Tech review: Apple's iPad Magic Keyboard is expensive but perfect companion to iPad Pro

The Magic Keyboard case for the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro comes with a cantilevered design. PHOTO: APPLE

Apple's Magic Keyboard case for its 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro, supposedly available next month, arrived early last Friday (April 17).

Those who ordered it Friday might have it delivered to them by this Wednesday (April 22). However, delivery has since been delayed till early to mid-May.

This Magic Keyboard comes in two sizes, for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (version tested). It doubles up as a case, covering the front and back of the tablet when closed.

It features a full-sized keyboard similar to that of the latest MacBook Air, with individual hard keycaps and a scissor-mechanism with 1mm key travel.

It is backlit - a first in Apple's iPad keyboard offerings - so you can finally use it in all lighting conditions. But the Magic Keyboard's biggest selling point is its integrated trackpad that lets you move the mouse cursor if you are using the iPadOS 13.4 operating system.

Unlike Apple's Smart Keyboard or Keyboard Folio for other iPads, it comes with a new cantilevered design that, in Apple's words, allows the iPad Pro to "float magically above the keyboard".

While it might sound fanciful, how it works is actually really simple. The iPad Pro attaches magnetically to the back of the case and connects to the Smart Connector - like how it works on the Smart Keyboard Folio.

However, the Magic Keyboard's back has a double-hinge design. The main hinge of this back - which connects to the keyboard - can be tilted up to 70 degrees from flat. Another hinge on the back allows you to tilt the magnetically-attached iPad Pro from 90 degrees to 130 degrees for the viewing angle you prefer.

Thus, it looks like the iPad Pro is hovering above the keyboard. To me, the best part of this design is it puts the screen closer to you.

The keyboard itself is superb to type on. The hard keycaps delivers a nice "clicky" feel, unlike the rubberised keycaps of the Smart Keyboard Folio. Plus, every key press exudes a satisfying clunk similar to that of its laptop cousins. I typed this review without much typos or mistakes.

The backlight brightness of the keyboard is adjusted automatically based on ambient lighting conditions. However, you can manually change the brightness by going to Settings > General > Hardware Keyboard.

The integrated trackpad, sited below the keys just like on a laptop, is comfortable to use, works smoothly and large enough for dragging the mouse cursor across the display.

This trackpad allows for some iPad-specific trackpad touch gestures. For instance, you can click with two fingers for a right click, or do a three-finger swipe up and pause on the trackpad to bring up the App Switcher for switching active apps.

Not to mention, there is a USB-C charging point on the left side of the case to charge the iPad Pro. So, the USB-C port of your iPad Pro can be used to connect to other accessories, such as a monitor.

In terms of "lapability", or if it can be placed on your lap to type, it is a mixed bag. If you rest your wrists on the keyboard, it is very much usable this way. But if you lift your wrists from it, there is a risk of the entire setup tilting and falling over if the screen is adjusted to 130 degrees.

The Magic Keyboard would have been perfect if it allows the iPad Pro to be rotated to the portrait orientation. But I am nitpicking here.

Instead, the biggest bugbear of the Magic Keyboard has to be its hefty price tag. At $439 for the 11-inch version and $519 for the 12.9-inch version, you can get either an Android tablet or a mid-range smartphone for the money.

Nonetheless, if you are already using your iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, the iPad Magic Keyboard will bring the iPad Pro closer to being a laptop.


- New scissor-mechanism keyboard great to type on

- Keyboard is backlit, finally

- Dual-hinge design lets you easily adjust viewing angle

- Integrated trackpad

- Comes with USB-C charging port


- Very expensive

- No portrait orientation option


PRICE: $439 (for 11-inch iPad Pro), $519 (for 12.9-inch iPad Pro, version tested)

CONNECTIVITY: Smart Connector

WEIGHT: 702g (for 12.9-inch iPad Pro)







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