Will it live up to the hype or the high price tag?
While Apple originally slated the new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro for release in May after it was announced alongside the new 2020 iPad Pros, it was made available for pre-order today in Apple’s online store. The initial delivery window starts next week.
I was tied up at work today, so even though I knew that Apple had announced the new iPhone SE this morning, I was not aware that the Magic Keyboard had also hit the store until later on when a friend texted me about it. I pre-ordered immediately after I found out, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I miss getting one immediately. There are worse fates, especially these days.
That said, I just did a check tonight and the same delivery window I was quoted, April 24 through May 1, is still showing up. So if you are still interested, it appears there will be adequate stock at launch. As much attention as the Magic Keyboard has garnered for its interesting design and new features, this is likely due to the high price, especially with all of the economic uncertainties surrounding the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
That price tag, $299 and $349 for the 11″ and 12.9″ models respectively, is a very barrier of entry. While I always saw Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folios as overpriced for what you got, at least the Magic Keyboard has the kinds of features a laptop user would expect, such as backlit keys and real key mechanisms for a better typing experience. However, even with an appealing design, a trusty keyboard and a new trackpad ready to work with iPadOS 13.4, this hardware has a lot to prove because of that price tag.
This is an important moment for Apple with the iPad Pro. They are quickly adding more and more of the features that mobile professionals want to see in an attempt to lure more of them to the iPad ecosystem full time. This new Magic Keyboard is the kind of accessory that will complete that package, if it lives up to the hype. Apple needs it to transform the Pro into the perfect portable computing device, rather than relying on third party accessory manufacturers to do it for them.
The new Magic Keyboard isn’t make or break for the iPad or for Apple. However, if it hits right, it could mark an inflection point for the platform. The older Smart Keyboards prioritized portability over all else. Pros want that, but not at the expense of functionality. I just never felt like they helped make the case for the iPad Pro as a primary computing device. The Magic Keyboard has the potential to deliver on that, if the performance matches the hype.
The Magic Keyboard looks to be exactly what I’ve been begging for over the last two years. It checks all the boxes for a premium keyboard case, at least in the photos and on the spec sheet. It also looks like it will easily lap the field of third party keyboard accessories released over that timeframe.
Now we just have to find out if Apple really delivered the goods. $349 is a very high bar, but they have been on an excellent run of new and updated hardware products over the last year, so I’m not betting against them.