When I tried the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, one of the things that put me off was the quality of the keyboards available at the time.
The only one I could get hold of on day one was the Logitech Create, which I found ugly and not a great typing experience. The Apple Smart Keyboard, that I got to try later, was a bit prettier but still not fantastic to type on.
What I really wanted at the time was for Brydge to bring out a version of its iPad keyboard for the 12.9-inch model.
With iOS 11, Apple designed a mobile operating system to make iPad feel more like a Mac, further blurring the line between tablet and laptop. Despite the UI changes, if you’re serious about replacing a MacBook with an iPad Pro, you’re going to need a physical keyboard.
Right out of the box, you’ll notice that the aluminum Brydge feels really solid. It is pretty lightweight as well, coming in at only 50 grams heavier than the iPad Pro itself, an ideal weight that won’t cause balance issues.
The build quality is likewise impressive. The hinge feels solid and has a seemingly perfect amount of tension that allows the keyboard to snap right into place when closing.
Due to the hinge design, Brydge lacks a Smart Connector. This means the keyboard communicates with iPad via Bluetooth, which in turn requires the device have its own built-in battery. We were disappointed to see a micro-USB charging port instead of Lightning or USB-C, but Brydge claims 12 months of battery life at 2 hours of usage per day.
A USB to micro-USB charging cable is included in the box, but you’ll have to provide your own charging brick if you want to charge from the wall.
Looking at the keys, I’m reminded of the MacBook Air’s keyboard, which uses keys with smaller key tops than those found on Apple’s most recent MacBooks. The newer, larger keys are definitely preferable, but for a portable tablet keyboard, these pint-sized versions are workable.
The color also matches almost perfectly, so it seems as if it was made alongside the iPad. But we did notice that the keyboard has a bit more of that metallic/sparkly look compared to the iPad Pro.
Brydge also offers this keyboard in every color that’s available for the 10.5″ iPad Pro, and they take every effort for it to match the color of the related iPad.
The rubber pads on the bottom of the keyboard do a great job of keeping it in place while typing.
This wasn’t an issue when using it on a desk, but for lap use I do find about 45 degrees is about right for me, and I wasn’t able to position it quite so far back. This is something I’d love to see the company fix as it spoils what is otherwise a perfect experience.
There’s even a sleep/wake button, although you’ll need to hit the home button on your iPad to get to the home screen after waking. This button is useful for when you need to walk away for a while but don’t want to fold the iPad down.
Like Apple’s first-party Smart Keyboards, Brydge can be configured to automatically lock and unlock iPad when closing and opening the keyboard. If for some reason you don’t like that feature, it can be disabled in system settings.
Typing on the keyboard, the hinge stays very solid and the combo doesn’t wobble or move at all. The keys feel pretty good, but I definitely prefer the clickier feeling of the keys on a 2016 MacBook Pro.
When closed, they keyboard and iPad Pro combo is pretty comfortable to carry around, and it looks amazingly clean and stylish.
The downside of having such a simple and clean look is that while the screen is protected, the aluminum body isn’t. So if you’re the clumsy type and really care about keeping your iPad Pro like new, this keyboard might not be for you.
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