Apple has always marketed the iPad as a device for productivity, but its form factor has often placed limitations on the amount and quality of work that can be completed.
This is perhaps most apparent in the lack of a physical keyboard. Although the versatility of an on-screen keyboard is great, it undoubtedly holds you back when typing out long articles or sending multiple emails. It can also be frustrating to lose so much of the screen to a virtual keyboard.
Apple has tried to address this in its iPad Pro line, but even then the keyboard is an optional accessory. With more and more iPad models supporting the smart connector in addition to Bluetooth connectivity, there are a huge variety of keyboard options on the market. Here are our favourites.
This article covers accessories for a variety of iPad models, but for more specific advice read our separate guide to the best iPad Pro keyboards.
Apple Magic Keyboard
The Magic Keyboard is a Mac staple, but it can be an iPad one too. An interpretation of this is now an official accessory for the latest iPad Pro - we look at this next - but in fact this keyboard can work with any iOS device running iOS 9.1 and above.
The advantage of using a standalone keyboard such as this is that it has larger keys than any of the iPad keyboard-covers, and the keyboard panel is angled upwards at a more comfortable angle, so you can get down to some serious typing when you need to.
The Magic Keyboard also has a rechargeable battery that Apple says can last for a month between charges. And, of course, if you've already got one of these keyboards (or one of the older Wireless Keyboards which work with iPads too) then you don't need to spend any extra money buying a brand-new keyboard just for your iPad.
The downside is that it's not really very portable, and doesn't act as either a cover or a stand for your iPad, so you might still need to spend more money on accessories somewhere along the line.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Okay, now we're talking. This is a version of the Magic Keyboard designed specifically for the iPad Pro models with a Smart Connector on the rear - which is to say, the ones fro 2018 and 2020. There's one Magic Keyboard for the 11in models (this costs £299/$299) and another for the 12.9in at £349/$349.
The keys are much more comfortable to type on than the older Smart Keyboard Folio, although they're slightly cramped compared to a full-sized laptop. And there's a trackpad (cleverly supported in iPadOS 13.4), which is transformative.
A floating cantilever holds the iPad in position; not only does it look cool, it helps elegantly solve the weight distribution issue while letting you adjust the screen angle on a hinge. Bear in mind, however, that you can't fold the keyboard back on itself when not in use - you have to detach the keyboard completely when you want to do something with just the tablet.
Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly the best keyboard you can get for the iPad Pro. Read our full Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro review for more information.
Logitech Slim Folio for iPad 9.7in
Logitech has been the go-to alternative to official Apple keyboards for a number of years ago, and with good reason.
The Slim Folio streamlines this experience, with the keyboard integrated into a fully functional case. The keys are tactile and responsive, offering a good amount of travel that makes it comparable to many laptops.
The case is also great if you want to forget about typing, offering 10 and 58 degree screen angles depending on what you're doing. With the 9.7in iPad now supporting Apple Pencil, there's even a useful holder above the screen.
Although it doesn't support the smart connector, turning Bluetooth on is a very small price to pay for an excellent keyboard.
The Brydge keyboard case makes the iPad feel more like a MacBook than ever before. Made from high-grade aluminium, its black keys mimic what we've seen on recent Apple laptops.
It provides one of the most comfortable typing experiences we've had on an iPad, whilst still having backlit keys and some handy keyboard shortcuts.
The clam-shell hinges of the Brydge provide a 180-degree viewing angle, which is more than can be said for most competitors, and features small pads at the front to stop your iPad screen from touching the keyboard when closed.
There is one downside though: the Brydge connects via Bluetooth and not the Smart Connector, so requires charging every so often.
Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard
Microsoft's keyboards don't have a reputation for being pretty, but they're always well-built, comfortable to use, and sturdy enough to take a bit of a pounding when you need to do some serious typing or number-crunching.
The Universal Foldable keyboard is a bit of an oddity - and not only because it actually looks pretty great. It's a standalone Bluetooth keyboard that will connect to any device that works with Bluetooth, including Macs and PCs as well smartphones and tablets.
But, as the name suggests, you can fold it in half so that it’s really small and light when you need to carry it around with you. And when you need to do some work you can just unfold it again and start tapping away.
Despite being a Microsoft product, it even remembers to provide good support for iOS devices, and even has a Mac Command key so that you can switch between apps and use other familiar Mac shortcuts.
The keyboard is covered with a tough fabric to keep it safe, along with a water-resistant coating to protect it from the great outdoors (or, more likely, clumsy spills). The keyboard can pair with two separate devices, and allows you to switch between them whenever you want, and the rechargeable battery should last for up to three months between charges.
You can buy it now for £94.99.
Griffin Wired Keyboard with Lightning Connector
Most of these keyboards use Bluetooth to connect to your iPad, but there may be times when Bluetooth isn’t an option. You can’t use Bluetooth when your iPad is in Airplane mode, and quite a few government and other offices will ban the use of Bluetooth as it’s a potential security risk. That's when it's time to go old school.
Griffin’s Wired Keyboard has a Lightning interface built into it, so that you plug it straight into recent iPhone or iPad model that also uses Lightning. It's a 1m cable, so you’ve got a bit of room to play with when setting up your keyboard and iPad.
It can’t be used as a cover, or as a stand, but it’s larger than most iPad keyboards and is raised at the back so that it sits at a more comfortable angle when you’re typing.
In fact, it looks rather similar to Apple’s Magic Keyboard – just with a wire – and has a similar set of function keys, including a Home button and the Mac’s command key for switching between apps.
Ditching Bluetooth also means that the Wired Keyboard doesn’t need its own battery, instead drawing power through the Lightning cable.
Arteck Universal Backlit iPad Keyboard
Perhaps the most vibrant option of the lot, Arteck's Bluetooth keyboard offers seven colours in its backlight gamut, which are also adjustable to two brightness levels.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery should last you six months between charges, though this is if you use the keyboard for two hours day and without the back-light.
The Arteck keyboard works with the iPad 1 and 2, Air, Air 2, iPad mini 1-3, and iPhone. It is also compatible with Android and Windows.
This keyboard comes with a two-year warranty.
Zagg Slim Book Go for iPad 9.7in
Zagg specialises in straight up device protection, but its keyboard cases are equally impressive.
As the name suggests, the Slim Book Go offers portability and minimal bulk while still delivering a convincing typing experience.
The keyboard itself has a good level of travel, while you have a choice of 7 colours for the backlit keys. The screen itself can be tilted up to 135 degrees too, just like a laptop.
There are plenty of other useful features built-in, including a reverse kickstand, Apple Pencil holder and the ability to detach the keyboard.
You won't have to worry about it running out of power anytime soon, with Zagg claiming a staggering two years of battery life.