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Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed May 18, 2021 at 10:19 am
Latest change: Test bench update Nov 29, 2023 at 09:32 am
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 Picture
3.1
Gaming
6.4
Office
4.2
Mobile/Tablet
5.8
Programming
5.7
Entertainment / HTPC
0
Raw Performance

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

3.1 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.
6.4 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.
4.2 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.

5.8 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.
5.7 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.
0 Raw Performance

Pros
  • White backlighting.
Cons
  • Compatible with iPadOS only.
  • No function or media keys.
  • 3.1 Gaming
  • 6.4 Office
  • 4.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 5.8 Programming
  • 5.7 Entertainment / HTPC
  • 0 Raw Performance
  1. Updated Nov 29, 2023: We've concerted this review to Test Bench 1.3.1, which adds a new estimated PCB latency test to the Single-Key Latency section and a new Analog test to the Switches section of this review. You can see the full changelog here.
  2. Updated Oct 30, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.3, which overhauls how key input is evaluated. We've added new tests for Single Key Latency, Multi Key Latency, Data Transmission, and Chord Split. We've also introduced a new Raw Performance usage and adjusted how the Gaming and Office usage scores are calculated. You can see the full changelog here.
  3. Updated Jun 21, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.2. This update introduces new Backlight Features and Backlight Clarity test boxes. We've also added a new Switches test box, added additional test comparisons to our Hardware Customizability test box that we introduced with our last Test Bench. For an in-depth look at our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  4. Updated May 31, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.1. This update adds several new tests addressing Hardware Customization, Macro Keys And Programming, and Wireless Mobile Compatibility. We've also added new objective evaluations to the Typing Noise test, and we've simplified several tests and removed several others that were no longer relevant. For an in-depth look at all our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  5. Updated Oct 28, 2021: We changed the size from 60% to 65%.
  6. Updated May 18, 2021: Review published.
  7. Updated May 13, 2021: Early access published.
  8. Updated Apr 29, 2021: Our testers have started testing this product.
  9. Updated Apr 27, 2021: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  10. Updated Apr 24, 2021: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

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 Combo Touch

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 and the Logitech Combo Touch are both low-profile folio keyboards with cases designed for use with certain iPad models. Both keyboards have variants available for the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the 4th-generation iPad Air, but the Apple has variants for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, while the Logitech only has a variant for the 5th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That said, the Apple feels sturdier and has better backlighting with individually-lit keys. It also has a somewhat better typing quality as its keys feel lighter and require less force to operate. On the other hand, the Logitech Combo Touch has a shortcut/media hotkey row the Apple keyboard lacks.

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.

Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad

Although both under the same Magic Keyboard name, the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 and the Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad are very different. The one for the iPad is a folio case designed to protect the iPad, it can only connect to it via the Smart Connector, and it has a trackpad so that it's like a MacBook laptop. On the other hand, the keyboard is meant for Mac computers, and it has Touch ID for compatible devices. It's also bigger, but there's a more compact variant if you need to carry it around.

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.

Apple Magic Keyboard 2017

The Apple Magic Keyboard 2017 and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 are designed 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 connects wirelessly via 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, offering a very similar typing quality.

ZAGG Pro Keys

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad 2021 and the ZAGG Pro Keys are folio keyboards made for the iPad. The Apple keyboard feels much sturdier, has much brighter backlighting, and has a built-in trackpad. Also, it feels more satisfying to type on thanks to the lighter tactile bump, not-too-slippery keycaps, and the standard shape of the keys. On the other hand, the ZAGG's case covers all edges of the iPad, providing more protection. Also, you can pair it to a second device via Bluetooth, while the Apple keyboard lets you pair it only to your iPad via the Smart Connector.

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.

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.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
Compact (65%)
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)

Update 10/28/2021: We changed the size from 60% to 65% because it has dedicated arrow keys.

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. If you'd like a folio board that covers all edges of the iPad, check out the ZAGG Pro Keys.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Curved/Angled
No
Split Keyboard
No
Key Alignment
Staggered
Minimum Incline
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
N/A
Home Row Height
6.3 mm (0.2")

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.

0
Design
Hardware Customizability
Replaceable Cherry Stabilizers
No
Stabilizer Fixation
Non-Customizable Design
Spacebar Stabilizer Size
Non-Customizable Design
Size Of Right Mod Keys
Non-Standard
Hot-Swappable Switches
No
Switch Stem Shape
Non-Customizable Design
Switch PCB Socket
Non-Customizable Design
North-Facing Cherry MX Interference
Non-Customizable Design
6.0
Design
Backlight Features
Backlighting Yes
RGB
No
Per-Key Backlighting
Yes
Effects
No
Software Controllable
No

This keyboard has acceptable backlighting features. Each key is individually lit, and you can adjust the brightness using the slider in the iPad settings, found in General > Keyboards > Hardware Keyboard.

9.0
Design
Backlight Clarity
Design
Cable & Connector
Connectivity Wired
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.

0
Design
Macro Keys And Programming
Dedicated Macro Keys Count 0
Onboard Macro Programming
No
Macro Programming With Software
No
Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Dedicated
Trackpad / Trackball Yes
Scroll Wheel
No
Control Knob
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. For a similar folio keyboard that has a row of dedicated shortcut and media keys, check out the Logitech Combo Touch.

Design
In The Box

  • Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad
  • User documents

Typing Experience
7.5
Typing Experience
Typing Quality
Key Spacing
18.0 mm (0.709")

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.

10
Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Average Loudness
33.3 dBA
High Pitch Clicks
No
Typing Experience
Switches
Switch Name
No Marketed Name
Switch Type
Scissor
Feel
Tactile
Analog
No
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Operating Force
60 gf
Actuation Force
36 gf
Pre-Travel
0.8 mm
Total Travel
0.7 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.

Performance
not tested
Performance
Single-Key Latency
Best Connection
N/A
Best Connection Std Dev N/A
Wired
N/A
Receiver
N/A
Bluetooth
N/A
PCB (Estimated)
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.

not tested
Performance
Multi-Key Latency
Connection Evaluated N/A
Key Press
N/A
Key Release
N/A
0
Performance
Data Transmission
Connection Evaluated N/A
USB Polling Rate
N/A
Effective Update Rate
N/A
N-Key Rollover (NKRO)
No
Multiple Keys Per USB Report
N/A
not tested
Performance
Chord Split
4 Chord Split Delay
N/A
8 Chord Split Delay
N/A
Software and Operating System
Software and Operating System
Configuration Software
Software Name No Software
Software Windows Compatible
No
Software macOS Compatible
No
Onboard Memory
No
Profiles
No Profile

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
Software and Operating System
Computer Compatibility
Windows
Not Compatible
macOS
Not Compatible
Linux (Ubuntu 22)
Not Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Not Compatible

The Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad only works with iPads.

3.3
Software and Operating System
Wireless Mobile Compatibility
Android
Not Compatible
iOS
Not Compatible
iPadOS
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
iPad

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). It's different from the Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad, which is a standard keyboard designed for the Mac, but you can also use it with the iPad.