With a keyboard for your iPad, you can make the tablet a lot more productive in one fell swoop. But which Apple keyboard should you choose? We compare the Smart Keyboard vs Magic Keyboard.
Apple iPad Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
The years when the iPad was ‘just’ a tablet are now long gone. Especially with the arrival of the Magic Keyboard with a trackpad, the iPad will be a fully-fledged laptop replacement for more and more people. A good keyboard is one of the best accessories with which you can make an iPad more productive.
Apple itself has two available: the Smart Keyboard Folio and Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard works on the iPad Pro 2018 and iPad Pro 2020, the Smart Keyboard Folio is also available for older iPad Pros.
iPad Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
- The price: a big difference
- The similarities
- Trackpad or not?
- Typing experience: two opposites
- Other functions
- Weight and firmness
1. The price: a big difference
In this comparison, we immediately start with an important difference: the price. Because although the Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard have the necessary similarities and differences, the price will play a decisive role.
- Smart Keyboard Folio: from 199 euros
- Magic Keyboard: from 339 euros
That is a big difference and, apart from that, a hefty amount to pay for a keyboard. For comparison: for the amount of a 12.9 inch Magic Keyboard you can also buy a brand new iPad 2019. So keep this price difference in mind as we discuss the following points.
2. The agreements
Despite this price difference, there are a number of things that are the same. For example, both keyboards use the Smart Connector on the iPad. This magnetic connection ensures that the keyboard is directly connected and that power is passed on. A big advantage over many keyboards from other companies, which you have to connect manually via Bluetooth and charge regularly.
Another similarity is that the keyboards also serve as a protective cover for your iPad. Both the Smart and Magic Keyboard protect the front and the back of the iPad with a sturdy protective layer.
Finally, both keyboards are made of plastic, with a soft exterior on which you can see fingerprints and other spots very quickly. After a while, you can hardly get it out, as we have noticed with the Smart Keyboard. A pity, because for these kinds of expensive accessories we had hoped that Apple had opted for better material.
3. Trackpad or not?
If we look purely at the functions, the Magic Keyboard emerges as the clear winner. This is mainly due to the trackpad that can be found under the keys and not on the Smart Keyboard. Since this year you can operate iPads with a mouse or trackpad, and more and more apps work with the smart cursor that Apple has devised for this.
The trackpad is small (especially on the 11-inch iPad Pro), but it works surprisingly well. While typing, it’s a nice way to quickly scroll through apps without touching the screen or jumping to another paragraph. However, that does not alter the fact that you can also simply connect an external mouse or trackpad to your iPad and then have practically the same experience with the Smart Keyboard.
Especially with the price in mind, you will have to ask yourself whether a built-in trackpad is worth the extra money. For example, if you often use an iPad on the road or in different places, we can imagine that it is inconvenient to always take a separate mouse or trackpad with you. However, if your iPad has a permanent place on your desk, that is much less of a problem.
4. Typing experience: two opposites
It is difficult to say how well and nicely a keyboard type because it differs from person to person. The feeling of typing on a Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard differs enormously in any case. The Magic Keyboard has a traditional keyboard that can best be compared to the one that is also in the 2020 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. That’s good news, because this produces a keyboard that sounds nice and keys that you can press far, which is always a plus for me personally.
On the other hand is the Smart Keyboard, where the entire keyboard is covered with a layer of plastic. This ensures that you can press the buttons less far, hear a different sound and get a completely different feeling while typing.
Our preference is for the Magic Keyboard when we look purely at the keyboard, but have not complained about the Smart Keyboard for years. Do you really want to be sure? Then we recommend that you visit an Apple Store or electronics store to try them yourself.
5. Other Features: Extras of the Magic Keyboard
The Magic Keyboard has some extras compared to the Smart Keyboard. For example, an extra USB-C port has been added, so that you can charge an iPad at the same time and, for example, connect it to an external hard drive or screen.
Handy if the USB port of your iPad is regularly occupied and you cannot simply charge the device. The Magic Keyboard also has keyboard lighting, which makes typing in the dark a bit easier. The lighting is switched on automatically and uses the sensors in your iPad for this. You can turn this off in the settings.
6. Weight and strength
Where the Magic Keyboard loses out to its cheaper alternative is in terms of weight and sturdiness. The Magic Keyboard is remarkably heavy. This is necessary to keep the iPad upright and prevent the tablet from tipping over, while the iPad in the Smart Keyboard does not float, but simply stands on the cover.
In addition, many people will buy a keyboard or a protective cover for their iPad and not both. As we said before, these covers protect your tablet well. The disadvantage is that the Magic Keyboard is a lot more sensitive to damage from the outside than the Smart Keyboard.
This is because the Smart Keyboard’s keys are completely surrounded by a plastic coating, making it impossible for crumbs and other debris to find their way into your keyboard. For example, if you also use an iPad in the kitchen to watch cooking videos, then we would not risk using the expensive Magic Keyboard for that.
Conclusion: Magic Keyboard vs Smart Keyboard
If the prices of these two keyboards were closer, we would have declared the Magic Keyboard the undisputed winner. But the higher price, the considerable weight and vulnerability make that difficult. Plus, you get almost the same experience if you pair an iPad with Smart Keyboard to a mouse or external trackpad.
Are you out and about a lot and is your iPad Pro an alternative to your laptop where you can do everything? Then the Magic Keyboard is one of the best accessories to get more out of the tablet. For example, if you are often in large Excel files, a trackpad can provide just that extra precision that you need.
Are you ‘just’ looking for a good keyboard but don’t mind continuing to use the touchscreen? Then you will not regret the cheaper Smart Keyboard for a second.
Buy Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard?
Are you convinced after reading this article and do you want to buy a Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard for your iPad?