Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

The iPad Air can be a productivity powerhouse when paired with a great keyboard case. We've already put several of them head to head and now Belkin's back with another offering, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case. I had issues with some of the design choices Belkin made with the standard QODE Keyboard Case which I outlined in my review. Let's see if Belkin's top of the line offering fares any better in real world use...

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

Immediately upon unboxing the Ultimate version of the QODE case, I knew the materials were much higher quality than that of the standard QODE offering. The exterior is made of brushed aluminum that comes in either black or silver. On the back there is a mechanism that operates as a stand. Just fold the top portion forward and magnets hold the display in. You can choose two different elevations depending on what viewing angle you'd like.

I prefer the brushed aluminum of the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case over the fabric of the standard case but the folding mechanism to prop up the screen still seems somewhat cheap to me and I would prefer to see Belkin use a hinge-style opening in future products. It's made out of a stronger material than the fabric in their standard QODE Keyboard Case but I still feel that after heavy use, it would start to show its age.

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

With the case attached you have access to all ports and don't need to remove your iPad Air from the case to charge it. I had no issue using third party chargers either which is a plus for folks who invest money into longer cables than the standard ones, something I've alway done. And if you plan on using a keyboard case regularly, the Ultimate Keyboard Case won't ever have to come off, unless you want it to.

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

I also haven't found the Ultimate Keyboard Case to add very much extra weight either, which is one of the drawbacks of the ZAGGkeys Keyboard Cover, which is built very well but comes at the expense of more added weight than others. The Ultimate Keyboard Case appears to be a happy medium weight wise but doesn't feel quite as high quality. It just depends on what tradeoff you're willing to make.

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

As for the most important part of a keyboard case, the actual keyboard, I'm still left disappointed in Belkin. Overall the layout does feel less cramped but there's still a glaring issue and it's the colon/semi-colon key. Nowadays keyboard layouts remain fairly standardized and moving a commonly used key and plopping it somewhere else isn't acceptable to me. I understand Fn keys and less used keys get shuffled around from time to time to make way for better design, but a heavily used punctuation key? Not so much.

The good

  • High quality construction with brushed aluminum
  • Key spacing is done well
  • Slim profile and adds very little weight
  • Two options for viewing angles

The bad

  • The colon/semi-colon key being moved is extremely frustrating and will be a deal breaker for some
  • More expensive than other keyboards that are the same quality, if not better
  • Flap design to support the iPad in an upright position will most likely wear over time

The bottom line

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

I couldn't make it more than an hour or so using the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case before ripping it off in frustration over hitting enter when I meant to type a comma. I assume the key next to the "L" key is the colon/semicolon key and my muscle memory tells me to tap further over than directly to the right. It's a shame too because I wanted to like this offering from Belkin. High quality materials and a slim form factor, it's almost there. They keyboard layout still needs work though.

Unfortunately I still wouldn't recommend any iPad Air offering from Belkin over some of the competition such as ZAGG and Logitech. Not only are they designed better, they're priced better. Most offerings come in at right around the $100 mark while the official price from Belkin is $129 for the Ultimate Keyboard Case.

Here's to hoping Belkin's next offering changes my opinion...

If you've tried out the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air, let me know what you think of it in the comments. And if you picked something else out, let me know that too!

See also:

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air review

11 Comments

Thanks for the review. I absolutely agree that moving keys around is a deal breaker. I will not buy this case purely for that reason. I type entirely without looking at the keys and I know this would drive me crazy. Zagg it is!

This is the best keyboard available for the iPad Air at this time, bar none. Belkin has fixed their magnet issues (screen not turning off when the keyboard is closed), and they confirmed that at CES.

The Qode Ultimate is the one keyboard of the 4 I bought that I use daily.

Hey Ally - on your recommendation I bought the Zagg folio. It is the third keyboard case I have owned and easily the best. While it adds bulk I tend to keep my iPad in one place so it's not a problem. Thanks for the tip!

Sent from the iMore App

I absolutely LOVE this case for my iPad Air. I tried the Logitech FabricSkin case, but one of the (only) two plastic clips holding the iPad in the case cracked after a few weeks. The Belkin Qode Ultimate is perfect for me. The iPad stays securely in the case. I'm not a touch typist, so the slightly irregular keyboard configuration is not a problem for me. The case adds no more bulk than a regular case. Love the brushed aluminum. I have to be able to fold the case into a flat tablet configuration, which this does well. Can't do that with the Zagg. My Qode actually has three stand positions, not two. Keys are well-spaced and responsive. Lighted keys would be nice, but not having them is not a deal-breaker for me. I'll have to see if the rubber flap holds up over time, but so far (month and-a-half) there are no problems with it. Case is a bit pricey, but worth it in my mind. I highly recommend it!

Another great review Ally. I recently bought the ZAGG Keys Folio case for my iPad Air and really like it. I was determined that I would only buy one case for my iPad this time so I watched your set of reviews a couple of times before making my decision. The case in this review is nice but I agree with you on the issue of moving the colon key, plus the price is higher then the ZAGG case. The big selling point for me on the ZAGG version was the backlit keys. That's huge. I can honestly say I have no desire to get anything else.

Oh, and one more thing. The very day I received the ZAGG case, just after I put my iPad in it, I accidentally knocked it off my desk onto a hard, laminate floor. Not a scratch or mark on it. Great product.

I have not seen anyone comment of using the camera with this case... How would you fold the case in order to use the camera?

I can tell you that it was worth the wait. Key buttons are plastic with nice tactile response. Belkin really did a great job laying out the keyboard properly. It makes the iPad Air so much more useful as a productivity tool. There is very, very little plastic. It looks and feels like it's made by Apple for it's product.