Brydge Pro keyboard for iPad Pro review: Legit makes your iPad look like a MacBook

Brydge Pro Keyboard case on iPad Pro
(Image: © Lory Gil / iMore)

I'm writing this review on my 11-inch iPad Pro (2018) using Bear (opens in new tab) 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.

Almost.

The Good

  • Solid design
  • Versatile angling
  • Back cover
  • Doesn't obscure Apple Pencil charging
  • USB-C charging

The Bad

  • Heavy
  • Keys are small

Matching set

Brydge Pro: The features

The back cover of the Brydge for iPad Pro

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

Brydge for iPad Pro in tablet mode

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

A closeup of the keyboard on the Brydge for iPad Pro

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.

See at Brydge (opens in new tab)

Updated review based on the final build of the Brydge Pro.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

26 Comments
  • How would you compare it to the Apple Smart Keyboard folio for the 2018 Pro? Specifically the responsiveness connecting via the Apple smart connector vs Bluetooth on the Byrdge?
    And the placement of the iPad within the hinge system - does it ever feel like you’re going to damage your iPad moving it into place and taking it out?
  • As far as keyboard responsiveness: It's smooth and fast and has zero lag. But, if you're concerned at all about Bluetooth, you can simply connect the Brydge to the iPad directly using USB-C to USB-C for literally zero interruption. As far as the hinge system, it's got soft rubber padding to protect from any bumps or scratches. I've had the previous version Brydge keyboard for my 12.9-inch iPad Pro for over a year and it has never damaged it.
  • I have owned 3 of these keyboards. Why? Any hint of moisture on the keyboard apparently shorts it out and it stops working. I’m not talking about a cup of water or any significant amount—just a few drops. I mentioned to Brydge that an obvious solution would be a thin silicon keyboard cover. Heard it was a great idea. I’m still waiting! I do love the keyboard though.
  • Hmmm... I guess your definition of "MacBook" is not the same as mine... haha
  • Until the iPad offers mouse/trackpad support there's no way it's a full laptop alternative. It's a feature not everyone will use or want - but a feature that is idiotic to omit.
  • Why is it idiotic to omit? A mouse is a form of input which the touchscreen replaces. The only place I can think a mouse is useful, is for selecting text, which can be done via the "trackpad" mode on the onscreen keyboard, however Apple do need to bring this feature to the physical keyboards
  • Because there a lot of people who want / need mouse input on their iPad. You don’t need it, fine. Many others do. Appoloigist mentality. Apple knows what’s best for me! My iPad would be my main device if I had mouse support for it.
  • If Apple implemented everything people wanted, you'd have an iPad with 1000 different things tacked onto it. It's a touchscreen device with an OS built around touch, there would need to be some significant reason for a mouse on an iPad. I think what you want is more of a hybrid machine between a Mac and an iPad, because a mouse won't come to the iPad in its current form
  • I would buy that. A MacBook pro 2 in 1, touchbar, touchscreen, pencil support, switch to IOS when I want, back to windows when I am not using IOS apps. MacOS just to boot up boot camp to install windows. BTW, never say never about the mouse/trackpad support to IOS. It's going to happen.
  • I'll be very surprised if mouse support comes to iOS, unless iOS becomes the hybrid OS
  • We will have to wait and see what they do. I think they are going to say screw the "hybrid" OS, just add mouse and trackpad support to ipad and call it a day.
  • It might not be that crazy though. With iOS apps coming to MacOS will developers need to add mouse/trackpad support to their apps ? Is so it would make since to add mouse/trackpad support to iOS. Just a thought. I know I would love for it to happen.
  • No, Marzipan allows touch-based apps on iOS to be adapted for a mouse/trackpad on macOS. Similarly, it allows Mac apps to be adapted for a touch-based interface on iOS. macOS already has some Marzipan apps now, like News and Voice memos, they've been adapted to work with a mouse. Windows 8 was a classic example where Microsoft tried to make a touch-based UI work with a mouse without adapting the interface, and we all saw how that turned out. Now Windows 10 has become the "hybrid" OS, however many apps still aren't adapted for touch, leaving many Surface owners and owners of touchscreen Windows 10 computers in general, primarily using the trackpad/mouse, only using the touchscreen for basic things like scrolling webpages.
  • Well according to recent rumors it appears there is a chance mouse/trackpad support is coming. And I sure hope it does. When in tablet mode touchscreens make sense but when using a keyboard like this Brydge having to reach for the screen isn't the best user experience.
  • so bringing that to a physical object is going to be.... a trackpad!
  • So the Brydge Pro keyboard "legit" lets me install any program I want? Does it "legit" let me change actions such as it's stupid that the "WiFi button isn't a toggle, just a temporary turn off"? Does it "legit" let me move icons to wherever the heck I want? Does it "legit" give me an option to close all background apps with a single press (or let Command+Q work)? No? iOS isn't a computer, it's a device that computes. A full-fledged computer lets me do what I want with it. iOS doesn't.
  • The title is hyperbolic, the subtitle states "Your iPad Pro can work nearly as hard as your MacBook". It's all about SEO and page clicks
  • "iOS isn't a computer, it's a device that computes" Huh? iOS is an operating system. Windows is not a computer either. An iPad is a computer, whether you like it or not. An Android phone is a computer. You can't "move icons to wherever the heck I want" on an IBM System/390 either, but I assure you it is a "full-fledged computer". I want to install Safari on my Windows PC, but I can't. Therefore my Windows PC is not a "legit" computer because I can't "install any program I want". Right? Computers are way more than just boxes with a keyboard and a mouse. The human interface does not define a "computer". Nor does the available software.
  • Ultimately they're all computers, it all comes down to what the user "expects" from a computer as to which device they purchase. Someone who can do their daily job on an iPad, can certainly call the iPad a computer, because for what they need it for, it is.
  • An iPad IS a computer. Period. Regardless of what anyone "expects". Regardless of "Someone who can do their daily job on an iPad". Again, a computer is not defined by the screen size, or the available applications, or the human interface. ENIAC from 1945 is a computer. An IBM 1401 mainframe from 1960 is a computer. A Radio Shack TRS-80 from 1978 is a computer. The iPad I am typing this on is a computer. An Apple Watch is a computer.
  • The head line says it looks like a legit MacBook. Does not say worked like a replicate all features of a MacBook.
  • Amazing how people want a keyboard and mouse on an iPad, then they want a touch screen on a Mac. You could also put a steering wheel and 4 tires on a motorcycle. What is the point?
  • Exactly! I honestly don't get it. One has an OS designed for mouse, one has an OS designed for touchscreen. If there's a product with both touchscreen and a mouse, it's going to requi