Which is worth buying for your iPad or iPad Pro – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard? The Smart Keyboard Folio is a comfortable keyboard when you need one, and it provides front and back protection when you don’t. Simply attach it and start typing. The Magic Keyboard features a floating cantilever design, allowing you to attach it magnetically and smoothly adjust it to the perfect viewing angle for you. Know details in Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard comparison chart.
Pros & Cons – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
- Extra USB-C charge port
- Adjustable viewing angles
- Responsive trackpad
- Sturdy, relatively slim case
- Spectacular keyboard feel
- Great typing experience
- Super expensive
- Case has limited angles
- Uses some iPad battery
- Won’t open up flat for folio-style tablet use
- It’s heavy
- Keyboard lacks extra row of function keys
- Incredibly light yet still feels substantial (not flimsy)
- The keys have a satisfying click to them and have no gaps in case of spills
- Magnetic attachments work pretty well (although it’s a pretty strong connection)
- No charging, pairing, or bluetooth connection required. The simplicity of use was the biggest selling point for me over less expensive options
- Works well when holding in portrait mode, which I do often
- Bluetooth keyboard covers are significantly less expensive, despite being less convenient than Apple’s version. You have to pay a premium to avoid pairing/bluetooth
- Only two angles of viewing, as opposed to the newer Magic Keyboard
- The keys are not backlight. Not a huge deal for me, but some people really need that (the Magic Keyboard is backlit)
Price – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
The Magic Keyboard is certainly impressive — but the admission price is steep. The Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch will set you back a staggering $349, and will work with the fourth and third-generation iPad Pro 12.9 — that’s the 2020 and 2018 models. The 11-inch iPad Pro version is cheaper, but only slightly, and will still cost you an eye-watering $299. It works with both versions of the iPad Pro 11-inch.
The Smart Keyboard Folio has the advantage of being a lot cheaper than the Magic Keyboard. The 11-inch version costs $179, while the 12.9-inch version will set you back $199 instead. The Smart Keyboard Folio will work with the 2020 and 2018 iPad Pro models.
As for the Smart Keyboard Folio, the 12.9-inch model costs $199 and the 11-inch model costs $179, while the Smart Keyboard costs $159. That’s an attractive difference, but keep in mind that you’re really missing out on a lot of features by sticking with Apple’s older design.
Both models of the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard case work with all models of the iPad Pro made after 2018. If you want to equip your 2018 iPad Pro with the new Magic Keyboard, go for it.
The situation gets trickier if you’re considering using the 2018 Smart Keyboard Folio with the 2020 or 2021 iPad Pro since the cutout for the camera in the 2018 model is too small for the square array found on the 2020 iPad Pro. Furthermore, the 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro is slightly thicker than the previous version.
Compare Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
|Magic Keyboard||Smart Keyboard Folio|
|Connectivity||Smart Connector||Smart Connector|
|Key Type||Scissor switch mechanism||Woven fabric|
|Arrow Keys||Inverted “T” design||Block design|
|Price||$299 and $349||$179 & $199|
What are the key differences – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard?
That balance probably comes partly from the Magic Keyboard’s most unique design element: the floating screen.
After giving in and providing a clamshell design and a trackpad, leaving both the Esc key and a function row out seems obstinate. You will still be reaching (or swiping) up to the Control Center to manage essential functions all the time.
It’s still possible to love the Smart Keyboard Folio, particularly as the design keeps the case thin and keeps crumbs and other particles from slipping in between the keys.
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. With the Magic Keyboard attached, the iPad Pro is closer in weight to a laptop than a tablet.
There is a USB-C port on the side of the hinge, but it only does passthrough charging, not data transfer. That means if you plan to use an external display or USB hub with the iPad, you’re still stuck with dangling adapters off the side of the tablet. But it doesn’t seem to charge much slower than just plugging directly into the USB-C port on the iPad itself, and — more importantly — it’s much nicer to have a cable back and out of the way if you’re just charging.
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.
There are plenty of system-wide buttons that would be useful there! Music controls, volume, screen and keyboard brightness, home, multitasking, search: all things for which it would be convenient to have dedicated buttons.
Trackpad support on iPadOS is great, by the way. The cursor is a little dot most of the time, but it quickly changes to a traditional text cursor when appropriate. It also expands out to become the size of UI elements like buttons or icons, sort of snapping to them when you get close.
the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad is better than the Surface’s because it lets you click anywhere on the trackpad, not just in the middle or at the bottom. It’s also smooth, accurate, and there’s zero lag on iPadOS.
Beyond clicking, scrolling, and highlighting text, you can use the trackpad for navigating the system. You use three fingers to swipe up to home and multitasking — or left and right to switch between recent apps.
Smart Folio Keyboard and Smart Keyboard don’t have this. That’s a massive advantage in the Magic Keyboard’s favor as you’ll have to hook up an external mouse or trackpad to get the same effect with a Smart Keyboard. The trackpad gestures are generally similar to what you would use in a MacBook, but there are some iPad-specific ones as well. Be sure to check out our dedicated how-to for more information.
You can tilt the screen from 90 to 130 degrees, which sounds fine on paper. But in practice, 130 degrees is not nearly enough. It can feel cramped, especially if you’re used to pushing a laptop’s screen back when it’s on your lap.
The Smart Keyboard Folio only allows for two viewing angles, and both are pretty steep. The Smart Keyboard only has a single viewing angle and is quite uncomfortable to use on anything but a flat surface.
What are the Similarities – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard?
It’s made of rubber, textured plastic that feels pretty stiff. It flexes a little if you try to bend it, but it doesn’t flex during regular use. The ABS keycaps are shallow and stable, and the low-profile design helps reduce rattle. The back cover also feels nice and solid, with a smooth and durable-feeling hinge. Note that the cover magnetically attaches to the back of the iPad and doesn’t provide any protection around the sides.
It has excellent white backlighting. Each key is individually lit, and you can adjust the brightness using the slider in the iPad settings, found in General > Keyboards > Hardware Keyboard.
It all works very well, and as you would expect from Apple, it works through magnets. The iPad very easily aligns with the Magic Keyboard and attaches firmly in place. It never felt like the device would fall off of the keyboard. And, thanks to the floating design it’s very easy to grab the iPad from the bottom and take it off.
According to my kitchen scale, then, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard weighs just shy of three pounds, about 25 percent heavier than the iPad Pro with the older Smart Keyboard. Three pounds is the same weight as the 13-inch MacBook Pro and heavier than the new MacBook Air.
The keyboard has 64 roomy, full-sized keys that use the same mechanism as Apple’s new laptops: scissor switches with a satisfying bit of throw that makes it easy to type quickly. The keys are subtly backlit without noticeable light leaking out from under or between them; you can alter the light level in settings.
As for the Smart Keyboard and Smarty Keyboard Folio, they have no trackpad or backlighting. 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.
The Smart Keyboard Folio also has the benefit of being almost entirely water-resistant. Apple makes these keyboards from a woven fabric that is stiffened around the keycaps. Because of this, no liquid is capable of getting into the keyboard itself, and the same goes for dust or other small debris.
How to use – Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard?
You don’t need a mouse for navigating through text, making selections and copy/pasting around. Try this (in any app) and before you’ll know it, you’re moving the cursor at the speed of light:
- Arrow (keys): move the cursor one position at at time
- CMD+Arrows: move the cursor all the way up/down/left/right
- OPTION+Arrows: move the cursor one word at a time
- SHIFT + (any of the above): to select text
- CMD+A: to select all text
- CMD+C: to copy selected text
- CMD+V: to paste selected text
If you don’t feel like touching the screen when you need to scroll a webpage, email, you can use the keyboard:
- arrow keys: scroll up/down precisely
- space bar: scroll down one entire screen’s height at a time
- SHIFT + space bar: scroll up one entire screen’s height at a time
Alternate of Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
Why you should buy this: A high-quality package offering a keyboard and a trackpad that costs a little less than the Magic Keyboard.
Who it’s for: If you want to spend a little less on your iPad keyboard, but still want a cohesive and attractive design and a trackpad.
Why we picked the Brydge Pro+:
If you want your iPad to function more like a laptop, but don’t want to spend a ton, then the Brydge Pro+ keyboard accessory is for you. You need to choose carefully based on the iPad you own though. The company sells the Pro+ model, which works with the 2018 and 2020 versions of the iPad Pro in either size and with the 11.9-inch 2021 (3rd generation) iPad Pro. The 11-inch version costs $150, while the 12.9-inch version costs $169. If you own the 2021 5th-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro you need the Brydge 12.9 Max+. It costs $250 and is available now.
The design is highly reminiscent of a MacBook’s keyboard, and when attached to the iPad tablet, the similarity to a MacBook is uncanny. It’s especially noticeable because of Brydge’s use of an oversize trackpad, which is much larger than the one fitted to the Magic Keyboard. The keys are backlit with three levels of brightness, and everything integrates with iPadOS using the Brydge Connect app.
The internal battery of the Brydge Pro+ will last for three months before it needs recharging, and the tablet’s screen can be angled up to 180-degrees, meaning it can be laid flat. The aluminum keyboard comes in a space grey color, and the package includes a metal cover that snaps on the back of your tablet.
If you like the look and the price of Brydge’s keyboards but don’t want the trackpad, the Brydge Pro doesn’t have one and costs $90 for both the 11-inch version and for the 12.9-inch version. Finally, if you don’t own an iPad Pro, don’t worry, as Brydge makes a keyboard for all models of the iPad, including the iPad Mini.
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