The iPad Pro is regularly touted as a laptop replacement and an amazing creative tool. But if you want to make the most of your iPad’s one USB-C port, you’re going to need some fancy peripherals and accessories.
In some ways, that’s easier said than done. What devices will enhance your iPad Pro experience isn’t always clear. Plus, manufacturers regularly include half-baked iPad support in their products as an afterthought.
When you want to make the most of your iPad Pro’s fantastic software, this lack of transparency can be incredibly frustrating. So, we’ve taken the time to round up some peripherals and accessories that work with the iPad and enhance its functions.
(Most of these products rely on the iPad Pro’s USB-C port, and they don’t work with other versions of the iPad.)
One of the iPad Pro’s biggest productivity-killers is its lack of an SD card reader and/or extra USB ports. This makes it a hassle to transfer files to and from the iPad, which can be frustrating when you want to fully take advantage of the iPad’s fantastic video- and photo-editing programs.
But, you can get around the issue with a handy USB-C hub. These hubs can add a variety of input formats to your iPad (including HDMI), and they’re a basic necessity for any iPad power-user.
Not all USB-C hubs work with the iPad Pro just yet (the next iOS update will offer more hub support), but the few USB-C hubs that work with the iPad Pro right now are pretty good:
- RAYROW 6-Port Attachable Hub: This small hub is specifically designed for the iPad Pro. It has a 4K HDMI port, a USB-C port for charging, a headphone jack, SD and MicroSD card slots, and a USB 3.0 port for external drives. Unlike most USB hubs, the RAYROW hub stays flat against the iPad Pro, which prevents it from getting in the way of regular iPad use. (That said, this won’t play nice with most iPad cases.)
- Baseus 6-Port Attachable Hub: The Baseus is an awesome, always-on hub that attaches to the corner of your iPad. It stays out of your way (unlike most dongle hubs), and it makes your iPad look like the Borg. Port-wise, it has a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, SD and MicroSD card slots, a USB-C port for charging, and a headphone jack. (If you have a case on your iPad, this hub won’t fit.)
- FALWEDI 10-Port Hub: This hub dangles from your iPad (a little inconvenient), but it has a ton of ports and might be useful for use with your laptop or desktop. The FALWEDI has SD and MicroSD card slots, a USB-C charging port, three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a VGA port, an ethernet port, and a headphone jack.
- Satechi 6-Port Slim Hub: For a USB-C hub, the Satechi is incredibly slim. It’s a great “always in your bag” kind of device, and since it’s a dongle, it’ll work well with any laptop or phone. The Satechi boasts two USB 3.0 ports, SD and MicroSD card slots, a USB-C port for charging, and an HDMI port for external displays.
Now that you’ve got yourself a good USB-C hub, it’s time to start looking at external monitors.
Grab an External Display for More Fun and Productivity
Thanks to the iPad Pro’s USB-C port, you can easily mirror your iPad’s screen to an external monitor. Simply connect the iPad to a monitor via USB-C cable, and boom, you’re done. This feature is great for watching videos, drawing, or for doing your “serious” work on a “serious” monitor. (For monitors without a USB-C video input, you’ll need a USB-C to HDMI cable or a USB-C to DisplayPort cable. Or, you could use a USB-C hub with an HDMI output.)
Here are some monitors that support USB-C video input:
- LG 27″ 4K Monitor: This is a high-quality 4K monitor specifically designed for USB-C video input. It’s also built with AMD FreeSync tech for seamless gaming, and it has a couple built-in USB ports for iPad power users who want to abandon their desktop PC.
- ASUS ZenScreen 15.6″ Portable Monitor: This HD portable monitor is designed for working on-the-go. Powered by your iPad’s USB-C output (saving you from searching for an outlet), it is easily adjustable and even has a built-in stylus holder.
- AOC 15.6″ Portable Monitor: This HD monitor offers a great mix of affordability and practicality. Small and easily adjustable, it works perfectly with the iPad Pro.
Of course, you can wirelessly mirror your iPad Pro to any Apple TV device, and Mac OS Catalina (coming late 2019) will allow you to mirror your MacBook screen onto your iPad (although it’s unclear whether or not OS Catalina will allow you to mirror your iPad screen to a MacBook).
There’s More Than One iPad Stylus
Everyone knows the Apple Pencil is wonderful. It adds a new dimension of controls to your iPad, and it’s a necessity for any kind of iPad-based visual art.
But the expensive Apple Pencil isn’t your only option. Plenty of wonderful Apple Pencil alternatives are available, many of them direct clones of the Apple Pencil itself.
Here are some of our favorite iPad Pro styluses:
- Apple Pencil Gen 2: The Apple Pencil kicks ass. It doesn’t need to pair over Bluetooth or anything, it just works. It is super responsive, has built-in palm rejection features, and can magnetically attach to the side of your iPad Pro (and charge while it’s there). If you’re set on the Apple Pencil but hate the price, consider buying the first generation Apple Pencil (which lacks gesture support and wireless charging).
- Logitech Crayon: The Logitech Crayon is basically just an affordable clone of the Apple Pencil. It automatically pairs to your iPad, is super responsive, and has built-in palm rejection features.
- Wacom Bamboo Sketch: This is a traditional stylus that just happens to work great with the iPad Pro (and you can usually find it on sale). It connects to your iPad via Bluetooth, has two customizable buttons, and can connect to the side of your iPad magnetically. Plus, you can use it with non-Apple devices, a feature that might be useful to some people.
Now that you’ve got your stylus situation sorted out, it’s time to look at some keyboards.
Ditch the iPad’s Virtual Keyboard
Typing on the iPad’s virtual keyboard can be a hassle, especially if you want to set the iPad down on a table (or any surface, really). But the iPad works perfectly with some keyboards, and a cheap little keyboard can help you turn your iPad into a productivity machine.
Following are some of the best iPad Pro keyboards:
- Apple Official Smart Keyboard Folio: The official iPad Pro keyboard works as both a case and a keyboard. A bit expensive, it does work perfectly with the iPad Pro (and has a clean look to boot).
- ProCase Keyboard Case: This is basically an inexpensive version of the official iPad Pro keyboard case. Unlike the official keyboard, however, it comes with a nice little holding notch for your Apple Pencil.
- BRYDGE PRO Laptop-Like Case: The BRYDGE PRO case essentially turns your iPad Pro into a tiny laptop. It’s a stylish MacBook-esque case with a solid built-in keyboard, although it does bulk up the iPad and restricts the iPad’s use as a tablet.
- Logitech Keys-to-Go: This wireless iPad keyboard can pair with any iOS device, and it’s a great wireless alternative to some of the case-based iPad keyboards on the market.
Mouse support will come to the iPad Pro with the iOS 13 update by the end of 2019. When that happens, the iPad Keyboard market is sure to see a flood of keyboards with built-in trackpads. So, if you’re a fan of mouse support (why wouldn’t you be), you might want to wait for the iOS 13 update before buying a keyboard. Or you could just use a wireless mouse alongside one of the keyboards listed in this article.
Speakers, Headphones, Microphones, and MIDI Devices
It’s no secret the iPad Pro is a powerful device for musicians. In fact, Madlib produced a whole album on his iPad. So what tools did he use? What audio equipment works with the iPad Pro?
Here are some great audio peripherals you can use with the iPad Pro. Just keep in mind you might need to buy a USB-C to USB-A adapter to make any of these devices work:
- Speakers: While the iPad Pro can technically connect to any high-quality speaker with the help of a USB-C headphone jack, using Bluetooth speakers is much more comfortable. You could even add Bluetooth functionality to an old pair of speakers with a Bluetooth receiver.
- Headphones: The iPad Pro can connect to any pair of headphones with the help of a USB-C headphone jack, and some USB-C headphones are on the market. Of course, you could just go down the Bluetooth route.
- Microphones: You can use any standard USB-connected microphone with the iPad Pro, so long as you use a USB-C to USB-A adapter (or USB-C hub). For typical XLR mics, you can use a Pyle XLR to USB adapter (yes, it supports phantom power).
- MIDI devices: Any USB-connected MIDI device (keyboards, drum pads, etc.) can plug into the iPad Pro with the help of a USB-C to USB-A adapter. If you need more than one port, you could use a USB-C hub.
More audio products (especially MIDI devices and microphones) might possibly come with built-in USB-C ports in the future. Of course, most of these devices are already pretty cheap; waiting to buy any native USB-C musical equipment when you could just rely on an adapter or USB-C hub probably isn’t worth it.