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Logitech's Slim Combo for iPad Pro tries to do too much

I'm a huge fan of Logitech's keyboard cases for the iPad Pro — the 9.7-inch Logitech Create is, frankly, the best keyboard case I've ever used, with excellent key travel and protection without being overly bulky.

As such, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I was eager to test out Logitech's newest case for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the Slim Combo (opens in new tab). It promised fixes for two of my minor nitpicks: an adjustable Smart Connector hinge, and a small bumper between the iPad and the screen (to keep from indenting keyboard smudges). And it offered a slightly different form-factor than the Create line — providing a hinged back, a la the Microsoft Surface tablets, and a detachable full-featured keyboard.

Sadly, as much as I wanted to like this keyboard, it's just not to be. This is a pretty quick review — I've had just 24 hours with the product — so I'll be the first to admit that my opinion may change, and if so, I'll update this review accordingly. But right now, I am thoroughly unimpressed with this offering.

See at Logitech (opens in new tab)

Fit and form

First, let's talk feel: For all of the bells and whistles on this thing, the Slim Combo feels cheaper than any of the other Logitech iPad cases I've tested, in part due to the plasticky outer texture of the iPad shell. The back of the keyboard still has the textured fabric of the Create line, but the iPad's casing is straight plastic. It's at least smooth and reinforced, but the overhang on the iPad's corners reminds me of the original 12.9-inch Create — too stiff and clunky to put on, and painful to look at (especially with the full edge cutouts for the speaker, a much uglier implementation than the Create's curved speaker holes).

Here we come to my other big gripe about the Slim Combo: It comes in two pieces. For some, I understand that this is a selling point — it's absolutely nice to have the freedom to prop up your iPad without a keyboard attached. But here's the thing: There are a ton of great accessories that do similar things at a fraction of the price (like Studio Neat' Canopy) and allow you to bring your own keyboard for the ride. The reason to get a keyboard case is to enjoy the all-in-one protection and comfort it offers, not to constantly be fiddling with connections and kickstands.

And in the past 24 hours, there has been a lot of fiddling. The new adjustable Smart Connector hinge is brilliant in that it puts the connector on a flexible piece of fabric rather than a static spot inside the keyboard, but it comes at the expense of a secure connection. On a table, the hinge combined with the case's kickstand allow for a much greater viewing and typing angle than the Create; it's one of the few features I really like about this keyboard case. Unfortunately, this setup pretty much only works on a flat surface like a desk or table — setting up the case and kickstand is doable on a couch, lap, or bed, but highly frustrating.

Also, as someone who routinely draws, the clunkiness of disassembling and reassembling the case to draw on the screen is nothing short of a disaster when compared to the simplicity of the Create's "artist" mode, which let you collapse the screen on top of the keyboard with an ever-so-slight incline. To draw with the Slim Combo attached, you have to:

  1. Fold the keyboard all the way back and pray it doesn't disconnect in the process (or disconnect it entirely and find someplace to put it).
  2. Push the kickstand back all the way for an artist's easel or fold it back into the case.
  3. Find something else to prop under the iPad to provide a smooth drawing angle.

It's clumsy and frustrating, especially when the Create's drawing experience was so great.

One point in Logitech's favor: The keyboard part of its keyboard case is excellent as always, though the company seems to have kept the same key sizes as the 9.7-inch model and opt for a bigger side bezel, rather than widen the keys, as Apple has done with its 10.5-inch case. Like with the 12.9-inch Create, the extra palm rest is nice for typing, but I definitely keep reaching for a trackpad when I write.

I'm also a little worried about the long-term durability of the flexible Smart Connector. Without turning into an iFixit teardown, it feels as though the connector is attached to the keyboard by a ribbon cable or two, covered by a slim fabric hinge. While the look isn't bad, the fabric feels awfully flimsy, and I'm a little concerned about the prospects of tears in long-term use, especially given that the ribbon isn't protected at all when the case is closed and thrown in a bag.

The same goes for the Apple Pencil sleeve at the top of the iPad shell: It uses the same fabric as the connector, and without being protected by the case (as it is in the 9.7-inch Create), I wonder how durable it will be over time.

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.

18 Comments
  • I find all iPad keyboard cases, including the Smart Keyboard to be pretty fugly, ungainly, and cumbersome looking. It's a big part of why I love the beauty and simplicity of my 12" MacBook. I think the issue is that Apple still views the iPad as a portrait-first device despite all of their marketing materials and value propositions showing it in landscape. Sideways Apple logo, awkward left justified webcam, and right justified home button make the entire iPad experience seem very inelegant by Apple standards.
  • Agree completely. I have tried a number of keyboard solutions for my iPad Air, and haven't found a good one that I use regularly. I like using the iPad mostly as a tablet and don't try to turn it into a laptop replacement. When I need to use a keyboard for typing long documents, I found that the original Incase Origami keyboard case which can house a genuine, full-size bluetooth Apple Wireless Keyboard works well. A newer take on this is the Fintie carrying case, and they also have one for the newer Apple keyboard.
  • I absolutely despised the Create keyboard for the 12.9 iPad Pro. It was clunky and heavy beyond belief and completely unworkable. I never used their 9.7 version, however, but it must have been totally different than the 12.9 version. I liked what I was seeing with this new slim combo, but what you are saying concerns me. Since the Create isn’t the same in its 2 size iterations, I have to ask - how is the 12.9 version of the slim combo?
  • I have the 12.9 version and like it quite a bit. Much better than the Create was - which was actually abrasive to my screen and caused damage. It looks horrible in pictures for the 10.5 inch. I can't believe how cumbersome it looks compared to the 12.9 and I can see why people seem to have a strong aversion to the 10.5 inch. On my way to the Apple Store to pick up my preorder of the 12.9 Slim Combo case, the podcast I was listening to (Connected) got to the point where Myke Hurley revealed his extremely negative reaction to it (the 10.5 inch) version, HOWEVER I sat in the parking lot for a couple minutes to get to the end where he mentioned a keen observation: With the Create keyboard cover, the smaller iPad version was the superior one and with the Slim Combo it has flipped where the big one is the better one. I'm guessing it happened this way because of what it was primarily designed for. Really Logitech just needs to make a Create for the 10.5 and a Slim Combo for the 12.9 and maybe not bother with trying to make them work on both sizes. Couple of points:
    • The stand is much better than I thought it would be. Versatile and stays in place.
    • I was nervous about the pencil loop but the grip is perfect. Won't move on its own but it's easy to place and remove
    • The keyboard flexible connection never comes undone for me even with torquing the angle; Probably more and wider magnets are helping on the 12.9 inch compared to 10.5.
    • You have to learn to grab it by the thin, non-keyboard part of the cover because, as someone else noted here, you can press the keys if you squeeze in the center of the keyboard (I had the exact same music playing problem!)
    • Like the last point, you should be careful about how you pack it so that the keyboard part is not squeezed in the center, I'm especially nervous about this because the Create keyboard scratched my screen.
    • The design of the cover means that you'll likely pick up dust and things from tables and whatever might have been caught by the key wells.
    • You might really enjoy taking the keyboard all the way off when you want to go portrait, portable, or for drawing. I do. And placing it back on is super easy and quick. So, it has some issues, but it is the best keyboard/case/pencil solution I've found for my 12.9 inch by a long shot. I'm very pleased with it so far.
  • I picked up this combo for my 12.9 iPad (1st Gen) ... I LOVE IT!!!! I could not disagree with a review more, it feels light in my hands, it's very flexible and a joy to type on. I also love the fact that it has a apple pencil holder. I would highly recommend this case to anyone looking for a functional alternative to the smart keyboard by apple.
  • I have purchased for my 2nd gen 12.9 and agree...this is a solid all around choice. The criticisms are fair, but, far from deal breakers. The Adjustable kickstand has been a pleasant feature. The keyboard feels great, for a mobile solution. I personally use my smart cover and rear clamshell during travel with the keyboard folded and stowed in my bag...perhaps less than ideal for most...but a great option for when I am reading or just consuming media in the go.
  • Just based on your description of the smart connector, that makes this item a no go.
  • I returned mine this morning. Much prefer the Apple Smart Keyboard. Will get cheap case to protect the back. I first ordered the Apple, then the Logitech, when they released it. Before it arrived, I saw Serenity’s negative tweets, which concerned me. It arrived yesterday, and I used it last night. Too unstable on my lap, and too heavy. Thanks for iMore!
  • I have to agree with the review. The 12.9" is worse. When closed, if you pick up the iPad by the keyboard section, it flexes and hits the function buttons. I've already started music playing just by picking up my iPad. Maybe I'm holding it wrong... I'm very uncomfortable with the Pencil being where it is. It seems too exposed. I feel I'm going to lose it. What sucks is that I do love a keyboard with the iPad. This is the first one I've had and it works great. Another downside is just how slick the case is. I normally don't have my iPad in a bag or backpack. My last case for the 1st gen IPad Pro was a $14 Moko from Amazon. It had a nice feel to the outside that made for a good grip. I could set it on the roof of my car while getting something out and it would stay put. This think slides all over the place. I may have to find a better case and a Bluetooth keyboard. Disappointed...
  • If you do decide to keep it, I think the best way to grip it is around the pencil. This way your grip is pressing on the non-keyboard portion of the cover that has the most friction on the outside, and your hand is reassuringly wrapped around the pencil. As for the pencil, Apple designed it in a way that just doesn't work well with cases. I had a non-keyboard case that held the pencil very firmly but you had to pull it up and out basically by the side of the tip with awkward (scary?) pressure. If I pulled it up by the back end the cap would just pull off. So, I actually prefer this loop as long as it holds up over time.
  • (I wanted to begin with this: I find Serenity's observations here, as well as elsewhere, always well thought out and very useful. I purchased the Slim Combo before I was aware of her article.) I have had the Slim Combo for my 1st Gen 12.9" iPad Pro for 3 days now and have adapted to it with no difficulty. I previously was using Apple's Smart Keyboard. I primarily use my iPad Pro in landscape mode.
    I thoroughly enjoy:
    1. the feel of the keys and the backlighting for them.
    2. the extra row of iPad-specific keys that were not available on the Smart Keyboard.
    3. the ease of folding up the Slim Combo, when moving to different locations in the home. For me anyway, it is more convenient than the Smart Keyboard
    4. the ability to use the Slim Combo in portrait mode. Reviewing the comments posted thus far:
    1. I agree that the Slim Combo is very slippery if placed on the 'plastic/vinyl' side, so I place it down on the keyboard/screen side.
    2. I enjoy having the Apple Pencil holder and use it constantly. Regarding Serenity's observations/concerns:
    1. The durability of the Smart Connector and Apple Pencil holder are valid points. That does not induce me to return the Slim Combo, but rather, to be more careful with it, as I tend to handle all my tech gear with care anyway.
    2. The look of the iPad shell is not as elegant as that of the Smart Keyboard, but that doesn't bother me. In fact, the overhang on the iPad's corners may provide better protection if/when I bump the iPad against a hard object. I actually like the fact that I can more easily connect the lightning cable/Apple Pencil to the iPad for recharging/syncing.
    3. The 2-piece configuration is OK, but not ideal.
    4. I agree that typing on my lap is not feasible without some support for the iPad/Slim Combo. However, I had been using a 1" 3-ring binder (Wilson-Jones--white) when using the Apple Smart Keyboard, and that works well with the Slim Combo. (I added some anti-slip material to the binder to reduce sliding). For me, none of the options for physical iPad keyboards were ideal. So, I evaluated all and, utilizing materials around the office, I concluded the Slim Keyboard was now my best option. I am not disappointed.
  • A problem with the Slim Combo:
    I did not mention the following, above:
    When I move my iPad Pro (12.9") and Slim Combo that results in a minor torque (twisting) of the flexible Smart Connector, the Slim Combo will frequently disconnect. I then disconnect and reconnect it. This is an irritation, but not enough to convince me to return it to the Apple Store. For me, the positive features still significantly outweigh the negative ones.
  • Interesting. I torque mine quite a bit on my lap and this doesn't happen to me. Either way, it's a better experience to place the keyboard with a little care before you type. ;)
  • I disagree .. strongly. I like the detachable aspect. You seemed to come at this not liking that part right off.. I'm starting to understand why you never reviewed the Belkin QODE™ Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 I LOVE that detachable case & keyboard. I love the vertical or horizontal aspects (though this Logitech case doesn't do that).. I love the fact you can use a Smart Cover with this case and leave the keyboard behind.. and love the fact I don't have to keep removing the iPad from a bulky keyboard case anytime I don't want a keyboard. You seem more obsessed with the keyboard.. I'm not.. I'm not a keyboard Philly. but I don't want a separate keyboard when I do need one. I want it to be a neat little tight package when I have to carry it.. Both Logitech and Belkin's versions do that.
  • After taking the Logitech back, I picked up a $15 Moko folio case and an Apple Magic Keyboard. It's Bluetooth, but for how much I use it, it works great.
  • I must totally disagree with the review. I have both the new Slim Combo and the Apple Smart Keyboard. The Logi product is great. It has a better keyboard, lighted, with short cut buttons. It pairs just as smooth as the Apple product. It has great variability in viewing angle. The best feature is the disconnect ease, leaving the iPad easy to handle, including the ability to change viewing angle and have the Apple Pencil still easily available. It is a terrific solution.
  • I'm TOTALLY agree with the review. Ive got the first gen ipad pro 9.7 with the create keyboard and it's perfect. The reason why im not planning to buy the new ipad pro 10.5 is because there's no create keyboard for this model, cause i use mine only on my lap. If id want a surface pro i'd buy it, the kickstand is just awfull for lap typing!! Such a mistake from logi, according to me, not to have just make a new version of the create for the new ipad!!
  • Frankly, I could not disagree more. It seems that what you see as cons I see as pros. I love that the keyboard is detachable - I don’t always use it with a keyboard and I love the ability of taking it off when I want to. I love that it has an Apple Pencil holder. The hinge is the best I’ve seen on any iPad case ever - I love being able to place it at any angle, in landscape and portrait mode. IIt’s really not that bad to use on your lap, and anyways, I have a MacBook Pro when I need to do some real computing. The case part on the iPad may be a bit bulky and not so pretty, I can agree, but it feels nice in the hand, and actually does not feel too heavy. And ofcourse, the clicky Keys are awesome, something that Apple’s Smart Keyboard does not have. I guess this truly shows that its a matter of preference.