Review: Brydge Pro Keyboard for iPad Pro beats Apple's offering in nearly every way

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in iPad
The Brydge Pro is a unique third-party keyboard for the iPad Pro that gives Apple's tablet the practical workability of a MacBook.

Brydge Keyboard on the 11-inch iPad Pro
Brydge Keyboard on the 11-inch iPad Pro


We've reviewed quite a few keyboards for the iPad Pro on AppleInsider, and while we appreciate the seamless and easy functionality of Apple's Smart Keyboard, typing on it is a completely different story. We've praised keyboards like the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech, as well as Zagg's Slim Book Go for great tactile feedback for typing

The Brydge Pro keyboard is unlike the others, and we can say confidently that it's the best keyboard for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.



It's close to a MacBook & iPad hybrid

For almost the same price as Apple's own Smart Keyboard you're getting way more in terms of functionality, and its overall design is top-notch.

Both sizes of the Brydge Pro keyboard are made out of a sturdy aluminum casing that feels cold to the touch. Given the heft, and sturdiness, an iPad and Brydge combo feels very much like holding a smaller MacBook.

Like the MacBook, there are even four rubber feet so that your iPad won't slide around your desk when you're using. So far, we haven't seen this in other keyboard cases, and we'd like to see it more as the category grows.


Great at every angle

While this is more about the iPad, the iPad's 180 degree viewing angles, no matter how you want to use this iPad when you're typing with the Brydge, you're set. You can set it to whatever angle you'd like, for typing ergonomics, or in two other modes such as movie mode, and tablet or drawing mode.

The keyboard itself is amazing to type on, but it's not the best we've tried. We think that the Zagg Slim Book Go feels way better in terms of overall feel, but only by a little bit.

The keys are a bit small on the 11-inch version, but the 12.9-inch version with the bigger keys and more natural spacing between them feels more normal. We don't like the fact that our wrists aren't sitting properly on the lower half of the keyboard, but on the bigger version, that's not an issue.

Above the number keys are iOS shortcuts, rare on iPad Pro keyboards. A dedicated brightness button is really handy so you don't have to access the control center to adjust the iPad's brightness.

The keyboard is backlit and has three different brightness options. We've gone up and down the range, and it gets very bright, almost bright enough to read print materials adjacent to the iPad. We can't say this about other keyboards we've tried.


The perfect keyboard for professionals

There are two rubber nubs right below the arrow keys and Siri shortcut button so that when you close the iPad down it won't scratch your screen. When you do close it, the iPad and keyboard goes to sleep, and when you open it up later, it'll automatically reconnect and you can start using it immediately. It's very MacBook-like which we're a fan of.




The Brydge Pro also comes with a magnetic snap-on leather cover to help protect the back of your iPad from scratches or dents. We wish it came in other colors, but black is subtle and minimal.

Battery is supposed to last for 12 months, but we've only had the Brydge Pro for a week, and so far we haven't really ran into any issues. If the battery dies, you can charge the keyboard via USB-C.




All in all, we're really impressed with the Brydge Keyboard Pro. Build quality is superb, the keyboard feels great to type on, although not the best we've tried. The almost unlimited viewing angle options are something that we really appreciate, and the fact that it feels like a MacBook when you're lugging it around really helps sell the Brydge Pro that much more.

If you're looking for the best overall iPad keyboard, we highly recommend picking up the Brydge Pro keyboard.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Where to buy

The Brydge keyboard for Apple's 11-inch iPad Pro and third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro can be purchased for $149.99 and $169.99 respectively at Brydge.com.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 133member
    If it used the smart connector then it would be a no brainer. But needing a rechargeable battery makes it worse than Apple’s Smart Keyboard. The Apple keyboard feel is fine and at least for me, very comfortable. 

    I dont know if Apple licenses the smart connector but if they do, Brydge should look into using it even if it ups the price a bit. I don’t think iPad Pro users are particularly price sensitive. 
    edited May 9 SpamSandwichmbenz1962rosse59watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 43
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,074member
    jdb8167 said:
    If it used the smart connector then it would be a no brainer. But needing a rechargeable battery makes it worse than Apple’s Smart Keyboard. The Apple keyboard feel is fine and at least for me, very comfortable. 

    I dont one know if Apple licenses the smart connector but if they do, Brydge should look into using it even if it ups the price a bit. I don’t think iPad Pro users are particularly price sensitive. 
    I kind of like it having it's own battery and not wasting the iPad battery. I don't think anyone really uses the smart connector other than Apple for the most part. My biggest thing is wondering if Apple is going to have a pointer and mouse/touchpad support which would kind of make these keyboards worthless when new ones come out with a touchpad on them. If rumors are true?!?!? May just be wishful thinking.
    toysandmepscooter63
  • Reply 3 of 43
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 32member
    Given that the purchase of an iPad is often driven by considerations for minimizing size and weight, why pretend that weight doesn't matter by failing to mention it in a review like this, especially one where you award the product 4.5 stars? As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself. In fact, the Bryce and iPad together are very close to the weight of the 2018 MacBook Pro 13" w/Touchbar. 
    jdb8167SpamSandwichentropyspscooter63mbenz1962watto_cobraburnside
  • Reply 4 of 43
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 133member
    charlesn said:
    Given that the purchase of an iPad is often driven by considerations for minimizing size and weight, why pretend that weight doesn't matter by failing to mention it in a review like this, especially one where you award the product 4.5 stars? As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself. In fact, the Bryce and iPad together are very close to the weight of the 2018 MacBook Pro 13" w/Touchbar. 
    Very good point. I carry my 12.9" iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard pretty much everywhere. So weight matters. I have a 2018 13" MacBook Pro which I should sell because I never use it. The iPad Pro so much more convenient and I have a good connection to my desktop with Screens and screen size adjustment to maximize screen space with SwitchResX when I need MacOS.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 43
    wd4fsuwd4fsu Posts: 11member
    jdb8167 said:
    charlesn said:
    Given that the purchase of an iPad is often driven by considerations for minimizing size and weight, why pretend that weight doesn't matter by failing to mention it in a review like this, especially one where you award the product 4.5 stars? As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself. In fact, the Bryce and iPad together are very close to the weight of the 2018 MacBook Pro 13" w/Touchbar. 
    Very good point. I carry my 12.9" iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard pretty much everywhere. So weight matters. I have a 2018 13" MacBook Pro which I should sell because I never use it. The iPad Pro so much more convenient and I have a good connection to my desktop with Screens and screen size adjustment to maximize screen space with SwitchResX when I need MacOS.
    Agreed. I would buy a MBP if I wanted a machine that thick and heavy. The benefits of the Apple keyboard are *precisely* that it is impossibly thin, no battery required and light. Perfect combination of features for the iPad... which is attractive and popular mostly because of its portability. The article is a fail because this is such an obvious point and isn't mentioned at all.
    jdb8167mbenz1962watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 43
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 578member
    holy shit this thing more than doubles the thickness!

    "better in nearly every way" except for the ways in which a person would choose an iPad in the first place…

    BxBornentropysSoundJudgmentmbenz1962
  • Reply 7 of 43
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 9member
    I agree with the reviewer. Having had one of Apple's floppy keyboards attached to my iPad Pro for years, then moving to a Brydge keyboard, the Brydge is SO much better for people who need to type on their iPads. The main problems with Apple's floppy keyboards are they keep falling off, they don't provide enough protection for the iPad, and they're very difficult to type on. Brydge's keyboards main issues are they add bulk, they occasionally need to be charged, and you might have to type a key or two before the iPad realizes you have an attached keyboard. I would also recommend Brydge purchasers buy the iPad back cover that matches up with the keyboard (to protect both sides of the iPad).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,950member
    Add mouse support to iOS and you might as well buy a MacBook and be done with it. The mentality of trying to force the iPad into a laptop configuration is just anathema to me. Just buy a damn laptop for the same or lower price.
    toysandmewatto_cobraburnside
  • Reply 9 of 43
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 9member
    charlesn said:
    As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself.
    There's a good reason the keyboard is heavier than the iPad: the iPad would tip over at some angles otherwise. Apple's floppy keyboards only work at a couple angles because the weight of the iPad is so much greater than the keyboard. Have you ever tried to type on an iPad with Apple's type cover resting in your lap? Nice angle and balancing act, eh? (it's not.) Apple's keyboard is mostly useless for lap typing.
    stompy
  • Reply 10 of 43
    narwhal said:
    I agree with the reviewer. Having had one of Apple's floppy keyboards attached to my iPad Pro for years, then moving to a Brydge keyboard, the Brydge is SO much better for people who need to type on their iPads. The main problems with Apple's floppy keyboards are they keep falling off, they don't provide enough protection for the iPad, and they're very difficult to type on. Brydge's keyboards main issues are they add bulk, they occasionally need to be charged, and you might have to type a key or two before the iPad realizes you have an attached keyboard. I would also recommend Brydge purchasers buy the iPad back cover that matches up with the keyboard (to protect both sides of the iPad).
    Serious question, what are you doing with the keyboard that was causing it to fall off? I have the original 12.9” Pro and the apple keyboard from 3.5 years ago, this is my only computer so it is used heavily, and my keyboard never falls off unintentionally.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,997member
    wd4fsu said:
    jdb8167 said:
    charlesn said:
    Given that the purchase of an iPad is often driven by considerations for minimizing size and weight, why pretend that weight doesn't matter by failing to mention it in a review like this, especially one where you award the product 4.5 stars? As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself. In fact, the Bryce and iPad together are very close to the weight of the 2018 MacBook Pro 13" w/Touchbar. 
    Very good point. I carry my 12.9" iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard pretty much everywhere. So weight matters. I have a 2018 13" MacBook Pro which I should sell because I never use it. The iPad Pro so much more convenient and I have a good connection to my desktop with Screens and screen size adjustment to maximize screen space with SwitchResX when I need MacOS.
    Agreed. I would buy a MBP if I wanted a machine that thick and heavy. The benefits of the Apple keyboard are *precisely* that it is impossibly thin, no battery required and light. Perfect combination of features for the iPad... which is attractive and popular mostly because of its portability. The article is a fail because this is such an obvious point and isn't mentioned at all.
    I prefer the Smart Keyboard Cover myself for the same reason. Very flat and very light.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 43
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 9member
    jdb8167 said:
    If it used the smart connector then it would be a no brainer.
    A bigger issue is misplacing the charging cord between charges, as the Brydge keyboard doesn't need to be charged very often, maybe a couple times a year.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 43
    SolecizeSolecize Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    “Way better... but only by a little bit”

    well that’s a conundrum 
    poisednoiseRSGinSFmbenz1962superklotonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 43
    BxBornBxBorn Posts: 40member
    get all the size and weight of a Macbook Pro without having to actually own a Macbook Pro
    RSGinSFwatto_cobracharlesn
  • Reply 15 of 43
    stompystompy Posts: 332member
    lkrupp said:
    Add mouse support to iOS and you might as well buy a MacBook and be done with it. The mentality of trying to force the iPad into a laptop configuration is just anathema to me. Just buy a damn laptop for the same or lower price.
    That only holds water for those who would keep the iPad attached to the keyboard the vast majority of the time. iPad is easily detached from Brydge keyboards, and is the most seamless Apple 'convertible' experience.

    Doesn't match your use case? Fine. Move along.
    mike1
  • Reply 16 of 43
    cmd-zcmd-z Posts: 45member
    "We think that the Zagg Slim Book Go feels way better in terms of overall feel, but only by a little bit."

    So which is it, "way better" or "only by a little bit"?
    edited May 9 mike1MplsPRSGinSFpscooter63mbenz1962redgeminipasuperkloton
  • Reply 17 of 43
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 363member
    There are other factors that break it for me, but one is the capability to secure the new Apple Pencil. Having the Apple Pencil hang out on the edge without securing it somehow is a deal breaker.

    So far, I've seen no keyboard or case for the iPad Pro which does that. 
  • Reply 18 of 43
    charlesn said:
    Given that the purchase of an iPad is often driven by considerations for minimizing size and weight, why pretend that weight doesn't matter by failing to mention it in a review like this, especially one where you award the product 4.5 stars? As it turns out, the Bryce 12" keyboard tips the scales at 1.5 POUNDS, which is more than the weight of the 2018 iPad 12.9" itself. In fact, the Bryce and iPad together are very close to the weight of the 2018 MacBook Pro 13" w/Touchbar. 
    It’s spelled BRYDGE! Come on it’s easy you can do it B..R..Y..D..G..E!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 43
    maccadmaccad Posts: 73member
    You say the Zagg Slim Book Go offers a better typing experience but "only slightly." That's not enough to overcome the screen vibrating back and forth like crazy when you type (watch your video review of the Zagg). I think that would be annoying. The Zagg seems flimsy compared to the solid Brydge.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 43
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,105member
    I truly wish this one used the Smart Connector.

    The iPad "Smart" Keyboard (someone at Apple has a weird sense of humor) is an abomination. Nothing smart about it. First, horrendous build quality. My first one simply stopped working properly within one year of ownership (it would not connect to the SC; yes, I tried cleaning the connectors). I ordered a new one a month ago, and that one would not sit flat on the table when the iPad was connected (the front left corner would sit up about quarter of an inch, making the keyboard flap every time I typed on it). I sent it back for a replacement, and I've been using that one for about 10 days now. Works fine.

    Second, the dullest-possible-grey has to be the worst color on any product that Apple has ever made. (Makes Henry Ford's "you can have any color you want as long as it's black" look like a genius offer, by comparison). Third, for $169, you'd think Apple might throw in some back-lighting. Fourth, the keys are about as comfortable as tapping the front of my fingers on a desk.

    It gets 2.5 stars on the Apple Store: a generous rating, IMHO. I'd give it a 1.0. The only reason I buy it is because there are no other choices with an SC.
    edited May 9
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