Review: Brydge Keyboard for iPad Pro

Brydge Keyboard

Editor’s Note: This review was a joint effort between Rosemary Orchard and Curtis McHale.

Brydge has made some of the better external keyboards for iPads for a few years now. The latest Brydge Keyboard for iPad Pro promises an improved feel over Apple’s own Smart Keyboard Folio, and also promises other handy features like a function key row and backlighting.

Today we’re going to look at the Brydge keyboard for both the 12.9” and 11” iPad Pro. Two of our contributors received the first batch of this keyboard for their iPads, and they’ve been putting them through the paces for the last few weeks.

For the purposes of this review, we’ve indicated which contributor has written each section. Rose is using the 11″ version, while Curtis has a 12.9″ iPad and keyboard. As you can imagine, there are a lot of similar aspects between the two keyboard sizes, but there are also plenty of unique attributes that need to be called out.

The Brydge keyboard for the latest iPads are still relatively new, but after the initial wait for shipping to start, it appears the keyboards are fully stocked and ready for pick up.

Physical Design (Curtis)

The Brydge keyboard makes your iPad look very much like a Mac; in fact, so much so that I have caught myself trying to use the non-existent trackpad a few times. Every time I look at my iPad with this keyboard I am reminded how nice it looks in person. The whole package is even prettier when you see it in person than it is in any pictures. The Brydge is easily the nicest looking iPad keyboard on the market today.

Here’s a quick comparison chart of the physical specs for the two keyboards.

11”.12.9”.
Weight1.14lbs1.5lbs
Weight with iPad2.17lbs3.4lbs
Thickness1/2”1/2”
Key Width9 1/19”10 3/4”
Key Depth3 7/8”4 1/8”
Overall Width9 3/4”11”
Overall Depth7”8 1/2”

The width of the keys on the 12.9” Brydge keyboard are the same as the iconic MacBook Air that debuted in late 2008 as well as the current line of MacBook Pro and Air keyboards. If you like the spacing of these keyboards, then the 12.9″ Brydge will feel the same.

Brydge keyboard size

The Brydge keyboard uses two clips to hold the edges of your iPad without interfering with the screen. When I pulled my keyboard out of the box and tried to move the clips by hand, I figured they’d be way too stiff. Once I had the extra leverage of my iPad in them, they provide the perfect amount of resistance.

Some reviewers have said that just as you’re about to close the iPad on the keyboard, the hinges “drop” — in that the iPad becomes too heavy and pulls them closed. I can confirm this happens, but I’ve never felt like it’s going to do any harm to the iPad since there are rubber guards on the palmrest of the keyboard to protect the screen from the metal.

One drawback to the design of the Brydge is that when the iPad is open, the lower edge of the touch screen is level with the keyboard base. After a few missed swipe up gestures, I adjusted and haven’t had any further issues, but this is something to note. In contrast, the Logitech Slim Folio Pro has a small bumper at the base of the iPad that raises it up, making the same gesture effortless.

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Using the Keyboard (Rosemary)

This keyboard is definitely a pleasure to use. It is very reminiscent of the last generation of scissor keyboards on the Macs, and quite similar, though with a little more depth than the current Apple Magic Keyboard.

The key travel feels good. It’s not as shallow as the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio or the Logitech Folio Pro, and it genuinely feels nice to type on.

The arrow keys have the same amount of spacing between the left, up/down column and the right, all of which are half height keys that may feel a little odd, but we both find them to be fine.

Brydge keyboard

Having the function row on the keyboard is really useful. You can adjust screen brightness (Curtis’ favorite feature), volume, control playback, as well as trigger the home button and control the keyboard backlight.

The bottom row of the keyboard has taller keys compared to the rest of the keyboard, which accomodates the up/down arrow combination, but also gives you a bigger target when hitting the Siri button and the regular CMD/ALT/CTRL keys.

Right now, the keyboard only comes in a US layout which may be a problem for those who prefer a different layout.

Sometimes, the keyboard can feel a little slow to wake up compared to the Smart Keyboard Folio, which, providing it’s positioned correctly, works instantly. These problems are typical for all Bluetooth keyboards and iOS devices, though. It might have been interesting if the Brydge team could have found a way to wake the keyboard when you open the device like the Logitech Slim Folio Pro does.

Battery Life and Charging

Like many accessories coming out for the iPad Pro now, the Brydge keyboards charge with USB-C. This means you can charge the keyboard from your iPad or use the same cable that came with your iPad to charge the keyboard. While not every accessory I’ve purchased this year has been USB-C, I’m excited to move toward an all-USB-C life.

We’ve had some conflicting experiences with the battery life on the keyboard. Curtis has seen a drop to 50% battery with a few weeks of use, but then the battery only lost 3% in the next ten days of the same usage patterns. Many of those days are 5 to 6 hours of typing 2 or 3 days a week without the backlight on. While he won’t get a year — or even 6-months — out of the keyboard battery, he should get more than a month without issues, and that should be good enough.

Daily Use

12.9” (Curtis)

In my daily use of this keyboard with my iPad, it’s just about everything I could ask for. I can type accurately and have a keyboard attached to my iPad for all my typing needs.

When I want to read, I pull the iPad out and use it with the magnetic back cover while I leave the keyboard in my designated spot in the kitchen or beside me on the couch. I can easily grab the keyboard if I have a longer bit of typing to do.

I have tried the new “media” mode where you insert the iPad into the stand reversed, but I’d prefer to be able to leave the keyboard and iPad attached and rotate the keyboard around behind the iPad completely (similar to the HP Spectre x360 design), but the hinges currently don’t allow this.

Yes, this would put the keyboard in contact with whatever surface you’re placing your iPad on, and for a family with kids that always seem to get food on the counter, this could be an issue. I’m in that position, but I’d still like this feature.

I have never used they Brydge keyboard in reading mode because it seems way to heavy to me to be useful. You have to take the iPad out anyway — why put it back in and double its weight? You can’t type with it in reading mode, so I just put the keyboard to the side and read with the iPad instead.

Brydge keyboard on a lap

On my lap, this is as stable as any laptop I’ve ever owned. It’s way more stable than the Logitech Slim Folio Pro and at no point did I feel like I had to adjust how I wanted to sit to accommodate a case that was barely stable.

11” (Rose)

My day-to-day use of my iPad varies a lot, but you’re more likely to find me tapping away than drawing with my Apple Pencil, though I do pull the iPad out of the keyboard on a somewhat regular basis to take notes and draw diagrams. Currently, I’m writing this on a small desk in a hotel room, and it’s just as comfortable as writing on a Mac keyboard or my Logitech K380. The extra row of function keys has been very helpful, making watching films on planes much easier thanks to the extra function row. I didn’t bother flipping the iPad around for this because then I wouldn’t have had the extra keys, and if I’m taking the iPad out of the keyboard then I can just place it on another stand which doesn’t take up as much room.

Brydge keyboard closed

I take my iPad Pro everywhere, which is one of the reasons I purchased the 11″ model. The extra weight of the Brydge keyboard is noticeable, but not so much so that I won’t take the device with me. The keyboard is more comfortable to type on than the Smart Keyboard Folio that I previously used, which had considerably less keyboard travel. This is also much more stable for use on public transport which is somewhere else I frequently use my iPad. Flexibility of the hinge means I can always find an angle that works for me.

Criticisms

While this is a great keyboard, there are some things that aren’t perfect about it. The first is that, despite the fact that the keyboard was announced shortly after the new iPad Pros were released, it still took six months for it to be created and delivered, and there were delays during that as well. You would hope that a company who produces so many keyboards would be able to manufacture a new model faster than that.

Rose has also experienced some problems with her hinge. When it reaches a certain angle, the iPad falls back another few degrees every time, so some angles aren’t actually available. This, and keys sometimes not registering when typing at high speeds, has been logged with Brydge support.

One thing that Curtis liked more about the Logitech Slim Folio Pro was that it felt closer to you. He keeps wishing he could bring the 12.9” iPad closer to his face while the keyboard is attached. He’s also come to appreciate the drawing mode that the Logitech affords as he’s needed to mark up a bunch of PDF documents in the last week and feels like he needs to remove his iPad from the keyboard to do that well.

Wrap Up

Overall, the Brydge Keyboard for the latest iPad Pro is a great keyboard that carries on the quality and experience of previous Brydge keyboard models. If typing is the majority of what you do on your iPad, then it provides an excellent typing experience. If you mark up PDFs or use your iPad to draw regularly, then another keyboard may be better, and if you’re big on portability, then Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio is the lightest. The Brydge is also cheaper than some of the other offerings, including Apple’s own, and more flexible than many like the Logitech Slim Folio Pro. At any rate, it makes the act of typing on an iPad Pro feel more like a “Pro” experience, and that’s easily worth the cost of admission.

Must-Have, Most-Used Apps for Thinkers

We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for writing, note-taking, and thinking.

Send me the roundup »