So, you just purchased an iPad Pro or maybe you’re thinking of purchasing one in the near future. That’s great and all, but what about accessories? Sure you can always go the route of third-party accessories, but for this article, we are going to focus on the ones that the big Apple offers. More specifically, the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.
The Smart Keyboard
We will begin our journey with Apple’s Smart Keyboard. This is a keyboard that also functions as a case for your iPad Pro and it’s available for both the 9.7 and 12.9-inch models. To connect the Smart Keyboard to your iPad you won’t be using the typical methods of connecting devices such as Bluetooth. You will instead be connecting the Smart Keyboard via Apple’s proprietary Smart Connector. The keyboard will snap onto the Smart Connector via magnets and then it’s good to go, that’s literally all there is to it.
Apple’s Smart Keyboard can be folded into two different positions. One position for typing and one for viewing. The flexible cover portion of the case is made of a fiber/rubbery material that allows it to be bent into these two positions. That’s convenient and all, but I’m sure you all just want to know one thing, how the actual keyboard performs. My personal opinion (using the 9.7-inch version) of this keyboard is that Apple did an excellent job given how compact and portable it is. There is a nice, comfortable spacing between all of the keys as well as a very tight cloth material pulled over the keys that make them feel nice to the touch. There is also a command key that allows you to perform shortcuts depending on which app you are currently in. And don’t worry, you can still take full advantage of Apple’s autocorrect as it pops up on the very bottom of the screen along with options like cut, copy, and paste. All of these on-screen options while using the Smart Keyboard make it very convenient to use.
Of course, the Smart Keyboard doesn’t come without its share of flaws. The first of these flaws is something that you’ll notice right away…it’s small. This is especially true if you are using the 9.7-inch variant of the keyboard. The more compact size of the keyboard can make it rather difficult for some people to type on. Secondly, the keyboard does not have any sort of backlighting, which makes using the keyboard in a darker room somewhat challenging unless you’re a typing master. Then there’s the problem with the case itself, more specifically its “watch angle.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Apple designed the Smart Keyboard with an angle for viewing content, it just doesn’t work all that well. You see, when the case is folded into the “watch” position the iPad display is at almost a 90-degree angle, making it a tad bit awkward for watching anything.
Then we get into the two, more glaring issues. The keys don’t press in that far on this keyboard, which causes a lot of people to actually despise using it. It is just going to depend on your typing style when it comes to whether or not you will like this. Then there is the fact that the entire back of the iPad Pro is still exposed with this case on it. This case only protects the front glass of the iPad Pro, it doesn’t even slightly protect the sides or the back of the device. Most other third-party keyboard cases do.
The Apple Pencil
But what if you bought the iPad Pro for something more along the lines of graphic design or even just sketching? That’s exactly where the Apple Pencil comes into play. This stylish little stylus is Apple’s answer to precision drawing on the iPad Pro and let me just say that Apple doesn’t disappoint here. Not only does the Apple Pencil look good, it’s good at what it does as well. Want to crudely sketch something up real quick? The Apple Pencil can do that. Want to draw something with extreme precision and detail? The Apple Pencil can do that too.
The Apple Pencil isn’t like typical stylus’, it can detect pressure as well as angle and then adjust the line being drawn just like an actual pencil or pen. What I mean by this is that if you’re drawing a line and then you press harder, the line will become darker and thicker. Or when you’re drawing a line and then you tilt the pencil, the line will get thicker and change shape. Abilities like these are fantastic for artists as it gives the illusion of using actual drawing and painting tools. Combine these abilities with the fact that the latency on drawing with the Apple Pencil being virtually unnoticeable and you’ve got something special.
Alright, the Apple Pencil looks good and is good at drawing, so are there any downsides to the device? The short answer to this is yes, but only one thing. That thing is the charging method, which is rather clunky and doesn’t seem to be very well thought out. There is a lightning connector that comes out of the top of the Pencil when a little cap is taken off. You can either plug this into a lightning charger using a special two-way adapter, or you can plug it directly into the lighting port on your iPad Pro for charging. One of these methods includes the use of a very small adapter and the other risks the Pencil being easily broken and just looking odd. While the Pencil does charge remarkably quickly (15 seconds charging = 30 minutes use), these charging methods just don’t seem very Apple-like.
All in all, who should purchase these devices? Unfortunately, if you are thinking of picking up either of these Apple accessories for your iPad Pro then you better have a use case for them. I only say this because they are so expensive that if you aren’t going to be using them often then it’s really not worth the purchase. The Apple Pencil will cost you $100 while the Smart Keyboard will cost you a little more at $150 or $170, depending on which size iPad you are using.
If you are using your iPad Pro for productivity, like using programs such as Word or PowerPoint then you should look at the Smart Keyboard. If you are any sort of writer or journalist that is writing a lot then the Smart Keyboard is definitely for you. It’s actually a pretty simple decision. If you’re going to be doing any decent amount of typing on your iPad Pro and have a little extra money to burn then at least take a look at Apple’s Smart Keyboard. Remember, you can always walk into your local Apple Store and take a look at one first.
However, if you are someone who purchased the iPad Pro more for media consumption than the Smart Keyboard isn’t for you, especially at that price. But if you really need a physical keyboard for the minimal typing that you will be doing, just get a third party keyboard as they cost significantly less.
As for the Apple Pencil, this is even more of a specialized accessory. You should really only pick one of these up if you are someone who is into art and will be frequently drawing on on your iPad Pro. This thing cost $100 and can quickly become something that sits on your desk collecting dust if you don’t have an actual use case for it. I know it’s pretty and is capable of some cool things, but it’s for a specific person, an artist. If you are a graphic designer, artist, publicist, media creator, or anything similar to these professions then definitely take a look at the Apple Pencil. If you are in the right profession the Apple Pencil can make your job much easier and more enjoyable.Smart KeyboardApple Pencil