I love using my iPad Pro for taking handwritten notes, but there are times when I need to get my thoughts down faster than I can write by hand. For me, this means typing.
If you want to type on your iPad Pro, you need to have a keyboard. And you know me, if I’m going to choose hardware to use with my iPad, I want it to be the best.
To find the best, I test. Over the last few months I have tested several smart keyboards made to be used with the iPad Pro.
Here is what I found.
Basic Bluetooth Keyboard
Before my iPad Pro, I was using an iPad first generation. When I wanted to type something on my first-gen iPad, I used a small aluminum bluetooth keyboard. It was a proper keyboard, but it wasn’t attached to the iPad case, so I had to carry it around in my backpack. It was a good option for the best typing experience, but not as compact as some would like.
For typing with a first-gen iPad or an iPad 2018, you can’t use the smart keyboard, so these bluetooth keyboards are a good option.
Apple Smart Keyboard
Since getting my iPad Pro, I have tested several smart keyboards that are incorporated into a case to add convenience to the typing experience.
First up—the Smart Keyboard from Apple. It was a pricey buy at 180 euros (about 212.00 USD).
I noticed there were some poor reviews on this keyboard, so I wanted to find out for myself what it is like to use.
Some complaints I read were about the feel of the keys while typing. I find that I don’t mind the feeling of the keys. This key “feel” is typical of this design and to be expected. It works fine, in my opinion.
The Smart Keyboard has the smart connector that easily attaches to your iPad, allowing the case and keyboard to simply wrap around the iPad with a click. Now the iPad is covered, and you have a keyboard that is ready to use.
The case does not extend to the back of the iPad. It is very slim and light. The front cover of the case folds around the back of the iPad to serve as a stand to elevate the iPad so you can see the screen while you type.
This case has no place to store your Apple Pencil. There is a magnetic place on the front of the case that will keep the pencil from rolling around, but it isn’t a place you can store the pencil safely.
You could add a strap that has a place to keep the Apple Pencil, but I feel that it is still too exposed for me to feel secure about using it.
A workaround for this problem is using a coverless version of my favorite iPad case (reviewed here).
It is a hardback case with a slot in the side for the Apple Pencil.
You can attach this case to the back of the iPad, and still use the smart keyboard case on the front. The fit is good, and you now have a smart keyboard with a place to store your Apple Pencil.
The thing about this arrangement that I don’t like is there is only one angle you can use with this case. That is the angle that is good for typing. If you want to do any writing with your Apple Pencil on the iPad screen, there isn’t an angle that will work. Even if you try to lay it flat for handwriting, the case just gets in the way.
Logitech Slim Combo Smart Keyboard
Get it here
The Logitech case combined with the smart keyboard is solid and sturdy. But that sturdiness comes with a downside. It makes the iPad heavy. One of the reasons we use an iPad is the convenience of a lightweight portable tablet.
My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to weigh the iPad with the Logitech case and smart keyboard attached. I found that this combination weighs more than my MacBook Air!
The front of the case tends to show more dirt and wear than the other cases I tried, making it look old and worn-out.
The back of the case has a nice stand that folds out to give you a nice viewing angle, with the emphasis on viewing. If you try to use your Apple Pencil to write on the iPad screen while the stand is up, it will wobble and not support the weight of your hand.
The Logitech Smart Keyboard is cheaper than the Apple Smart Keyboard, has a nice keyboard feel, and even has a backlight.
The keyboard has the extra function keys you’re used to using on a regular keyboard, although I find these features aren’t necessary since you can access them on your iPad with the swipe of a finger.
The Logitech case has a loop on the side to store your Apple Pencil, but I find that the pencil is too exposed. The top and bottom of the pencil stick out, leaving it open to getting snagged or broken.
These keyboard options were both fine, but I felt like I got more frustration than convenience from them. So I removed them and went back to using my favorite iPad case with no keyboard.
Up to this point, I was left disappointed with the options available for adding a keyboard to my iPad Pro.
Then, I received a wonderful video from Paperless Movement community member, Rhonda McKown.
In the video, Rhonda introduced me to the keyboard she uses with her iPad Pro, the iClever Wireless Folding Keyboard.
I had to give it a try.
Now, part of the trouble I had with the other keyboards I tested is that they are incorporated into a case you attach to the iPad. You would think this is logical—you need a keyboard so it makes sense to have it attached to the iPad case.
But I was finding that this was actually the problem with theses keyboards. The design challenges that come with adding a keyboard to a case were too cumbersome to ignore.
The iClever is different.
Get it here
This folding keyboard doesn’t attach to a case. It is a small keyboard that is used on its own (kind of like the aluminum keyboard I started with). Since it folds up, you can keep it in your backpack and take it out only when you need it. The folding design, with magnetic closure, also protects the keyboard when not in use.
It has a full keyboard, including function keys and up/down arrows. And the feeling of the keys… wonderful! You get the same “feedback” feel and sound that comes from a standard keyboard.
The keyboard is split down the center to facilitate folding. The extra space down the center adds a bit more length to the keyboard for more finger room than the tiny keyboards you sometimes see available for iPads. Some users who use the “hunt-and-peck” typing method might not like the split keyboard, but for a person who has learned to type properly, this design is very efficient.
It’s a bluetooth connection, not a wireless connection, meaning you can also use it with your iPad 2018, or anything that uses a bluetooth connection.
After putting it through a proper test, which you can see on this YouTube video, I have to say that this is the keyboard I have been looking for.
The iClever Folding Keyboard is the best keyboard to use with my iPad Pro or iPad 2018.
A big thanks to Rhonda for sharing her finding with our Paperless Movement community! It just goes to show you that we’re all better together.
Be sure to join in the conversation by leaving comments in the blog, on the YouTube Channel, or join the Paperless Movement Facebook group.