must be draining the battery. Anyway others—keep me posted and I’ll keep checking back here so we can get to the bottom of this.

    1. Interesting. That is a significant amount. I have seen that happen once, but it isn’t consistently doing it.

  6. I currently use a 2018 iPad Pro 12.9″ with the Magic Keyboard. I have also experienced an increase in battery drain since using it. Previously I used the Brydge Pro, without trackpad, and mainly charged my keyboard battery from a separate power source. Therefore, I cannot comment on it’s long term affect on battery drain but I can say the few times I did charge it from my iPad, the drain was no where near what it is compared to my Magic Keyboard. All that to say you are not alone and to say I agree, something is not right!

    1. Thanks for your reply. Stay tuned. I think I’ve made some headway and will be posting about this again tomorrow.

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