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Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed May 18, 2021 at 10:19 am
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 Picture
6.2
Gaming
3.5
Mobile/Tablet
7.2
Office
6.3
Programming
3.8
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
Compact (60%)
Mechanical
No

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 is designed for use with an 11-inch iPad Pro or an iPad Air, or 12.9-inch iPad Pro, depending on the size you get. It connects to the iPad using a Smart Connector and uses power from the iPad, meaning you don't need to worry about charging it. However, since it uses power from the iPad, you may need to charge your iPad more often. While this also means you can't use it with any other device, it isn't meant to be compatible with anything other than the iPad. It has a USB Type-C port on the Smart Connector hinge for pass-through charging, so you can charge your iPad without having a cable dangling from the iPad itself. Unfortunately, it's quite heavy, which may not be practical when traveling. Also, while the folio cover feels very nice, it only protects the back of the iPad and not the sides.

Our Verdict

6.2 Gaming

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard is unremarkable for gaming, but it isn't designed for this purpose. You can't use this board with a computer since it's designed to work with iPads only.

Pros
  • White backlighting.
Cons
  • Can't set macros.
  • Compatible with iPadOS only.
  • No function or media keys.
3.5 Mobile/Tablet

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard is terrible for mobile use, but this is mainly due to its lack of wireless connectivity and since it's compatible with iPads only. This keyboard is only designed to use with the iPad Pro or iPad Air, and it uses Apple's Smart Connector instead of relying on a wireless connection. Otherwise, it feels very well-built and provides a good typing experience, but it's quite heavy. It has a nice back cover, but unfortunately, it only covers the back of the iPad and not the sides.

7.2 Office

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard is decent for office use. While it doesn't come with a wrist rest or incline settings, it has a very low profile that should feel comfortable without them. Its tactile scissor switches provide a good typing experience and are very quiet to type on. However, since it's for use with iPads only, you can't use it with any other device or operating system.

Pros
  • White backlighting.
  • Uses quiet scissor switches.
Cons
  • Compatible with iPadOS only.
  • No function or media keys.
6.3 Programming

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard is unremarkable for programming. You can't set macros to any of the keys, and since it's designed for use with iPads only, you can't use it with any other device or pair it to another operating system.

Pros
  • White backlighting.
Cons
  • Can't set macros.
  • Compatible with iPadOS only.
  • No function or media keys.
3.8 Entertainment / HTPC

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard isn't designed to use with a home theater PC. You can't pair it to any device except for the iPad it's connected to via Apple's Smart Connector.

Pros
  • White backlighting.
Cons
  • Compatible with iPadOS only.
  • No function or media keys.
  • 6.2 Gaming
  • 3.5 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.2 Office
  • 6.3 Programming
  • 3.8 Entertainment / HTPC

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
0.2" (0.5 cm)
Width 9.8" (24.9 cm)
Depth
7.7" (19.5 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
1.32 lbs (0.600 kg)

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad is fairly slim and very similar to other folio keyboards; however, it's quite heavy. Except for the weight, these measurements don't include the case. With the case closed, the total height is 0.8" (2.03 cm). The depth of the full board, including the overhang from the iPad, is 8.7" (22 cm).

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material ABS

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Air feels excellently built. 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. Thanks to its all rubber bottom, the board sticks to the table very well and shouldn't move when you're typing or using the iPad. 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.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
N/A
Wrist Rest No

The Apple iPad Pro Magic Keyboard is flat and straight, with no incline settings or wrist rest. However, neither of these should be needed since the board has a very low profile. It has a smooth, durable-feeling hinge that keeps the iPad in a floating position, and you can adjust the angle of the iPad, although we didn't measure the angles.

8.9
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
White
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
White Only
Effects
No
Programmable
No

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.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length N/A
Connector (Keyboard side)
Apple Smart Connector

While it doesn't use a cable to connect, it needs the Smart Connector to work with the iPad, so we consider it a wired connection. You can use the USB Type-C port on the hinge to charge your iPad only; the board uses the iPad's power to function, so it doesn't need charging itself.

0
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
No
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
No
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
No Batteries

The Apple Magic Keyboard 2021 doesn't have a receiver or Bluetooth support. Instead, it magnetically connects to the iPad via the Smart Connector. It doesn't have a battery and uses the iPad's power to function.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
No
Macro Programmable Keys
No
Trackpad / Trackball Yes
Wheel No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

The Apple iPad Air Magic Keyboard has a trackpad with the same gestures as the trackpad on a Macbook, like swiping to move back and forwards on a webpage, swiping with three fingers to switch between apps, and regular scrolling. Also, there's a USB Type-C port on the hinge to pass-through charge your iPad instead of plugging the cable into the iPad directly. Note that there's no function or media keys on the board.

Design
In The Box

  • Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad
  • User documents

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
Scissor
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
60 gf
Actuation Force
36 gf
Pre-Travel
0.8 mm
Total Travel
1.0 mm

The Apple iPad Pro Magic Keyboard uses tactile scissor switches that feel responsive and provide nice feedback. They feel fairly light, but they require a bit of force to get over the tactile bump. Unlike most switches, the reset point happens at the same time as the actuation point, meaning you can't hold down a key for it to repeat continuously.

7.5
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro provides a good typing experience. Its flat, low-profile keys feel stable, and although they're ABS plastic, they don't feel too slippery. Typing feels satisfying and responsive, thanks to the slight tactile bump of the scissor switches when you actuate a key. Although it requires some force to get over the bump, typing should still feel light overall.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Very Quiet
N/A
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
N/A
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

Our latency test only works on computers running Windows or macOS, so we couldn't test this keyboard since it's only compatible with iPads.

Software and Operating System
0
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name No Software
Account Required
No Software
Profiles
No Profile
Onboard Memory
No
Cloud Sync
No
Macro Programming
No
Ease Of Use
No Software
Software Windows Compatible
No
Software macOS Compatible
No

While there's no software or way to program macros, note that you can swap the positions of the Caps Lock, Control key, Option key, Command key, and Globe key in General > Keyboards > Hardware Keyboard settings. You can also set one of these to act as an Escape key.

0.6
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows No
macOS No
Linux No
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS Full

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad is only meant to work with iPads. The size we got is only compatible with the iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Gen) and the iPad Air (4th Gen).

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Apple iPad Magic Keyboard is available in white and black, and in two sizes. One size fits iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Gen) and iPad Air (4th Gen), and the second size fits iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, and 5th Gen). While we tested the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro 11-inch size in black, we expect our results to be the same for all variants. You can see the label of our unit here.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad is designed for use with the iPad Pro 11-inch, iPad Air, or the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, depending on the size you get. Since it connects to the iPad using Apple's Smart Connector, it has no battery, no Bluetooth, and no other connectivity options, so you can't use it with any other device, which is very different than other tablet keyboards we've tested.

For other options, see our recommendations for the best keyboards for iPad, the best wireless keyboards, and the best keyboards.

Logitech MX Keys

The Logitech MX Keys and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 are keyboards with low profiles; however, they're for different uses. The Apple is a folio board meant to be used with the iPad Pro and iPad Air only, so it isn't compatible with any operating system except for iPadOS. Also, it doesn't have a USB receiver, Bluetooth, or a cable, so it can't pair with any other devices since it only uses the Smart Connector to connect to the iPad. On the other hand, the Logitech is for office use, so it has a USB receiver, Bluetooth, and can pair with up to three devices at once. It's much larger with a function row and a Numpad, and it's compatible with many operating systems.

Keychron K6

The Keychron K6 and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 are compact keyboards but designed for different uses. The Apple is for use with iPad Pro and iPad Air only, so it can't pair with any other devices, especially since it doesn't support Bluetooth, and it can only pair through the Smart Connector. It uses low-profile, scissor switches that feel responsive and fairly light, but they require some force to get over the tactile bump. On the other hand, the Keychron can pair with up to three devices at once via Bluetooth, and it's compatible with many operating systems. It's also a mechanical keyboard that's available with a few different switch types.

Apple Magic Keyboard 2017

The Apple Magic Keyboard 2017 and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 are for different purposes. The Magic Keyboard for iPad is made for use with iPads only, so it uses a Smart Connector to directly connect to the iPad it's being used with. It doesn't have Bluetooth, so you can't use it with any other device. On the other hand, the Magic Keyboard supports Bluetooth, so it's fully compatible with macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. Sadly, it lacks the white backlighting that the Magic Keyboard for iPad has. Otherwise, they both use the same scissor switches that require some force to get over the bump, but otherwise, they feel very responsive and fairly light.

SteelSeries Apex Pro

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 and the SteelSeries Apex Pro are keyboards made for very different uses. The Apple is a folio board made for the 11" and 12" iPad Pro and 11" iPad Air only. It uses a Smart Connector to pair to the iPad, and you can't use it with any other device. On the other hand, the SteelSeries is a mechanical gaming keyboard with proprietary OmniPoint switches that let you set the operating force to your needs. It's fully compatible with Windows and macOS, and although the customization software isn't available on Linux, all of the keys should still work.

Logitech K380

The Logitech K380 and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 are both compact, mobile keyboards. However, the Apple is meant for iPad Pro and iPad Air only, while you can use the Logitech with any device that has Bluetooth. The Apple uses a Smart Connector to connect to the iPad it's being used with, and since it doesn't have Bluetooth, you can't use it with any other device. The Logitech can be used with many operating systems and can pair with up to three devices at once.

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