Accessories will be key whether you’re turning your new iPad into a laptop replacement or just trying to protect it against daily-life hazards. It’s tempting to turn to Apple’s own accessories -- and in some cases, you should -- but there are slews of other options available that work just as well and are often more affordable. We tested out a bunch of cases, keyboards, styli and more to see which iPad accessories are the best one to get right now.
I’ve always been that person who takes her new smartphone or tablet out of the box and immediately puts it in a case. While some detest hiding the precise industrial design of their new expensive gear, they provide undeniable protection. Apple’s Smart Covers for its various iPads are fine, but they’re overpriced and most of them don’t give your iPad any edge protection. Similar alternatives, some of which do surround the edges of an iPad, are abundant online and I’ve found ProCase and MoKo make some of the best -- even better, they cost a fraction of what Apple’s Smart Cover costs.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on a case, get something that combines protection and style. Otterbox is an expert in the former, but its Symmetry Series 360 series shows that the company can also handle the latter. Symmetry cases look similar to the Smart Cover, but the clear, scratch-resistant back is sturdy without adding a lot of weight to the iPad and the edge protection is substantial. I also like the extra flap Otterbox added that keeps the screen cover closed and holds the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil to the side of the new iPad Pros. Symmetry Series 360 cases are available for most new iPads, and while expensive at $90, they’re worth it if you want a great balance of protection and style.
A much more affordable alternative is ProCase’s Leather Folio. While ProCase isn’t as well known for protection as Otterbox is, this model has a TPU interior that wraps around most of the iPad’s edges to keep it secure. The TPU lining also surrounds the second-gen Apple Pencil while it magnetically charges against the new iPad Pros, making it one of the more secure cases for those that have the Pencil.
Leather folios will appeal to a certain type of person -- I didn’t think I was that person until I tried this case. Not only is it attractive but it’s practical. It has a pocket on the front flap, three notches on which to prop up the iPad at different viewing angles and an elastic strap that can either keep the folio closed or hold the front flap against the back of the iPad while you’re using it. It’s definitely worth its $18 price tag for those that want a case that’s just as practical as it is professional.
There are two types of people that want keyboards for their iPads: those who just want something more comfortable than the on-screen keyboard for banging out the occasional email, and the second want to use their iPad like a fully-fledged laptop. If you’re part of the first crowd, there are tons of inexpensive Bluetooth keyboards that will do the trick.
I’m partial to Logitech’s Keys to Go, an ultra-slim keyboard that almost disappears in your bag. It’s without a doubt one of the most portable Bluetooth keyboards you’ll find and it’s not terribly uncomfortable to type on. Yes, the keys have little travel and a bubbly feel to them, but they’ll let you compose a quick email or respond to a message on Facebook much more easily than you could with the touchscreen. I also like that its wipeable fabric prevents spills and dirt from getting inside the keyboard. Plus, at around $50, it won’t break the bank.
If you fall into the second category, there are even more options for you. The most luxurious comes from Apple itself in the Magic Keyboard. The $300 case magnetically attaches to the new iPad Pros and keeps them “floating” above the keyboard and trackpad. Engadget’s Chris Velazco praised the Magic Keyboard for its typing comfort and precise trackpad, but docked it for its limited range of motion. It’s certainly the fanciest keyboard available for the iPad Pros and it’s one to consider if money is no object and you want the most stylish (and possibly most comfortable) keyboard you can buy.
But as far as protection goes, the Magic Keyboard provides basically as much as Apple’s Smart Cover (which isn’t much). If you need something a bit more durable (and don’t want to spend $300), Zagg’s $100 Slim Book Go could do the trick. It keeps things fairly svelte as its name suggests, and it’s actually slightly thinner than one of its top competitors, the $120 Logitech Slim Folio Pro.
Like Logitech’s option, however, the Zagg’s keyboard case adds a bit more weight to the iPad than a basic case does, but that’s to be expected with any keyboard attachment. The weight from the Zagg case comes from its thicker hinge and the sturdy backplate that props the iPad up while you’re typing. That’s actually one of my favorite things about the Slim Book Go -- there’s very little chance of the iPad buckling under pressure or toppling over when it’s propped up in this case, as is often the case with flimsier designs.
Logitech’s Slim Folio Pro, however, is much better if you care about style (the soft-touch finish is comparable to Apple’s own accessories) and I prefer its keys and the flap that holds the Apple Pencil along the side of the iPad. Typing on Zagg’s Slim Book Go is acceptable, but it was more comfortable to use Logitech’s larger, squared-off keys. I also made fewer typing errors when using Logitech’s keyboard. Both keyboard cases charge up via a USB-C port, so you can use the same cable that came with your iPad Pro, and both have backlit keys as well.