I’ve reviewed more keyboard cases than I count off the top of my head. I have covered Apple’s Smart Keyboard (hated it), Smart Keyboard Folio (disliked it), and Magic Keyboard (really liked it and still own it), as well as all of the recent iPad Pro models from Logitech and Brydge. I also covered many keyboard cases from several manufacturers, all the way back to some of the first for the iPad 2 in 2011 in my former writing position. You could say iPad keyboard cases are kind of my thing and have been for a long time.
After years of reviews, one of my favorite keyboard cases of all time was Logitech’s Slim Combo for the 2015 and 2017 iPad Pros. It combined a solid protective case with a quality keyboard that used the iPad’s built-in Smart Connector. What really put it over the top was the ability to remove the keyboard when you didn’t need it. You could keep the case and some protection for your Pro while leaving the extra bulk behind temporarily, which was a big plus.
I was pretty disappointed when Logitech didn’t release a follow-up keyboard case to the Slim Combo after the iPad Pro’s redesign in 2018. So, when I saw they were finally releasing a similar product for the current iPad Pro design with the welcome addition of a touchpad, I knew I had to give it a shot. The big question was whether my perception of the new Combo Touch would be different after spending a year with Apple’s Magic Keyboard.
The star of the show
The best feature of any Logitech keyboard case is always going to be the keyboard. That shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s used their keyboards before. Even with the more confined footprint, the keyboard case versions of their wares are always top shelf.
Even though the travel is shallower than most laptop keyboards, Logitech’s keys have great feedback. They aren’t too mushy, or too stiff, but fall right in that middle Goldilocks zone. There are few misses and no double-strokes. It works really, really well. As such, this keyboard is very comfortable to type on, even for long periods of time.
Another great feature of this keyboard is the backlight. Logitech was one of the first to include backlighting as a feature on its keyboard cases. Even though Apple FINALLY joined the party with their Magic Keyboard last year, I still prefer Logitech’s implementation. It has 16 levels of brightness, which can be adjusted automatically based on ambient brightness or manually via two function keys on the top row.
And that’s another feature you get with all of Logitech’s keyboard cases. Their keyboards always have a top row of function keys which are very useful. Any Magic Keyboard user who’s learned to live without them over the last year can attest to that.
With the inclusion of a touchpad, the number of times we are forced to touch the screen to operate and iPad and move through iPadOS has decreased. The function keys help even more with this, allowing you to lock and unlock the iPad, raise and lower the volume or screen brightness and change the aforementioned keyboard backlight brightness.
Then you have the touchpad.
This is the feature that I didn’t get with the older Slim Combo keyboard case, and it makes a big difference. Logitech says this is their biggest trackpad, which I can attest to. I have been using their smaller Folio Touch keyboard case on my 11” iPad Air for the last 8 months and this is Logitech’s first touchpad keyboard case for a 12.9” iPad Pro, so it’s naturally a little larger. It’s also larger than the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad.
Regardless of size, I have to say that I’ve found the touchpad on both of these keyboards to be the equal of Apple’s Magic Keyboard in most respects. The cursor movement is smooth, tracking is right on the money, two and three finger gestures work as expected. The only thing that I think the Magic Keyboard handles better is presses, as it takes a bit more travel and pressure to hold the Combo Touch’s touchpad down. That isn’t an issue for a simple press, but it does make other tasks like selecting text just a bit more work.
Leaving what you don’t need behind
Another great feature of this keyboard is that you can get rid of it when you don’t need it. Like the older Slim Combo, the keyboard attaches magnetically to the bottom of the case. However, the original attached directly to the iPad Pro‘s Smart Connector and that connector is now on the back of the tablet. The Combo Touch’s magnetic keyboard attachment is Logitech’s own design and that’s actually a notable improvement.
It holds the keyboard very securely, to the point where I can shake the case with the keyboard dangling below without it coming apart. I have to forcefully move the case in a downward motion to get the keyboard to come loose.
One of the few things I didn’t like about the older Slim Combo is that there wasn’t a way to deal with keyboard when you weren’t using it other than removing it. The old Smart Connector wasn’t capable of allowing the keyboard to fold around to the back of the device, so it was either keep it on, close it up, or take it completely off.
Logitech’s magnetic connector is also superior in this respect. While you can’t fold the keyboard back, you can actually do something better. You can remove the keyboard, flip it around and re-attach it facing backwards.
Then you can fold it behind the iPad Pro with the keys down.
The magnets in the case hold the keyboard in place, making this a great way to keep the keyboard with you while you aren’t using it. As long as you don’t need the camera this is a great way to carry it while still using the Pro as a tablet.
Making the case
My biggest complaint about Apple’s Magic Keyboard is its lack of versatility. It is designed to do certain things very well, but that’s really ALL that it does. Primarily, if you want to use your iPad Pro as a tablet, there’s really no way to do that without removing it from Apple’s keyboard case. When you do that, the iPad Pro is completely unprotected.
I’ve heard several iPad Pro users expound about how much they love this aspect of the Magic Keyboard’s design, but I am not among them. I can’t afford to use my iPad Pro at work without a case. There’s just too much risk of damage in the environments I find myself in. I even took to carrying an extra case with me for when I needed to carry my Pro around for taking notes for quotes and sketching on prints. That was not convenient at all.
This is a big reason why I find the overall design of Logitech‘s Combo Touch so appealing. When I remove the keyboard, I don’t want to leave the case behind. I and many other users want that extra protection for our iPad Pros all of the time.
As you can see here, the Combo Touch really delivers the goods in that respect. The case half of this keyboard case covers all but one part of the iPad Pro- the right side (or top, depending on orientation) where the Apple Pencil is charged.
That’s a small, but necessary concession that I can live with.
The case isn’t overly thick, but the rubberized covering over the iPad‘s edges give them enough cushion to protect against drops. There’s not a lot of screen protection from the case alone, but the keyboard does this job nicely when it’s attached and closed over the front of the iPad Pro.
One part of the Combo Touch design I go back and forth on, it’s the kickstand.
On the one hand, I do like that it offers a much higher degree of positional versatility. I can put the iPad Pro at pretty much any angle I choose, even really shallow ones that are geared more toward drawing or watching streaming video.
However, there is one downside of the combo of a large keyboard and a kickstand. Like the Surface Pro 7, the Combo Touch isn’t incredibly lapable. It can be made to fit, but just barely.
It can also take up a fair amount of room on a desk or other surface when fully extended.
These aren’t huge issues for me, as I tend to use the Combo Touch on a desk with room at work, and often while in a recliner or seated on my bed at home, which gives me the room to easily set it up. In both cases the kickstand is less of a limiting factor. However, if using a keyboard case in your lap is an absolute necessity, maybe this isn’t the most ideal keyboard case for you.
One other small drawback to note about the Combo Touch is that Apple Pencil is completely exposed while carrying the iPad Pro around in the case. That magnetic attachment is solid, but it can definitely be dislodged, which means there is a risk of losing it. However, I have to point out that the Magic Keyboard has the exact same design issue. Whichever case you choose, you have to keep an eye on your Pencil.
More than skin deep
The last key feature of the Combo Touch as a case is its look and feel. Logitech describes the outer covering as a smooth, woven fabric, which seems accurate to me.
It is quite textured, feeling somewhat like a hardback book covering. It definitely feels like it will hold up over time, which is definitely a good thing. The texture also makes the case very easy to keep a secure grip on, which I prefer in any case for an electronic device.
There is one more big plus of the Combo Touch’s gray, textured covering. Unlike Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboards, this keyboard case doesn’t show dirt or fingerprints. That may seem like a small thing, but Apple’s cases are notoriously difficult to keep clean, which is a problem if you are using your iPad Pro in any professional situations. The Combo Touch not only looks good, but is easy to keep looking that way.
The tale of the tape
Looking back in time at Logitech’s Slim Combo, it was my favorite keyboard case because it was a really strong product that really stood out at the time. However, it also didn’t really face that much competition. If you wanted a Smart Connector keyboard case and didn’t like Apple’s Smart Keyboard, it was really the only other choice in 2017.
Things are a little different today with Apple’s Magic Keyboard offering many of the same features and a really thin design. However, I still believe that Logitech’s new Combo Touch more than holds its own head-to-head. If you take the primary element of both products, the keyboard and trackpad, it’s pretty much a dead heat. In fact, if I had to pick one over the other, I would say Logitech’s keyboard wins by a nose. That means your choice between these products will likely come down to other factors.
I know that there are Apple fans who love the company’s sometimes slavish devotion to thinner and lighter at all costs. If you are in this camp, then the Magic Keyboard is probably what you want. However, if you are like me, willing to sacrifice just a little thickness and weight for additional security, then the Combo Touch is going to be hard to beat. This is especially true if you want to have the option to keep a case on your iPad Pro at all times. We’re not talking about a lot of extra size and weight here, so this small trade-off is definitely worth it for me.
When it comes to design, it’s hard to beat Apple’s Magic Keyboard. However, the Combo Touch is also no slouch in this department and if you want more versatility when it comes to positioning, it definitely delivers. Then you have the value aspect of the equation. The Magic Keyboard is at the high end of the keyboard case market, coming in at $349 for the 12.9” model. Conversely, the Combo Touch is priced much more reasonably at $229 for the same size.
I’m a big believer in getting the product that is the better fit for you. However, price can be a legitimate concern after already dropping over $1,000 on a new 12.9” iPad Pro. If that is the case, I can assure you that you aren’t taking a step down in overall quality choosing the Combo Touch. It all comes down to what you prefer and what you need in a keyboard case.
Who makes the best case?
It’s great to have more and better choices when it comes to iPad accessories. When Apple released the Magic Keyboard last year, Logitech didn’t release a new keyboard case with touchpad for the 12.9” iPad Pros and Brydge’s Pro+ flamed out due to lack of multitouch on their touchpad. I was a little worried that the third party manufacturers weren’t interested in the larger Pro anymore and Apple wouldn’t have much competition and price pressure on them. Thankfully, that is not the case this year, as Logitech showed up in a big way with the Combo Touch.
Only time will tell if Logitech’s Combo Touch will bump off their older Slim Combo as my favorite keyboard case of all the ones I’ve ever owned. However, I can tell you that I will absolutely be using it daily at work, and possibly a lot of the time at home, as well. It’s good enough that it will likely replace the Magic Keyboard for me most of the time, and in my book, that’s pretty high praise.
When it comes to choosing a keyboard case for you iPad Pro, it’s all about what works best for you. For me personally, the Combo Touch’s combination of a great keyboard and touchpad, extra protection and versatility is exactly what I’ve been looking for. The fact that it’s also priced over $100 less than the Magic Keyboard is a great bonus, as well.
The Combo Touch for the 12.9″ iPad Pro was provided for review on iPad Insight by Logitech. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.