Best iPad Air keyboard case: Zagg vs. Logitech vs. Belkin!

The ultimate guide to purchasing the absolute best keyboard case, cover, or folio for the iPad Air

We've been taking a look at several different keyboard cases, covers, and folios for the iPad Air. Now that we've reviewed them all individually, it's time to put them all head to head and see how each stacks up when it comes to design, duarability, keyboard layout, and more. So follow along and see which keyboard case for iPad Air, if any, reigns supreme!

The contenders: Zagg vs. Logitech vs. Belkin

iPad Air keyboard case video hands-on!

For this comparison, I'll be taking into consideration all of the iPad Air keyboard cases we have reviewed thus far. In case you missed any of our coverage, here are direct links to all the individual reviews:

Design

Both the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio and the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover are made from sturdy plastics, rubber polymers, and brushed aluminum. The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is one of the slimmest, if not the slimmest keyboard case on the market for the iPad Air. The outside is a gorgeous brushed aluminum while the inside consists of a plastic keyboard that feels and looks high end. Logitech has also added rubber grips to the outside so the aluminum doesn't get scratched when it's placed on a hard surface. The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio is a grippy plastic material on the outside with the same high end plastic style keyboard on the inside. The iPad is easy to get in and out and doesn't add a huge amount of bulk but provides more protection than a keyboard cover alone would. The Keyboard Cover however, just snaps off which makes it a little easier to get on and off.

Both the ZAGGkeys Folio and the ZAGGkeys Cover are constructed from high quality materials as well. The Folio has a faux leather exterior combined with a two-toned plastic that doesn't feel or look cheap. The Cover has a rubber-padded hinge that allows for multi-angle viewing. The exterior is brushed aluminum like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and also looks great. Both cases don't add a huge amount of bulk and make your iPad look like a mini laptop when in use. Getting your iPad in and out of either case is simple, which is important if you'll be removing it regularly.

The QODE Slim Style Keyboard Folio by Belkin was my least favorite. Most of the construction is a fabric/rubber material that not only attracts dust like crazy, but just doesn't look and function that great. My biggest peeve is with how you prop up the iPad with the flap in the back. It just feels cheap.

If we're talking overall design, both the Zagg and the Logitech offerings are well thought out and I firmly believe most people would be happy with either. In most cases, which you pick comes down to personal use and what features are more important to you.

Tie between Logitech and Zagg on overall design.

Durability & protection

Most of the time, some kind of case is better than no case. That holds true with all five offerings but if you're looking for heavy duty protection, you can rule out all keyboard cover options as they won't do anything for the back side of the iPad. You'd either need to buy a compatible back cover or take the risk and hope you don't drop it.

That leaves us with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, the ZAGGkeys Folio, and the Belkin QODE Slim Style Keyboard Cover. As a general rule of physics, rubber absorbs shock better than hard plastic. That means the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio and the Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Folio may hold up slightly better than the ZAGGkeys Folio. I just can't help but feel the faux leather exterior would probably hold its own too.

Tie between all three folio cases by Zagg, Belkin, and Logitech.

Keyboard layout

The keyboard portion of a keyboard case is arguably the most important part. Right off the bat, I'm eliminating the Belkin QODE Slim Style Keyboard Folio. Why? Because they moved the colon/semi-colon key from its normal position on a keyboard to the bottom row next to the space bar. It makes the keyboard extremely hard to get used to and why Belkin would have made this decision continues to baffle me.

Moving on to both offerings by Zagg and both by Logitech. The next keyboard to go would be the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio. My main reason for eliminating it is because the Caps Lock and Tab keys are shared with the A and Q keys. It's not a terrible inconvenience, but it is harder to get used to. International keyboards also don't have a dedicated button on Logitech's folio option, which could be a deal breaker for those that toggle between keyboards regularly.

Logitech's last keyboard standing is the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I really have no complaints about it. It's easy to type on and has the same great layout its predecessors shared. However, both of Zagg's offerings have a dedicated function row at the top that don't require an Fn key at all in order to use them.

When it comes to keyboard layout and design, Zagg has nailed it.

Color options

Both keyboard options from Zagg come in only two colors, black and white. The same thing can be said for the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover by Logitech which also comes in black and white only.

Both the Belkin QODE Slim Style Keyboard Folio and the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio come in multiple colors, including two-tone options. If expressing yourself and not sticking with black and white is important to you, these two options have you covered.

Tie between Belkin and the Logitech Folio option.

Additional features

I feel the need to mention additional features because it's where Zagg has really set the bar with both the ZAGGkeys Cover and the ZAGGkeys Folio. For starters, the Zagg keyboards are the only ones that feature illuminated backlit keys. Beyond that, you can change the colors of the keys to your liking in just a few taps. If you're planning on doing a lot of typing in a darker environment, Zagg is your best bet.

Zagg has also built in a battery meter right onto the keyboard. Even though most of these keyboard options are rated at 3 months with moderate 2-3 hour a day use, it's always nice to know where you stand battery wise. On the Zagg options, just tap the battery key in the lower left hand corner of the keyboard and you'll know whether you have enough battery to get you through a few hours at the local coffee shop.

Zagg packs the most punch when it comes to features.

Price

For the most part, all five offerings are pretty much neck and neck. Both offerings from Logitech and both from Zagg clock in at $99 plus tax. The Belkin case is the cheapest at $79 but comes at the steep price of design flaws and cheaper materials.

Technically Belkin wins since it's the cheapest but if we're talking value, Zagg's offerings have the best feature set for the price.

The bottom line

It's hard not to recommend the ZAGGkeys Folio and ZAGGkeys Cover over any other offering currently available. With built-in battery meters, backlit keys, and a dedicated row of function keys, it's obvious that a lot of care went into crafting these keyboard cases. They really are that good.

I would however recommend the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover to anyone whose number one priority is having the thinnest and lightest keyboard cover available. Zagg's offering is slightly thicker and a little heavier but provides multiple viewing angles and in my opinion, just looks better overall. I'd only recommend it if thin and lightweight outweigh any other feature or concern.

As far as folio keyboards are concerned, the ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad Air is the best one on the market. If you want a folio case, you want Zagg.

  • ZAGGkeys Cover for iPad Air - $99 - Preorder Now
  • ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad Air - $99 - Buy Now
  • Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, $99 - Buy Now
  • Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, $99 - Buy Now
  • Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case, $79 - Buy Now

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

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

Best iPad Air keyboard case: Zagg vs. Logitech vs. Belkin!

29 Comments

Allyson, I really like the Zagg keyboard. But ClamCase is coming out with an iPad Air case in January. Based on your experience with the previous ClamCase keyboards, and assuming that the new one will be similar in feel to the old one, how would you compare it to these three?

Are you going to review Apple's iHome keyboard for iPad as well? I saw one for the Mini at Office Max, I was just curious.

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"....it's obvious that a lot of care WHEN into crafting these keyboard cases."
I think "....it's obvious that a lot of care WENT into crafting these keyboard cases." makes more sense, sorry if I am wrong, english is not my native language.

Very good and helpful article, as always, thank you. :-)

Amazon has the Logitech on sale for $79.99 at the moment. Not sure if it'll last past Christmas.

Weird, Amazon has the pre-order for the Zagg folio at $79.99. Their keyboard cover is only down to $90.

Awesome job with comparing the different iPad keyboards. If I were to choose, I'd go with either Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover or ZAGGkeys Cover.

I love this review Roundup!! Allyson... you've done a fantastic job! I find it very interesting that you recommended the Zagg keyboards over the Belkin ones. Scott Stein from CNET seems to like the Belkin Keyboards the best.

Anyways, I really these review roundups when it comes to iOS / Apple accessories. Thanks soooo much for your insight. :)

I went all in with a few of these cases, but when all is said and done, I like the ZaggKeys cover the best of the keyboard accessories for my iPad Air. Thanks for all the great reviews in the series.

Sent from the iMore App

Hey Ally, I was thinking of purchasing a keyboard case for my 1st gen iPad mini... Which one would you suggest? Is there a backlit keyboard like Zagg Folio/Cover available for the iPad mini?

Yes, I've actually done a review myself of both the Logitech Ultrathin Mini Cover, and the ZaggFolio for iPad Mini, they are in the forums.

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Yes, I've actually done a review myself of both the Logitech Ultrathin Mini Cover, and the ZaggFolio for iPad Mini, they are in the forums.

Sent from the iMore App

I know it's not out yet, but I want to this updated with a comparison with the Belkin Qode Thin Keyboard Cover.

Like the Zagg and Logitech ones, Belkin has a keyboard cover being release looks like January. It's priced around $99.

I'm excited for this because I'm not too crazy about either of the current offerings.

Sent from the iMore App

I bought the Logitech Ultrathin and liked it except for those Q and A keys being doubled up with other functions. It was because I would position my left hand wrong because I hardly look down while typing. The Q and A are too far to the left now. After reading your reviews I took it back to exchange for the Zagg Keys. Excellent. Even the feel of the keys is better. I will never look back.

Zagg is an excellent keyboard. I even have the old portable they made a wile back, and tend to use it all the time. It is bluetooth, and will also work with android, or iOS. Holds a charge a long time. No backlit, but a great portable keyboard. By the way a great review.

Ally a few comments on your review:
1) The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad (2/3/4) was by far my favorite iPad accessory. The new version for the iPad Air doesn't handle the chamfered edges well, and the magnets that it uses opposite the hinge side aren't strong enough to hold the cover closed. I returned mine thinking it was defective, but after reading a few Apple sites I now believe that it's simply poor design.
2) I think someone at Belkin did you and themselves a disservice when they sent you that folio. They should have told you that the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air was being released on Dec 12th which is their real "best" offering for the Air. Other review articles I've read suggest this case is far superior to the one you reviewed.
3) Thank you for another great article. Despite being an Apple junkie, I have learned many new tips and tricks over the years from your articles.

I own all of these keyboard/cases, and the one you DIDN'T review is the best of them all: the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case. Yes, the colon/semi-colon key is in the wrong place (all the keyboards this size have some idiosyncrasy; too bad you focussed on one), but the action and solid feel of the keys blow the rest of the contenders away.

As to the Belkin, I went through 3 before I found one that had the magnets in the right place to turn off the screen when closed, and turn it on when opened.

Furthermore, the case is extremely solid, and lays flat when you need it (goodbye Zagg).

I love the Logitech cover, but I hate that to use it I have to take off of the iPad, and there's no way to flip it around for holding flat.

As to the Logitech Folio, it's a little floppy when closed, and the keyboard slides around thanks to the rubber binding, and the that movement resulted in the screen constantly being turned on and off. I could see that as a battery drain.

The Logitech FabricSkin Folio (not reviewed) is much nicer, although i found the fabric covered keys to be a little too soft. I prefer a "real" keyboard. One nice feature it had, though, that the top shelf Belkin has, is that there is no switch to turn the keyboard on: they sense the position of the keyboard thanks to their built in magnets, and the keyboards turn themselves on or off automagically.

So I think you missed the boat on this review.

Also, if iMore is going to get a cut of the sales price as an Amazon Affiliate, you might want to mention that somewhere.

I got the ZAGG keyboard for Christmas and used it for about five minutes before deciding to take it back. It cannot fold back on itself to use my iPad as a tablet and the iPad is not very secure in the case when opening or closing it. I found only one case that folded back properly and that one was so flimsy I did not want it (I think it was a Belkin). Back to no keyboard for me.

Exactly re: ZAGG.

The top of the line Belkin is OK in this regard, as is the Logitech, but no one has designed the ideal case/folio that can be folded back on itself for flat tablet use.

Thanks for the review, Allyson. My personal experience is that Zagg makes the best tablet keyboards. The video helped verify my thinking. Just went and ordered the Folio. On those relatively rare occasions I take my iPad Air out of the house I always want it protected and I always want it to be more like a tablet. On the couch, not so much. The video reminded me I wanted this and so you just costed me a hundred bucks.

My husband and I each got an iPad Air the week they came out, and my daughter got an iPad Mini at the same time. We each got a Logitech Ultrathin case. The bluetooth button on my daughter's case broke immediately. Within a couple weeks, my case cracked at the iPad's power button (there is not much plastic in that area). We love the cases, so we exchanged them for new cases the same type we already had. This week, all three cases broke in the same spot: at the iPad's power button. None of the cases have been dropped or abused. So to summarize, we have owned a total of 5 Logitech ultrathin keyboard cases and all 5 have broken: 4 in the same spot and one with a bluetooth button problem. Something tells me there is a design flaw. We are returning the cases this weekend and will be looking for alternatives. I think the Zagg may be my next case.

My wife is looking for a keyboard case for the iPad Air that includes a touchpad; she feels it is unnatural to remove her hands from the keyboard and raise them to the screen. Ideal would be a backlit keyboard, and a place in the case to hold a stylus. I haven't seen anything like this. Has anyone seen one?

This review was very very helpful and insightful. Even my daughter and son enjoyed it. Funny thing was at the end my daughter saw the reflection of your clothes on the clothes line in your back yard coming off the iPad screen :-)

Keep up the great work. Thank!

A useful review. The vendors and models of tablet keyboards and cases change rapidly. One important point that will only develop over time is the reliability of particular vendors/models. I've had my iPad mini for about 18 months now. I had originally gone with the Zaggkey Mini 9 because of good reviews and the near-full size keyboard. However, in 18 months I've now had 3 Zagg keyboards fail, all in the same manner - with the first one selected keys stopped working (muting and sound volumes), then it lost pairing when the pairing switch was on continuously and it did not respond to the power switch at all. A walk in to the local Zagg store, they confirmed my symptoms and simply swapped out for a new unit. The second one had the same bluetooth lockup, but by then the Mini 9 was out of production. A straightforward explanation to Zagg customer service and they sent me a Mini 7 replacement and I mailed the Mini 9 back. Now the Mini 7 has done the same bluetooth lockup, so I decided to go with a different manufacturer which offers a two year warranty with their units (Zagg offers a 1 year warranty). I'm crossing my fingers that I have no problems with this unit.