Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio vs. Third-Party Alternatives

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Apple designed a Smart Keyboard Folio for the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, but while it's super slim, it's also expensive and with flat keys that some iPad users might not like.

Luckily, third-party companies like Zagg and Logitech have come out with some alternate iPad Pro keyboards, and in today's video, we're comparing the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple to two popular alternatives - the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech and the Slim Book Go from Zagg.


We tested keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but both Logitech and Zagg make variants for both iPad Pro models. Zagg's Slim Book Go is priced at $99 for the 11-inch model and $130 for the 12.9-inch model, while the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech is priced at $120 for the 11-inch model and $130 for the 12.9-inch model.

Both third-party keyboard options are cheaper than the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple, which costs $179 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $199 for the 12.9-inch model, so you can save a decent amount of cash with a third-party option.

Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio is super slim and adds a minimal amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, and that thin profile is a feature that Logitech and Zagg haven't been able to match. The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both add a considerable amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, doubling the weight of the device and making it a good deal thicker.

Zagg Slim Book Go

Of the two, the Slim Book Go from Zagg is the heftier model, but both are pretty bulky. If you're someone who prefers a device without a thick case on it, these keyboards may not be for you. There are, however, some benefits to these cases beyond price, such as the feel of the keyboard.

The Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple has flat, fabric covered keys that have little travel and don't feel much like a standard keyboard. Zagg and Logitech's solutions, though, are thicker and thus accommodate keys with more travel, a more satisfying press, and just a better overall feel.

The Slim Book Go from Zagg is designed to protect the entire iPad Pro, providing solid drop protection. The case itself is made from a hard plastic, while the keyboard has a cloth feel on the front and felt material surrounding the keys.

Zagg Slim Book Go

You can detach the keyboard cover from the case if you want, leaving just the case itself on the iPad. Zagg left a lot of space at the bottom of the keyboard on the Slim Book Go, so it's comfortable to rest your wrists, but when using it on your lap, it's wobbly.

That's not a problem in a situation where you're using it on a desk, and with the adjustable stand there are multiple viewing angles, something you don't get with Logitech's version. The keyboard is pleasant to type on, but there's no backlighting for the keys. It's not clear why, but there's no sleep/wake function in the cover, so shutting it won't turn off your iPad. Multi-device support is included, something not available in the Slim Folio Pro.

Logitech Slim Folio Pro

Logitech's Slim Folio Pro, unlike the Slim Book Go, is all one piece without a detachable keyboard option. It has a thick rubber frame that protects the iPad, and a single viewing angle for using while typing.

The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both offer a better typing experience than the Smart Keyboard Folio for those who like more traditional keys, but we preferred the feel of the Slim Book Go a bit more because the keys have more travel and a more satisfying click. On the plus side, it's a bit less bulky and not as heavy, and it has backlit keys, a nice bonus feature.

Logitech Slim Folio Pro

Both the Slim Book Go and the Slim Folio Pro connect to the iPad Pro using Bluetooth, making the Smart Keyboard Folio the only keyboard accessory that uses the Smart Connector on the new iPad Pro models. Bluetooth isn't as convenient as the Smart Connector, but these keyboards don't need to be charged often and when they do, you can use USB-C.

So which should you choose? If you hate bulk, get the Smart Keyboard Folio or plan to remove these keyboard cases when not in use, something that can be a hassle.

If you want the best typing experience that's closest to a laptop and don't mind the thickness, choose the Zagg, but if you want something a bit slimmer with backlighting and more stability for on-lap use, choose the Logitech (and make sure to check out our full review). You can, of course, choose none of the above and opt for a much cheaper standalone Bluetooth keyboard.

Which iPad Pro keyboard do you prefer? Apple's, Logitech's, Zagg's, or something else? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio vs. Third-Party Alternatives
 
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twocents

macrumors 6502
Mar 31, 2016
267
1,516
California, USA
Apple keyboard folio def not thin enough. Needs butterfly keys since they'll be sealed and won't manage to get crumbs or sand stuck inside. And since iOS has peaked why not add Touch Bar while you're at it since that will surely make consumers see it as a laptop replacement. /s
 

alphaswift

macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2014
236
697
None of the above. Since the keyboard is something I only occasionally use, I bought the plain folio and use that day-to-day. I will carry the Apple Bluetooth keyboard if there's a chance that I will do any typing. It's a much better typing experience and still quite portable for those times I might actually use it.
 

dog.cow

macrumors newbie
Jul 15, 2014
17
20
Planet Earth
None of the above. Since the keyboard is something I only occasionally use, I bought the plain folio and use that day-to-day. I will carry the Apple Bluetooth keyboard if there's a chance that I will do any typing. It's a much better typing experience and still quite portable for those times I might actually use it.
Same here. I bought the Slim folio and have my iPad Pro paired with a Magic Keyboard. Best of both worlds - a gorgeous slim cover and a brilliant keyboard that I can leave at home if I don’t need it.

I bought the Apple keyboard folio and returned it the next day, swapping it for the Smart Folio. I found it awful to type on and it felt a bit like a rushed design if you ask me.
 
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zman2100

macrumors regular
Apr 26, 2009
232
8
Florida
One other big keyboard player to mention is Brydge. They’re shipping their new keyboards this month and have already given some prototypes to a few different sites for a hands-on with positive impressions. Unlike the three keyboards reviewed here, the Brydge keyboards use hinges to turn the iPad into a traditional laptop clamshell device that allows any viewing angle, and the keyboard itself is very similar to the scissor keyboards on pre-2016 MacBooks. I’m looking forward to getting mine soon.
 

Latte

macrumors newbie
Mar 27, 2008
22
8
No mention that the Zagg seems to be the only one with a Fn key? That alone is motivation enough for me.

With all keyboard covers I've used, I've hated not to be able to forward delete. For me, that's truly what keeps the iPad experience from being comparable to a the one of a MacBook pro, and a constant annoyance ever time I want to delete some text and find myself bringing up the on-screen keyboard instead...

Is forward delete considered out-of-fashion and en route to be eliminated like the floppy or CD drive...?
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
4,682
21,225
I really wish they would've done something with all that space at the bottom of the Zagg Slim Book.

The obvious solution is of course adding a cutting board to the keyboard so you can prepare your favorite snacks while watching something on your iPad.

Hell, break out your ultra-thin titanium Apple Card and you've even got a knife! :)

 
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jimlat

macrumors newbie
Jun 5, 2013
6
5
I got the Zagg because I didn't want to wait for the Brydge.

Just two corrections...it does have a backlight, with selection of 7 colors. And it does sleep/wake my iPad Pro 11”...

It’s a little bulkier than the Apple keyboard folio, but I like the adjustable kickstand, the feel and backlight of the keys and the protectiveness of the case...plus it’s cheaper. And the two storage locations for the pencil are nice as well.
 

GeoStructural

macrumors 6502
Oct 8, 2016
365
1,016
Colombia
Many people cite the smart connector as an advantage in Apple’s keyboard, I actually found it very inconvenient, it drains the battery so fast, even during the night when not in use. I documented my experience and have graphs for those who want to see it.

On the other hand, Apple’s keyboard is very loose on the 11 inch, it is slightly stronger on the 12.9 in but it is not protective enough, in the week I had mine my iPad came loose several times and at one instance I got a dent on one corner.

A week was enough for me to return the keyboard. I have a third party I bought on Amazon, it works flawlessly, I can turn it on and off whenever I want, the case is protective and it costed 1/4 of Apples version... and the keys feel better and are backlit!
 
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magicschoolbus

macrumors 68000
May 27, 2014
1,641
5,447
Zagg Rugged

I wanted the Apple one, but I read a lot of negative reviews about the smart connector for the 10.5 pro.. lots of complaints on it so, unfortunately, I had to avoid it.
 
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dannynjoni

macrumors regular
Oct 14, 2010
132
46
As others have said I would appreciate backlit keys very much, but the Apple Smart Keyboard is really fantastic. I wouldn’t even consider the other options I have seen as they take too much away from the extreme portability and seamless functionality of the iPad.
 

chekie

macrumors member
Sep 11, 2013
43
31
How do you use folders in iPad dock?

---
Never mind. Figured it out. Just drag a folder to dock
 

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Mcsnee

macrumors newbie
Oct 26, 2018
16
74
DC
I was scared away from trying the logitech keyboard on my previous-gen iPad Pro because most of the reviews indicated that it scratched the screen after a couple of weeks of use. Have they fixed that problem with this iteration?
 
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