The iPad Pro has all the horsepower you could ever want from a tablet and the Magic Keyboard adds a laptop-quality keyboard and trackpad to the equation. Anyone who has used them can tell you how capable they are. You would never catch me saying otherwise.
However, the price tag is a definite obstacle. We are talking about $1,098 for the base model 11” Pro and a whopping $1,348 for the base 12.9” Pro. And that doesn’t include the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, which adds another $129. That’s a lot of money, especially if the Pro isn’t your primary computing device.
There are some users who will need, or just really want the power and extra features of the iPad Pro, in spite of the cost. I can’t deny being one of those. While the new iPad Air has certainly moved the line on what’s available in a lower-cost Apple tablet, the Pro does still offer some features that you can’t get anywhere else. For me, the 12.9” screen is the biggest one.
That said, the more I use the iPad Air, the more I understand that it will be enough for the majority of buyers who want more than the iPad and iPad Mini offer. It’s a pleasure to use and other than the screen size and the difference between using Face ID and TouchID, I don’t notice the rest most of the time.
Yes, there are certain tasks that highlight the lack of ProMotion. If I’m streaming video content, I can absolutely tell the difference between having four speakers and two. However, for those who have never owned an iPad Pro and experienced those features, the Air isn’t going to feel like a concession. If you are an iPad or iPad Mini user, it will still feel like a significant step up in class. If you are a first-time iPad owner, it will probably feel like an instant home run.
While the iPad Air is compatible with the Magic Keyboard, I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in pairing one with a keyboard look at the Logitech Folio Touch first. I’ve been using one with the Air for a month now and I am very happy with it. The keyboard and touchpad are exactly what you would expect from Logitech. I’ve owned several of their keyboard cases over the years, and they rarely disappoint.
I will be the first to tell you that the Magic Keyboard has the superior design between the two keyboard cases. However, there are still some other things to consider here. The Folio Touch is actually more versatile in a few different ways. For those who use their iPads without the keyboard often, but still want to keep it in a case. The Folio Touch allows you to fold the keyboard behind the iPad for use while on the go, which is something the Magic Keyboard can’t do.
The Folio Touch’s kickstand allows for positioning at more extreme angles, which is another of the few shortcomings of the Magic Keyboard. Logitech’s keyboard case’s flexibility also offers a drawing mode that works very well in conjunction with the Apple Pencil.
Lastly, the Folio Touch also offers a lot more protection to the iPad Air when closed.
No matter how the features of the Magic Keyboard and Folio Touch line up for you, there is no question that Logitech is the big winner when it comes to price. The Folio Touch retails at $159.99, in comparison with $299. That price difference is enough to cover the cost of a brand new Apple Pencil, which is hard to ignore.
If the Folio Touch wasn’t a good product in its own right, this price difference wouldn’t really matter. However, as I sit here typing this article on one, I can assure you that it is. I honestly hope that Logitech will finally release one for the 12.9” Pro so I can buy one for my primary iPad. It would be better suited to the way I use my iPad at work.
The total retail price for a base model iPad Air and Logitech Folio Touch is $758.99. That is $339.01 less than the 11” iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard combo and $589.01 less than the 12.9” version of the same. Those numbers are going to drive a lot of buyers toward Apple’s new mid-range tablet and Logitech’s keyboard case over the next year. And if you are already sold on the iPad Air, you can still pocket a cool $139 choosing Logitech’s keyboard case over Apple’s.
For most iPad buyers, this is the setup I am recommending for the time being. I think the value of both the iPad Air and the Folio Touch for the features they offer is hard to beat. The iPad Pro may be more capable and the Magic Keyboard may have the more alluring design, but I think the majority of iPad buyers will be happier saving that money and still getting everything they really need in a tablet.