Why does Apple have so many iPad keyboards?
If you’ve ever thought there were too many iPad keyboards, you’re not alone. Apple has at least four, depending on how you count them, and that’s before you start looking at third-party alternatives.
So, what iPad keyboard should you buy? Each one has its pros and cons and, ultimately, it really depends on how much money you want to spend.
To help you be better informed, here’s a rundown of the options that Apple has for you, along with some affiliate links for Amazon (because nine times out of ten, Amazon is the cheapest place to buy iPad keyboards).
1. Smart Keyboard
Compatible with: iPad (7th, 8th, or 9th generation), iPad Air (3rd generation), and the iPad Pro 10.5-inch.
The Smart Keyboard is the cheapest of Apple’s current iPad keyboards, but it provides a useful option for several popular iPad models. It attaches to the iPad via the Smart Connector, so it never needs batteries or charging.
When not in use, the Smart Keyboard folds up to cover the iPad’s display, protecting the screen when you have the iPad in a bag or on a table. It’s compact and lightweight, but the back of the iPad is left uncovered.
When unfolded and set up for typing, the Smart Keyboard has just one typing angle, but it’s easy to get used to and not too uncomfortable. It’s also reasonably sturdy, although your mileage may vary when typing on your lap.
The keys provide a pleasant tactile typing experience. They are fully enclosed, providing good protection from dust or liquids. The keyboard, however, is not backlit, and there are no function row keys.
2. Smart Keyboard Folio
Compatible with: iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation), iPad Air (4th or 5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th or 5th generation).
The Smart Keyboard Folio comes in two flavors, depending on the size of the iPad you have. Functionally, they are identical, but it is available for either 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPads.
The Folio, as its name would suggest, provides better protection for your device when compared to the Smart Keyboard. It attaches magnetically to the rear of the iPad and covers both the screen and the back of the iPad when not in use.
The keyboard itself is very similar to the Smart Keyboard. That means no backlighting and no function row keys, but it does retain good protection from the elements and still never needs to be charged.
The Smart Keyboard Folio can be configured in one of two typing angles. This additional versatility is useful when typing in mixed lighting conditions or watching videos.
3. Magic Keyboard Folio
Compatible with: iPad 10th-generation.
Released in October 2022, the Magic Keyboard Folio is the newest iPad keyboard. It comes with a kickstand and a trackpad, and right now, it only works with the 10th-generation iPad.
As with Apple’s other folio keyboards, it attaches magnetically to the back of the iPad. The kickstand can be adjusted to whatever angle you prefer. This makes it one of the most versatile keyboards for the iPad, especially when you consider the keyboard can be detached when not needed.
The keyboard still lacks backlighting, but it does come with a useful row of function keys. These give you quick access to things like screen brightness, volume controls, and media playback buttons.
Below the keyboard, the trackpad adds built-in cursor support. This makes navigating the iPad more similar to a laptop. The trackpad also supports gestures for moving between different apps and screens.
4. Magic Keyboard for iPad
Compatible with: iPadPro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation) or iPad Air (4th or 5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th generation).
The Magic Keyboard for iPad is another keyboard offering that comes in two sizes. It’s available for 11-inch iPads like the iPad Pro and iPad Air, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The design of this iPad keyboard is quite different from the other keyboards that Apple sells. While it does fold up like a folio keyboard, it is most often used as a desktop keyboard and has the iPad “floating” above the keyboard portion.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad has some unique features, like a trackpad and USB-C pass-through charging built-in to the keyboard’s hinge. The latter allows you to charge the iPad at desk level and avoids cables dangling from the side of your iPad. It also frees up the USB-C port on your iPad for accessories like a microphone.
The Magic Keyboard also has an adjustable viewing angle. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can adjust this to any angle you want. The geometry of this design prevents you from tilting it too far back because that would make your iPad fall over.
The chiclet-style keys are again similar to the typing experience on an Apple laptop or desktop keyboard, and although there is no function row, it does have backlit keys. Saints, be praised!
5. The Other Magic Keyboard
Compatible with: All modern iPads
If you have an iMac or your iPad case has a built-in stand, you could take advantage of Apple’s “other” Magic Keyboard. Yes, it was created for desktop Macs, but it’s a Bluetooth keyboard, so it works perfectly well with an iPad.
The Magic Keyboard is a full-size keyboard with function row keys. Hooray! It’s wireless, rechargeable, and lasts for at least a month on a single charge. The Magic Keyboard has a Lighting port for charging and comes with a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box.
The chiclet-style keys are similar to what you will find on a modern MacBook keyboard, so you will doubtless enjoy the typing experience. The keys are easy to type on and don’t take much adjustment at all. I use one at work every day, and I love this keyboard.
It’s not an ideal solution for an iPad keyboard, but if you only find yourself occasionally typing on an iPad, this nifty device is a great all-purpose keyboard. It works on the iPhone, Mac, and iPad!
➡️ See it on Amazon
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