ZAGG Rugged Messenger Review: An affordable keyboard and case for your 10.2-inch iPad

ZAGG Rugged Messenger case and keyboard for the 10.2-inch iPad (2019)
(Image: © Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: The Rugged Messenger is the only case and keyboard combination you need for your 10.2-inch iPad (2019). Start using it and watch your productivity soar to new levels.


  • +

    Great battery life

  • +

    Function keys

  • +

    Detachable case

  • +

    Good price

  • +

    Multi-angle views


  • -

    Loud keys

  • -

    Bulky case

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Apple's Smart Keyboard for the 10.2-inch iPad 7 (2019) is highly-rated and does a great job. However, the $159 keyboard is only that, a keyboard.

If you're looking for an all-in-one keyboard/case solution for your tablet that doesn't break the bank, consider the ZAGG Rugged Messenger. Both a wireless keyboard and durable, detachable case, the Rugged Messenger is worth every penny and should bring you years of enjoyment.


What is the ZAGG Rugged Messenger?

The Rugged Messenger provides an ultra-slim keyboard and detachable case for your iPad 7. Bluetooth-based, the accessory offers laptop-style keys, a holder for your Apple Pencil, and multi-pairing capabilities. The keyboard also provides backlighting in seven different colors and lasts up to a year on a single charge, assuming one hour of use each day. The two-piece Rugged Messenger weighs 1.5 pounds versus 1.07 pounds for the actual iPad 7.

Great keys

ZAGG Rugged Messenger: What I like

There's much to love about the Rugged Messenger, starting with its ability to pair with two devices at the same time. For example, you can use the keyboard with your iPad and iPhone. Simply use a function key on the keyboard to switch back and forth.

Zagg Rugged Messenger for 10.2-inch iPad (2019)

Zagg Rugged Messenger for 10.2-inch iPad (2019) (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

Did you notice I mentioned a function key? Like other iPad keyboards (but not Apple's Magic Keyboard), the Rugged Messenger includes a row of unique keys that give you more control over your devices. You'll find home, power, and volume keys, plus one showing the battery level, apps running, and many more.

There's much to love about the ZAGG Rugged Messenger.

The keyboard itself works well and feels natural. When pushed, the keys perform as expected and don't get stuck moving up or down. Each key is spread out nicely and doesn't feel squeezed together, which is often the case with other tablet keyboards. I also like how the case and keyboard snap together using a magnet; if you listen carefully, you can hear the snap, confirming that your table is secure.

Zagg Rugged Messenger for the 10.2-inch iPad (2019) showing back

Zagg Rugged Messenger for the 10.2-inch iPad (2019) showing back (Image credit: ZAGG)

The holder for the Apple Pencil is a nice touch and is located at the top of the case; it's there when you need it, but easy to hide otherwise. Finally, there's the built-in, magnetic stand that holds the tablet securely at various viewing angles. It take a few tries to get the position right, but once you do, the process works easily.

Hefty all-in-one

ZAGG Rugged Messenger: What I don't like

One of the few areas where the Rugged Messenger could use improvement is with the sound generated by the keys. Though not outright disruptive or loud, constant clicking and clacking are noticeable, depending on your location. If you're someone who uses your iPad in a public place (let's say a coffee shop), the sound isn't noticeable. However, the same can't be said for use in a library or another quiet space.

Another concern: When the keyboard and case are attached (as opposed to pulled apart in two), any keyboard movement make the case move slightly. Though it's not enough for the case to fall over, the action is noticeable and could prove annoying after a long period of use.

Zagg Rugged Messenger for the 10.2-inch iPad (2019)

Zagg Rugged Messenger for the 10.2-inch iPad (2019) (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

Beyond this, some might find the case on the Rugged Messenger too bulky. Though not quite as large as a traditional Otterbox case, it's hefty nonetheless.

Get one right now

ZAGG Rugged Messenger

Have any questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about the ZAGG Rugged Messenger or keyboard cases in general, leave a comment below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.