What are the best keyboard options for the 10.5 iPad Pro?
The 10.5 iPad Pro is the Goldilocks of iPad tablets: Not too big, not too small. It packs all the great productivity features present in its bigger 12.9-inch cousin, all while retaining the portability of the standard 9.7 iPad.
If you’re hoping to do writing work on your 10.5-inch iPad Pro, you’re probably going to want a physical keyboard case as an option. While the software keyboard offers full-sized keys for a better digital typing experience, hardware keyboards are great for iPad power users: 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.
Note: The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is both slightly wider and longer than its 9.7-inch predecessor; as such, you won’t be able to use older keyboard cases made for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Models that only connect along the bottom (like the 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard) may still work, but not perfectly. We’ve noted this in any applicable products below.
Here are the keyboards we’ve confirmed work with the 10.5-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 two options: Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Logitech’s Slim Combo.
Apple Smart Keyboard (10.5)
Apple’s 10.5-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 $159 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.
Apple Smart Keyboard (9.7)
I’m going to note right off the bat that if you’re buying a new iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, you should get the 10.5-inch model up above. But if you already have an older 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard or you can get one at a discount, this is an acceptable alternative for a typing experience on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
The 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard isn’t a perfect fit by a long shot: Its smaller-than-full-size keys aren’t nearly as enjoyable to type on, and it doesn’t cover the bezels of the iPad when closed, owing to the 10.5-inch screen’s longer and wider casing.
That said, it’s one of the few previous-generation keyboard cases that you can actually use with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and that makes it at least worth a mention.
Logitech Slim Combo Keyboard Case
Logitech’s latest Smart Connector case for the 10.5-inch iPad isn’t as simple to use on laps as its predecessor, the Create, but it does offer more features.
The new $129.99 keyboard case weighs a slightly heavier 1.16 lbs compared to the 0.94 lbs of the 9.7-inch Create, thanks to two distinct casing pieces: the top case, and thicker 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, though the ribbon is a bit flimsy for my liking and can occasionally detach from the Smart Connector when working on a lap.
The keyboard is as excellent as ever, with a full range of function keys, though its palm rest and keyboard thickness is a little excessive — those looking for where the extra weigh on this case comes from can probably pinpoint it in this decision.
It’s definitely not a perfect keyboard case, but it’s currently the only 10.5-inch model on the market that offers backlit keys and the Smart Connector, so it makes the list. (For now.)
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.
KuGi iPad Pro 10.5 Portfolio Case
While I’m hesitant to recommend many of the low-cost Amazon keyboards floating around for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, KuGi has consistently received high marks for its cases — its iPad Pro 10.5 Portfolio case included. Unlike the Logitech Slim Combo, KuGi’s $32.95 case is an all-in-one shell and Bluetooth keyboard, with folding options to hide the keyboard away when using the tablet in multitouch mode. The case does require that you manually turn Bluetooth on or off to preserve battery life, but boasts a battery life of around 60-90 consecutive hours — which shakes out to around a month of use if you remember to turn the keyboard off when you’re finished using it.
The keyboard itself is slightly smaller than either the Smart Connector Keyboard or Logitech model, but remains comfortable enough to type on for lengthy periods. It’s not my first choice of keyboards, but it’s hard to beat the price. There’s also a magnetic removable sleeve for the Apple Pencil, if you need the stylus as part of your work setup.
Zagg Rugged Messenger Case
If you need a keyboard case with a bit more protection, Zagg’s $99.99 option provides a two-part case system made op of a polycarbonate shell and durable Bluetooth keyboard cover. The company claims the case can withstand drops of up to 6.6 feet with no damage to either iPad nor keyboard, and it provides fully backlit keys for use in all circumstances. Zagg estimates that you’ll get about 1-2 years of battery life out of the keyboard between charges — in part due to its intelligent sleep function that automatically disables the keyboard when not in use.
Even as someone who prefers the Smart Connector keyboard, I’m intrigued by Zagg’s model, especially in more rugged environs — this could be a perfect accessory for those who use iPads outdoors for mapping, science, and more.
Future keyboards we’re keeping an eye on
Because the 10.5-inch size is still new, we’re still looking at cases to include in this roundup. Currently, we’re keeping an eye on the following case — its hasn’t come out yet, but once it does, we’ll test and report back.
Your favorite 10.5-inch iPad Pro Keyboard?
There aren’t many 10.5-inch iPad Pro keyboards out there right now, but we’re keeping an ear to the ground to find and test the best ones. What about you, iMore? Found a 10.5-inch keyboard you love? Toss the link in the comments!
Updated August 24, 2017: Added the KuGi and Zagg keyboards to our roundup.
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