I first wrote about Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro a little over two months ago, right after it was released. I’ve logged many hours with this versatile accessory since then and I have to say that it’s been an interesting experience. My overall opinion of it has changed over this time, mostly for the better.
My first impressions of the Magic Keyboard were a bit mixed, to be honest. However, there was still plenty of good to get excited about. I loved the new and improved keyboard and the added backlight. The trackpad is small, but works surprisingly well. I never found the weight to be an issue. The functionality makes the weight worth it, in my opinion. The thin form factor when folded also makes the Magic Keyboard unlike most other iPad keyboard cases, which are often far thicker and bulkier. All in all, the positives have always outweighed the negatives for me.
However, despite all of the good, I still had reservations about some things. The lack of adjustment range in the rear hinge made some of my tasks at work more difficult. The inability to effectively use the iPad as a tablet with the Magic Keyboard attached was a bigger issue. Carrying the somewhat fragile iPad Pro around without a case at work just isn’t a good idea for me. I ended up carrying another case with me to work for a while to compensate for this, which is less than ideal. These two shortcomings combined with the Magic Keyboard’s high price tag were enough give me some hesitation in recommending it at first. I wasn’t sure if it was a good value for the $349 asking price for a 12.9″ model.
The biggest issue that I encountered early on was the Magic Keyboard’s negative impact on battery life. You can read about this little journey of discovery here, here and here. The short version is that, after some extensive testing, I ended up returning my first Magic Keyboard because I suspected that the hardware might be responsible for the issues I was experiencing. My second keyboard has worked far better in this regard, leading me to believe that there were a few defective units in circulation early on. However, it should be noted that there are others who have also had issues with some software glitches causing poor battery life, including the keyboard’s backlight staying on when it shouldn’t. That one never affected me, but it’s been widely reported. I’m sure it will be completely squashed eventually.
With the Magic Keyboard’s battery issues behind me, I’ve been using it a lot more over the last month or so. This extended use was also brought on by a shift in how I have been using my iPad Pro at work. My tasks have changed as my current project has progressed, so I am no longer using my Pro as much away from my desk. That means the lack of adjustment range and lack of protection when using the iPad Pro as a tablet aren’t a problem now like they were before. It also means I can now use the Magic Keyboard pretty much all the time without issues.
While I still prefer the feel of the keyboard and the adjustment flexibility of the Brydge Pro+, Brydge still hasn’t managed to iron out all of the inconsistencies with their trackpads. That’s unfortunate, because it’s a good piece of hardware otherwise and has a lot of potential. It also leaves Apple’s Magic Keyboard as the only game in town for those serious about pairing the iPad Pro with a serious keyboard and trackpad.
So that’s where I stand with the Magic Keyboard after a couple of months kicking the tires. While the price is quite high, I do think it’s worth it if you need the best combo of keyboard, trackpad and case available for the iPad Pro today. I don’t think I would have said that confidently two months ago, but I can today.
More use and time changed my opinion on the Magic Keyboard’s value. The issues I had with it early on didn’t affect me as much as I expected, so I am getting more out of it than I thought I would at first. Anyone who has done their research on the Magic Keyboard already knows how well it works and how good the design is, overall. The hurdle for most buyers is going to be value- how much will they get for their $299 and $349? After two months, I think people like me who want the best keyboard experience available for their iPad Pro will. Maybe something better will come along in the future, but for today, the Magic Keyboard is definitely best in class in both performance and value.