ZAGG Mini 9 keyboard case for the iPad mini review

ZAGG Mini 9 keyboard case for the iPad mini review

Summary: It's not as thin as the iPad mini but the Mini 9 case protects the tablet and adds a good keyboard from ZAGG.

TOPICS: Reviews, iPad
In use 600

I don't set out each day planning to get some work done with a tablet, but when the opportunity presents itself on the run it's nice to have a good keyboard in the bag. When you write for a living the worst thing that can happen is to have an idea come up with no good way to capture it on the fly.

I am a big fan of the keyboards from ZAGG, the ZAGGfolio keyboard/case is one of my favorites for the iPad. I recently reviewed their ZAGGkeys Flex keyboard and found the keyboard to be as high quality as their other products.

Box 300

I had been thinking about getting a case for my iPad mini to keep it protected in my gear bag. The first place I looked was on the ZAGG web site and the Mini 9 seemed to be a perfect fit for my lifestyle. It is a hard shell case that has one of the ZAGG keyboards mounted inside, turning the iPad mini into a real workhorse like the bigger iPad.

I had to make a quick decision as ZAGG has two sizes of the Mini for the iPad mini. The Mini 7 case is just the right size for the little tablet but with a small keyboard to fit the package. The Mini 9 case is a little wider than the iPad mini in landscape orientation thus allowing a regular-sized ZAGG keyboard to fit in the case.

I went with the Mini 9 for that nice-sized keyboard and so far I'm glad I did. While not quite full-sized the ZAGG keyboards are as small as possible while retaining the ability for fast touch typing.

The Mini 9 is a clamshell portfolio with a hard shell on one side for the iPad mini and a wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard on the other. The case has a flip kickstand on the back that props the iPad mini up for use at a good viewing angle, unlike the stand on the ZAGGkeys Flex as I noted in the review. The entire unit is covered with fake black leather that feels good in the hand and is nice and grippy.

Putting the tablet in the case looks easy on the video on the ZAGG web site but in reality it's pretty hard to do. The iPad mini fits very snugly when inserted in the case and it feels awkward to get in there properly. It's just as hard to remove the iPad mini from the case. I hope with use the fit will get a little looser as I like to take the tablet out of the case for use without the keyboard.

Side view 300

Once in the case there is no danger of the iPad mini falling out so it is secure. The entire case closes like a book with the mini inserted. There is no Smart Cover functionality to turn the iPad mini on and off as on other cases, and this case doesn't snap closed. Both sides of the case fit together nicely but nothing is holding it closed.

Since the Mini 9 case is wider than the iPad mini there is a strange space on both sides of the tablet when inserted. This space allows access to the power button on the iPad mini, albeit awkardly, and to the power port on the bottom. There is a cutout on the back of the case for the iPad camera and on the side for access to the mute button and volume controls.

It only takes a second to pair the Mini 9 with the iPad mini and then you're good to go. The full QWERTY keyboard you expect is there including a top row of special iPad function keys. There's a Home key, cut/copy/paste keys, media player control keys and a key that turns the screen on and off.

There is a battery check key on the lower left of the keyboard that causes the power indicator to display the charge status when pressed. This indicator also signals when the power is turned on and off while using the keyboard.

Like all ZAGG keyboards I have used this one should get months of use on a charge. The keyboard automatically goes in standby when not used for a while to conserve the battery. The power button can be used to turn it off manually if it's not going to be used for a while.

Keyboard 600

Typing on the Mini 9 is great. I can type at full speed with ease and quickly get things done when I have a few minutes. The keyboard makes all the difference in the world for my work compared to the iPad mini's onscreen keyboard.

I don't recommend others buy a tablet and a keyboard for a work machine as it makes more sense to just use a laptop. I do find keyboards like the Mini 9 to be a good addition for those who already have an iPad mini and who would like to do some heavy writing from time to time.

The Mini 9 is available from ZAGG for $89.99. It's not the cheapest keyboard you can get but it's a full protective case in addition to the keyboard. The case adds a lot of bulk and weight to the thin, light iPad mini in exchange for the protection and functionality it adds.

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Topics: Reviews, iPad

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  • Belkin smaller size and easy access vs Zagg larger size


    Thanks for the review of Zagg's Mini 9. I seriously considered this unit before deciding to order the Belkin keyboard case for the Mini. I'm using it right now. I wanted to address your comments on the Zagg case with regard to ease of access and size.

    In terms of keyboard size, the Belkin is comparable to my Fujitsu P1630 for all the letters, shift, comma, and enter keys. When adding an apostrophy, question mark, or other special character you're going to have to take a little time to memorize a new hand move. These little adjustments are things that I'm sure you're familiar with. I would imagine the Zagg keyboard doesn't force these little adjustments. However, I still find that the Belkin allows a huge improvement on speed over the onscreen mini keyboard. Just the ability to rest your fingers on a keyboard alone makes the comfort level go way up for me.

    Now, as far as ease of use, I wonder if this isn't where you would find the greatest delineator between these two units. The Belkin design has a very sturdy track on one side that the mini slides in and out of very easily. When typing, this is all that holds the mini in the case and it does it well. When packing up, the stand flap is flipped up to recover the top half of the mini back and there is a stiff but soft rubber lip that nicely attaches to the other side of the mini to hold it in place. Then, the keyboard is closed against the mini clamshell-style and the extra 2 inches of flap wraps around the entire package and is held to the front by a magnetic strip all along the edge of the flap. I think it's quite nice and has a professional portfolio feel.

    Just my two cents. I may order the Zagg to compare, because it sounds like the Zagg keyboard is optimal typing functionality. But, the ease of access is important to me too and I really like being able to easily pull the mini out of the case and enjoy the mini without a case in places where I'm not worried about dropping it relaxing at home.

    Hope all is well with you, James. You've been keeping it real for a long time now and I always seek your input on mobile tech.


    Austin, TX
    • Keyboard over portability

      Thanks for word on the Belkin, I'll have to check it out. For me, I do so much writing that the keyboard is the most important criteria. The ZAGG keyboards are first-rate in that respect.
      • Same use cases, different decade

        James, I totally get where you're coming from; and, as you've consistently stated over the years, "mileage may vary". If I am traveling with a backpack I am going to seriously consider throwing my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard in the mix for typing comfort.

        I like the Belkin's portability for when I'm on the go and traveling light, but the 7" range of keyboards certainly forces trade-offs.

        Clearly, if I wrote as much as you must do I would make the same prioritization. At the end of the day, we all have to work within the confines of the "hands" God dealt us...and until some other form of input replaces it, the keyboard is king.

        Its nice to be presented with lots of choices; it makes for good personalization!

    • techknowsit
      Maybe getting the Megagear keyboard case for the iPad mini is even better at a quarter of the price
      Aldwin Chan
  • James, I think you've succeeded

    If your goal were to create a thicker, heavier version of the Microsoft Surface RT that had a keyboard that runs out of power, a case that needs to be stored somewhere when not in use, doesn't have a precision pointer device, doesn't support Office, with a smaller screen, you've succeeded. Congratulations. Your solution doesn't sound at all frustrating and doesn't look at all like a tweener device. Honest. /s

    BTW Did you hear that your favorite Android tablet, the Nexus 7, a tablet you gave rave reviews to, has an issue where all app updates fail when you update the OS? Don't know if you ran into that at all but it reminds me of something you wrote about the Surface regarding how much tablets that have app update issues suck:
    "I fired up the store app and told it to update them. It went through download and install indicators only to give me the following error for every one of these apps: "Something happend and this app couldn't be installed. Please try again. Error code: 0x800700b7". For the record I had this happen once on the Surface RT, too.

    That sure looks like Windows, doesn't it?"

    No, that looks like Android on a tablet you couldn't recommend more heartily.

    Again James, your loyal readers simply expect you to be more consistent in your reviews.

    • Nexus? Surface? How about iPad mini

      Once again, this article has nothing to do with the Nexus 7 nor the Surface. It's just a review of an accessory for the iPad mini. It doesn't demand that you switch gadgets nor get this accessory. Don't be threatened by it.
      • You are operating under a mistaken impression

        Your works don't stand alone. Your previous reviews exist and have been posted on ZDNet. Consistency in a reviewer is important. I am pointing out your inconsistencies. In the past you stated app update issues are a Windows Surface issue. Today, we find out your Nexus 7 has major app update issues but this doesn't "count". In the past, a tablet as thick and heavy as your iPad Mini + keyboard was unusable. Today, it is a delight.

        I am calling you out on your inconsistencies and your best response is "don't pay attention to anything I've written in the last couple weeks, it didn't matter what I wrote then."

        Why won't you stand by your previous works? That hardly sounds like the trait of a proud author.
        • You are too literal

          Just because I write that "A has issue B" doesn't mean, nor imply that no other products/platforms never has that same issue. That's not inconsistent.
          • The problem is

            I want to unsubscribe from your feed. However, I like mobile tech and like to see what is coming out regardless of the platform. You have a good feed of products but I just can't trust your evaluations on the products themselves. Now when I read your review, I have to try and figure out whether you are glossing over something bad or if you have something negative, it's because you didn't RTFM.

            I think it is a good point: your reviews aren't discrete. Somebody coming to your blog and looking for guidance on different tablets (or accessories) won't know whether they are getting a thoughtful review from an expert or a rant from someone who can't find the "any" key. Really this is the service you are providing in response for clicks.
    • Surface RT FTW!

      This comment was typed on the Surface RT with the Type Cover. Just for you.
      • Another mistaken impression.

        I don't want the Surface FTW. I like my Surface whether or not you proclaim it to be a win.

        I want some consistency in your reviews. I purchased my iPad based on reviews that suggested it would make a fantastic content creation device. I purchased my iPad based on reviews that ignored every single one of the issues with the iPad. Reviewers who do that are doing their readers a disservice.

        I've praised you on your Surface reviews. My words too are published on ZDNet and I stand by them. Why won't you be as honest when you are reviewing other tablets?

        Consistency James, that's all your loyal readers want from you. We don't want a cheerleader for the Surface, the Nexus, or the iPad. Is that too much to ask for?
        • I am honest

          I am honest in everything I say or write, whether you claim I am or not. I cannot, nor will I, attempt to address every feature/function/issue in every existing product in every article I write about every other product/platform in existence.

          I stand by what I write and unlike many tech columnists actually use the products I cover.

          You need to stop being so defensive about the choices you personally make. I am genuinely glad you are happy with your choice, I wish everyone could be so. I know I am happy with mine.
        • Back Off

          Seriously, let him write his reviews. Go pick on that Linux bozo who is always writing about everything BUT Linux. I enjoy James' articles. He seems fair and honest to me. I enjoy my iToys and my Win8 toys and I don't get defensive when someone wants to write about the iPad mini or a keyboard for heaven's sake. Just Back Off.

          I have tons of iToys (phones, pods, pads, nanos, etc) and a Surface RT, several Windows 8 PC's, a Windows 8 Media Center, 2 Windows Servers, 3 Win8 Laptops, a Nokia Lumia 920, an HTC 8x (for my wife). I'm happy with all of them. Sheesh.
    • Nexus 7 problem

      I too suffered from the Nexus 7 problem where apps would no longer update after a system update. Had to remove my Google account from the device and then put it back. That's all.
    • Nexus 7 reports of update problems

      I have an early Nexus 7 (16GB) which has been updated twice and I have not noticed any problem with apps being updated.
      • NI (not interesting) Nexus 7 (antics continued, but true story)

        I have both a Nexus 7 16GB Wifi model, and an i-pad mini 16GB model. The thing I hate on both of them and thankfully have solved is the lack of expansion card slots (but that's not the point of this story!). Thankfully someone though of lightning/microUsb to female-usb to allow a USB stick mount method. I like them both, though the nexus 7 really is just like a big version of my android phone .. though arguably the ipad mini is a big version of the iphone I suppose.

        The real point here was, I am currently and have been since android 4.2 (or whatever the latest jellybean is .. 4.3? I think it's 4.2) on my nexus 7, I've rooted it so that I have total app and tweeking control of the cpu (overclocking, scheduler, etc) and memory, AND can remove any bloatware I feel like, which is really the best part. I run the custom ROM called Crossbones, it's beautifully done by the developers of it, and I highly recommend it!

        As for my ipad mini .. it's cool I guess, I don't use it as much as the Nexus, and I find that the screen is much less sensitive to the various squishy tip stylus's (styli technically) I now have, which I find very odd. But the retina display beats the nexus 720p for sure, at least the memory can be expanded (like with the nexus). That is all! :)
  • Sort of defeats the whole purpose of having a smaller ipad doesn't it?

    I guess it is better than having nothing, but it looks like it suffers from the same problems all 3rd party keyboard suffer for iDevices (and some Androids as well).

    Possibly worse in this case as the major reason for getting an iPad mini is for the smaller size and lighter weight, which this case seems to negate both of those strengths.
    • Indeed

      Yes it does, but some folks are interested in these keyboard/cases and thus the coverage. That plus I find them useful from time to time. Not all the time.
      • Don't get me wrong, I agree with you

        Tablets work wonders for output, but anything beyond light input they really beg for some sort of keyboard accessory.

        I have a few keyboard cases for some cheap 7 inch tablets of my own and I think they are to small and they also negate the strengths of smaller tablets. The Zagg looks particularly clunky, but it is better than nothing I guess.
  • So many accessories to choose from

    I'm in the market for a Mini but haven't pulled the trigger yet. This weekend I happened to be next to an Apple Store so I did a spot of window shopping.

    It's breathtaking how many accessories are out there for iPad and iPad Mini. I couldn't sort them all out.

    And those were just the ones Apple carries.

    Thanks for this article- I don't recall seeing this one at Apple, and I will need this kind of suggestion to make the right purchase when the time comes.

    Frankly it's a bit overwhelming.