More and more people are using iPads as laptop replacements these days. They’re fast, have amazing battery life and they’re also easy to use. Perhaps the only drawback for everyday use is their lack of a physical keyboard. We’ve done a run-down on the best physical keyboards for iPad which you can attach wirelessly using Bluetooth. Because we’re putting extra attention to durability as well as price, these iPad keyboards are especially good for school use– not just for individuals.
The Best Keyboards for iPad for schools & personal use
Anker, a high tech accessory company founded by former Google engineers, has created one of the most popular keyboards for iPads: the Folio Smart Case. It folds around your tablet and practically turns your iPad into a laptop. With a comfortable keyboard and a 6 rechargeable month battery life between recharges (assuming 2 hours of use every day), this Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad comes in black and dark gray. One nice thing about this iPad keyboard case is that it has a hole for your device’s camera, something not every case offers. When you open or close the case it’ll automatically activate the keyboard once it’s been initially paired. It also acts as an iPad prop so you can view the tablet’s screen while you’re typing without having to set it against anything else.
Note that this particular model is for iPad Air 2 (popular in the education market– many schools have them). However they also offer other models to fit other iPads:
This is very popular keyboard case for the 9.7 inch iPad Pro (models for other sizes below). It features an LED backlist keyboard for typing in the dark (that can be set to any one of 7 different color options!) and it’s even water resistant in case you spill something on it. This model doesn’t run on replaceable batteries; instead it has a rechargeable battery that you can plug into any standard USB outlet (comes with a charging cable). The LED backlit keyboard has an on-off switch luckily since it uses a fair amount of battery. Although if you have the keyboard lighting off, it’ll run for up to 180 hours without a recharge, which is better life than any laptop (and of course it’s also better than your iPad too). It comes in silver, black, gold, rose gold, and black color options.
Note that since iPad Pros come in different sizes you’ll need to choose a keyboard case that fits your model. If you don’t have the 9.7″ iPad Pro, you’ll want to check out these alternatives for different sizes:
In some cases (pun intended) you might not want a full iPad keyboard case– you might just want the keyboard itself. For instance if you already have an iPad case that you’re happy with or you you only want to use a Bluetooth keyboard for iPad under certain circumstances. Here’s a model for that scenario: it’s an ultra slim Bluetooth keyboard for iPads (or iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini or even devices like iPhones or Galaxy Tabs or Macs & Windows PCs).
It connects to your device using the normal Bluetooth pairing protocol. Runs off of standard AAA Batteries for 3 months of life before you’ll need to replace them. This wireless iPad keyboard also features a neat auto-sleep mode where it automatically turns off after 30 minutes of inactivity. Although this model is a black iPad keyboard, they also offer a iPad keyboard in white.
Frequently asked questions about iPad keyboards:
Will every iPad case with keyboard fit every iPad?
Nope! iPad Minis are quite small and iPad Pros come in different sizes, so you’ll need to make sure that whichever keyboard case for iPad that you get is the right size for your tablet model.
Does any Bluetooth keyboard work with iPad?
Since the iPad uses the standard Bluetooth specification, any regular old Bluetooth wireless keyboard should work with your iPad. However you’ll want to make sure that if you do get just a regular old Bluetooth keyboard, it doesn’t require a special USB dongle to pair it with your computer. If you have a Mac desktop like an iMac for instance, there’s a good chance it came with Apple’s standard wireless Bluetooth keyboard. You know, the one that looks like this:
If you want to, you can pair that with your iPad by going into Settings on the iPad, choosing Bluetooth and then turning it on. Then you’ll see a list of all “discoverable” devices (like your keyboard when it’s switched on) which you can connect to. Your iPad will then give your a special code to type on your keyboard and once you type that in, you’ll be paired and ready to use your physical keyboard with your iPad.
Can I use a normal USB wired keyboard to plug into my iPad, or do I have to use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad?
Many people don’t know this but there actually is a way to use a regular old USB computer keyboard with an iPad. In order to plug it in however you’ll need Apple’s Lightning to USB connector dongle which plugs into your iPad’s Lightning port and gives you a USB port to plug in either a camera or a keyboard (or a few other types of peripherals like USB pianos for recording in the GarageBand music app).
Why would a person want a keyboard for an iPad?
Many people find physical keyboards much more comfortable to type on as opposed to a glass screen on a tablet where you can’t quite feel where the keys begin and end, and they have no physical feedback to let you know that you’ve pressed them. Plus a keyboard on a screen is often more cramped than we’re used to, even on small laptops with small keyboards.
The main reasons people cite for wanting to use a physical keyboard with an iPad are the following:
- Speed – It’s easier to type quickly on a regular physical keyboard than it is on a glass screen without physical keys
- Accuracy – For most people it’s still easier to type in a highly accurate fashion when you can feel the keys beneath your fingertips
- Comfort – Because of the larger size of a physical keyboard and the ergonomics of typing on a flat surface it’s more comfortable for many people to use a physical keyboard with an iPad instead of typing directly on the screen
Some people may wonder, what is the point of typing on an iPad instead of a laptop when you’re adding a physical keyboard to your tablet anyway?
That’s a fair question but some people prefer to get serious writing done on an iPad because they like that it offer several features. Here are the pros and cons of using an iPad for writing:
- Constant autosaving – This is built into iOS
- Distraction-free writing environment – It’s easy to get distracted on a computer when you can open so many things at one time but since iPads have rudimentary multitasking it’s easier to feel like you’re sandboxed in so you can focus on the task at hand
- Amazing battery life – Because of their modern design, iPads have incredible battery life that no laptop can match
- Size, weight, and portability – Even with an external iPad keyboard case, these tablets are still often lighter and smaller than even compact laptops are