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Lack of iPad Pro Smart Connector Accessories Blamed on Long Wait Times for Components

Fast Company published a report this week exploring why third-party accessories that make use of Apple's Smart Connector remain few and far between, almost two years after the connector first debuted on the iPad Pro. The magnetic Smart Connector allows the iPad Pro to communicate with and power compatible accessories, like the company's own Smart Keyboard, without the hassle of wires.

The first supporting third-party accessory, Logitech's Create Smart Connector keyboard, launched the same day as the iPad Pro in late 2015, shortly followed by the Logitech charging base, and more recently a Logitech keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. However, this close partnership between Apple and Logitech is one of the reasons for the dearth of Smart Connector accessories from competing vendors, according to the report.

"With an iPad Pro keyboard on the market already, we are evaluating the market's appetite for another iPad Pro keyboard and identifying if there are any gaps that we can fill," a spokeswoman for Incipio told Fast Company. "So we are developing with having a point of difference in mind rather than developing to be quick to market."
Other issues are said to relate to procuring Smart Connector components, with manufacturers reporting longer lead times compared to other accessories, making them time- and cost-prohibitive. "For a business like us, we've got a very rapid product development cycle," said one vendor source, who asked to remain anonymous. "When you've got a long lead time component that's close to six months, that's just not tenable."

Logitech Create Smart Keyboard

Meanwhile, some accessory makers simply preferred Bluetooth as a better fit, especially for iPad keyboards, with more room for maneuver in terms of accessory design. For instance, the Smart Connector only works with keyboards in landscape mode, whereas some users prefer to type in portrait orientation. The issue of Bluetooth battery life has also been minimized, with smaller batteries now lasting for months rather than weeks.

There are only four Smart Connector accessories currently on the market – three offered by Logitech, one by Apple. Fast Company was told by Apple that multiple companies are now developing Smart Connector accessories, but going on this report, iPad Pro owners looking to further exploit the potential of Apple's proprietary connector could be in for some wait yet.


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Long wait times, pricey components blamed for slow adoption of iPad Pro’s Smart Connector

The iPad Pro Smart Connector accessory business isn’t exactly booming, with Logitech’s Smart Connector-enabled backlit keyboard case among a small handful of third-party options currently available on the market.... Read the rest of this post here


"Long wait times, pricey components blamed for slow adoption of iPad Pro’s Smart Connector" is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Best keyboards for the 12.9 iPad Pro (2015)

What are the best keyboard options for the 2015 12.9 iPad Pro?

Apple may no longer sell the 2015 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but there are still plenty of great hardware keyboards available for first-generation owners. They can help you pump out emails, spreadsheets, papers, and more, all while giving you easy access to your touchscreen.

Note: These cases are only confirmed to fit the 2015 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The 2017 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a different camera setup, and thus won't fit in some older cases. We'll have a separate roundup soon that focuses specifically on cases for the 2017 models.

Smart Connector Keyboards

If you want the simplest way to connect your iPad to a mechanical keyboard, the Smart Connector is hard to beat. You don't have to worry about Bluetooth, nor do you have to charge or connect your keyboard — it automatically pairs when you snap it to your iPad.

Unfortunately, these models come with a few drawbacks: They're often more expensive than a stand-alone Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case, and even in 2017, there are really only two good options: Apple's Smart Keyboard, and Logitech's Create.

Apple Smart Keyboard

Apple's 12.9-inch full-size keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro using the Smart Connector and allows for charging and a two-way exchange of data—no Bluetooth required!

The $169 Smart Keyboard also folds into a slim, lightweight cover to protect the iPad Pro's screen when not in use. Its woven fabric keys do take a slight adjustment period, but as long as you don't mind the texture, you'll be typing away in no time.

See at Apple

Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case

Logitech's Create keyboard case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers an excellent way to type — even in low-light environments. The backlit keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro's Smart Connector for an easy powered connection, while the rear case protects your iPad from drops, scratches, and other scrapes. It is a bit heavy — the case and iPad combined weighs just over 3 pounds — but more than makes up for it with its feature set.

Our review of the Logitech Create

The $149.99 Create's biggest "pro" feature is its function row: It's the only Smart Connector keyboard to offer a full set of keys controlling screen brightness, play controls, search, and more.

See at Logitech

Bluetooth Keyboards and Keyboard Cases

Though these keyboards have to be charged on occasion, they often offer a cheaper entry into the world of physical iPad keyboards, and are usually lighter and offer more viewing angles than their Smart Connector brethren.

Apple Magic Keyboard and Canopy Case

Apple's $99 Magic Keyboard is a simple choice for iPad users looking to type on their iPad, but not a poor one. For one, if you have an iMac, you likely already have a Magic Keyboard lying around. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPad, offering a half-pound typing option with a rechargeable battery that lasts over a month.

You can even pair it with a carrying case that doubles as a stand if you're interested: Studio Neat's $40 Canopy offers a synthetic canvas and microfiber stand that both protects your keyboard when not in use and sets up as a nice prop for working with your iPad at an angle.

See at Apple

See at Studio Neat

ZAGG Slim Book

The $139.99 Slim Book from ZAGG takes a more traditional approach to connecting to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, eschewing the Smart Connector for Bluetooth. It can pair up to three devices at once, and you can detach the protective case from the keyboard at any time.

Because of that Bluetooth connection, the Slim Book does need to be charged via micro-USB; thankfully, a single boost of battery life should last up to two years, according to the manufacturer.

See at Amazon

Keyboards we considered


There are a number of other keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro out there that we considered for this roundup, but inevitably discarded due to fit, finish, weight, or reliability issues. Those include:

Your favorite 2015 12.9-inch iPad Keyboard?

Are you planning to pick up one of these keyboards, or do you have a different one you love? Let us know in the comments!

These are the keyboard cases that will fit the 10.5 iPad Pro

What are the best keyboard options for the 10.5 iPad Pro?

The 10.5 iPad Pro is the Goldilocks of iPad tablets: Not too big, not too small. It packs all the great productivity features present in its bigger 12.9-inch cousin, all while retaining the portability of the standard 9.7 iPad.

If you're hoping to do writing work on your 10.5-inch iPad Pro, you're probably going to want a physical keyboard case as an option. While the software keyboard offers full-sized keys for a better digital typing experience, hardware keyboards are great for iPad power users: With one, you can take control of iOS's built-in keyboard shortcuts, navigate more efficiently through text, and type like a speed demon. Some keyboards also offer additional features like function rows to save you a swipe or two through Control Center to change your brightness, volume, and more.

Note: The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is both slightly wider and longer than its 9.7-inch predecessor; as such, you won't be able to use full keyboard cases made for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Models that only connect along the bottom (like the 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard) may still work, but not perfectly. We've noted this in any applicable products below.

Here are the keyboards we've confirmed work with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Smart Connector Keyboards

If you want the simplest way to connect your iPad to a mechanical keyboard, the Smart Connector is hard to beat. You don't have to worry about Bluetooth, nor do you have to charge or connect your keyboard — it automatically pairs when you snap it to your iPad.

Unfortunately, these models come with a few drawbacks: They're often more expensive than a stand-alone Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case, and even in 2017, there are really only two options: Apple's Smart Keyboard and Logitech's Slim Combo.

Apple Smart Keyboard (10.5)

Apple's 10.5-inch full-size keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro using the Smart Connector and allows for charging and a two-way exchange of data — no Bluetooth required.

The $159 Smart Keyboard also folds into a slim, lightweight cover to protect the iPad Pro's screen when not in use. Its woven fabric keys do take a slight adjustment period, but as long as you don't mind the texture, you'll be typing away in no time.

See at Apple

Apple Smart Keyboard (9.7)

I'm going to note right off the bat that if you're buying a new iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, you should get the 10.5-inch model up above. But if you already have an older 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard or you can get one at a discount, this is an acceptable alternative for a typing experience on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

The 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard isn't a perfect fit by a long shot: Its smaller-than-full-size keys aren't nearly as enjoyable to type on, and it doesn't cover the bezels of the iPad when closed, owing to the 10.5-inch screen's longer and wider casing.

That said, it's one of the few previous-generation keyboard cases that you can actually use with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and that makes it at least worth a mention.

See at Apple

Logitech Slim Combo Keyboard Case

Logitech's latest Smart Connector case for the 10.5-inch iPad isn't as simple to use on laps as its predecessor, the Create, but it does offer more features.

Our review of the Logitech Slim Combo

The new $129.99 keyboard case weighs a slightly heavier 1.16 lbs compared to the 0.94 lbs of the 9.7-inch Create, thanks to two distinct casing pieces: the top case, and thicker bottom keyboard case.

The top case wants to be a Microsoft Surface when it grows up: It offers an adjustable kickstand for multiple-angle viewing — great for desk use, but not so comfortable when using the iPad on a lap or softer surface. There's also a simple fabric loop at the top for the Apple Pencil, though it leaves the Pencil (and its cap) vulnerable to being banged around in a bag or snagged on outdoor elements.

The rear keyboard case snaps to the iPad Pro using a flexible fabric ribbon Smart Connector, which allows the backlit keyboard to stay connected at multiple angles — an improvement on the Create's single angle workspace, though the ribbon is a bit flimsy for my liking and can occasionally detach from the Smart Connector when working on a lap.

The keyboard is as excellent as ever, with a full range of function keys, though its palm rest and keyboard thickness is a little excessive — those looking for where the extra weigh on this case comes from can probably pinpoint it in this decision.

It's definitely not a perfect keyboard case, but it's currently the only 10.5-inch model on the market that offers backlit keys and the Smart Connector, so it makes the list. (For now.)

See at Logitech

Bluetooth Keyboards and Keyboard Cases

Though these keyboards have to be charged on occasion, they often offer a cheaper entry into the world of physical iPad keyboards, and are usually lighter and offer more viewing angles than their Smart Connector brethren.

Apple Magic Keyboard and Canopy Case

Apple's $99 Magic Keyboard is a simple choice for iPad users looking to type on their iPad, but not a poor one. For one, if you have an iMac, you likely already have a Magic Keyboard lying around. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPad, offering a half-pound typing option with a rechargeable battery that lasts over a month.

You can even pair it with a carrying case that doubles as a stand if you're interested: Studio Neat's $40 Canopy offers a synthetic canvas and microfiber stand that both protects your keyboard when not in use and sets up as a nice prop for working with your iPad at an angle.

And because the stand doesn't protect or block the rear casing, you can easily move your iPad out of the Canopy and use its rear camera.

See at Apple

See at Studio Neat

Future keyboards we're keeping an eye on


Because the 10.5-inch size is so new, there are very few manufacturers that have appropriate options out on the market. We're keeping an eye on the following cases — they haven't come out yet, but once they do, we'll test and report back. They include:

Your favorite 10.5-inch iPad Pro Keyboard?

There aren't many 10.5-inch iPad Pro keyboards out there right now, but we're keeping an ear to the ground to find and test the best ones. What about you, iMore? Found a 10.5-inch keyboard you love? Toss the link in the comments!

What keyboard cases will fit the 2017 12.9 iPad Pro?

What are the best keyboard options for the 2017 12.9 iPad Pro?

If you've purchased the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, chances are you're looking to do work beyond the occasional viewing of a film or playing of a game. And should you plan to use your machine professionally, you'll likely want to pick up a physical keyboard to augment your workflow.

Note: Though the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro hasn't changed in its dimensions, camera improvements have altered the positioning of both the rear camera and its flash. As such, if you plan on using your iPad's camera, you may have to buy a new keyboard case. All the options below fit the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro; we've noted if they interfere with the camera system.

Hardware keyboards are great for iPad power users who need to write more than the occasional tweet or email: With one, you can take control of iOS's built-in keyboard shortcuts, navigate more efficiently through text, and type like a speed demon. Some keyboards also offer additional features like function rows to save you a swipe or two through Control Center to change your brightness, volume, and more.

Here are the keyboards we've confirmed work with the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Smart Connector Keyboards

If you want the simplest way to connect your iPad to a mechanical keyboard, the Smart Connector is hard to beat. You don't have to worry about Bluetooth, nor do you have to charge or connect your keyboard — it automatically pairs when you snap it to your iPad.

Unfortunately, these models come with a few drawbacks: They're often more expensive than a stand-alone Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case, and even in 2017, there are really only three options: Apple's Smart Keyboard, Logitech's Slim Combo, and Logitech's Create.

Apple Smart Keyboard

Apple's 12.9-inch full-size keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro using the Smart Connector and allows for charging and a two-way exchange of data — no Bluetooth required.

The $169 Smart Keyboard also folds into a slim, lightweight cover to protect the iPad Pro's screen when not in use. Its woven fabric keys do take a slight adjustment period, but as long as you don't mind the texture, you'll be typing away in no time.

Because the keyboard only provides a front — rather than a rear — cover for the 12.9-inch model, this keyboard will work with both the 2015 first-generation and 2017 second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

See at Apple

Logitech Slim Combo Keyboard Case

Logitech's latest Smart Connector case for the 12.9-inch iPad isn't as simple to use on laps as its predecessor, the Create, but it offers more features, and at a lighter weight, too.

Our review of the Logitech Slim Combo

The new $149.99 keyboard case weighs 1.41 lbs compared to the 1.6 lbs of the Create, shaving a little weight off by splitting it into two distinct pieces: the top case, and the bottom keyboard case.

The top case wants to be a Microsoft Surface when it grows up: It offers an adjustable kickstand for multiple-angle viewing — great for desk use, but not so comfortable when using the iPad on a lap or softer surface. There's also a simple fabric loop at the top for the Apple Pencil, though it leaves the Pencil (and its cap) vulnerable to being banged around in a bag or snagged on outdoor elements.

The rear keyboard case snaps to the iPad Pro using a flexible fabric ribbon Smart Connector, which allows the backlit keyboard to stay connected at multiple angles — an improvement on the Create's single angle workspace.

The keyboard is as excellent as ever, with a full range of function keys; the 12.9-inch model also offers a fold-back panel to both elevate the keypad and keep the rear footprint from being too massive on a desk.

See at Logitech

Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case

Logitech's Create keyboard case hasn't been updated for the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the 2015 version still works for most use cases. (When snapped into the case, you'll block the iPad's rear camera flash.) While a bit heavier than the Slim Combo and lacking a Pencil carrying option and multiple viewing angles, the Create offers an all-in-one solution that works better on laps — and saves you from having to carry around multiple moving parts.

Like the Slim Combo, it offers an excellent way to type — even in low-light environments. The backlit keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro's Smart Connector for an easy powered connection, while the rear case protects your iPad from drops, scratches, and other scrapes. It is a bit heavy — the case and iPad combined weighs just over 3 pounds — but more than makes up for it with its feature set.

Our review of the Logitech Create

The $149.99 Create's biggest "pro" feature is its function row: Like the Slim Combo, it offers a full set of keys controlling screen brightness, play controls, search, and more.

See at Logitech

Bluetooth Keyboards and Keyboard Cases

Though these keyboards have to be charged on occasion, they often offer a cheaper entry into the world of physical iPad keyboards, and are usually lighter and offer more viewing angles than their Smart Connector brethren.

Apple Magic Keyboard and Canopy Case

Apple's $99 Magic Keyboard is a simple choice for iPad users looking to type on their iPad, but not a poor one. For one, if you have an iMac, you likely already have a Magic Keyboard lying around. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPad, offering a half-pound typing option with a rechargeable battery that lasts over a month.

You can even pair it with a carrying case that doubles as a stand if you're interested: Studio Neat's $40 Canopy offers a synthetic canvas and microfiber stand that both protects your keyboard when not in use and sets up as a nice prop for working with your iPad at an angle.

And because the stand doesn't protect or block the rear casing, you can easily move your iPad out of the Canopy and use its rear camera.

See at Apple

See at Studio Neat

Keyboards we considered


There are a number of other keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro out there that we considered for this roundup, but inevitably discarded due to fit, finish, weight, or reliability issues. Those include:

  • Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case: The Razer case fits the second-generation 12.9-inch, but blocks its flash. It's also the heaviest of all the cases we considered.
  • The Brydge: The Brydge fits the second-generation 12.9-inch model, but has struggled to build reliable keyboards; several people I know (including Six Colors's Jason Snell received defective models at first.

Your favorite 2017 12.9-inch iPad Pro Keyboard?

Found a second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro keyboard case that you love and that fits the device well? Let us know in the comments!

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