What are the best keyboard options for the 2017 12.9 iPad Pro?
If you've purchased the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, chances are you're looking to do work beyond the occasional viewing of a film or playing of a game. And should you plan to use your machine professionally, you'll likely want to pick up a physical keyboard to augment your workflow.
Note: Though the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro hasn't changed in its dimensions, camera improvements have altered the positioning of both the rear camera and its flash. As such, if you plan on using your iPad's camera, you may have to buy a new keyboard case. All the options below fit the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro; we've noted if they interfere with the camera system.
Hardware keyboards are great for iPad power users who need to write more than the occasional tweet or email: With one, you can take control of iOS's built-in keyboard shortcuts, navigate more efficiently through text, and type like a speed demon. Some keyboards also offer additional features like function rows to save you a swipe or two through Control Center to change your brightness, volume, and more.
Here are the keyboards we've confirmed work with the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Smart Connector Keyboards
If you want the simplest way to connect your iPad to a mechanical keyboard, the Smart Connector is hard to beat. You don't have to worry about Bluetooth, nor do you have to charge or connect your keyboard — it automatically pairs when you snap it to your iPad.
Unfortunately, these models come with a few drawbacks: They're often more expensive than a stand-alone Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case, and even in 2017, there are really only three options: Apple's Smart Keyboard, Logitech's Slim Combo, and Logitech's Create.
Apple Smart Keyboard
Apple's 12.9-inch full-size keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro using the Smart Connector and allows for charging and a two-way exchange of data — no Bluetooth required.
The $169 Smart Keyboard also folds into a slim, lightweight cover to protect the iPad Pro's screen when not in use. Its woven fabric keys do take a slight adjustment period, but as long as you don't mind the texture, you'll be typing away in no time.
Because the keyboard only provides a front — rather than a rear — cover for the 12.9-inch model, this keyboard will work with both the 2015 first-generation and 2017 second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Logitech Slim Combo Keyboard Case
Logitech's latest Smart Connector case for the 12.9-inch iPad isn't as simple to use on laps as its predecessor, the Create, but it offers more features, and at a lighter weight, too.
The new $149.99 keyboard case weighs 1.41 lbs compared to the 1.6 lbs of the Create, shaving a little weight off by splitting it into two distinct pieces: the top case, and the bottom keyboard case.
The top case wants to be a Microsoft Surface when it grows up: It offers an adjustable kickstand for multiple-angle viewing — great for desk use, but not so comfortable when using the iPad on a lap or softer surface. There's also a simple fabric loop at the top for the Apple Pencil, though it leaves the Pencil (and its cap) vulnerable to being banged around in a bag or snagged on outdoor elements.
The rear keyboard case snaps to the iPad Pro using a flexible fabric ribbon Smart Connector, which allows the backlit keyboard to stay connected at multiple angles — an improvement on the Create's single angle workspace.
The keyboard is as excellent as ever, with a full range of function keys; the 12.9-inch model also offers a fold-back panel to both elevate the keypad and keep the rear footprint from being too massive on a desk.
Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case
Logitech's Create keyboard case hasn't been updated for the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the 2015 version still works for most use cases. (When snapped into the case, you'll block the iPad's rear camera flash.) While a bit heavier than the Slim Combo and lacking a Pencil carrying option and multiple viewing angles, the Create offers an all-in-one solution that works better on laps — and saves you from having to carry around multiple moving parts.
Like the Slim Combo, it offers an excellent way to type — even in low-light environments. The backlit keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro's Smart Connector for an easy powered connection, while the rear case protects your iPad from drops, scratches, and other scrapes. It is a bit heavy — the case and iPad combined weighs just over 3 pounds — but more than makes up for it with its feature set.
The $149.99 Create's biggest "pro" feature is its function row: Like the Slim Combo, it offers a full set of keys controlling screen brightness, play controls, search, and more.
Bluetooth Keyboards and Keyboard Cases
Though these keyboards have to be charged on occasion, they often offer a cheaper entry into the world of physical iPad keyboards, and are usually lighter and offer more viewing angles than their Smart Connector brethren.
Apple Magic Keyboard and Canopy Case
Apple's $99 Magic Keyboard is a simple choice for iPad users looking to type on their iPad, but not a poor one. For one, if you have an iMac, you likely already have a Magic Keyboard lying around. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPad, offering a half-pound typing option with a rechargeable battery that lasts over a month.
You can even pair it with a carrying case that doubles as a stand if you're interested: Studio Neat's $40 Canopy offers a synthetic canvas and microfiber stand that both protects your keyboard when not in use and sets up as a nice prop for working with your iPad at an angle.
And because the stand doesn't protect or block the rear casing, you can easily move your iPad out of the Canopy and use its rear camera.
Keyboards we considered
There are a number of other keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro out there that we considered for this roundup, but inevitably discarded due to fit, finish, weight, or reliability issues. Those include:
- Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case: The Razer case fits the second-generation 12.9-inch, but blocks its flash. It's also the heaviest of all the cases we considered.
- The Brydge: The Brydge fits the second-generation 12.9-inch model, but has struggled to build reliable keyboards; several people I know (including Six Colors's Jason Snell received defective models at first.
Your favorite 2017 12.9-inch iPad Pro Keyboard?
Found a second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro keyboard case that you love and that fits the device well? Let us know in the comments!