For many people, the iPad has replaced the laptop in their daily lives. Where they used to carry around a bulky laptop, they now carry around a beautifully portable tablet. The only issue is typing, as hovering your hands over a virtual keyboard can become tiring after a while, and the keyboard takes up precious screen real-estate. Here we explain how to choose the right keyboard for your iPad and review the best iPad keyboards.
Best iPad keyboards: How to choose the right type keyboard
First you need to know which keyboards are compatible with your iPad. There are also three different types you should consider when buying a keyboard for an iPad:
- Standalone Bluetooth keyboards
- Keyboard folio cases
- Bluetooth keyboards which attach to your iPad
For most iPad Mini users, the best option would be to use a standalone keyboard as many iPad Mini designed keyboard cases are too small for comfortable use. There are exceptions to that rule though, such as the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for the iPad Mini which despite its size can provide a decent keyboard for tablet use.
Standalone Bluetooth keyboards
Standalone keyboards are a great idea for use with an iPad. The main reason for this is because they don’t have to be designed to be the same length as an iPad, meaning full-size keys and easier, more comfortable typing. Another benefit to using a standard, standalone Bluetooth keyboard is that you may not even have to buy a specific one if you have one already – the iPad is compatible with most (if not all) Bluetooth keyboards.
Standalone keyboards aren’t for everyone however. As they’re standard Bluetooth keyboards, most are designed for PC or Mac use, thus they aren’t the most portable keyboards that money can buy. This wouldn’t be an issue for someone that wants to use their iPad and keyboard combo in a single location, but it would present issues with someone who wanted to take the setup to work every day.
Another issue is that as it’s a separate accessory, you’ll have to find a stand for your iPad to sit on to give you a decent viewing angle.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have folios – iPad cases that house Bluetooth keyboards within. For many people, this is the perfect combination as they’re keeping the mobility of an iPad with the productivity of a laptop without having to carry around separate components. Also, battery life is rarely an issue as most manufacturers develop their cases to last for a long time, with some boasting as much as a three-month battery life on a single charge.
Viewing angles aren’t usually an issue with keyboard folios either, as most have a design that allows the iPad screen to be propped up, much like a laptop.
There are some points to keep in mind when trying to find a good keyboard case. As most keyboard cases are designed to protect the front and back of the iPad when closed, certain issues can arise.
As the keyboard will most likely rest on your iPad screen, some companies use silicon/soft material keys to minimise scratches on your screen. The bad news is that they can be a challenge to type with. There are alternatives however, that create a small gap between the iPad and keyboard, allowing for the use of more traditional plastic keys.
The real issue with the keyboard case is the bulk that it adds to your iPad. If you love the iPad’s thin form factor, a keyboard folio may not be the right option for you.
You should also pay attention to the keyboard layout, as many companies try to squash as many keys onto the keyboard as possible, making them uncomfortable to type on, although that’s not an issue limited only to keyboard cases. Some companies have tried to combat this issue and we’ve found that Logitech folios have a great layout that doesn’t feel too different to a full size keyboard.
Detachable Bluetooth keyboards
If having a separate keyboard or folio doesn’t sound ideal, there’s one alternative that combines the best of both worlds: detachable Bluetooth keyboards.
These are keyboards which have a built-in stand for your iPad, and may have hinges of some description which let you ‘close’ the iPad and carry the assembly around like a laptop.
Such keyboards can be quite impressive if they’ve got plastic keys because they offer a stand for your iPad to sit in when in use, usually providing a better viewing angle than folios.
Also, it takes on more of a laptop-esque form factor, for those of you that miss the laptop aesthetic.
Another reason for connecting the iPad and keyboard is that it protects the iPad screen against scratches or damage when not in use, though not as much as a folio would.
The only real downside to using a detachable keyboard is that there aren’t many that are designed for use with a normal protective iPad case, which many people use. This means that if you have a case on your iPad and want to use your keyboard, you have the laborious task of removing the original case first.
1. Brydge Air
- Reviewed on: 5 March 2015
Coming in at £111-£124, the Brydge Air is more than twice as expensive as its previous generation. Even though it’s more expensive and may put some people off, it still gave us one of the best writing experiences on an iPad that we've ever had. It's a great alternative for people that don't want to carry both an iPad and a laptop around and it's great for writing long documents.
Read our Brydge Air review.
- Reviewed on: 3 February 2015
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad is Slim, Stylish, and Functional, but a Fingerprint Magnet and pretty expensive. Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Review: Slim, Stylish, and Functional, but a Fingerprint Magnet.
Read our Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover review.
- Reviewed on: 25 August 2014
If you don't touch type, you might get on better with the QODE Thin Type Keyboard but with no way to change the character that each key produces, the out-of-place apostrophe key is a bit of a deal breaker. Plus, of course, there's the issue of the price. It's steep at £90, despite the excellent build quality.
- Reviewed on: 18 June 2014
Overall, the Brydge is the best iPad keyboard we've tested. It's great if you don't want to carry your iPad and laptop around as it's genuinely good for typing long documents. As a bonus, it's not even that expensive.
Read our Brydge+ with speakers review.
- Reviewed on: 17 October 2012
Although the lack of a UK-specific layout is disappointing, this is a decent keyboard case for the price. The case itself isn't quite as well made as the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio, but the keyboard itself is a pleasure to type on, making it better value.
Read our Adonit Writer Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 5 February 2014
Although you can buy an iPad keyboard for less, the personalisation make the Photobox version worth the extra money. Plus, Photobox often has discounts which means you can get it for closer to £50.
Read our Photobox iPad keyboard case review.