Updated October 2022
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Buying guide for best keyboards for iPads

When Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPad, it was a marvel of engineering. Flexibility was a touted feature — much like the iPhone before it — with an interface that could change from a movie screen to a typewriter without the need for additional hardware.

Fast-forward to the present and iPad users the world over have come to appreciate the benefits of a physical keyboard over the onscreen one, especially for longer typing sessions. While the on-screen keyboard is a good option for shorter sessions, a physical keyboard offers a level of speed, accuracy, and tactile feedback that an onscreen keyboard lacks. With the right keyboard, the iPad can even go a long way toward replacing a computer.

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If you’ll be relying primarily on a keyboard case, try to find one that provides multiple viewing angles. This will make it easier to use in a variety of circumstances, from your lap to a desk, and potentially ease neck strain.

Key considerations


The single biggest factor in selecting the right keyboard is choosing one that is the right size for your iPad model. Since its introduction, the iPad has been available in several different sizes, often requiring a keyboard that is designed to specifically support that model.

For example, the standard iPad has traditionally measured 9.7-inches, while the iPad Pro has come in several different sizes, including 9.7 inches, 10.5 inches, 11 inches, and 12.9 inches. The iPad Mini is yet another size entirely, requiring a keyboard unique to its footprint.

Case or Standalone

Another factor that will determine both cost and features is whether you opt for a standalone keyboard, or one integrated with a protective case. Standalone keyboards are usually cheaper, and typing on a standalone is often an overall higher-quality experience. A standalone keyboard, combined with a stand for your iPad, is often an ideal setup for a primarily desk-based workflow.

A keyboard case, on the other hand, has the added benefit of providing mobility and protection if you’re always on the go or like to use your iPad in a variety of situations.


There are three primary ways to connect an iPad to a keyboard: via the charging connector, Bluetooth, or the Smart Connector on iPad Pros.

The original iPads used a 30-pin connector that has since been phased out of all Apple products. Subsequent models used the same intelligent Lightning connector found on iPhones, while later iPad Pros made the switch to USB-C. If you choose a keyboard that relies on a physical connection, you’ll need to make sure to select one that has the right connector. You can also purchase an adapter to connect an iPad to a keyboard that would otherwise be incompatible.

iPad Pros also feature a Smart Connector. This type of connection not only handles the communication between the iPad and keyboard, but also powers the keyboard. As a result, keyboards that use the Smart Connector tend to be a little bit lighter, since they don’t need internal batteries.

Bluetooth is the easiest, most widespread way to connect a keyboard to an iPad. Since every iPad has Bluetooth built-in, virtually any Bluetooth keyboard will work with an iPad. As an added benefit, a Bluetooth keyboard can also be paired with your Android device, as well as your macOS or Windows computer.

Backlit Keys

Another feature to consider when choosing a keyboard is whether it offers backlighting. Backlit keyboards are not only easier to see and use in low-light conditions, but they can also indirectly save your battery life. Without a backlit keyboard, many users resort to turning their screen brightness up in order to see the keys in the dark. A backlit keyboard solves this problem, with higher-end models offering multiple brightness levels and colors.


Because of the wide variety of keyboards available, the price of keyboards varies equally. Depending on the features you’re looking for, the price can range from $16 to $170.


Basic keyboards are usually just that: a keyboard and nothing else. Ranging in price from $16 to $30, these keyboards are usually standalone Bluetooth keyboards that don’t include a case or backlit keys.


Mid-range models begin to offer some of the advanced features, including backlit keys and the protection of a case. Keyboards in this range will usually cost anywhere from $30 to $80.


Premium keyboards are the ultimate in form and functionality, combining the protection of a case, high-end construction, backlit keys, Smart Connector support, and more. Premium keyboards range from $80 to $170.


  • If you’re coming from Windows, substitute the Command key for the Control key in any keyboard shortcuts. For example, Command + C copies the selected contents to the clipboard, rather than Control + C.

  • Go to Settings > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboard to customize how your external keyboard will function. For example, you may want to disable auto-capitalization and auto-correction for the external keyboard.

  • Use Command + Space to perform a Spotlight Search. This can be used to search for a contact, file, or app. Pressing the Enter key selects the top hit.

  • Press Command + Tab to switch between apps, similar to macOS.

  • Press Command + H to go to the Home Screen.

  • Press Command + Option + D to make the Dock visible.

  • Hold the Command key to see what shortcuts are available in the current app.

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If your Bluetooth keyboard is experiencing issues, disconnecting it and pairing it with your iPad again may clear up the problem. Go to Settings > Bluetooth and select the keyboard, then tap “Forget This Device.” Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to pair it to the iPad again.


Q. Does the Smart Connector have any advantage over Bluetooth?

A. Yes, it does have a couple of advantages. Smart Connector keyboards tend to be lighter and thinner because they draw their power from the iPad rather than requiring batteries. Smart Connector keyboards also tend to have improved hotkey functionality, with system-level hotkeys working across apps, thanks to the low-level tie-in provided by the Smart Connector.

Q. How long will a Bluetooth keyboard last without charging?

A. Although runtimes vary from one manufacturer to another, it’s not uncommon to get several months of runtime off of a single charge, with an average of a couple of hours of use per day.

Q. Can I still use onscreen keyboards, such as the Emoji Keyboard?

A. Yes. Many keyboards designed specifically for the iPad will have a key (usually with a globe icon on it) to quickly switch between keyboards, including the Emoji Keyboard. If your keyboard was not designed specifically for the iPad, simply disconnecting it momentarily will pull up the onscreen keyboard.

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