If your iPad Air or iPad Pro needs to go beyond the capabilities of touch and stylus input, you'll need a keyboard and mouse. You can go a couple of routes to get there: if you have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse handy, they'll probably pair with iPadOS and you can use those in a pinch. If you're looking for something a little more elegant and portable, you'll want a dedicated keyboard case.
The best keyboard folio cases are functional and portable, so you can type without any fuss from the comfort of your couch, or a coffee shop when you need to get out for a bit. You'll also want one that doesn't break the bank, since you'll be tacking it onto an iPad that most likely cost you a pretty penny.
Out of the eight keyboard cases we tested, Logitech's Combo Touch (available at Amazon for $159.99) is the best for getting work done on the go. It packs an impressive number of features into a relatively slim package.
If nothing but Apple’s first-party products will do, the Apple Magic Keyboard(available at Apple) for the 11-inch iPad Air and iPad Pro will also serve you well.
Logitech Combo Pro (iPad Pro 11-inch 1st, 2nd, 3rd gen)
While no keyboard we tested hit every mark of portability, protection, comfort, and versatility, Logitech's Combo Touch keyboard case came the closest. It's both a standalone case as well as a keyboard and trackpad combo that together turn the iPad Air or Pro into a Surface-like device that's great for getting work done.
The Combo Touch's keys are just as big as Apple's on the Magic Keyboard, and they're just as comfortable to type on, too. The square keys are backlit, and the brightness of the backlight is adjustable via function keys at the top of the keyboard. There are also function keys for things like going back to the Home Screen, changing the display's brightness, triggering Spotlight search, media playback, and volume control, as well as locking the device.
The trackpad on the Combo Touch is pretty great, too. It's wider than most other trackpads on cases we tested, and it's consistently responsive. Scrolling through web pages is easy and smooth, and the trackpad is precise enough for you to click your cursor between two lower-case L’s without straining your fingers.
The Combo Touch isn't only a great keyboard and trackpad that turns your iPad into a laptop—it's also a great case. When you're done with the keyboard, which connects to the iPad using Apple's Smart Connector (no charging or Bluetooth pairing necessary), you can pull it away and set it aside, all while leaving your iPad protected by the Combo Touch's casing. The case protects all four corners of the device and three out of four of the iPad's sides.
The part that isn't protected houses the Apple Pencil, but that won't do you much good if you don't plan on purchasing the stylus, and even if you do, other cases like the Zagg Rugged Book and Pro Keys with Trackpad have mechanisms for protecting or keeping the Pencil in place.
Just like the Surface Pro 8, the back of the Logitech Combo Touch keyboard has a kickstand that props the iPad up at a variety of angles. It isn't as easy to balance on your lap as something like Apple's Magic Keyboard, but it makes up for that in viewing angles. Where the Magic Keyboard's hinge has fairly limited (though mostly adequate) movement, the Combo Touch's sturdy hinge can move almost a full 90-degrees.
That's true when the keyboard isn't attached, too, which makes it a great case if you plan on using your iPad with your Mac via Universal Control, or want to use your tablet to watch a movie.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
If you're not a fan of the Combo Touch's Surface-like kickstand, or you just prefer something that more closely resembles a traditional laptop, you should get Apple's Magic Keyboard. It's more expensive than the Combo Touch, and it doesn't offer as much protection, but it doesn't require an app for firmware updates and it's easier to rest in your lap.
The Magic Keyboard attaches to your iPad with an array of magnets on the back of the tablet's display, and the magnets hold the iPad in place securely. There's a hinge about two-thirds of the way down the Magic Keyboard's back panel, and though it doesn't offer as many viewing angles as a traditional laptop, there's still plenty of range for most positions.
Like the Combo Touch, the Magic Keyboard connects to the iPad Air and Pro using Apple's Smart Connector, which allows for keyboard and mouse input without requiring a Bluetooth connection (or an additional battery to keep charged). The Magic Keyboard has an additional perk, though. There's a USB-C port directly on the keyboard itself, which doesn't handle data transfer, but it does allow you to charge your iPad without taking up the iPad's actual USB-C port, which does allow for data transfer. It essentially turns your one-port device into a two-port device without a dongle or USB hub.
The actual keyboard feels as comfortable to type on as recent MacBooks. The keys aren't as spaced out as on a MacBook, but they're about as big, which makes the keys easy to hit despite being so close together. Unlike most other keyboards we tested, though, the Magic Keyboard doesn't have function keys, so you'll have to get acquainted with iPadOS's shortcuts for adjusting things like brightness and volume, though those shortcuts are nowhere near as convenient as having dedicated keys.
The story's better with the trackpad, which is consistently responsive and precise in both motion and selection, even when doing things like editing text and dragging files around. There's also gesture support for things like returning to the Home Screen and quickly switching between apps. Again, you can do this on the Combo Touch with both the trackpad and function keys, but at least the Magic Keyboard still offers a way to go back home without having to move your hand and touch the screen.
Three things keep the Magic Keyboard from claiming the top spot: It's expensive, it's heavy, and it isn't very protective as a case. The model for the 11-inch iPad Pro and 10.9-inch iPad Air costs a whopping $300, which is a hefty cost to tack onto an already expensive tablet (the cheapest iPad Air starts at $600, and we only recommend the pricier 256GB model). If you opt for the iPad Pro, the cheapest model starts at $750, so you're looking at a total of at least $1,150 ($150 more than the entry-level MacBook Air).
It's also quite heavy for an accessory. At about 1.3 pounds, the Magic Keyboard weighs more than the 11-inch iPad Pro, which weighs a little over a pound. While the Magic Keyboard only weighs a bit more than the Combo Touch (about 1.2 pounds), the Combo Touch can be separated into two parts depending on your needs, while the Magic Keyboard is a single piece.
Lastly, despite the high price tag, the Magic Keyboard won't protect your iPad from damage as much as the Combo Touch or Pro Keys with Trackpad, both of which serve as cases in addition to keyboards with trackpads. Since the Magic Keyboard attaches directly to the iPad via magnets, you can't use it with a case, so even when the keyboard is closed with the iPad attached, the edges of your device will still be left totally exposed in the event of a drop or fall.
Despite being a great keyboard with a precise trackpad and versatile hinge, the Magic Keyboard's high price tag is tough to justify given how great some other keyboards we tested were. If you can get over the hurdle of the cost, the Magic Keyboard won't disappoint as a way to turn your iPad into a laptop, but getting over that hurdle won't be worth it for most people when the Combo Touch and Pro Keys with Trackpad cost significantly less.
Hey, I’m Jordan McMahon. I've been testing and reviewing products for nearly five years, starting at Wired, then at Wirecutter, and have been reviewing laptops and other portable gear for Reviewed since 2021. I also write a newsletter focused on user empowerment through technology, and use that mindset in my reviews to make sure every product I recommend gives readers everything they need to accomplish the task at hand.
In researching keyboard cases for the iPad Air and iPad Pro, I looked for those that offered a balance of utility and protection, with features like an iPadOS-specific function row, a trackpad, backlit keys, and a variety of viewing angles, as well as full-body protection when attached to the iPad, and protection or casing for the Apple Pencil.
To test each keyboard, I used each one for roughly a day's worth of work, attached to either an M1 iPad Air or an M1 iPad Pro, working in a text editor throughout the day, as well as sending emails and messages in Slack.
I also used each keyboard from a variety of locations, including a desk, outdoor table, and on my lap from the couch, to ensure comfort and versatility; The most comfortable keyboard won't be of any use if it's wobbly on your desk, and a sturdy case won't help you get any work done if the keyboard causes discomfort.
For keyboard cases with trackpads, I tested each keyboard for gesture support across iPadOS, as well as for things like scrolling smoothness and responsiveness in apps like Safari or Reeder (my RSS app of choice). Additionally, I used each trackpad for detail-oriented tasks like text selection and file management.
What You Should Know About Buying an iPad Keyboard Case
Whether you're planning on using your iPad mostly from your home office or intend for it to be your mobile workstation, above all else your keyboard case should be comfortable and enjoyable to type on. That means having keys big enough to type without error, and comfortable enough to get you through long typing sessions without any complaints. It also means offering additional functionality through things like OS-specific function keys (like changing the volume or media playback) and backlit keys.
A good keyboard case should offer multiple viewing angles, too. While most cases won't offer the same versatility as a good laptop hinge, some can get close, and you'll want one with enough variety to avoid glare from bright lights and adjust for your posture.
Since most keyboard cases don't offer the ability to work with an additional case, you'll also want one that offers protection for your pricey tablet, both when using it with the keyboard and when in tablet mode.
Finally, for cases that connect to your iPad via Bluetooth rather than Apple's Smart connector, you'll want a case that has good battery life—nobody wants to have another device to have to worry about keeping charged. Battery life of about a year is great, but anything up to six months should be sufficient.
Other iPad Keyboard Cases We Tested
Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad (for 11-inch iPad Pro)
If you want to get a decent keyboard with a trackpad that will protect your iPad without costing nearly as much as your tablet, you should try Zagg's Pro Keys with Trackpad. It's significantly cheaper than the Magic Keyboard but offers more protection, and its keys are comfortable enough to type out an essay without much strain. It doesn't have as many viewing angles as the Combo Touch or Magic Keyboard, and it requires a Bluetooth connection (plus a charged battery), but it still gets the fundamentals right while saving you some cash.
The trackpad works fine, but it's not as responsive or accurate as Logitech's or Apple's offerings. For instance, scrolling isn't as smooth, and there's some lag between when you stop moving your fingers on the trackpad and when the screen stops scrolling. It's not bad enough to tarnish the experience, but it lacks the polish of the Combo Touch and Magic Keyboard.
Despite those setbacks, Zagg's design has some advantages. Unlike the Magic Keyboard and the Combo Touch, the Pro Keys with Trackpad offers some additional protection for the Apple Pencil. On the iPad case portion of the device, there's a little cradle to hold your Pencil that's raised enough to keep your stylus from moving around, but thin enough at the bottom to wirelessly charge the stylus. There's also a foldable flap on the keyboard portion of the device, which folds over the side when the case is closed, to magnetically latch onto the other side and keep the Pencil in place.
While it doesn't offer as much protection as even the Magic Keyboard, Apple's Smart Folio Keyboard is the best keyboard to get if your bag is low on space, or you need to carry your iPad around with as little added weight as possible. It's the thinnest keyboard we tested and adds barely any noticeable bulk to the iPad when connected.
That lightness comes at a price, though: It lacks a trackpad, and the keyboard isn't anywhere near as comfortable to type on like most other keyboards we tested. Since it's in a thinner body than the others, the keys have significantly less travel (about the same as the butterfly keys on the infamous MacBook keyboards from 2015-2020).
It's not a terrible keyboard, but it's not as well-suited for long typing sessions as the Combo Touch or Magic Keyboard. That said, it's significantly lighter than both, and it's easy to fold back and get out of the way when you're ready to use your iPad in tablet mode.
Where Apple's Smart Folio is the least protective case on our list, Zagg's Rugged Book is the most protective case we tested. Unlike other cases, which try to balance a slim form factor with a fully functional keyboard, Zagg's keyboard takes the ruggedness of an Otterbox case and blends it with the functionality of a good Bluetooth keyboard.
It lacks a trackpad, and it's significantly bulkier than any other case we tested, but the keys are spacious and comfortable to type on. There's a function row for things like volume and media control, as well as OS-specific functions like going to the Home Screen or locking the device. Unlike the Pro Keys with Trackpad, it has a hinge, and it's more adjustable so you can get more viewing angles out of the Rugged Book.
The hinge means it works better on your lap than the Combo Touch, but it’s not as easy to close shut, and it isn’t as comfortable to hold in tablet mode.
Logitech Slim Folio Pro (for iPad Pro 11-inch 1st, 2nd and 3rd gen)
Like the Pro Keys with Trackpad, the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech relies on a back that allows for a single angle, rather than the more customizable options on the Combo Touch and Magic Keyboard. Its keyboard is spacious, and it's comfortable to use on your lap, too. However, it lacks a trackpad, and you can't separate the tablet and case from the keyboard, so its versatility is limited.
Brydge MAX+ for iPad Pro (11-inch 1st, 2nd & 3rd Gen)
The Brydge 11+ Max gets the closest to turning your iPad Pro or iPad Air into a MacBook clone. Its aluminum body feels nice to hold, and the overall design resembles a MacBook. The keys are mushier than on the Combo Touch, Magic Keyboard, or Pro Keys with Trackpad, and they're smaller, too. The trackpad is bigger than the one on the Pro Keys, though, and it works fairly well.
That said, it’s too expensive given its drawbacks. While its keys are comfortable to type on and the premium feel adds a nice touch, it’s heavier than other cases and it’s not as protective. Because you attach the iPad to the Brydge via a magnetic plate connected to the keyboard’s hinge, there’s no separate case to keep the edges of your iPad safe from damage.
Typecase Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad for 2021 iPad Pro 11
If you need a keyboard case under $100, the Typecase Touch is a fine option. The case feels cheaper than other options, its keys aren't as nice as other keyboards we tested, and the trackpad isn't as responsive, but it gets the job done.
You can't detach the iPad from the keyboard without removing it entirely from the case (which is more difficult than on the Brydge), but the TypeCase Touch does have a nifty rotating hinge that'll let you spin the iPad around into either a sort of tablet mode or a viewing mode if you want to watch a movie. The rotation works well, but the hinge itself is quite wobbly when the iPad is attached.
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