Goodbye Apple Smart Keyboard Folio, the best iPad Pro accessory ever.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be the case. All the rumors about the new iPad Pro, including the move to an OLED display and a more premium-looking Magic Keyboard, convinced me that Apple was quietly moving away from the interesting and not-so-luxurious iPad Pro. I was convinced that it would quietly abandon the Smart Keyboard Folio.

Of course, the Smart Keyboard Folio is not compatible with the OLED iPad Pro. The 11-inch version still works with the sixth-generation iPad Air, but that’s it. In other words, if you want to stick with Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet, this option is no longer available. And I’m disappointed because I couldn’t find a replacement exactly like it anywhere.

Before I continue with the accolades, let me mention the negatives: The Smart Keyboard Folio doesn’t have a trackpad, so unless you have an iPad and mouse combo, you have to tap the screen to operate it. It’s not ideal for long-term use, but the overall purpose of the product, at least for me, feels like a keyboard designed for short-term productivity. Email. Of course. Blogging. Yes, I’ve written many articles for The Verge using this keyboard. When I wanted to write a novel, the Magic Keyboard was always at the ready as a top choice for serious work.

My other criticism of the Smart Keyboard Folio is that Apple hasn’t fully fixed it with the new Magic Keyboard, which you can buy for $300. The palm rest and keyboard section are now made of aluminum, which is an objective improvement. But on the outside, Apple still uses a material that tends to pick up dirt and age badly. I’ve long hoped they would switch to a fabric material like Logitech’s or something (anything) better, but they haven’t.

A photo of an iPad Pro attached to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, with a camera to the left.

The Smart Keyboard Folio costs about $200 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is ridiculous considering how basic it is. There are no backlit keys and only two angles to choose from when using the iPad upright. There was no spare USB-C port or additional connectivity features. It was literally an awkward keyboard in a foil case.

But all this was more than compensated for. Its versatility and lightweight design still doesn’t even come close to the newer, lighter Magic Keyboard. In practice, it worked extremely well. The fabric-covered keyboard felt almost unbeatable. Indeed, there was very little movement on the keys and typing cannot be described as ‘comfortable’. However, the Smart Keyboard Folio functioned as a keyboard when needed. If there was breaking news, I could use it to type a Verge article from anywhere, and when I was reading the New York Times, surfing the web or retouching photos with the tablet on my lap using the Apple Pencil, the screen on the back of the keyboard could fold out. The sensation of placing my fingers on the keys while inverted was a little strange at first, but I soon got used to it.

When reading on the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard, or using it in screen-only ways, the iPad Pro has to be completely removed. But the Smart Keyboard Folio is so thin that you don’t have to make that choice and can always leave it attached, no matter what you’re doing.

A photo of Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio on the 2018 iPad Pro.

There’s also the fact that the Folio Keyboard is so light, it made the iPad Pro feel like an iPad in a bag. This was not the case at all with the Magic Keyboard attached; with the MagicKeyboard attached, you weigh as much as a MacBook. That’s not to say it’s a problem, but carrying this powerful combination with the Smart Keyboard Folio on your back was something special.

At best, Apple assumes that everyone who buys an iPad Pro wants their tablet to feel like a laptop (and weigh the same as a laptop) when they attach the keyboard. On a more pessimistic note, the company is deliberately discontinuing more attractive and affordable accessories (that can be easily carried everywhere), expecting more people to pay $300 for the only first-party keyboard available on the new Pro.

For now, it’s up to other companies to replicate the Smart Keyboard Folio. For now, Logitech is producing a revamped version of the Combo Touch. It bears no resemblance to the Folio, so we’re not optimistic that someone will step in to fill the gap.

You never know what you have until it’s gone.

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Written by Sean Anderson

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