The 8 Best iPad Keyboard Cases to Buy in 2018

The easiest way to type and keep your gadget protected at the same time

As Apple's iPads have become thinner, lighter and more powerful, people have started using them for work as well as play. The biggest thing standing in their way? The on-screen keyboard, which just doesn't cut it for touch typists, or anyone else looking to write for more than a few minutes at a time.

While you can use any Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad, it's worth picking up a dedicated keyboard case for the best mix of portability, compatibility and protection instead. Available for all iPad models, these cases have a wide range of features, designs and prices, but have one thing in common: they're all a big improvement over tapping on the screen.

If that sounds useful, we've found the best keyboard cases for all kinds of iPad owners, including recommendations for specific models, people on a budget, those who want extra protection and more.

Best on a Budget: Fintie iPad 9.7 2018 Keyboard Case

There's no need to spend a fortune to get a decent keyboard case for your iPad. The Fintie iPad 9.7 Keyboard Case supports most 9.7" iPads (including the Air models, but not the Pro), and comes in a wide range of styles and colors, from plain black to fun, vibrant designs.

The leather-like case material fully encloses the front and back of the iPad, and usefully, there's a small loop on one side to hold the iPad pen if you've got one. The hard plastic keyboard is firm and responsive to type on and is held in place by magnets, meaning you can remove it to reduce weight as needed.

The keyboard connects to the iPad via Bluetooth and charges via the included micro-USB cable. The kickstand only has a single position, but it's set at an appropriate angle for typing with. With very little to complain about, if you're after a budget iPad keyboard case, this is an easy one to recommend.

Best for Dark Rooms: Favormates iPad Keyboard Case

Plan on doing a little late-night work on your tablet, but don't want all the lights blazing? Most iPad cases don't include a backlit keyboard, which makes this Favormates model a welcome exception.

Supporting most 9.7" models, the case has a hinged clamshell design that lets you adjust the screen angle like a laptop, and the solid aluminum base helps keep the iPad stable even on a bed or your lap.

The tablet turns on automatically when the case is opened, and off again when it's closed. Not all keyboard cases support this feature, so it's a welcome touch.

The backlighting options are overkill for most people, with seven different colors and three brightness levels. Still, it all but guarantees you'll be able to find a combination you're happy with.

Battery life is very good, with up to 120 hours of usage and nearly a year of standby time. When it does go flat, charging is via a standard micro-USB cable (included).

Best for Rugged Protection: Zagg Rugged Messenger

If you regularly use your iPad outside or while traveling, keeping it well-protected can be the difference between a scuffed case and an expensive repair bill.

Zagg is a respected name in cases and mobile keyboards, and as the name suggests, its Rugged Messenger model is designed to keep your tablet as safe as possible. It's available for both the 9.7" 2017/2018 models and the 10.5" iPad Pro.

This is a heavy, sturdy polycarbonate case, that can handle a six-foot drop without damaging the device inside. The keyboard is firm and easy to type on, with backlighting in three intensities and seven colors. It can be easily removed when you don't need it, with the back and sides of the iPad remaining protected.

The magnetic stand isn't infinitely adjustable, but the five position options offer enough flexibility for almost any type of use. Battery life is very impressive, with the company touting up to two years between charges, based on an hour of typing per day.

Best for Flexibility: Fintie 360 Degree iPad Keyboard Case

Almost every iPad keyboard case you come across only lets you put the tablet in a landscape orientation. That's fine when you're typing or watching movies, but most people like to read web pages and scroll through social media in portrait mode. If you don't want to have to hold your iPad in your hand every time you use it vertically, pick up this Fintie 360 Degree case instead.

Utilizing an unusual rotating mount, it's compatible with recent 9.7" iPads, excluding the Pro model. Changing from portrait to landscape mode only takes a couple of seconds, with magnets holding the iPad firmly in place.

The keyboard is firm and easy to type on, and the faux-leather case material easily protects the tablet from scratches and minor bumps.

Using it in portrait mode does make the case a little top-heavy, and works best when placed on a hard surface. As with other Fintie models, it's available in a range of fun colors and designs.

Best for New iPad: New Trent iPad Keyboard Case Airbender Star

Designed for recent 9.7" iPads, including the Pro model, at first glance New Trent's Airbender looks much like any other keyboard case with a clamshell design. It's got a neat trick up its sleeve, however — a strong pivoting mount that lets you twist the tablet horizontally through a full 360 degrees.

This lets you turn the screen to show it to somebody alongside you, or rotate and lie it facing upwards for use without the keyboard. Don't want the keyboard attached at all? The mount has a quick-release mechanism for removing the tablet completely.

The keyboard is firm, if a little clicky, and the plastic case will stop scratches and minor drops from damaging the tablet itself.

There's no automatic shut-off, so you'll need to remember to press the iPad's power button before closing the case, but that's the only minor downside in what is otherwise a useful, reasonably-priced keyboard case for the latest iPads.

Best for iPad Air 2: Anker Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case

Anker has a stellar reputation for its batteries and cables, and the company's iPad Air 2 keyboard case is equally good.

The black faux-leather outer case takes scratches and minor knocks in stride without being too bulky, while the well-spaced keys are easy to type on, sitting slightly recessed into the soft felt surroundings to ensure they don't touch the screen.

The iPad turns on and off automatically as you open and close the case, and a strong magnet keeps the top and bottom of the case firmly fastened together when you're on the move. The tablet is propped up by the foldable kickstand when typing and sits flat over the top of the keys when used in handheld mode.

With a six-month battery life (based on two hours use per day) between charges, and Anker's standard 18-month warranty and high service levels, there's very little not to like about this keyboard case.

Best for iPad Mini 1, 2 and 3: BrydgeMini Keyboard

Still sporting one of the original models of iPad Mini? Apple's pint-sized tablet is deservedly popular with people who don't want a large-screen device, and while it's not marketed as a work machine, that doesn't mean it can't be used as one.

Brydge's approach is quite different from the competition, using a premium keyboard paired with an optional transparent case. The look and feel does everything it can to convince you you're actually using a Macbook — albeit a very small Macbook in this case.

The hinged keyboard lets you rotate the iPad through 180 degrees while attached, and can be easily removed if necessary. As long as you can adjust to the small key size inherent to all iPad Mini keyboards, it's even possible to get a good typing speed going.

Forged from a single piece of aluminum, and available in Apple-appropriate colors like gold and space gray, the keyboard is attractive and durable. The transparent polycarbonate case (available separately) is designed specifically to accommodate the keyboard​ but is equally usable without it if you need to save weight.

Also available for other iPad models, Brydge's keyboard and case combo is an excellent, high-quality option for those looking to get more out of their tablet.

Best for iPad Pro: Apple Smart Keyboard and Folio Case

Apple

Courtesy of Walmart

Looking for a keyboard case for your iPad Pro? It's hard to go past Apple's own version — it's not cheap, but is one of the thinnest, lightest and most reliable options, and is available for all sizes of iPad Pro.

Unlike almost every third-party keyboard case, Apple's version connects directly to the iPad's Smart Connector rather than relying on Bluetooth. That's good for two reasons: There's no need to charge another battery, and it's more reliable, without the missed keystrokes and dropped connections that affect even the best alternatives.

Despite having minimal travel, typing on the Smart Keyboard is an enjoyable experience, and the fabric material between the keys is surprisingly durable and easy to clean.

Easy to remove and reattach as needed, the case also folds up behind the tablet when not in use, without being excessively bulky. It does a good job of protecting the screen when you're on the move, but the back stays exposed — something to consider if you're prone to dropping your iPad.

All in all, though, if you've got the money to spend, this is the best iPad Pro keyboard case option out there.

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