I’ve written pretty extensively about my battery life issues with Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro at this point, both here and here. I started noticing issues within the first week of owning and writing about the keyboard case, but things got worse as time went on and I used it more, so I started paying closer attention and then specifically trying to test and isolate the cause of the problem.
In my case, the cause was related to my first Magic Keyboard’s hardware. I say that confidently now because my battery performance using a second Magic Keyboard has been far better. As I said in the previous article covering my testing, I don’t think the problem I experienced is widespread. I also know that such issues often occur during the first run of a new hardware product. Apple is taking good care of other users I’ve heard from who have also experienced hardware problems and I feel confident they will work the early kinks out of production and prevent this in the future.
However, there is another more common issue causing iPad Pro batteries to drain while using a Magic Keyboard. I haven’t covered this before because it wasn’t the source of the problems that I saw, but many Magic Keyboard users are finding that the backlight is staying on when the keyboard isn’t in use. In some cases, even when the case is closed. I have read a few reports of this over the last two weeks, but I would like to thank Federico Viticci (@viticci) for pointing out his experience with this on Twitter yesterday.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had the feeling my iPad Pro’s battery was draining too quickly. I suspected it was the Magic Keyboard’s fault, as reported by others (@iPadInsightBlog).
I just went into my bedroom and found the backlight was on. I guess that’ll do it. (iPadOS 13.5) pic.twitter.com/C5vuq6irsA
— Federico Viticci (@viticci) May 29, 2020
After reading Mr Viticci’s post and several comments from other Magic Keyboard users before and after, I believe this apparent software bug in iPad OS 13 is the primary cause of battery drain for most people. It stands to reason that this bug is likely to affect all Magic Keyboard users at some point, even if it doesn’t hit us all the same way.
That is why I felt like I should write a follow-up on battery life issues today. Considering that I recommended that iPad Pro users seeing excessive battery drain with the Magic Keyboard exchange their hardware, it is important to point out that it may not be necessary for everyone.
If you are experiencing battery drain that you aren’t used to while using a Magic Keyboard, then I recommend following a few of the same test procedures that I did to narrow down the possible cause. First off, I think anyone having problems should use iMazing to define their iPad Pro’s actual battery capacity. Rule out your iPad Pro first, especially if it’s a heavily used 2018 model, like mine.
After that, charge to 100% and use the information in Settings-Battery to track your battery drain while using the Magic Keyboard. Do this with the Magic Keyboard’s backlight on and with it off. You can turn it off by going to Settings-General-Keyboard-Hardware Keyboard and running the slider all the way to the left.
As I said in my last article on Magic Keyboard battery life, I was experiencing most of my drain while typing articles. During my test without the backlight on, I found that I was still experiencing far greater battery drain than expected. This along with my comparison test using the Smart Keyboard Folio pointed to my Magic Keyboard’s hardware being the cause. If you run a test with the backlight off and your battery drain issues clear up, then it’s far more likely that the software bug causing it is the source of your problem.
You can test this further by leaving the Magic Keyboard’s backlight off for a few days. If the excessive battery drain is gone, then your Magic Keyboard’s hardware isn’t the problem. While this is certainly an annoyance, I’m sure Apple is already working on a fix for iPadOS. Hopefully that will be released between now and WWDC. At least if you know this is the cause, you can turn the Magic Keyboard’s backlight off when you don’t need it to prevent excessive drain in the meantime.
As I said above, I believe the hardware problem I had with my first Magic Keyboard is far less widespread than the bug in iPadOS that causes the backlight to stay on when it’s not needed. If you are having issues, I highly recommend that you do a little testing before contacting Apple for a hardware exchange. I think it’s likely that turning your Magic Keyboard’s backlight off when it isn’t needed will be all the help that you need until Apple patches iPadOS.
Are you having issues with excessive battery drain while using your Magic Keyboard? If so, I would love to hear from you. Maybe I can help you figure some things out. Let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.