A mobile keyboard should easy to type on without being too bulky to conveniently carry around. The iClever Portable Bluetooth Keyboard (IC-BK03) starts about as small as a mobile phone, but unfolds to be nearly the size of a laptop’s keyboard. It’s available now for $35.99.
Build and Design
When folded up, this accessory is 5.7 x 3.6 x 0.6 inches, and it weighs 6.6 ounces, so it fits easily into a backpack, purse, or gear bag. It’s not really designed for pockets, though.
In this configuration, the entire exterior is aluminum so it’s capable of standing up to the bumps and blows that come in daily use, and iClever includes a fabric draw-string carrying case to protect it. The metallic exterior makes it look very functional, which is close enough to business-like.
After two side pieces are opened, the BK03 is 10 inches wide, with the actual keys that extend 9.25 inches. For comparison, the key area on a typical desktop keyboard is 11.5 inches wide.
iClever didn’t put a power button on this accessory; instead, opening and closing the side pieces turns it on and off. There’s a green LED on the top edge that lights up to indicate that it’s powered.
An issue some people will have with the design of the IC-BK03 is that it doesn’t include any kind of built-in stand to hold up the tablet when typing, which means the tablet or phone has to supply its own. That’s no big deal for Surface Pro users — Microsoft builds a stand into its models — but iPad and Nexus 9 users will need another accessory to handle this. One inexpensive option is the SUNWORLD Smartphone and Tablet Stand.
One of the very few portable keyboards that’s close in size to iClever’s is the ZAGG Pocket. This does have an integrated stand, but it cost nearly twice as much.
Most of the keys are 0.5 x 0.5 inches with a little bit of space between them. It’s possible for people with small or middle-size hands to touch type, but people with large hands are going to find this keyboard too cramped.
The iClever Portable Bluetooth Keyboard sports five rows of keys, including a top row of them that are slightly smaller than the regular ones. This row does double-duty as a set of function keys — these functions vary depending on whether the accessory is paired with a computer running Apple, Google’s, or Microsoft’s mobile operating system.
The layout is a standard QWERTY, so there’s no learning curve when first typing. There’s a decent amount of key travel, and typing is fairly quiet. In extensive testing, we ran into no problems with keys not registering taps.
This keyboard isn’t backlit. This increases the time between recharges, but makes it harder to use in low light.
The iClever Portable Bluetooth Keyboard was designed to work with Android, iOS, and Windows devices. We wrote most of this review with it and an HTC Nexus 9 running Android 6.0 without issue, and we also tested it with a Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 and an iPad Pro. There were also no problems with either of these… users just need to be sure they enter the key combination that sets the BK03 to the appropriate operating system when they are configuring the accessory.
Pairing with a tablet or phone is an easy, one-time process. Holding down Fn-C for a second or two sets a blue LED to blinking and makes this Bluetooth keyboard discoverable to mobile computers.
iClever built in a 210 mAh rechargeable battery, and says this is good for 84 hours of continuous use. We haven’t used this device for the two work weeks that would be required to fully test that claim, but we can say that it has lasted for several days of heavy use on a single charge. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how much charge remains in the battery other than waiting for it to stop functioning, so plugging it in occasionally would be prudent.
Recharging is done through a microUSB port on the top edge of this accessory. A cable is provided, but this will have to plug into the USB charger for the user’s tablet or phone.
On-screen keyboards have their place, but when the time comes to enter lots of text or numbers, nothing beats a physical one. The iClever Portable Keyboard is highly functional and easy to carry around. It also works well with iPads and iPhones, as well as Windows and Android tablets.
The IC-BK03 doesn’t have a stand to hold up the mobile device though, and like a lot of reduced-size keyboards it’s not suitable for those with large hands.
With a street price of $35.99, the BK03 is less expensive that most of its rivals. For example, the ZAGG Pocket is a bit more portable, and includes a stand, but costs $69.99. Another choice is the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard, thought this doesn’t fold up as small as the iClever model does, and it costs $79.95.