Apple’s iPad Pro may come with a computer-like-price of $1249 to $1699, but it’s not a computer, and that’s clear the moment you pick one up.
This is an iPad plain and simple, albeit a very large iPad.
That said, with a keyboard, you can turn any tablet into a more computer-like device, and that’s exactly what Apple’s own Smart Keyboard is designed to do.
We do need to point out that this isn’t your ordinary set of keys to add on to the iPad. You can trust Apple to think different, and think different it has.
For starters, forget about buttons, because while a keyboard has to have buttons, the buttons used on the Smart Keyboard are very different. Made from a custom fabric sitting atop a small key mechanism, this is a keyboard that is soft, flat, and yet offers travel, which is odd because when you look at the keyboard, you think that there’s no way it could have any.
It does, though, and that’s because of the custom fabric in place, and there is even spacing between the keys, made to make the entire thing look and feel like a real keyboard.
Like a real keyboard, the Smart Keyboard even lines up with an Apple desktop keyboard, offering the same size, allowing people already familiar with the size of one to jump right over to the other.
Connecting to the iPad is different for this keyboard, however, because it relies not on Bluetooth like other third-party tablet keyboards but a magnetic connect on the bottom of the iPad Pro.
Along the left edge — what constitutes the bottom when it’s in landscape mode — you’ll find three small circles, and these form the Apple Smart Connector port.
When held near a compatible device like the Smart Keyboard, the magnets on each draw themselves to each other and connect, and then you can just mould the iPad Pro into place, the origami folds on the back folding themselves the right way to let you have something to back the iPad Pro against.
On the one hand, it’s hard not to view the Smart Connector as a nod to Microsoft’s Surface Connector, because outside of the number of magnetic pin ports and size, they are very similar.
On the other, however it actually works a treat, allowing you to connect an almost 13 inch keyboard to work with, even if it is among the flattest keyboards you’ve ever typed on.
Make no mistake, if you worried about the sort of keyboard mechanism the ultra-thin Apple MacBook offered earlier this year, you’ll want to play with the Smart Keyboard before you buy it, because it is even thinner, even flatter, and feels mighty different.
The thing about the Smart Keyboard is that for all the different it brings to the table, and it brings quite a bit, the Smart Keyboard grows on you.
We typed the entirety of the review on the keyboard, and got used to how it handled, even offering the marks for home row on F and J, typing via Evernote, while also using the iPad Pro to write a few emails, typing in forms on the web, and occasionbally use Notes and one of our favourite writing apps, Daedalus.
That said, the keyboard doesn’t really have the right sound to it, and many a time as we were writing this review on the Apple Smart Keyboard, people turned around to ask what exactly that noise was.
And what was the noise?
It’s hard to explain, but for a fast typist, it’s a little like a finger running against fabric very quickly, like when you rub up and down on a seatbelt, while you hear a tap-tap-tapping noise of a button depressing several times in quick succession.
Someone else in the office described it as rats gnawing at an object, and we can totally see that. It’s flat and high-pitched, and if you type as fast as we do, it’s frenetic and very odd.
Essentially, the Apple Smart Keyboard sounds nothing like another keyboard you’ve used, though it feels marginally like the super-thin keyboards Dell and Microsoft have tried and given up on in the past.
And yet it feels better, and while we didn’t like it at first, now we’re just flying on it.