Adding a keyboard to an iPad isn’t difficult these days, but protection with it? The Zagg Pro Keys thinks it could be the answer.
What is it?
Now that Apple’s standard iPad supports the fabric Smart Keyboard cover with the Apple magnetic keyboard connector, it’s pretty clear that you can find a keyboard that suits the least expensive iPad.
Even before this, you could easily find them, but they’ve almost always been the same fare: a keyboard in a slim case or something made to loom more like a proper laptop. The idea is already the same, with keys you can add to the iPad in a design that’s thin and easy or turns an iPad into a sort-of laptop.
Zagg’s approach with the Pro Keys is a little different.
On the one hand, it’s a keyboard and trackpad on a thin case, complete with a spot to hold an Apple Pencil or something like it, while on the other, it’s built to keep your iPad safe from drops, falls, and other nasty bouts of clumsiness we can all succumb to.
That’s something distinct, because while every keyboard case adds a keyboard (kind of the point!), the Zagg Pro Keys keyboard case is a thick grey plastic case, protecting the corners and sides with up to two metres of drop protection, and then a magnetic port to let the case and tablet clip into the keyboard section that wraps around it all.
It’s a unique take on the iPad keyboard, not because it adds a keyboard and trackpad, but because it adds protection, something keyboard cases don’t normally see.
What does it do?
That protection is one part, but the keyboard and mouse are the big draw cards here, adding an island-key keyboard with a trackpad mouse, building it into the cover of the Pro Keys case, and using the magnetic folio folder to act as a stand.
Unclip the folio holder from the top and then fold it into position at the back, and you’ll find the Pro Keys keyboard for iPad gives you different positions to stand the keyboard up.
Does it do the job?
You can set it up at an angle or stand it mostly straight, and while it’s sturdy, it’s not quite as sturdy as the proper plastic or metal clamshell cases you can find. It’s quite good on a surface like a table, but your lap mightn’t be as nice for the Zagg Pro Keys, dependent on how much you move them, or don’t.
With circular island style keys and a fair amount of travel, the Zagg iPad keyboard seems like a solid little choice for folks looking for a more laptop-like experience to plug into their regular old iPad.
It’ll play nicely with the 10.2 inch size of the 7th, 8th and 9th-gen iPads, even with those bigger screens, making it ideal for something you can go and buy today.
The trackpad is a nice inclusion, and if you grab the Zagg Pro Stylus alongside, you’ll find a thin and fairly light pencil to work with the whole thing, more or less giving you a set that looks the part.
Zagg’s Pro Stylus connects almost automatically using magnets and includes a capacitive tip at the back if you run low on the 8 hour battery, but it provides a pen option for $119, a little lower than the $149 of the Apple Pencil 1st-gen for the iPad and $199 for the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil for the flat-edged iPad models.
What does it need?
However the keyboard layout can feel a touch cramped, and the position of the delete key might throw a familiar typing position out just a little. That’s one of the downsides of getting a full-size keyboard thrown into a smaller size, though it’s not a major issue.
In fact, very few of the issues were really deal-breakers with Zagg’s keyboard, even if they were minor niggles.
For instance, you might find that the case is too bulky and heavy, as it adds a notable heft to the iPad. With a thick case around the iPad for durability, the light weight of the iPad goes away, and it becomes something definitely more hefty, for sure. Your iPad is more protected, for sure, but it adds heft to the whole thing, as well.
That keyboard also needs its own charge every so often, easy to do with the Type C USB port on the right side, but an added point: Apple’s own keyboard draws its power from the iPad and doesn’t need extra charging, even if this one does. Minor niggles, as we said. Plus we’ve probably been spoiled by the Smart Keyboard cover.
Even the way the iPad stands up from the case is a minor niggle, as you’ll need to detach the back of the case from the back of the iPad and position it the way you want. To Zagg’s credit, the result is very firm and you get your choice of angles, but it’s not as quick or seamless as Apple’s keyboard, so again, a minor niggle.
On the Zagg Stylus, the niggles may well be the lack of pressure control, some light lag, and the way it charges: you’ll need to pull the cap up to charge it via another USB Type C port hidden inside. Curiously, the Zagg Stylus includes a flat edge to cling to the side of the iPad Air, iPad Pro, and 2021 iPad Mini, but it won’t charge that way, only hold.
Is it worth your money?
These are, of course, minor niggles, and not enough to sour us on what Zagg has created, except maybe beyond the heft.
And for $179.95, the Zagg Pro Keys for iPad 10.2 can seem like an otherwise solid deal. While the Apple Smart Keyboard fetches $235 in Australia, the Zagg Pro Keys is at least $50 less, and can probably be found for even less at street price.
The Zagg Stylus is less expensive than the Apple model, too, fetching $119, which is roughly $30 cheaper less than the first generation Apple Pencil and $80 lower than the second generation.
Yay or nay?
If saving money and keeping your iPad protected are a goal, Zagg’s Pro Keys delivers on both.
In terms of a keyboard experience, there are better keyboards out there, though we’ve yet to see a keyboard case really take into account durability, which this does.
Most keyboard cases aren’t at all focused on protecting the iPad, only giving it a keyboard, and Zagg has definitely provided that. You’ll add some thickness and heft, but at least it should survive more rigours than merely typing on the go or at your desk.
We’re not sure if this will apply to everyone necessarily, but if you’ve bought an iPad for a family member who might be a touch clumsy, or even for a student in your life, protecting it and adding a keyboard could make the Zagg Pro Keys indispensable.