In the beginning, the only keyboard available for the iPad Pro was the Logitech Create. I wanted the Apple Smart Keyboard. But it wasn't available. So I bought the Create. Within two weeks of ownership, I returned it for a full refund. Now, I'm back on the Create. This is my story:

Why I returned it in the first place

In brief, I didn't like the look, the feel, the size, the weight, or the way it trapped the iPad in its death grip. I hated almost everything about it from the start. I opened it and installed my iPad Pro at the Apple Store. A couple of employees were curious about my first impressions. I told them I hated almost everything about it from the moment I took it out of the box.

Over the two weeks I had it, my impressions didn't change. I wasn't even that fond of the typing experience. I thought the keys were a bit too mushy and bouncy for my tastes. I like Key's with a short-travel pop and snap that is the antithesis of mush and bounce. Typists can get pretty goofy about keyboards. I'm no different in that respect.

The Logitech Create had an additional problem. The software was virtually incompatible with the iPad Pro OS at the time. It was awful. Doubled and ignored key presses were common. Autocorrect did not work at all with that keyboard, but did with Apple's offerings. And Logitech seemed powerless to respond to these obvious issues. For me, typing onscreen was a better option. There were very good reasons to kick it to the curb. And I was not alone in that conclusion.

Apple's to lose

Apple had all of the advantages in this contest. No one makes more compelling hardware. And they make pretty good accessories when they want to. They made something that looked like it belonged in the iPad Pro box. It was about as thin and light as you can make a real keyboard. And it worked perfectly with the shipping software. The contest was theirs to lose.

And they did...

I used that keyboard for months. It is a cover, not a case, I liked that about it. Apple's keyboard allowed the iPad Pro to be a tablet until you wanted it to be something else. Using the keyboard didn't take away the essential tablet nature of the device.

The typing experience was a mixed bag. It had the perfect pop and snap at certain angles. On my lap, it was fine. On a table, I found the action stiffer than I liked. It really all depended on the height of the table and chair I was at. What I am trying to say is that the typing experience wasn't consistent. Sometimes it was great, other times, I needed to use a separate keyboard. I took to using the exceptional Apple Magic Keyboard in some circumstances.

It seemed crazy to have to supplement a $170 keyboard with another $100 keyboard. It is not that I think the Logitech keyboard is so much better. But I do find it much more consistent in all situations. I don't feel like I have to supplement it, this, despite the fact that it is far from my favorite typing experience. Consistency matters. I always know what I am going to get. And what I am going to get is fine, not great, but fine. It is never going to be worse than that.

Why the Create gets a second chance

It is not everyday that I buy something that I have already tried and returned for a refund. But a few things have changed since that first experience:

  • The software issues have been sorted. The Create is no longer a software second-class citizen. It has all the features and functions of Apple's first-party keyboards.
  • I've changed. I know what I use the iPad Pro for. And it is not a tablet. For me, it is a laptop. So I no longer object to the fact that it is trapped in a laptop orientation and form factor. I now consider that a feature.
  • I'm over aesthetics. After you are done looking at it and touching it and holding it, at the end of the day, it is all about keying words onto the screen. The Create is better at facilitating that basic function.
  • The special features are nice to have. I get a great deal of use from brightness and volume buttons on a keyboard. While unnecessary, the backlighting is also a nice little bonus in some situations. Apple provides none of these niceties in their offering.

Don't get me wrong: The Logitech keyboard still annoys me. If there were a competitor in the space, I would try them in a heartbeat. It is telling that no other companies have joined the game. There are many complaints that this keyboard leaves a permanent scratch on the iPad. I have seen this with other cases and other iPads. It hasn't happened to me yet. But I do not discount the possibility.

I am also experiencing the occasional shift problem where it does not register, and a letter goes uncapitalized. While not exactly a deal-breaker, it is an annoyance. That said, I am using beta software. So I hesitate to mention it.

Which keyboard is right for you? Honestly, it depends on which annoyances you are willing to live with. You will get work done either way. If your iPad Pro is primarily a laptop for you, the Create is probably the way to go. If you are more of a tablet with occasional keyboard use kind of person, go with the Apple option. Be prepared to deal with minor frustrations either way.

David Johnson