Zagg Rugged Book keyboard case for iPad Air 2 review

The Rugged Book is one of Zagg's newest keyboard case offerings for the iPad Air 2 and boasts great protection with 4 different modes, a backlit keyboard, up to two years of battery life on a single charge, and more. Let's take a look at how it holds up out in the real world!

The good

  • Same great keyboard layout Zagg has been known for
  • Backlit keys
  • Awesome battery life
  • 4 different modes that offer a keyboard and protective case all in one
  • Lots of iOS specific function keys
  • Check battery life right from the keyboard in a button push
  • Multiple layers offer superior shock protection that isn't too heavy or bulky
  • Easy Access to Control Center when in keyboard mode, the hinge doesn't block it, yay!

The bad

  • Book mode is somewhat awkward
  • Top portion detaches too easily and sometimes does this while adjusting viewing angles or opening the case

Zagg Rugged Book keyboard case for iPad Air 2 review

I've been using the Zagg Rugged Book for the past week as the sole keyboard case on my iPad Air 2. My first observation is that for a rugged case, it's not as thick or as bulky as I would expect, yet I feel it protects my iPad Air 2 well.

The Zagg Rugged Book offers 4 different modes; keyboard, case, video, and book. Keyboard mode is obvious. Case mode lets you easily detach the keyboard from the rest of the case so you can use your iPad in tablet mode. For video mode, just detach the top part from the keyboard, turn it around, and re-attach. The keyboard then works as a stand so you can interact with the screen and any media you need to. Book mode lets you stow the keyboard behind the case by attaching the same way you would for video mode. Just close the case with your iPad facing up instead. I never found a particularly good use for book mode and much preferred just detaching the iPad and using it in case mode. Why carry around the extra bulk?

When in keyboard mode, you have a spacious keyboard with several dedicated function keys. The top row of keys has lots of iOS specific keys such as a key for Home button, Siri, Spotlight search, quick toggle for international keyboards, and music controls. Along the bottom row you have a function key off the far left that you'll use to check battery life and toggle the backlight on and off.

Zagg Rugged Book keyboard case for iPad Air 2 review

Zagg boasts that the Rugged Book will last up to two years on a single charge. This estimate is based on using the keyboard case one hour per day with no backlight. Additional usage and using the backlit keyboard requires you to charge more frequently. While I haven't had the keyboard nearly long enough to fully work the battery, I have used it for more than 2 hours per day for a week or so and the battery is still showing as full.

You can quickly test the battery level by using the battery key on the keyboard. It will flash green 3 times if you have more than 50% battery remaining. Three yellow flashes indicates 25-49% and three red indicate less than 25%. In my experience, Zagg keyboards do a great job at sleeping themselves when idle. Both Zagg cases I had for my original iPad Air exceeded battery expectations so i'd expect the Rugged Book to do the same. Realistically, if you use the case each day for a few hours, you can expect to charge every 2-3 months or so.

One thing I'd like to point out that I feel is overlooked in keyboard case reviews is access to Control Center. Typically the hinge of every keyboard case blocks you from being able to swipe up. I was pleasantly surprised to see Zagg took this into account when designing the Rugged Book. The indent under the screen makes Control Center easy to access when in keyboard mode.

The bottom line

Zagg Rugged Book keyboard case for iPad Air 2 review

The Zagg Rugged Book is the case to beat in terms of protection and productivity packed into one. The keyboard layout is great and doesn't feel clumsy. If you need a keyboard that can handle whatever you throw at it, the Rugged Book by Zagg is what you want.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.