- Uses Apple Smart Connector, not Bluetooth
- Backlit keys
- Slot for Apple Pencil or any stylus
- Offers only one viewing angle
- A bit cramped for those with large hands
Quick TakeThis keyboard case sports an attractive design and a well-built keyboard, but its support for the Apple Smart Connector is what really makes it stans out from the crowd.
Just about all the add-on keyboards available for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro depend on Bluetooth, but the Logitech CREATE uses Apple’s Smart Connector instead. It also has backlit keys, a slot to hold the Apple Pencil, and is available now for $129.99. We tested this accessory to see how suitable it is to turn Apple’s latest tablet into a 2-in-1.
The CREATE is a single piece that clips to the back of the iPad and wraps around to the front so that it functions as a case. Most of the exterior is a synthetic weave (not the typical faux leather) that looks smart and provides a very good textured grip. Logitech promises that this material is resistant to stains and can be wiped clean. It comes in either black or blue.
When closed, the case is 9.8 x 7.0 x 0.9 inches (248 x 178 x 23 mm), and just under a pound: 15 oz. (426 g). It adds moderately to the bulk of this tablet, but much of that is the keyboard.
On the interior is a polycarbonate frame designed to protect against bumps and scratches, but the CREATE isn’t up to saving the 9.7-inch iPad Pro if something really severe happens to it. The screen gets some extra shielding from the rigid keyboard which closes down over it.
There are openings for all the tablet’s speakers and ports so they are easily accessible without removing this folio. For some reason, the iPad’s volume buttons are covered with polycarbonate external buttons but the power button is just left exposed.
Logitech is one of the very few companies that realize that people who have an Apple Pencil want an easy way to carry it around with their iPad Pro. The CREATE has a built-in slot that securely holds this stylus while also keeping it easy to access.
Those who don’t feel the need to invest in Apple’s $99 accessory might use this slot to hold a more affordable stylus, or just a pen.
This tablet can be converted into a 2-in-1 by opening the CREATE and attaching the bottom edge of the iPad to the Smart Connector just above keyboard. This causes the back of the case to form into a brace that holds the display up. One of the few downsides of this product is that it can do that at only one angle, about 130º. This is a serviceable angle, but more flexibility would be better.
Five rows of input keys and one row of function keys fit in a 9.2 x 3.7 area. The keys measure 0.6 x 0.6, with 0.1 in. of space between them. The tops of the keys are slightly concave, and there’s 1.4 mm of key travel, an adequate but not generous amount.
The function keys are half the size of the regular ones, and can be used to control the display’s backlight intensity and music playback… there’s even a replacement Home button. These are very handy, and give the CREATE a nice advantage over the Apple Smart Keyboard, which has no equivalents.
The keyboard backlights are another very nice touch, allowing the use of this accessory in any lighting condition. A pair of function keys switches between bright, dim, and off. Just be aware that the power for these comes from the iPad Pro, so extensive use on the brightest setting could drain the battery. Still, these backlights automatically turn themselves off if no key is pressed for 8 seconds, but they come back on again as soon as the user resumes typing.
Apple built support for Bluetooth keyboards into the iPad many years ago, and since that time a large number of these have been introduced. The iPad Pro line can use these, but the 9.7- and 12.9-inch models in this series also have the Smart Connector, a port that was added specifically for add-on keyboards. This allows the Logitech CREATE to function as if it were part of its tablet, drawing off its battery for the power it needs.
It also means there’s no need to pair this accessory with the iPad; simply join the tablet to the keyboard at the Smart Connector and begin typing. No driver software is needed, either, nor is there is battery in the accessory that needs charging.
After typing this review on the CREATE, as well as using it on and off for several days for other tasks, we never experienced any problems with dropped letters or repeating keys. We also asked a variety of people to try it out. Responses were generally quite positive, with our testers finding it easy to touch type on without needing any practice. One caveat though: people with large hands who find laptops or tablets keyboards cramped will find this one too small as well. But this is true of all the offerings specifically for 9.7-inch iPads.
Logitech’s list price for this product is $129.99. Comparable keyboards for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro include the $149 Apple Smart Keyboard and the $149.99 Brydge 9.7. Another good option is the $129.99 ZAGG slim book.
The best accessories usually don’t come cheaply, but the CREATE is one of the more affordable premium iPad keyboards.
Although the Logitech CREATE boasts an attractive design and a well-built keyboard, support for the Apple Smart Connector is what really makes it preferable to just about all its rivals that depend on Bluetooth. We rate it to be one of the best keyboard cases available for the Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro.