Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Is Heavy, But Is It Worth It?

Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Credit: Apple
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Apple has been a bit cryptic with the specs for its new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro; since it’s only an accessory and not a mainstream Apple product, it doesn’t get its own product page, so there are no published tech specs available. This has led to a lot of speculation about how much weight it will actually add to the iPad Pro that it’s encasing.

It’s a fair question too, as we’ve seen many iPad keyboard cases over the years that easily double or triple the weight of the iPad itself, which may defeat the purpose of getting a device that should arguably be more portable than a MacBook Air. In some cases, like the aluminum Brydge, the keyboard is fairly heavy by itself, while in others, the combination of a more protective case and stand adds to the weight as well.

With the Magic Keyboard, however, there’s no real case that accompanies it, but it shouldn’t be all that surprising that with the ability to elevate the iPad Pro combined with the lack of a rear kickstand, the Magic Keyboard needs to have a fair bit of weight to it just to keep the whole thing from tipping over.

With the Magic Keyboard going up for order last week, they’re already starting to get into people’s hands, and MacRumors shares a report from one of their readers who weighed their new Magic Keyboard and cast some light on the question we’ve been pondering for a while.

Getting into MacBook Pro Territory

It turns out that a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard comes in slightly heavier than a 13-inch MacBook Air, and in fact closer to the weight of a MacBook Pro.

Specifically, the combined weight of the encased 12.-inch iPad Pro is 1,351 grams, as compared to the 13-inch MacBook at at 1,290 grams and the 13-inch MacBook Pro at 1,370 grams.

Of course, you’ll also pay more for an iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard case than you will for a MacBook Air too, considering that the entry-level 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 13-inch MacBook models are the same price, and then you have to add the Magic Keyboard for another $349. Of course, the iPad Pro can do many things that a MacBook Air can’t, but being lighter and more portable clearly isn’t one of them.

That said, the 11-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard attached fares a bit better, with 9to5Mac noting that it comes in at around 601 grams, meaning that the combined weight in that case would be 1,072 grams — noticeably lighter than any MacBook that Apple currently sells, although it still comes in heavier than the now-discontinued 12-inch MacBook, which only weighed in at 920 grams, but you’re also getting a better keyboard as part of the deal. However, even this configuration is still more expensive than an entry-level MacBook Air, at $1,148. Apple’s Magic Keyboard doesn’t come cheap.

Entirely New Design

To be fair, however, Apple’s new keyboard is like nothing the company has produced before, and in fact improves upon many of the third-party iPad keyboards we’ve been seeing. It’s the first time that Apple has included a trackpad in any external keyboard, plus backlighting, while also delivering an extra USB-C port with pass-through charging thanks to its use of the Smart Connector on the rear of the iPad Pro.

While companies like Brydge and Logitech are now offering iPad keyboards (and keyboard cases) that include built-in trackpads, some of the early reviews have suggested that the quality of the trackpads isn’t up to snuff, which isn’t all that surprising. As anybody who has worked with PC laptops over the years can tell you, making good trackpads isn’t easy, and yet Apple’s built-in MacBook trackpads and standalone Magic Trackpad accessory have been hitting it out of the park for years; not only are they accurate and responsive, but they offer more advanced touch and gesture features. It’s a safe bet that Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro will offer a similarly high-quality trackpad experience.

What Can I Do With a Trackpad?

Apple actually debuted support for using a mouse with iPadOS 13.4 that works with any iPad model. However, Apple’s Magic Keyboard only works with the iPad Pro, since it relies on the Smart Connector; for other models you’ll have to use a third-party keyboard with trackpad, or simply pair up your own mouse or trackpad over Bluetooth or a wired connection through a USB-to-Lightning adapter.

While mouse and trackpad support should already work throughout the iPadOS user interface, allowing you to replicate anything you could do with touch gestures, many iPad apps are also being updated to provide even deeper support for things like context menus and swipe gestures. Apple has updated its iWork productivity apps — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — along with iMovie and its Clips app for iPad to add deeper mouse and trackpad support, and third-party developers of apps like Things are already embracing the new Magic Keyboard, adding right-click context menus throughout, swipe gestures, and more, effectively bringing all of the same controls from the Mac version of their apps over to the iPad.

In short, trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 13.4 will provide a much more laptop-like experience that will allow you to navigate the user interface and do things like moving your insertion point and selecting text when editing without having to constantly reach up and tap the screen. It’s one of the last big steps in making the iPad truly a laptop replacement.

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