Apple has a deserved reputation for painstaking attention to detail and innovative design. It did both with the.
But we're not talking about an art object. This is an accessory for working iPad Pro, and a costly one at that. And no, it doesn't replace your notebook either.
So my bottom line is: Does it add enough value to an already pricy iPad Pro to make it worth keeping? I've used the Magic Keyboard for a week now, and I'm going back to the Smart Keyboard for a week to see just how much I miss the Magic Keyboard.
Here's the breakdown on the Magic Keyboard, based on a week's use.
Keyboard. It is a nicer keyboard to type on than the Smart Keyboard, A little more key travel, subtle backlighting, and slightly stiffer. I've got my feet up with it on my lap as I type. No problem.
But the Smart Keyboard is spill-resistant and the Magic Keyboard isn't. Now, I can't remember the last time I spilled something on a keyboard, but I do like to work in coffee shops if those ever reopen.
Trackpad. I hate mice, and I'm a devoted trackpad user. While the Magic Keyboard trackpad is smaller than on any Apple notebook, I've had no problem instantly adjusting to it. It's about the size of Apple's first trackpads.
Works well on all Apple apps, but I've read that it isn't yet true for all third-party apps. I'd expect updates to fix that. But I don't miss the additional real estate a larger unit gives.
Mounting. The iPad Pro snaps off and on with remarkable ease. You come at the keyboard and the magnets will take you home.
Backlighting. The bac lighting and in-room lighting is subtle, but it looks cool. If you find yourself writing in the dark, it's a win. I don't, so meh.
Weight. Weight. Yes, it is heavier, and I really prefer lighter. But I can live with anything under 3 pounds (1.4 kg). At 1,373g, it barely suffices vs 1,094g for the Smart Keyboard Folio.
Design. The floating iPad looks cool, but Apple whiffed on the concept. What do I mean?
Ergonomically, the big win that large desktop monitors offer is that they make it easy to position the top of the monitor at eye level, so you can keep your neck straight, reducing neck and shoulder strain. You young folk probably don't notice it very often, but as you grow older you will.
If Apple made the lower part of the back longer, the iPad could float higher. That would mean less magnetic grip on the iPad (we're gonna need more magnets!), but every little bit of elevation would improve the usefulness. The new $3,500 Surface Pro got this right for its monitor.
As it is, the top of the screen is about an inch higher than the Smart Keyboard. I'll be watching to see how much difference that inch makes over the next week. More height would also allow room for a row of function keys as well, a disappointing lack on a premium-priced product.
Another disappointment is that Apple used the same blah gray plastic to cover the keyboard that they did on the back of the Smart Keyboard. It's utilitarian, but at this price, I'd like to see titanium with a gold Apple logo inlay. You know, bling.
But I like the USB-C charging port at the end of the Magic Keyboard. Much less obtrusive way to charge than the iPad's port.
The hot take
I'm going back to the Smart Keyboard for a week to weigh the value of the Magic Keyboard's added functionality. I expect I'll miss the trackpad the most, which is probably a major piece of Apple's pricing justification.
After all, if you add a Space Gray Magic Trackpad ($149) to a 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard Folio ($199), you're only a dollar short of the Magic Keyboard's nosebleed $349 list price.
Hey, Apple, if that's supposed to make me feel better about your premium prices, it ain't working. It just reminds me of how costly all your accessories are.
But if you are a professional writer, can stand another 180g in your case, and can afford almost $400 (with tax) for a nice keyboard, buy it. Or wait a week for my final verdict vs the Smart Keyboard Folio.
Comments welcome. Which of the factors I've weighed above makes the most difference to you?