The best Smart Connector keyboard for iPad Pro: Apple Smart Keyboard vs. Logitech Create

Posted:
in iPad edited February 2016
The first two Smart Connector accessories for iPad Pro offer very different keyboard style experiences, each addressing two different types of tablet users. But which keyboard is best, Apple's Smart Keyboard or Logitech's Create? AppleInsider breaks down which accessory is best for you.



tl;dr: Apple's Smart Keyboard is portable and convenient to remove, which we prefer. But if you want a laptop-style configuration and protective rear case, go with the Logitech Create.

Apple Smart Keyboard






Apple's Smart Keyboard focuses on portability first and foremost. It doesn't have a case to protect the back of the iPad Pro, acting only as a Smart Cover with integrated keyboard. This has its pros and cons: While thin and light and portable, it lacks a backlight, has less key travel, and only offers users one viewing angle.

Still, we came away preferring the official Apple Smart Keyboard over the Logitech Create. For us, the iPad Pro is not meant to be a full-fledged MacBook replacement. But in the event that you do need a keyboard on the go with your jumbo-sized iPad, Apple's keyboard is a great option.

Priced at $169, the Apple Smart Keyboard is the more expensive option of the two. Outside, it looks like Apple's Smart Cover, but has an extra hump to accommodate the keyboard hidden within.




Like the Smart Cover, the Smart Keyboard has a felt interior that cleverly cleans smudges and fingerprints off your iPad display when not in use. Closing it also automatically locks the iPad Pro screen.

The Smart Keyboard snaps on quickly and easily, and once the case is folded into a triangle to prop up the iPad Pro, you're ready to go. The keys are covered in an interesting woven nylon cover that is textured to prevent slippage, is sealed to protect against spills, and provides a rebound effect that replaces the need for physical springs.

Despite its thinness, the keys do still provide a soft, satisfying click when pressed. There's enough travel here to know exactly what you're pressing as you type.




We were concerned that the iPad Pro and Apple Smart Keyboard may not offer great stability while in use, but in our tests it was quite the opposite. In fact, we had no major problems balancing the iPad Pro on our lap with the Smart Keyboard, given its relatively sturdy, flat base and secure magnetic connection to the device.

In our iPad use, we just don't want a keyboard all of the time. That makes the easy disconnection of the Smart Keyboard yet another great selling point. The Smart Keyboard is easy to fold up and protect the glass screen on your iPad Pro, or remove entirely and stow away for future use. Plus, its thin and light design means your iPad Pro stays more portable than a MacBook.




In terms of use, we had no problems touch typing with accuracy on the Smart Keyboard. As experienced typers, we didn't miss the lack of a backlight, but do we have to knock Apple's keyboard for not including a top row of shortcut keys. This is another area where Logitech's keyboard gains some points over Apple's, particularly with a keyboard home button, as well as volume and brightness controls.

Logitech Create



At $145, the Logitech Create is slightly cheaper than the Apple Smart Keyboard, and actually packs in more features at a lower price. But those additional features add bulk to the Smart Connector accessory, making it less convenient for occasional use.

The Logitech Create features a protective case that covers the back of the iPad Pro, which the tablet must be snapped into to use. Inserting and removing the iPad Pro from the Create is easy enough, but it's an additional step that makes the keyboard less convenient to use than Apple's alternative.




If you plan on keeping a keyboard connected to your iPad Pro at all times, and you prefer the convenience of an integrated backlight, the Logitech Create is probably the better option for you. This accessory aims to make the iPad Pro more of a full-fledged laptop replacement, rather than an occasional keyboard for typing longer documents.

The protective exterior of the Create is a "ballistic nylon," with a nice, textured woven feel. It's akin to folio-style keyboards available for other iPad models.




The keyboard itself is recessed slightly, preventing the keys from being pressed against the iPad when the case is closed. When opened, users simply pull the bottom half of the iPad Pro forward to rest it on the Smart Connector, where it attaches magnetically.

Two indentations in the rear case allow the iPad Pro to be angled in two different directions when placed flat on a table. However, only one of these angles is able to be connected to the Smart Connector, leaving only one angle for typing and lessening the value of this capability.

As with Apple's option, the Logitech Create has a satisfying and secure magnetic connection to the Smart Connector when placed into typing mode.




The keys on the Logitech Create feel good --?its hard-plastic, thicker design gives it more travel than the Apple keyboard, making it feel more like a true laptop experience. The dedicated row of keyboard shortcuts at the top is a huge bonus, offering quick access to search, media controls, and the home and lock buttons.

Finally, we'll note that we did have some disconnect and lag issues with the Logitech Create when the product first launched. Those issues have since been addressed in a firmware update embedded in Apple's iOS 9.3 beta. However, since iOS 9.3 has not yet launched to the public, users should be aware of those problems before purchasing.

Verdict



Which keyboard is better will depend on your use case. Are you buying an iPad Pro as a full-time laptop replacement? Then you'll probably be happier with the Logitech Create.

On the other hand, for those who plan to use a keyboard only on occasion, Apple's Smart Keyboard is the clear-cut winner, and stands as our favorite of the two.

Apple Smart Keyboard: 4 out of 5



Pros

  • Great ultraportable design
  • Keys feel nice despite the thin form factor
  • Easy to connect and remove in a snap
  • Base is surprisingly stable for lap use


Cons

  • $170 is a pricey accessory
  • No top row of media/shortcut keys
  • No backlight


Logitech Create: 3.5 out of 5



Pros

  • A full-size keyboard that's nice to type on
  • Integrated backlight and dedicated media/shortcut key row
  • At $145, it's cheaper than Apple's option


Cons

  • Bulky and inconvenient to add/remove iPad from case
  • Two viewing angles, but only one for typing
  • $150 is still too expensive


Where to buy



Apple's Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro sells for $169 from B&H Photo or direct from Apple, while Amazon.com has the Logitech Create for iPad Pro in stock for $145.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    I use an iPad mini, so I have very little use for an add-on keyboard being as, at that size, thumb typing on the mini is generally faster than any possible attached keyboard could be.  

    That being said, I think I would buy the Apple one over the Logitech one.  The article doesn't mention it, but there are numerous bad reviews of the Logitech Create keyboard out there.  It seems that there are very few people who bought it that don't have something bad to say about it.  

    Hopefully by the time that Apple makes their keyboard accessory available to mini users (two years?), it will be a bit thinner and perhaps even integrated into the basic Smart Cover.  The travel on the keys is so low already that I really don't see a downside to eliminating travel altogether in favour of something like Microsoft's entry into this category.   
  • Reply 2 of 30
    I was a huge fan of the Logitech Folio keyboard/case with my 4th generation Retina iPad.  It was solid, easy to clean, spill-proof, protective, but added significant bulk to the device. I thought hard when choosing the Apple Smart Keyboard for my iPad Pro.  I have not regretted it whatsoever. The review is right-on. The Smart Keyboard keeps the iPad Pro ultraportable (thinner than MacBook Air).  The typing experience is very nice.  The viewing angle is excellent, and yes it is stable on my lap. A big mystery remains as to why Apple did not include the row of media/function keys.  For the first few weeks I kept pressing the "`/~" key as a reflex having gotten used to the "home" button on my old Logitech keyboard/cover.  I'm finally reprogramming my muscle memory to stop doing that, but I miss it. I disagree somewhat, in that, this does become a full laptop replacement for someone like me. The split screen multitasking is very usefull when used with the Apps designed to take advantage of it, and there are certain advantages over a laptop including LTE, Touch ID, "instant on" (from sleep), amazing array of productivity apps including some flagship products from major vendors etc. Not for everyone, true, but perfect for me. 
    justadcomicsadrayven1983magman1979pscooter63
  • Reply 3 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    I can't speak for the Logitech option but I love how Apple's Smart Keyboard feels to type. It took zero time for it to feel nature. Don't get me wrong, it's different, than my MBP, but my hand and finger spacing, as well as how much pressure to exert in order to type fast, accurately, and efficiently, required to no learning curve; unlike the 12" MB which I never got used to after a two 2 week trial as my only traditional computer.

    So far my test with the iPad Pro is going great. I've become more productive as a result of being able to multitask without the multitasking offering too many distractions. In other words, it's a proverbial sweet spot for me to get work done.
    justadcomicsbrakken1983Rayz2016magman1979
  • Reply 4 of 30
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 676member
    Soli said:
    I can't speak for the Logitech option but I love how Apple's Smart Keyboard feels to type. It took zero time for it to feel nature. Don't get me wrong, it's different, than my MBP, but my hand and finger spacing, as well as how much pressure to exert in order to type fast, accurately, and efficiently, required to no learning curve; unlike the 12" MB which I never got used to after a two 2 week trial as my only traditional computer.

    So far my test with the iPad Pro is going great. I've become more productive as a result of being able to multitask without the multitasking offering too many distractions. In other words, it's a proverbial sweet spot for me to get work done.
    Sadly, I got the Create. The keys seem to be positioned on sponge - there's no kinetic feedback as to whether the key has connected or not. I found myself having to thump at the keys which slowed down my touch typing significantly. 

    This combined with both random and failed inputs to drive up my blood pressure, so am getting Apple's keyboard today. Logicool staff were great, and they sent me a replacement, but I don't even want to open it, backlights or not. 

    Thanks for posting about the feel of the keys. AI dind't go in depth about it in their review. 
    edited February 2016 Soli1983
  • Reply 5 of 30
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 676member
    Please more thoroughly compare key travel and feel in a keyboard review. Actual typing is as important as mobility and usage to me. Price, not so much. 
    edited February 2016 1983pscooter63
  • Reply 6 of 30
    I have the Apple keyboard. I like it a lot, but the two knocks against it are: (i) surprisingly noisy; (ii) no backlighting. Also, the grey's a weird choice of color.

    4/5 is the right score.

    (The Logitech keyboard also seems to be heavier than the iPad Pro itself, at ~1.5 pounds).
  • Reply 7 of 30
    I'm happy to read this, as I just bought the apple one today after deliberating and haven't opened it yet. I was kind of annoyed that between the apple keyboard cover and the back silicon cover, they set me back almost $400 Cdn. The same price as an iPad mini. Include the pencil I bought, and you have yourself an air 2. However, obviously these aren't meant for everyone. 
  • Reply 8 of 30
    maxitmaxit Posts: 203member
    iPad mini 4 user here, not interested in a keyboard (the mini is by definition my ultra portable option when my MacBook Pro is too much), but I would buy the Apple smart keyboard. I don't think an iPad should be treated like a laptop. My two cents
    Mr_Grey
  • Reply 9 of 30
    I have paired an Apple Magic Keyboard to my iPad Pro. I use a Just Mobile stand. The arrangement works like a champ. Less expensive than the attached keyboards. Of course, I do not need the portability.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    roakeroake Posts: 618member
    I use the Apple accessory, and I have no complaints.  It works well.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,405member
    Why didn't they just use another lightning connection instead of this "Smart Connector" .    Would be nice to be able to use in landscape and portrait orientations.
    artdent
  • Reply 12 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    k2kw said:
    Why didn't they just use another lightning connection instead of this "Smart Connector" .    Would be nice to be able to use in landscape and portrait orientations.
    According to some older leaks, or perhaps some of the prototypes revealed with their Samsung case, I think there is evidence that they did experiment with that. Even if my memory is wrong, I'd think it's very likely Apple did experiment with this.

    My guess is that the way the Smart Keyboard case is contorted upon opening and closing, that using Lightning for that device probably wouldn't last very long.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 13 of 30
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,067member
    I bought both (whatever I do not use, somebody in the company will use it), and I mostly agree with the review. The lack of color choices (the only option making no real sense, as it matches not a single iPad Pro color. and attracts dirt like crazy), the lack of international layouts and the lack of backlighting are real issues, especially since the print on the key caps is already hard to read in good light, thanks to Sir Ive's obsession with thin fonts and no contrast. The shortcut keys could easily be replaced by key combinations, if Apple would only implement them (e.g. bringing up Control Center while using the keyboard is painful, at least some commands for changing volume and brightness would be a boon). Apple could also somewhat assist international users, if iOS would bring up alternate characters when holding a key, like OS X does, the lack of accented characters would not be that bad. And they really need to solve the situation, that the spellchecking language is tied to the keyboard layout. If there is only a US Smart Keyboard, at least give us an option to switch spelling and suggestions to something else...


  • Reply 14 of 30
    Mr_GreyMr_Grey Posts: 118member
    maxit said:
    iPad mini 4 user here, not interested in a keyboard (the mini is by definition my ultra portable option when my MacBook Pro is too much), but I would buy the Apple smart keyboard. I don't think an iPad should be treated like a laptop. My two cents
    Glad that there are others out there that think this way.  Turning your iPad into a laptop analogue is hardly forward thinking, and everything smaller than the Pro gives a keyboard that's too small to touch type on for anyone but the tiniest of humans.  

    I would buy Apple's keyboard cover for my mini just for the sake of having the option, but only if they make it significantly thinner.  It's pretty chunky right now IMO. 
  • Reply 15 of 30
    Mr_Grey said:
    maxit said:
    iPad mini 4 user here, not interested in a keyboard (the mini is by definition my ultra portable option when my MacBook Pro is too much), but I would buy the Apple smart keyboard. I don't think an iPad should be treated like a laptop. My two cents
    Glad that there are others out there that think this way.  Turning your iPad into a laptop analogue is hardly forward thinking, and everything smaller than the Pro gives a keyboard that's too small to touch type on for anyone but the tiniest of humans.  

    I would buy Apple's keyboard cover for my mini just for the sake of having the option, but only if they make it significantly thinner.  It's pretty chunky right now IMO. 
    Why because you two say so? Well, that settles it, masters of the intersection of fashion and technology prescience I see we have in our midst. Ha!

    I attached a keyboard/folio to my iPad Air and I love it - the productivity I got from it blew me away once I did it. Personally, I'm into maximum portability, my laptop is an 11" MBA, but instead of grabbing that for "on the go," lately I simply throw my iPad Air with keyboard/folio in my bag instead. It's smaller, it allows me to do everything on the go I need to do, plus it's got all the benefits of being an iPad. The keyboard is not for "but the tiniest of humans," who told you that? I'm a big man with big hands and I touch type on the keyboard.

    I'm waiting to see what Zagg offers in this area, the one for my iPad Air is from Zagg and I couldn't be happier. They're offering one for the iPad Pro, but it doesn't take advantage of the Smart Connector yet, so I'm watching and waiting.
    brakken
  • Reply 16 of 30
    I have both the Logitech and Apple keyboards. I got the Logitech while waiting for the Apple keyboard on backorder. I think the review is very accurate, but has a few omissions I found important.
    The Logitech is solidly built and has the big advantage of a backlit keyboard. But that comes at a significant penalty not mentioned. It is very heavy. The the combined weight of iPad and keyboard are the same as my MacBook Pro 13". One area where it is a direct replacement - weight. The other issues is that, in order to save energy, the backlight turns off after only 15-20 seconds. So you're constantly having to hit some hopefully non-crucial key to wake it up. It needs a software option for duration. 
    It does provide more protection with the back cover, but that also makes it more of a pain to remove. The texture of the fabric is rough, making it uncomfortable to set on bare legs.
    The Apple keyboard is much lighter, but no back protection or keyboard lights. The texture is smoother and more comfortable. Unfolding and configuring the case is a bit of origami and takes a bit to learn. I have settled on the Apple keyboard, mainly because of the weight savings, sacrificing some of the Logitech's better features.
    As to the smart connector, I like it. It allows the iPad to be docked in landscape and keeps the lighting port available, primarily for connecting the Pencil. Docks for older iPads using the lightning port force portrait mode.
    When docked to the smart connector, both provide rock solid stability and you came move them around without worry.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    I have the Apple keyboard. I like it a lot, but the two knocks against it are: (i) surprisingly noisy; (ii) no backlighting. Also, the grey's a weird choice of color.

    4/5 is the right score.

    (The Logitech keyboard also seems to be heavier than the iPad Pro itself, at ~1.5 pounds).
    I do like the Smart Cover Keyboard, but I would like it even more if the space bar was a bit less rigid than the other keys. I'm so used to a light tap for spacing that it's jarring to have to apply so much more pressure with my thumbs at an angle typical for typing.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    k2kw said:
    Why didn't they just use another lightning connection instead of this "Smart Connector" .    Would be nice to be able to use in landscape and portrait orientations.
    Agreed. These two keyboards negate one of the great things about the iPad and the reason I prefer it to a laptop - the ability to switch between landscape and portrait orientation. I'll be sticking with my trusty Apple Wireless Keyboard for now.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    zozmanzozman Posts: 391member
    I picked up the Logitech keyboard cover for my iPad pro, I'm super happy with it.
    i mainly use the iPad for drawing & consuming media.
    i didn't like how the apple keyboard felt to type on & lack of back lighting.
    ipad pro in Logitech keyboard cover is massive though, bigger & heavier than my MacBook, however.
    the price gap vs protection is a lot bigger than its been stated.
    if you get the Logitech keyboard case your set for protection & a keyboard.
    get the apple keyboard, that's step one, then you would need to buy an actual protective case for the iPad, then the price gap is huge.
    apple ipad pro keyboard & iPad pro case.


  • Reply 20 of 30
    artdent said:
    k2kw said:
    Why didn't they just use another lightning connection instead of this "Smart Connector" .    Would be nice to be able to use in landscape and portrait orientations.
    Agreed. These two keyboards negate one of the great things about the iPad and the reason I prefer it to a laptop - the ability to switch between landscape and portrait orientation. I'll be sticking with my trusty Apple Wireless Keyboard for now.
    Unless they put another lightning connector on the side (which would be ridiculous), you'd run into the exact same problem, except you'd be forced to use portrait mode with all existing devices or suffer inelegance with a trailing wire plugged into the side of your device or poking into the bottom while in portrait mode.

    I think the Smart Connector is nascent and will make its way onto more iDevices which most likely will mean we'll see loads of new peripherals (Apple and 3rd party) supporting a variety of configurations, perhaps even one that allows you to change orientation. This Smart Connector is the elegance lacking in Microsoft's Continuum feature (but which is a really cool feature) I suspect we'll see more of over the coming months.
    edited February 2016
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