I'm writing this review on my 11-inch iPad Pro (2018) using Bear and the Brydge Pro keyboard. I wanted to see just how much this Mac keyboard replica really makes me feel like I'm working on a MacBook instead of an iPad. It works so well that I keep forgetting that I'm not on a Mac. It's so comparable that it almost feels wrong.
Bottom line: If you want your iPad Pro to act like a Mac, it's gotta act like one. The Brydge Pro lets your iPad "dress" like a Mac. If you need a solid keyboard, this is it.
- Solid design
- Versatile angling
- Back cover
- Doesn't obscure Apple Pencil charging
- USB-C charging
- Keys are small
Brydge Pro: The features
Brydge has been making keyboards for iPads for a few years now. The idea behind it is to be a keyboard that merges the iPad with the Mac, so if you use an iPad a lot, especially to type, you're getting a Mac experience out of it (hardware-wise, at least). I have the previous version Brydge for the 2016 12.9-inch iPad Pro and it feels so much like a MacBook that I constantly find myself trying to use a non-existent trackpad.
Funny thing is, I do the same with the Brydge Pro and my 11-inch iPad Pro, even though it's significantly smaller than any MacBook I've ever used.
In addition to a near-perfect replica of the Mac's design, the Brydge Pro can be flipped upside-down to be viewed in tablet mode. The keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro frame using a hinge system, so there is no limit to your viewing angle. Facing forward, you can angle the keyboard from closed against the iPad Pro to laying completely flat, like an open book. Remove the iPad from the hinge mount and flip it around and the keyboard becomes a sort of kickstand so you can angle it from lying face-down on a table, to laying flat on your lap like a standard tablet.
The Brydge Pro has backlit keys that light up as soon as you touch a key and stays on for about a minute after your last press of a key.
Thanks to hidden sleep/wake triggers in the Brydge Pro, it will also put your iPad Pro to sleep when you close it and wake it up when you open it.
The Brydge Pro charges via USB-C, so you can use the same cord that came with your iPad Pro to juice it up. An added bonus to having USB-C; If for any reason, Bluetooth isn't working properly to communicate with your iPad Pro and the Brydge Pro, you can connect the two using USB-C to USB-C for a direct, uninterrupted line.
The development team behind the Brydge line of keyboards has been paying close attention to customer requests and the Pro model ships with a magnetic back for free. This flat, vinyl wrapped cover sticks to the back of your iPad Pro magnetically. Just slap it on the back and you're protected from scratches and scrapes.
Last of the features is that the Brydge Pro leaves the magnetic connector for the Apple Pencil completely exposed so you can keep it charging on your iPad Pro whether you're typing away or it's resting up for the night.
So much style
Brydge Pro: What I like
Where to begin? I've been a huge fan of the Brydge keyboard since former iMore managing editor Serenity Caldwell introduced me to it. The way they look combined with your iPad is just remarkable. I've literally had people come up to me at coffee shops asking if I'm using some kind of touch screen MacBook because they didn't realize I was actually using an iPad.
From last-generation to this, I love the new hinge system that allows me to use my iPad in tablet mode. Nothing makes me happier than a keyboard that's fully versatile and the Brydge has a multitude of angling positions, both frontwards and back.
The fact that the Brydge Pro charges via USB-C is perfect for the 2018 model iPad Pro. One cord to rule them all.
If this version of the Brydge keyboard didn't come with some sort of back cover, I think its fans would start a riot. Thank goodness there is one included for free. It's got perfectly designed cutaways for the hinges so nothing gets in the way. Though there is zero drop protection, it's better than nothing at all, which is what previous versions of the Brydge keyboard came with. If you're not a fan of the back cover, you can leave it off and go au naturel.
Not only are the keys backlit, but there are also three different levels of lighting for different situations. Typing in the dark? Use the lowest setting. Need some extra visual help? Turn the backlights up.
I'm a big fan of the exposed magnetic Apple Pencil connector. Basically, if you're making a case that, in any way, impedes my ability to charge my Apple Pencil, you're doing it wrong. Lots of case makers have gotten it wrong. Brydge's back cover doesn't block any of the edges at all, so your Apple Pencil can sit right where it belongs while you work.
I absolutely adore how closely matched the color is with the Space Gray iPad Pro. It's a fraction of a shade lighter, but nearly unnoticeable. I also like that the designers opted to go with the chamfered edge on the Brydge Pro to flow perfectly with the entire iPad Pro aesthetic.
The weighting game
Brydge Pro: What I don't like
You can't deny the weight of the Brydge Pro. It's heavy. Without any scientific lab testing (or even a standard scale), I'd guess it's nearly as heavy as the iPad Pro itself, probably a little more. In total, that's not that heavy, but when you're trying to keep your commuter computer slim and light, the Brydge Pro really harshes your jam.
Personally, I think they could have done a better job with the key design. I understand that there's a lot that needs to be squeezed into an 11-inch keyboard, but I think the keys are just a tad too small. There's a lot of space between them that could have been taken up with millimeters more keys. Keyboards are like shoes or coffee, though. Each person has a different opinion of what makes a good keyboard. I still type about as fast as I would on a standard laptop keyboard, so clearly they're doing something right.
The bottom line
Brydge Pro keyboard for iPad Pro (2018)
This is a fantastically designed keyboard that ticks all the boxes for what you might consider a perfect fit. The reversible hinge design makes it possible to use the Brydge Pro in typing mode, movie watching mode, or tablet mode. The removable back cover gives you protection if you want it, but you can leave it in the closet if you prefer (it comes with the keyboard, so you're not losing money by not using it). The color and design matching is so perfect that you'll feel like you're using a MacBook, even with the 11-inch iPad Pro, and everyone else will think so, too!
You may not be on board with the additional weight that the Brydge Pro adds to your mobile usages. This keyboard is meant for people that work on their iPad Pro, not for people that use it more as a tablet. If you're a casual iPad user, you may not think the stellar productivity experience is a good trade-off for the added weight.
If you need your iPad Pro to work like a MacBook (hardware-wise, at least), you should absolutely consider the Brydge Pro. Its biggest flaw is its weight, but for some, it's worth it.
It's available in silver and space gray and costs $150 for the 11-inch iPad Pro or $170 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Updated review based on the final build of the Brydge Pro.
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