Smart Keyboards4.0 / 5
The first two Smart Connector accessories for iPad Pro offer very different keyboard style experiences, each addressing two different types of tablet users. But which keyboard is best, Apple's Smart Keyboard or Logitech's Create? AppleInsider breaks down which accessory is best for you.
tl;dr: Apple's Smart Keyboard is portable and convenient to remove, which we prefer. But if you want a laptop-style configuration and protective rear case, go with the Logitech Create.
Apple Smart Keyboard
Apple's Smart Keyboard focuses on portability first and foremost. It doesn't have a case to protect the back of the iPad Pro, acting only as a Smart Cover with integrated keyboard. This has its pros and cons: While thin and light and portable, it lacks a backlight, has less key travel, and only offers users one viewing angle.
Still, we came away preferring the official Apple Smart Keyboard over the Logitech Create. For us, the iPad Pro is not meant to be a full-fledged MacBook replacement. But in the event that you do need a keyboard on the go with your jumbo-sized iPad, Apple's keyboard is a great option.
Priced at $169, the Apple Smart Keyboard is the more expensive option of the two. Outside, it looks like Apple's Smart Cover, but has an extra hump to accommodate the keyboard hidden within.
Like the Smart Cover, the Smart Keyboard has a felt interior that cleverly cleans smudges and fingerprints off your iPad display when not in use. Closing it also automatically locks the iPad Pro screen.
The Smart Keyboard snaps on quickly and easily, and once the case is folded into a triangle to prop up the iPad Pro, you're ready to go. The keys are covered in an interesting woven nylon cover that is textured to prevent slippage, is sealed to protect against spills, and provides a rebound effect that replaces the need for physical springs.
Despite its thinness, the keys do still provide a soft, satisfying click when pressed. There's enough travel here to know exactly what you're pressing as you type.
We were concerned that the iPad Pro and Apple Smart Keyboard may not offer great stability while in use, but in our tests it was quite the opposite. In fact, we had no major problems balancing the iPad Pro on our lap with the Smart Keyboard, given its relatively sturdy, flat base and secure magnetic connection to the device.
In our iPad use, we just don't want a keyboard all of the time. That makes the easy disconnection of the Smart Keyboard yet another great selling point. The Smart Keyboard is easy to fold up and protect the glass screen on your iPad Pro, or remove entirely and stow away for future use. Plus, its thin and light design means your iPad Pro stays more portable than a MacBook.
At $145, the Logitech Create is slightly cheaper than the Apple Smart Keyboard, and actually packs in more features at a lower price. But those additional features add bulk to the Smart Connector accessory, making it less convenient for occasional use.
The Logitech Create features a protective case that covers the back of the iPad Pro, which the tablet must be snapped into to use. Inserting and removing the iPad Pro from the Create is easy enough, but it's an additional step that makes the keyboard less convenient to use than Apple's alternative.
If you plan on keeping a keyboard connected to your iPad Pro at all times, and you prefer the convenience of an integrated backlight, the Logitech Create is probably the better option for you. This accessory aims to make the iPad Pro more of a full-fledged laptop replacement, rather than an occasional keyboard for typing longer documents.
The protective exterior of the Create is a "ballistic nylon," with a nice, textured woven feel. It's akin to folio-style keyboards available for other iPad models.
The keyboard itself is recessed slightly, preventing the keys from being pressed against the iPad when the case is closed. When opened, users simply pull the bottom half of the iPad Pro forward to rest it on the Smart Connector, where it attaches magnetically.
Two indentations in the rear case allow the iPad Pro to be angled in two different directions when placed flat on a table. However, only one of these angles is able to be connected to the Smart Connector, leaving only one angle for typing and lessening the value of this capability.
As with Apple's option, the Logitech Create has a satisfying and secure magnetic connection to the Smart Connector when placed into typing mode.
The keys on the Logitech Create feel good — Â its hard-plastic, thicker design gives it more travel than the Apple keyboard, making it feel more like a true laptop experience. The dedicated row of keyboard shortcuts at the top is a huge bonus, offering quick access to search, media controls, and the home and lock buttons.
Finally, we'll note that we did have some disconnect and lag issues with the Logitech Create when the product first launched. Those issues have since been addressed in a firmware update embedded in Apple's iOS 9.3 beta. However, since iOS 9.3 has not yet launched to the public, users should be aware of those problems before purchasing.
Which keyboard is better will depend on your use case. Are you buying an iPad Pro as a full-time laptop replacement? Then you'll probably be happier with the Logitech Create.
On the other hand, for those who plan to use a keyboard only on occasion, Apple's Smart Keyboard is the clear-cut winner, and stands as our favorite of the two.
Apple Smart Keyboard: 4 out of 5
- Great ultraportable design
- Keys feel nice despite the thin form factor
- Easy to connect and remove in a snap
- Base is surprisingly stable for lap use
- $170 is a pricey accessory
- No top row of media/shortcut keys
- No backlight
Logitech Create: 3.5 out of 5
- A full-size keyboard that's nice to type on
- Integrated backlight and dedicated media/shortcut key row
- At $145, it's cheaper than Apple's option
- Bulky and inconvenient to add/remove iPad from case
- Two viewing angles, but only one for typing
- $150 is still too expensive