Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) review


Does Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) need charging? Its durable lightweight cover protects both the front and back of your 12.9-inch iPad Pro. No charging or pairing required. The Smart Keyboard Folio is designed to deliver a great typing experience on a comfortable keyboard whenever you need it. Know more in Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) review.

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Pros & Cons – Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)


  • Command shortcuts are nice
  • Textures keys
  • Don’t have too charge it (plug and play)
  • Able to do portrait mode
  • Magnetic placement into the Folio


  • No backlight
  • Bounces when typing
  • No protection around the case, edges are exposed
  • Keyboard flex if pushed hard enough
  • No top shortcut row like Logitech or other keyboards


The Smart Keyboard Folio itself, meanwhile, is a pricey $179 for the 11-inch version and $199 for the 12.9-inch size. It’s the most expensive iPad Pro keyboard on the market.

For those use cases, you’ll want Apple’s keyboard-less Smart Folio, which sells for an extortionate $79 or $99, depending on the size of your iPad Pro. (Or you could do what I did and get the virtually identical $20-ish ESR Yippee Magnetic Smart Case, which I bought on Wirecutter’s recommendation.)

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) review


The keyboard itself is made of fabric, which is stiffened and reinforced to form the actual key caps. The keys themselves are covered in a canvas-like material that essentially makes key travel non-existent. Most of the time, typing with it feels like drumming your fingers on a tabletop.


‎Apple Smart Keyboard Folio measures at 11.46 x 8.94 x 0.91 inches. The Magic Keyboard case is noticeably heavier than the Smart Keyboard Folio and adds quite a bit of weight to the iPad (1.6 pounds versus 0.89 pounds). If you’re going to be carrying your iPad Pro around with the keyboard, it’s definitely something to consider. 


The Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio have no ports, at least if you don’t count the Smart Connector that’s used to attach the device to the tablet in the first place.

The Magic Keyboard has a USB-C pass-through port for charging built right into the hinge. You can only use it for charging, but on the bright side, this port frees up the USB-C port on the iPad itself for any thumb drives, wired mice, or other peripherals you want to hook up.

Available version

The 11-inch model in comparison is a bit more cramped, and certainly a tough experience. With the 12.9-inch, it feels — other than the material — similar to typing on your Mac.

When it comes to sizes and convenience when typing, there are two models to consider — the larger 12.9-inch model actually contains a full-sized keyboard, same as the last generation despite it being physically shrunken down. Apple trimmed up the extra space on the sides, retaining the full-keyboard size.

Firmly attached

The Smart Keyboard Folio hooks up to your iPad Pro magnetically. A series of new magnets are embedded within the back panel of the new iPad to make this work. These magnets hold the folio into place, but are still only magnets — a sharp jolt from a fall still is enough to dislodge it.


The keys are shallow with little travel and have a fabric-like texture that’s meant to be waterproof and spill proof. It’s not the greatest typing experience, but it’s passable.

Viewing mode

The old iPad Pro had two modes — a typing mode with the keyboard out, then a viewing mode that tucked the keyboard away and positioned the iPad at a steeper angle. This was convenient to use with a small footprint in a variety of scenarios and took up very little space.

On the new iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio, you still have this more vertical angle, but you have the keyboard out at the same time. This ends up occupying a large amount of unnecessary space.


Once you start typing, the keyboard feels really substantial. The keys have a wonderfully tactile sensation that’s hard to explain, sort of like very tiny ridges; all I can say is that I really like resting my finger pads on these keys even when I’m not typing. The keys also “travel well”, as keyboard lingo has it, pressing down a greater distance than the butterfly keyboard on the MacBook.

Can you use Apple Pencil

For reading or using the Pencil on the iPad in portrait orientation, you simply fold the keyboard around so it ends up on the back of the tablet. This seemed a little weird at first, until I realized that Apple had designed it so that the keyboard is automatically turned off when folded back like this. 

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) Performance review

The keys are quick, responsive, and easy to type on. They aren’t as satisfying as some dedicated keyboards, but once you adjust, you can touch type as quickly and as accurately as on your Mac. The Apple KB is light, compact and does not require Bluetooth. 

The keyboard is also designed to activate when the bottom of the iPad is slotted into one of the two indents that are used to prop the screen up at one of two angles. The indents are magnetic, so once the iPad is slotted in, it takes a decent amount of force to remove it. 

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) Customer review

Excellent iPad case

This case perfectly complements the iPad Pro. It looks sleek, clean, and professional. The magnets are very strong, and I don’t worry about the iPad detaching from the case. The keypad works great and is a nice keyboard experience. The two docking positions are practical and have a sturdy magnetic connection.

I wish I could give this case a 4.5 rating. I have three gripes that kept my rating at 4.

First, when the case is folded back, the keypad is on the backside of the iPad. So while using it this way, my fingers are holding the keys with my right hand. It’s not unusable, but it’s not the best or most comfortable grip. It can become a little bit slick after a while, too. It should be noted that pressing the keys while in this position does nothing on the iPad.

Second, there is only one color option. Surely this will change in time, but it’s not the case (no pun intended) right now. It makes it hard to distinguish between multiple iPads with the same case.

Lastly, it’s pretty expensive. Although it works and looks better than any other case, it’s still quite steeply priced.

All in all, this is a great case and is a nice improvement over the previous model iPad case. It makes for an excellent iPad Pro experience, and in my opinion, it’s worth it.

By djchavar at Best Buy

Alternate of Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)

Logitech Combo Touch for 12.9-inch iPad Pro

For most people who want to use their iPad Pro more like a laptop, we like Logitech’s Combo Touch, which adds a trackpad. The 4.4-by-2.3-inch glass trackpad set beneath the keyboard is as smooth as anything else we’ve tested and provides full support for Apple’s multitouch gestures.

Much like the Zagg Pro Keys, the Combo Touch stands out from the competition thanks to its typing experience and separable case, and you never have to worry about separately charging the keyboard since the Logitech model draws power from the iPad Pro via its Smart Connector.

The Combo Touch isn’t great for using on your lap because of its foldout kickstand, and it typically costs about twice as much as the Pro Keys. But it’s a better accessory than any trackpad-and-keyboard case that costs less, and it’s nearly as good as those that cost much more.

Editor’s recommendations

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