The first impressions are in: Apple's iPad Pro Magic Keyboard has started shipping to buyers a few days early, leading to a slew of hands-on videos that demonstrate how the accessory aims to transform Apple's tablet and possibly replace the laptop for more users.
Videos from YouTube users including "MrExitStrategy," "Thanwachai Anuyoon," and "shadow1men" show the new accessory in action. Launching just one month after the fourth-generation iPad Pro, the add-on costs $299 for the 11-inch tablet and $349 for the 12.9-inch tablet. It holds the tablet high, while also offering a backlit keyboard, a clickable trackpad, and a USB-C port on the left side for charging the tablet only. It pairs with the cursor support in iPadOS 13.4 that also launched last month, resulting in a keyboard that turns the iPad into something closer in function to a regular laptop.
The videos show the keyboard is different in a few ways. For starters, the hinges don't bend like a regular laptop. Instead, it uses a cantilevered hinge to bend out before raising the tablet up slightly. Initial videos suggest it won't move back all the way, meaning users that want to remove the tablet need to lift it out of the case. Fortunately, this seems relatively straightforward and fast.
Unlike most other keyboards, it's also pretty heavy. A MacRumors forum user called "OzMoon" weighed their 12.9-inch case Monday and found it came to 710 grams, or 1.57 pounds. When paired with the tablet, it comes to 1.36 kg, or three pounds. 9to5Mac noted that the 13-inch MacBook Air is just 1.29 kg, or 2.84 pounds, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes to 1.37kg or 3.02 pounds. That means the two together weigh about the same as Apple's laptops — a feature that could help the tablet maintain balance in laptop mode, but one that also means users see little weight savings from switching to a tablet.
And compared to other laptop cases for iPads, it doesn't use Bluetooth. Instead, it uses the Smart Connector system to power the keyboard and trackpad, while also enabling the USB-C port to power the device. Early hands-on videos also confirm the port does not support data for connecting accessories.
The tablet and accessory updates were announced soon after Apple announced an update to the MacBook Air. While the new MacBook improves on the traditional laptop to offer better performance, Apple's new tablet updates have brought the iPad closer to replacing the laptop for more consumers.