The Smart Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has been more difficult to find than a groundhog's shadow on Groundhog Day. For the purposes of this article, one was found yesterday at the Apple Store in Sherman Oaks by doing a search at the online Apple Store to see which Apple Store retail locations might have some in stock.
The timing was lucky; the Sherman Oaks store, the only one in the Los Angeles area to receive stock of the Smart Keyboard Thursday morning, just received about seven of them. It was a great feeling finally being able to find the 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard in stock, but that feeling became more of a letdown after using it and realizing it's not as capable as one may think.
One would also think that at $149, Apple would make a keyboard cover case, much like the one Samsung includes with the Galaxy TabPro S, that covers the complete device, but that's not the case either. The magnetic strip that attaches the Smart Keyboard appears to be weak as well.
There are some users who are thrilled with the device.
"Handling it on its own, you can tell it's a quality product. The laser-ablated fabric covering is fantastic and you will have no worries about ever getting any kind of gunk or grime under your keys. In theory, this keyboard should last a very long time," says user Jennifer J in a customer review of the Smart Keyboard at Apple's site.
However, some notice a major design flaw.
"First, when the keyboard is folded and being used as a cover, about 2/3 of the cover is a fat 'hump' with the remaining third (the part without the keyboard) is much thinner," says David F on the same page as Jennifer's comment.
Indeed, the design does feel strange and uneven -- this goes against Apple's usual design standards. Sometimes, it feels more comfortable carrying the iPad in some type of envelope or small case rather than the keyboard cover.
The most important reason why the Smart Keyboard fails has nothing to do with the design, but the fact that it doesn't make the iPad Pro feel as useful as a laptop. Trying to type out a Wordpress blog post is possible, but it can be pretty painful. At times, there is a slight delay in typing, but this can be fixed by making sure all the other programs are closed. There is no easy way to select text; there is no touchpad. Also, deleting text takes twice as long as it does on an OS X or even a Windows 10 device.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the Smart Keyboard is the sound it makes when pressing the keys. Let's just say that you won't want to use the Smart Keyboard while you are in bed with your sleeping spouse. In this situation, as well as others, you would be better off using the on-screen keyboard rather than Apple's mediocre Smart Keyboard attachment.
[Photo via Daryl Deino]