Apple sells two types of wireless keyboards for iPad – the Smart Folio Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard – but knowing which to buy is crucial as they differ not only in price but also in features and compatibility. A keyboard is an important accessory that boosts the productivity level of a tablet by transforming it into a laptop form-factor, allowing users to create and edit files such as word documents, slides, and spreadsheets easily.

There are several keyboards that a user can buy for their tablet. Some of them are first-party ones made by the manufacturer and designed particularly for the device. There are also those made by third-party manufacturers that can work with a wide variety of devices. Many third-party keyboards cost less and offer more features compared to first-party keyboards.

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Before highlighting what makes the Smart Keyboard Folio different from the Magic Keyboard for iPad, there are a few similarities that need to be mentioned. Both keyboards are wireless although they do not connect via Bluetooth. Instead, they connect to the iPad via smart connectors. They also do not have a battery as they draw power from the iPad and thus don’t need to be charged. Finally, they have the same number of keys (64) and provide protection for the iPad on both sides when closed shut. The Smart Keyboard Folio is the cheaper of the two keyboards with a starting price of $179 while the Magic Keyboard for iPad has a $299 starting price. The latter is also the only one that comes in two color options — White and Black.

Smart Keyboard Folio Vs Magic Keyboard

A major difference is the presence of a trackpad on the Magic Keyboard. The Smart Keyboard Folio lacks one, and this means users will need to connect a mouse separately or rely on the iPad’s touch screen for navigation. The Magic Keyboard also has a USB-C port built into its hinge that allows for pass-through charging, so users can plug their charger into the port and it will charge the iPad. This frees up the port on the iPad which can then be used to connect a peripheral or an external display. The Magic Keyboard offers a floating design and allows the iPad to be adjusted between 90 and 130 degrees, while the Smart Keyboard Folio allows for just two incline positions.

Apple says the Magic Keyboard uses a scissor-switch mechanism and has a 1mm key travel. The keys are backlit, allowing them to be used in the dark. Unfortunately, the Smart Keyboard Folio doesn’t have backlit keys. Apple has multiple iPad models and a major difference between them is their size. This difference is carried forward to its keyboards which is one of the reasons why a keyboard may not be compatible with a particular iPad. Both the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard come in two variants — one is designed to work only with the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generations) while the other is compatible with all three generations of the iPad Pro 11-inch, and the 4th and 5th generations iPad Air which have a 10.9-inch screen.

Apple‘s Magic Keyboard is the better option overall as it boasts several useful features including a trackpad, backlit keys, and pass-through charging. However, it costs a pretty penny – going up to $349 for the 12.9-inch model. If these aren’t must-have features, the Smart Keyboard Folio will suffice. Although the lack of a trackpad will surely hamper iPad productivity, there are affordable Bluetooth mice, like the Logitech Pop Mouse, that can be purchased to fill the gap.