The 5 Best Alternatives to the Official iPad Keyboard

A photo of someone using the Logitech Slim Folio iPad case.
Logitech

The iPad makes for a compelling laptop stand-in, so long as its paired with a keyboard. But at over $150, Apple’s Official iPad Keyboard and Magic Keyboard are far from affordable. Thankfully, there’s a wide selection of third-party iPad keyboards that’ll increase your productivity without draining your wallet.

Before Buying an iPad Keyboard

Apple’s official iPad keyboard is an all-in-one package. It doesn’t have a battery, it’s easy to detach from your iPad, it has high-quality keys, and it doesn’t obstruct the iPad’s magnetic charging dock for the Apple Pencil.

But third-party options are rarely as robust. They usually fall short in at least one or two areas—although they sometimes sport features or builds that may appeal to you more than Apple’s iPad keyboard.

Here are some things to look out for in an iPad keyboard:

  • Device Compatibility: Check your iPad’s size and model to make sure that it actually works with whatever keyboard you buy. We’ll link to the available sizes for each keyboard to make things easier.
  • Key Quality: The keyboards in this article are high quality for their shape and size. But if quality is your number one concern, then we suggest buying a Logitech Slim Folio, a Slim Folio PRO, or a Bluetooth keyboard like the Logitech Key-to-Go. You could even use a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad!
  • Protection: Folio-styled cases are pretty thin. If you want a thick case that can take a beating, then pair a wireless keyboard with a nice thick case. There aren’t any ultra-tough keyboard cases for the iPad yet (save for the Logitech Rugged keyboard, which is made for children and only works with 9.7-inch iPads).
  • Pencil Compatibility: The Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) charges while magnetically attached to the iPad. This isn’t possible on some keyboard cases, as the case will physically block the iPad’s magnetic Pencil holder. It’s a minor annoyance, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you use an Apple Pencil. (Note, the iPad Mini can’t charge the Apple Pencil wirelessly).
  • Connection Style: The official iPad keyboard works through the magnetic iPad smart connector. It doesn’t require any Bluetooth pairing, and it switches on and off automatically. That said, the third-party solutions in this article work over Bluetooth.
  • Battery Life: Again, most third-party iPad keyboards work over Bluetooth, and their batteries may need to be replaced or recharged every few weeks or months. We’ll list how each keyboard is powered, along with their average battery life.
  • Adjustability: The official iPad keyboard only offers two viewing angles. In other words, it isn’t really adjustable. But some of these keyboards, like the affordable IVSO Keyboard Case, are built with totally adjustable kickstands.
  • Trackpad: Apple introduced trackpad support to iPad with its Magic Keyboard. As of right now, the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad (what a name) is the only 3rd party keyboard with a trackpad.

Now that you have a good idea of what you’re looking at, let’s jump into it. Remember to double-check your iPad’s size and model, and only buy cases that are meant to fit that device. We’ll list different sizing options for each keyboard case.

Best Overall: Logitech Slim Folio and Slim Folio PRO

A photo of the Logitech Slim Folio and the Logitech Slim Folio Pro keyboards.
Logitech

Logitech’s Slim Folio keyboard is a near-perfect clone of the official iPad keyboard. Apple even sells the Slim Folio on its website! It offers full front-and-back protection of your iPad, a full laptop-like keyboard with iOS shortcut keys, and a holster for your Apple Pencil. It runs on a replaceable coin cell battery that should last for 4 years. (The keyboard automatically shuts off when not in use.) The only drawback to this case is the lack of Apple Pencil charging—a minor annoyance for anyone who uses a 2nd gen Apple Pencil.

To Logitech’s credit, this small issue is rectified with Logitech’s Slim Folio PRO, an upgraded case that fits the iPad Pro. The PRO case features an upgraded build quality, backlit keys, and a magnetic notebook flap that holds the Apple Pencil in a position that’s appropriate for charging. It also has a 3-month battery that charges over USB-C. Like the regular Slim Folio keyboard, the PRO automatically powers on and off when moved between the typing position.

Logitech sells its Slim Folio keyboard case for the 9.7-inch iPad, the 10.2-inch iPad, and the 10.5-inch iPad Air. The company sells its Pencil-friendly PRO case for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Best Overall

Logitech Slim Folio with Integrated Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad (5th and 6th Generation) Black

The Logitech Slim Folio is a near clone of the official iPad keyboard at almost half the price. It's sold in form factors that fit most iPad models.

Best With a Trackpad: Logitech Combo Touch with Trackpad

Apple’s new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is stupidly expensive, but it’s the first iPad keyboard to feature a trackpad. Thankfully, Logitech offers a serious alternative with a long name: the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad.

This keyboard case is similar to what’s found on the Microsoft Surface tablet. It has an adjustable kickstand, a row of iOS shortcut keys, a large trackpad, backlit keys, and a nice little holster for your Apple Pencil (that doesn’t obstruct wireless charging). Impressively, this Logitech keyboard is easy to detach from its case and connects to the iPad by its magnetic smart connector (no Bluetooth, no batteries).

Logitech will begin selling this keyboard for the 7th generation iPad, the iPad Air 3, and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro in May of 2020.

Best Budget: IVSO Keyboard Case

The IVSO Keyboard Case
IVSO

The IVSO iPad keyboard offers a spread of features and adjustable viewing angles for an incredibly low price. Unlike the official iPad keyboard, the IVSO keyboard case has an adjustable kickstand, a foldout wrist rest, and a snug Apple Pencil holder. It also supports Pencil charging and features a line of iOS shortcut keys. The IVSO keyboard’s only downfall is its battery, which needs to be charged by Micro-USB after about 30 or 40 hours of use and must be turned on or off manually.

IVSO sells this keyboard case for the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 10.5-inch iPad Air, and the iPad Mini (2019 or 2015). IVSO sells a less adjustable version of this case for 10.2-inch iPads.

Best Budget Keyboard

IVSO Keyboard Case for Apple iPad Pro 11 2018 Stand Cover Case with Wireless Keyboard & Pencil Slot (Auto Wake/Sleep, Apple Pen Charging Enabled Case for Apple iPad Pro 11 2018 Tablet (Black)

The IVSO keyboard case is fully adjustable and supports Apple Pencil charging. For under $50, it's the best "cheap" iPad keyboard case on the market.

Best for iPad Mini: COO iPad Mini Keyboard Case

The COO iPad Mini Keyboard Case
COO

COO is one of the few companies that sells a keyboard case for the 5th gen iPad Mini. This case is made with a soft rubberized material and sports a fully featured keyboard with iOS shortcut keys. It even has a cutout for the Apple Pencil—a necessary touch considering the iPad Mini’s inability to connect to the Pencil magnetically. The keyboard is removable, charges via Micro-USB, and lasts for about 30 or 40 hours of use. It must be turned on and off manually.

This particular case will fit the iPad Mini 5 (2019) or 4 (2015).

Best for iPad Mini

iPad Keyboard Case Mini 5/4 for 7.9" - 5th Generation 2019 Release - Wireless Bluetooth Detachable Keyboard - Auto Sleep/Wake Lightweight Stand Case (Black)

COO's affordable iPad mini keyboard case has an Apple Pencil holder and a removable keyboard. It's a solid option for anyone who takes notes or illustrates on their iPad Mini.

Best Case-Less or Rugged Option: Logitech Keys-to-Go

The Logitech Keys-to-Go wireless keyboard.
Logitech

The Logitech Keys-to-Go is an ultra-slim Bluetooth keyboard that’s made to work with iOS devices. It features iOS shortcut keys, a 3-month battery life, and a battery that charges over Micro-USB cable. But this particular keyboard doesn’t come with a case, making it an interesting alternative to the other keyboards in this article.

Sure, the Keys-to-Go may seem less convenient than an attached keyboard case. But this totally wireless keyboard may be a better option for some people. After all, you can use it with any case that you like. The Keys-to-Go works great with a cheap folio case, or even a super-durable kickstand case (for anyone who isn’t into the slim and fragile folio keyboard cases). Just make sure that whatever case you use with the Keys-to-Go has some sort of kickstand so that you can see the screen while typing. That’s important, right?

A Keyboard for Any Case

Logitech Keys-to-Go Ultra-Portable, Stand-Alone Keyboard COMPATIBLE DEVICES all iOS devices including iPad, iPhone and Apple TV 920-006701

The Logitech Keys-to-Go is built specifically for iOS devices, and is a good option for anyone who would prefer to keep their iPad in a rugged or keyboard-free case.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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