Zagg’s rugged iPad keyboard case adds useful trackpad, too [Review] ★★★★½

iPad is an outstanding tablet, but add the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad and it becomes a powerful notebook computer that’s ready for work or school. Plus, the keyboard case offers a welcome 6.6 feet of drop protection.

There are versions for several Apple tablets, so I wrapped my 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the Pro Keys and went to work using it. There’s a lot to like here.

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Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad review

Most Apple fans can choose between a MacBook or an iPad. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. One of the chief advanatages of an iPadOS device is that it can be both a tablet and a notebook.

Be more productive with your iPad by attaching a keyboard case like the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad. Type out emails, write your novel, whatever. When the time comes to relax, remove the keyboard flap and lean back on the couch to read, watch video or play games on the tablet screen without the unnecessary keyboard and trackpad.

As noted, I’m testing the version for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There are also ones made for the 10.2-inch iPad, the 10.9-inch iPad Air and the 11-inch iPad Pro.

Make your iPad into a notebook

Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad
Zagg Pro Keys is ready to go when you are.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Zagg Pro Keys is called a keyboard case because it consists of two parts: a keyboard and a case. They cling together with magnets but can be easily separated. Or you can flip the keyboard around behind the screen.

The accessory folds up like a clamshell, but when open it uses a kickstand instead of hinges. The benefit of this design is it doesn’t take up much space on a desk or table. But it limits the angles at which you can prop up the display. It offers only two: 120 degrees (30 degrees past vertical) or 130 degrees (40 degrees past vertical) depending on how you adjust the kickstand. These are useful angles, but this is a limitation nonetheless.

The trackpad sits just below the keyboard, of course. Building in a trackpad forced Zagg to position the keyboard so that the bottom of the iPad connects near the top of the keyboard flap. The result is that the part of kickstand that lies flat to support the iPad is only an inch wide. That’s enough to hold up the screen on a solid surface, but it’s not really enough to use the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad on your lap.

The keyboard flap is detachable, and you might want to leave it behind when you don’t need it. I’m testing the version for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the removable keyboard weighs 1.5 pounds. The case that wraps around the iPad is 0.5 lbs. Extra bulk is inescapable with this type of accessory, but this one is a bit more than is typical.

Just be aware though, the kickstand is built into the keyboard so you can’t prop up the tablet without the keyboard.

The material Zagg chose for the Pro Keys’ exterior is a sort of artificial suede in a dark gray color. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m not a fan of this look. The texture makes it easier to hold onto your tablet, though.

iPad case add significant drop protection

Perhaps the important detail to know about the Pro Keys is that Zagg promises 6.6 feet of drop protection. If you’re concerned about breaking your tablet, this is critical… and not something you get with many keyboard cases.

Even without the clip-on keyboard to protect the display, there’s a lip around the screen to make it less likely to get scratched. And the case covers the back and sides of the iPad.

There are openings for all the ports and rear cameras. And the volume buttons are protected by covers that don’t interfere with their use.

Plus, Zagg built in channels that guide the audio from the speakers toward the user. As the speakers normally point away from the user, I found this a welcome improvement.

An Apple Pencil slot sits on one edge, and the stylus is held in place by the flap that holds the Pro Keys closed. I tested, and the magnets built into the Apple Pencil 2 work through the case, and the stylus charges, too.

Fully functional iPad keyboard

Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad: A fully functional iPad keyboard
The keyboard and trackpad in the Zagg Pro Keys for the 12.9-inch iPad are capable as a notebook’s.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The size of the keyboard in the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad depends on the screen size of the tablet it’s designed for. As I said, I’m testing the 12.9-inch version so there’s room for a full-size laptop keyboard. It’s 10.5 inches wide, and most keys are 0.6 in. wide and 0.6 in. tall with very rounded edges. There’s about 0.1 in. of key separation, and decent key travel for a portable keyboard.

The keys are plastic and just a bit “clicky.” That’s not criticism — I know some people prefer that, especially when it means the keys aren’t mushy. I had no problems with keys that didn’t register or registered double in my lengthy usage. In short, I found Zagg’s offering easy to type on.

There’s a row of half-size function keys above the standard letter/number/symbol ones. These make using your iPad a bit easier, letting you easily adjust the volume for the music you’re listening to, skip tracks, etc. with the push of a button.

Zagg built in backlights for the keyboard in seven different colors: red, white, purple, green, etc. And there are three brightness levels as well as off. This is handy when you need to type in a dimly-lit class, conference room… wherever.

The Pro Keys keyboard communicates with the iPad via Bluetooth. Zagg could have used Apple’s Smart Connector, which was created just for clip-on keyboards, but there are some advantages to Bluetooth.

For one, the keyboard can pair with more than one device. For me, the second is almost always my iPhone. And Bluetooth doesn’t drain the iPad battery as much as keyboards that are powered by the tablet. That said, you have to charge the Pro Keys’ built-in battery through its USB-C port.

And a trackpad, too

Of course the iPad has a touchscreen, but most people who use a laptop are accustomed to controlling it with a trackpad so Zagg put one into this keyboard case.

It’s 4.25 inches by 1.8 inches, which is large enough to be useful. I’ve used it for days and it’s sensitive enough for me. You can adjust the movement speed in Settings > General > Trackpad & Mouse.

Just so there’s no confusion, no additional software is needed for the trackpad. Apple added robust support for this type of input device back in 2020.

If prefer to use the iPad’s touchscreen or a mouse, Zagg offers a version of this keyboard without the trackpad. If you just feel that way sometimes, the trackpad can be deactivated without also sitting off the keyboard.

Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad final thoughts

Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad in use
The trackpad in the Zagg Pro Keys is a welcome addition.
Photo: Zagg

I’ve used a lot of iPad keyboard cases over the years, and to me the standout feature of this one from Zagg is the 6.6 feet of drop protection. Consider the Apple Magic Keyboard – it’s lighter weight and cooler looking, but is not designed to protect your iPad from falls so there’s no telling if your expensive tablet will survive if you drop it.

Beyond adding welcome protection for your iPad, the Pro Keys includes a keyboard I had no trouble typing on for hours a day. And the trackpad is highly functional, too.

The only reason I don’t absolutely love this a case is the 12.9-inch version has a kickstand design that makes it hard to use in my lap. The 11-inch version (shown just above) has a wider kickstand.

★★★★

Pricing

The cost of the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad varies by model. For my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it’s $199.99.

Buy from: Amazon

The version for the 11-inch iPad Pro and 10.9-inch iPad Air is $149.99. These tablets are the same size so one keyboard case fits both.

Buy from: Amazon

And the version of the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad for the budget 10.2-inch iPad is $139.99.

Buy from: Amazon

Zagg provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.

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