I've been using the iPad Pro as my main laptop computer for seven months. There have been ups, downs, and interesting discoveries throughout this journey, but none bigger than this: I can't use the iPad Pro to do my job without a physical keyboard case, and there's none better than the Logitech Create (opens in new tab).
I love the idea of the software keyboard, and I appreciate all Apple's done to try and improve it for both the iPad Pro and even bigger iPhone models in iOS 9. But try as I might, I hate the ergonomics of typing directly onto the screen. Maybe my eyes are used to having the screen at an angle, but I just can't get into the same rhythm or feel the same connection when using the software keyboard.
As such, when I got my iPad Pro, the first accessory I picked up was the $150 Logitech Create (opens in new tab). I assumed I'd return it — how much typing was I really going to be doing on the iPad Pro, anyway? — but figured it would be good to try out the options out there. To my surprise, I found myself constantly using the keyboard case with my new tablet.
Falling in love with typing
The Logitech Create has a few things going for it when it comes to the iPad Pro:
- It uses Apple's Smart Connector technology, so you never have to worry about charging it or switching its batteries.
- The keys are full-size.
- They travel well. I can type as fast on the Create as I can on a MacBook Air or Magic Keyboard.
- The keys are (optionally) backlit, which is huge for working on anything in low light.
- The keyboard is coded to iOS's keyboard shortcuts to quickly bring up Spotlight, switch between apps, and select or move your cursor through writing.
- There's a function row designed for the iPad.
Backlighting and good key feel are necessities for me when it comes to a keyboard, but it's that last bullet point that sold me on the Create in terms of the iPad Pro. The function row (and, to a lesser extent, iOS's built-in keyboard shortcuts) make this keyboard almost as powerful a way of navigating your iPad as the touchscreen — and when writing is involved, I sincerely believe the keyboard is the superior way to navigate.
Take switching between apps, for example. Use Command-Tab on an external keyboard, and you can bring up a quick App Switcher, much like you would on the Mac. You can tab through apps or use the arrow keys to find the application you like, then release to switch to that app.
This is, by far, a much faster and more precise way of switching applications than opening the Multitasking screen, and it unlocks a huge bit of iPad Pro functionality I wouldn't otherwise have had access to.
But every keyboard with a Bluetooth connection or Smart Connector can do this. What makes the Create special is the additional home row above the number pad. On a traditional keyboard, this is reserved for Function shortcuts; on the Create, each button is tied in to a specific function on the iPad Pro. Instead of an escape key, there's a key to return home, trigger Siri, or, when pressed simultaneously with the Lock key, take a screenshot. There are keys to adjust the brightness of your screen and the keyboard backlight. There are buttons to launch Spotlight search, or bring up a third-party keyboard (and cycle between different ones, if you have multiples installed). You have access to music and volume controls. You can even shut down your iPad by pressing and holding the Lock button.
Now, I'm the first to admit that not everyone is going to need a row of function keys to get the most out of their iPad Pro' I'd bet most users get a keyboard for their iPad because they want to type an email every now and again rather than use on-screen digital keys. But if you're considering using the iPad as your primary laptop, it makes a huge difference in the versatility of the machine.
And that's the beauty of an iPad over something like a MacBook: that versatility. I can use the keyboard and quickly switch apps, then set the iPad flat against the keyboard's back and sketch on it, or use my fingers to work on a music composition. The Create gives the iPad Pro the ability to work like a laptop, sure. (Heck, when seated in the keyboard case, it's indistinguishable from something like a Surface or a convertible laptop.) But it also lets the iPad be an iPad when you need it to be, and do so anywhere you choose.
The elephant in the room
Unfortunately for the Logitech Create, that far superior typing experience and seamless Smart Connector use comes with a pretty literal millstone around the iPad Pro's neck: The hard plastic case that covers both the keyboard and snaps onto the back of the iPad Pro.
There's no getting around it, the Create's outer shell is far from the most attractive thing to put on an iPad. The nylon is tough and sturdy: great if you think you may rough up your iPad down the line, but it's also heavy. The Create alone nearly doubles the 12.9-inch iPad Pro's weight at 2.5 pounds. Together, they weigh more than 4 pounds. It's, frankly, a pretty awful tradeoff if you're used to carrying a 2-pound MacBook or 3-pound MacBook Air.
It comes down to three things: protection, backlight, and versatility.
You can absolutely pick up a Bluetooth keyboard or Apple's Smart Keyboard in lieu of the Create, but that requires taking care of either more accessories, or adding an extra rear cover to the iPad if you have the Smart Keyboard attached. The Smart Keyboard is $169 to the Create's $150, and getting a rear cover for the iPad is an extra $69; if you're worried about protecting your iPad, you're going to pay a significant premium to use Apple's proprietary accessories.
The backlight is also one of those features I don't realize is "must-have" until I try and type on a keyboard without it. I work with my iPad Pro in all sorts of places — including the passenger seat of a car and dim keynote auditoriums — and though I rarely look at my keyboard while typing, backlight support provides extra comfort in those darkened areas. A keyboard that has a backlight is going to win my support far over one that lacks it, especially when that keyboard also has extra iPad-specific function buttons.
"Okay, Serenity," you may say. "There are Bluetooth keyboards that do what you want. Why not just get that and be done with it?" This is where versatility comes into play.
When I work on my iPad Pro, I want to be able to do anything, anywhere. If I want to write on my iPad while riding in the car or on a bus, I want it to be quick and easy to both take out and put away. I want to be able to write in my lap, but also be able to immediately transition to drawing or editing images if necessary. I want my computer to conform to what my tasks are, rather than having to shoehorn in accessories to make what I want possible.
In short, I prefer the Smart Connector and all-in-one experience the Create provides because it lets me work wherever I choose. I don't need to precariously balance a Bluetooth keyboard on my lap while also perching my iPad on the edge of my knees, or worry about my Bluetooth connection dropping, or forgetting to charge the case.
The Logitech Create could be a lot less heavy. It could offer more resting angles so that people who prefer their screens further back can still use the keyboard case. But even with some major nitpicks, it's still the best "pro" keyboard for an iPad Pro I've seen.
Logitech Create - See at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.
Hey Serenity, thanks for this! One question: you mention that you can use the keyboard to "cycle between third party keyboards". On the Smart Keyboard, doing this doesn't really do anything unless it's the emoji keyboard - third party keyboards don't actually show up on screen even though it indicates that they're being "selected". Is this the case with the Create? Or could I actually use a third party keyboard like Copied with the Create connected?
Ms. Caldwell - you do some of the best reviews in the business - Apple or Microsoft - but this one escapes me. At 4 pounds, you could easily carry both a MacBook Air AND an iPad Pro 9.7. For 2.5 pounds, you could go Surface Pro 4. Why work so hard to drive a square peg into a round hole?
My ideal carry situation would be a 9.7-inch iPad Pro and a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Sadly, I am Mac laptop-less for awhile, so the 12.9 is my best bet. Spending $150 on a keyboard was a lot more tenable than $1300 on a new computer. :) I'm also hoping someone comes along with a keyboard as excellent as the Create's with less mass. I quite like the convertible functionally and personally prefer iPad to Surface, but you're right—my current setup is far too heavy as is.
I tried both the Logitech Create and the Zagg SlimBook for my iPad Pro. The Zagg won me over. It's superior to the Create. I highly recommend people interested in this type of set up to try the Zagg. But, yes, it is also heavy. The Zagg gives you more of a laptop experience than the Create, i.e., best of both worlds.
My bet is you will end up with the new MacBook Pro 13 and iPad Pro 9.7 by year end. When you do that, check out the Apple keyboard for the 9.7 - not backlit nor as good of a typing experience, but I was shocked at how thin and light it is for those "better than pecking on glass" typing sessions.
I tried 6 different Surface Pro 4's and a Surface Book. The instability, the insane/useless support, and constant resetting of the Surface line moved me back to Mac. I am a die hard engineer and while I love the idea of the Surface, it is too unreliable to fit. As for the iPad Pro...it is rock solid. I only miss pivot tables in Excel, but I can do that work via a VM in the cloud.
Seriously you have turned the iPad into the world's most expensive 'netbook' and still, lacks features of a netbook. Gotta love the Apple rationalization. Appleization
I know this was from a while ago, but can we just stop here and witness the splendor of the over-controller? (I didn't want to say "control freak" cos that's pretty inflammatory. But same thing.) Impressive. I'll mind my own business. And yours!
How about a couple of pics showing what this thing looks like with the case closed on the iPad? A profile pic to show how thick it is when closed. Thanks.
Hey Serenity, Great article as always :) Have you checked out the Logitech Keys-to-go keybaord? https://www.imore.com/e?link=https2F2Fclick-100048... I have this keyboard and it's just awesome. I know it's not a keyboard case, but it's super light. I just carry it everywhere with my ipad. What do you think of the Clamcase keybaords for ipads? They basically make your ipad look like a mini MBP! They look much better than the Logi create and also seem to be less clunky. I hear the ipad pro version of their keyboard will be coming out soon with an apple pencil holder!!! Bahhh. https://www.clamcase.com/
I have the 12.9 PRO and the logitech case. They are great, a bit heavy though. I also have a macbook, because somethings just cannot be done in an efficient manner on any size ipad that can be done on a computer.
Honestly, a mouse would make the ipad much better. The macbook has a weak CPU and that can be easily felt when using it. The ipad pro is much ore powerful.
OK it's 4 pounds but so was my first cell phone. I like this one a lot better than apples really for one reason. It sits nice on my lap. I can work in my hammock chair it I want. My only real complaint is I feel like I'm going to break it every time try to get the ipad out of it. A quick release button would be nice.
When is Logi(tech) going to release a Create keyboard sized for the iPad Pro 9.7"? They teased us days after the iPad Pro was released in April on their home page and that page is no longer on their site. Sent from the iMore App
I'm having the same frustration as @LarryInAz. I have a 9.7" Pro, but the only keyboard option (that you can leave connected, that is) is the Apple keyboard. I used that for two weeks and could never get used to the key travel and surprisingly loud noise while typing. Granted, I had used a Logitech Type+ folio/keyboard case with an iPad Air for a couple of years, so I may just be too accustomed to how the Logitech keyboards feel. Sadly, the Smart Connector means that you can't just put most old Air-compatible bluetooth cases on the Pro, because the Connector doesn't create a secure fit with the magnets -- the iPad keeps slipping out of its viewing angle, and the changed position of the iPads magnets mean the case won't auto-sleep/wake for you when opening or closing. I can't figure out why Logitech had a Create case ready for the 12.9" on day one, but STILL don't have a comparable case out yet for the 9.7". =(
Is the Logi keyboard case scratching you ipad pro screen when you close the lid? Mine sometimes have this problem which is annoying.
This has been bugging me too. It's not scratching so much as mottling at the top. A simple standoff of some sort would help. A kind of buffer or lip in the top of the lid to create a space.
I just purchased my iPad Pro today along with a Logitech Create. I absolutely love this keyboard! I don't think it is too heavy. I like that it is sturdy and really protects my iPad. The backlighting on the keyboard is also one of the reasons I bought it. Sent from the iMore App
I just got an iPad Pro 12.9" and the Create case . . . what I'm wondering if if I have it in a messenger bag should I also get a neoprene case to put the whole thing in for added protection? I am concerned that my messenger bag will not provide enough protection and that the keyboard case will not help well enough.
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