Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover feels like an essential partner for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That’s not the case with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Both Smart Keyboard Covers are compact, light and made from a nylon fabric. On the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro the Smart Keyboard Cover adds what amounts to a full keyboard.
It turns the larger iPad into something more like, but the not the same as, a hybrid PC.
While it’s not a perfect keyboard, it doesn’t fall far short of ideal on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Smart Keyboard Cover misses
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Cover misses ideal by a larger margin. You may think that it is only a matter of size. That’s true up to a point.
Yet the different, smaller size changes the nature of the beast more than you’d expect.
There are two main reasons for this. First, the reduced size of the 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard Cover means it is harder to type on. It’s harder still for touch typists.
Because the smaller keyboard harder to work with, you’re less inclined to use it. It’s not the first port of call when you need to get words into the iPad Pro.
This gets you into a vicious circle. Because the small keys aren’t always where your fingers expect, you are less productive. This means you use it less. Which in turns mean your fingers have less opportunity to learn where the keys are.
On screen typing easier
Second, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is smaller and lighter. This makes it easier to pick up and use in the portrait orientation. Smart Keyboard Covers only use the landscape orientation.
Typing on the glass from the portrait orientation is easy and comfortable. At least it is in my hands. I found myself doing this all the time.
In the end I took the Smart Keyboard Cover off the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, swapping it for a Silicon case and a Smart Cover without a keyboard.
The plan was to see how long I’d go before I needed to go back to the Smart Keyboard Cover. That was six weeks ago. Today I packed the Smart Keyboard Cover back in its case ready to return to Apple.
If you need a keyboard to go with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, this is a good choice. For some people it will be an occasional option. For others it will be a permanent fixture, in effect turning the iPad Pro into a small light laptop or hybrid.
It’s worth remembering the 9.7-inch iPad Pro can also work with many of the third party Bluetooth keyboards on the market. But for me, I’m sticking with the screen keyboard. I find it suits how I work.