Magic Keyboard Side

Magic Keyboard Battery Drain- Is Software to Blame?

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Magic Keyboard Side

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.

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.

IPadOS Hardware Keyboard Settings

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.


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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4 thoughts on “Magic Keyboard Battery Drain- Is Software to Blame?”

  1. I have now had the replacement Magic Keyboard for over a week. I’ve spent much of that time collected battery use data with Apple Support. They tell me that I won’t ever hear back from them directly, but if there is a software related problem that was causing my excessive battery drain, my data might help them figure it out.
    I believe my battery drain is less with the replacement keyboard. I always have the keyboard backlighting off, I always have. I’m still not sure the battery drain is where it should be, but it is much better none the less now with the replacement.

  2. I have also been having battery drain issues with my 2020 iPad Pro 12.9 in. since I started using the Magic Keyboard. I really thought it was just me because most of what I was reading in the first few weeks didn’t mention any issues with the battery drain – not even in the tons of YouTube videos that I consumed. Honestly, I’m still not hearing others complain about this issue. I was really surprised to find your story in Flipboard.

    After reading your story last night, I did a few final tests of my own and then I called Apple Tech Support today to report the issue. They were very happy to help me run diagnostics on the iPad, which didn’t turn up any major issues with the device, but instead concluded that the contact points on the Magic Keyboard could very well be faulty, which is very hard to troubleshoot. The technician was nice enough to arrange a replacement keyboard be sent to me – I already received the shipping notification this evening for the replacement and it will be here on Monday. I’m amazed that they are getting this out to me so quickly. I’m just hoping that this replacement truly resolves the overall issue with the battery.

    1. It’s good to hear that they were able to help you and get you a new one shipped out quickly.

      If you want to see what others had to say, take a look at our Twitter (@iPadInsightBlog). There were two different discussions, one with Mark Gurman and another with Federico Viticci about this. Lots of people who had similar issues joined in and shared what they were seeing.

      You may not need this information now, but if you want to know what other ls were seeing, this is a good way.

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