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Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio vs. Third-Party Alternatives

Apple designed a Smart Keyboard Folio for the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, but while it's super slim, it's also expensive and with flat keys that some iPad users might not like.

Luckily, third-party companies like Zagg and Logitech have come out with some alternate iPad Pro keyboards, and in today's video, we're comparing the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple to two popular alternatives - the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech and the Slim Book Go from Zagg.

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We tested keyboards for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but both Logitech and Zagg make variants for both iPad Pro models. Zagg's Slim Book Go is priced at $99 for the 11-inch model and $130 for the 12.9-inch model, while the Slim Folio Pro from Logitech is priced at $120 for the 11-inch model and $130 for the 12.9-inch model.

Both third-party keyboard options are cheaper than the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple, which costs $179 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $199 for the 12.9-inch model, so you can save a decent amount of cash with a third-party option.

Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio is super slim and adds a minimal amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, and that thin profile is a feature that Logitech and Zagg haven't been able to match. The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both add a considerable amount of bulk to the iPad Pro, doubling the weight of the device and making it a good deal thicker.

Zagg Slim Book Go

Of the two, the Slim Book Go from Zagg is the heftier model, but both are pretty bulky. If you're someone who prefers a device without a thick case on it, these keyboards may not be for you. There are, however, some benefits to these cases beyond price, such as the feel of the keyboard.

The Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple has flat, fabric covered keys that have little travel and don't feel much like a standard keyboard. Zagg and Logitech's solutions, though, are thicker and thus accommodate keys with more travel, a more satisfying press, and just a better overall feel.

The Slim Book Go from Zagg is designed to protect the entire iPad Pro, providing solid drop protection. The case itself is made from a hard plastic, while the keyboard has a cloth feel on the front and felt material surrounding the keys.

Zagg Slim Book Go

You can detach the keyboard cover from the case if you want, leaving just the case itself on the iPad. Zagg left a lot of space at the bottom of the keyboard on the Slim Book Go, so it's comfortable to rest your wrists, but when using it on your lap, it's wobbly.

That's not a problem in a situation where you're using it on a desk, and with the adjustable stand there are multiple viewing angles, something you don't get with Logitech's version. The keyboard is pleasant to type on, but there's no backlighting for the keys. It's not clear why, but there's no sleep/wake function in the cover, so shutting it won't turn off your iPad. Multi-device support is included, something not available in the Slim Folio Pro.

Logitech Slim Folio Pro

Logitech's Slim Folio Pro, unlike the Slim Book Go, is all one piece without a detachable keyboard option. It has a thick rubber frame that protects the iPad, and a single viewing angle for using while typing.

The Slim Folio Pro and the Slim Book Go both offer a better typing experience than the Smart Keyboard Folio for those who like more traditional keys, but we preferred the feel of the Slim Book Go a bit more because the keys have more travel and a more satisfying click. On the plus side, it's a bit less bulky and not as heavy, and it has backlit keys, a nice bonus feature.

Logitech Slim Folio Pro

Both the Slim Book Go and the Slim Folio Pro connect to the iPad Pro using Bluetooth, making the Smart Keyboard Folio the only keyboard accessory that uses the Smart Connector on the new iPad Pro models. Bluetooth isn't as convenient as the Smart Connector, but these keyboards don't need to be charged often and when they do, you can use USB-C.

So which should you choose? If you hate bulk, get the Smart Keyboard Folio or plan to remove these keyboard cases when not in use, something that can be a hassle.

If you want the best typing experience that's closest to a laptop and don't mind the thickness, choose the Zagg, but if you want something a bit slimmer with backlighting and more stability for on-lap use, choose the Logitech (and make sure to check out our full review). You can, of course, choose none of the above and opt for a much cheaper standalone Bluetooth keyboard.

Which iPad Pro keyboard do you prefer? Apple's, Logitech's, Zagg's, or something else? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

11 weeks ago
I really wish they would've done something with all that space at the bottom of the Zagg Slim Book.

The obvious solution is of course adding a cutting board to the keyboard so you can prepare your favorite snacks while watching something on your iPad.

Hell, break out your ultra-thin titanium Apple Card and you've even got a knife! :)

Rating: 20 Votes
11 weeks ago
Slim Book Go
Slim Folio Pro
Smart Keyboard Folio


With names like these, would’ve been nice if you instead used Apple, Zagg, Logitech.

No, wait. Zagg, Logitech, Apple.

I think.
Rating: 16 Votes
11 weeks ago
I like the apple keyboard I just wish it had backlight and thats really it.
Rating: 10 Votes
11 weeks ago
Apple keyboard folio def not thin enough. Needs butterfly keys since they'll be sealed and won't manage to get crumbs or sand stuck inside. And since iOS has peaked why not add Touch Bar while you're at it since that will surely make consumers see it as a laptop replacement. /s
Rating: 9 Votes
11 weeks ago
Interesting! Thanks.

I still prefer the smart apple keyboard!
Rating: 9 Votes
11 weeks ago
Was hoping to see the Brydge reviewed but I guess it's not shipping yet.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 weeks ago
The Apple keyboard rocks.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 weeks ago
One other big keyboard player to mention is Brydge. They’re shipping their new keyboards this month and have already given some prototypes to a few different sites for a hands-on with positive impressions. Unlike the three keyboards reviewed here, the Brydge keyboards use hinges to turn the iPad into a traditional laptop clamshell device that allows any viewing angle, and the keyboard itself is very similar to the scissor keyboards on pre-2016 MacBooks. I’m looking forward to getting mine soon.
Rating: 6 Votes
11 weeks ago
None of the above. Since the keyboard is something I only occasionally use, I bought the plain folio and use that day-to-day. I will carry the Apple Bluetooth keyboard if there's a chance that I will do any typing. It's a much better typing experience and still quite portable for those times I might actually use it.
Rating: 5 Votes
11 weeks ago

I have the smart keyboard from Apple and love it


I really think the most underrated thing about the Apple keyboard is the soft-like fabric. It’s so comfortable to use, especially for an extended period of time, other keyboards can be uncomfortable at times, and the Apple keyboard delivers in that aspect.
Rating: 4 Votes

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