Tablets computers like Apple's iPad have trumped laptops as the new kings of portable computing, bringing a whole new level of portability and power.
However, actually typing on them isn't as convenient or as fast as using an actual keyboard. Sometimes you just want to feel the “click” of a button to know that you hit it.
The best iPad Air 2 Case-Keyboard combinations offer the convenience of always having a proper keyboard handy, add an extra level of protection, and keep everything portable in an all-in-one container.
These four popular keyboard cases are highly recommended, excellent options:
- Zagg iPad Air 2
- Kensington Keyfolio
- Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
- Logitech Type+ Protective Case with Integrated Keyboard
- Added: SHARKK iPad Air 2 Keyboard
I review them all below, but first, here's an overview of some of the features you'll want to look out for.
Features for iPad Air 2 Keyboard Cases
Here are the main features to look for in iPad Air 2 keyboard cases:
- Smart Case (open/close): Magnets in the case save power by putting your iPad's screen to sleep upon closing the case, and turning it back on upon opening.
- Multiple Angle Settings: Depending on the height of your iPad and how you're sitting, you may want to be able to adjust the angle of the screen in your case to see it better.
- Protection: Does the case completely cover the iPad? Or, does it stick out a little bit. Some cases offer screen protectors built in, and protect your iPad from bumps and dings.
- Lightweight: How much bulk does the keyboard case add to the package? Sleeker designs use lightweight material for a lighter package. Bulkier designs add weight, but usually offer more protection.
- Backlighting: To help see the keyboard in low-light situations, a light beneath the keyboard will highlight the outlines of the keys, and even the letters & numbers on the keys themselves.
- Function Keys: These are special keys on the keyboard that will save you the trouble of moving your hands back and forth from the keyboard to the iPad. Common controls, such as volume buttons, home button, and Siri are all on the keyboard for convenience.
- Tactile Feedback: Can you feel a “click” when you push a button, or just the resistance of the button hitting the bottom? Either way, unlike typing on your iPad, keyboards give your fingers the sense that you've actually pressed the button.
- Landscape/Portrait: Does the keyboard allow you to rotate the screen 90º for the narrower portrait alignment, or the wider (and more common) landscape alignment?
- Bluetooth Connection: While your iPad will physically sit inside the case, the keyboard connects to it wirelessly, via Bluetooth. A wired connection would be bulkier and less convenient.
- Battery Life: Most keyboards will last several weeks to a few months without having to recharge it. The more you use it, however, the more often you will need to charge it.
*NOTE — When browsing for an iPad Air 2 keyboard case, keep in mind that the iPad Air 2 is a different size and shape than the first iPad Air.
Not only is it thinner, but the camera and buttons are in different positions. So, while you might be able to fit your Air 2 in a case for the Air, it may fall out, and you won't get full functionality from it.
4 Options for iPad Air 2 Cases with Keyboard
Based on the above listed features you'll want to look for, I'm listing the following 4 popular iPad Air 2 cases with keyboard functionality. For each case I will give an overview of features, list pros & cons, and summarize with suggestions and links.
• Smart Case • Multiple Angle Settings • Covers and Protects back & front • Thin & Lightweight • Backlighting • Dedicated Function Keys • Landscape alignment only • Bluetooth • Battery Lasts up to 3 months •
99.99 ($55~80 online)
The most frequently requested case when I was working in the Apple department of a computer chain store was the Zagg Folio Case.
The one unique feature that I think makes it more popular than all the others is its ability to stay open at any angle you choose (up to 135º). Other cases will have anywhere from one to four “stops” where the screen locks open to a certain angle, limiting your options for viewing.
Another popular feature that you can find in other cases is keyboard backlighting. When you're using your keyboard in darker environments, you can turn on a little light behind the keys, which will highlight the keyboard and make it easier to type. No need to wake up your spouse in bed, or the person sleeping next to you on the plane.
Reviews online suggest that the vast majority of people LOVE their Zagg iPad Air 2 cases. The people that don't, however, mostly complain about the hinge failing in some way. It either stops holding the iPad at the desired angle, or that there was chipping on the plastic parts of the case. However, these complaints were tempered with praise for Zagg's Customer Support, quickly replacing faulty cases.
Zagg has been a popular player in the iPad case sector for a long time, and have an excellent reputation for strong and useful products. The iPad Air 2 Folio Case lives up to the well earned reputation, offering great convenience and functionality in an all-in-one case/keyboard.
It comes in various colors, including black, blue, white, crimson (red), orchid (purple), and sage (light green).
Zagg's other popular offerings include the Zagg Slim Book with additional modes & orientations, and a longer lasting battery, and the Zagg iPad Air 2 Rugged Book Case for extra protection against drops and damage. Check out all of Zagg's offerings on Amazon.
• Smart Case • One Angle Setting • Covers and Protects back & front • Thin & Lightweight • Backlighting • Dedicated Function Keys • Limited tactile feedback • Landscape alignment only • Bluetooth • Battery Lasts several weeks •
99.99 ($69~89.99 online)
There are two versions of this keyboard case: The Keyfolio Thin X2, and the Keyfolio Thin X2 Plus. “Plus” apparently means “backlighting”, because that is the only feature the X2 Plus model seems to have over the X2.
The Kensington Keyfolio Thin X2 is remarkably thin and light — not much thicker or heavier than a case that doesn't even have a keyboard built in.
The case also completely covers the iPad, which snaps into the case perfectly and snugly, protecting it from drops and bumps. Magnets keep the case securely shut when not in use. These are the same magnets that make it a smart case, turning the iPad on and off when you open and close the case.
Magnets also play a part in turning the keyboard on and off. (see below).
The keyboard features the typical array of function keys across the top row that will play and stop music, change the language, control the volume, turn on Siri, etc. The keys are nicely backlit with a white light.
One unique feature this design has over the Zagg Folio above, is the ability to z-fold it in a way that hides the keyboard and lets you hold the iPad as if it's case-less. Like this:
My only personal complaint about this keyboard (which seems to be the top complaint online) is that it has only one viewing angle. It's not a bad viewing angle, you just don't have the option for other positions.
That one position also happens to be the only way to turn the keyboard on. Setting the iPad into a groove that magnetically holds it in that one upright viewing angle also activates the keyboard's power. If you attempt to use it at any other angle, the magnet doesn't engage the power switch, and it's not usable.
Other complaints online are that the fit is so snug that it's difficult to remove your iPad when you want to remove it from the case (which honestly makes it more secure), and that the keys are so thin, that you don't really feel like you're pressing them down.
I like the Kensington Keyfolio Thin X2 and X2 Plus. It's a very sleek and lightweight design, with convenient function keys, and a snug, protective fit. It comes in both black and white options to match the face of your iPad.
The company also makes a KeyFolio Thin X3, which has all the features of the X2, but adds a more powerful battery that can be used to charge a phone. (A feature Kensington calls “Powerlift”.)
• Smart Case • 3 Angle Settings • Covers and Protects back & front • Thin & Lightweight • No Backlighting (available in Pro model) • Special Function Keys • Good tactile feedback • Landscape alignment only • Bluetooth • Battery Lasts 2-3 months •
129.99 ($89~109.99 online)
Of the four cases I recommend on this page, the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 is probably the most favorably reviewed case on Amazon.
It boasts a similar design to the Kensington Keyfolio z-folding style, above, but with a few advantages.
For one, it addresses my main complaint about the Keyfolio by adding multiple viewing angles — 3 in all. Each of those settings are held in place by magnets instead of grooves. And (like the Kensington design) when you set the iPad in any of those positions, the magnet automatically turns on the keyboard — and off again when you close the case, saving power.
Another nice feature are rubber feet or a “lip” that keeps the keys from actually touching the iPad screen when the case is closed. This helps to keep oil that rubs off your fingers and onto the keys off of your screen, making it easier to clean over time.
This case also offers the convenient function keys, but they are not “dedicated” — a “function” button changes the number keys to function keys (the same way a “shift” key changes lowercase to capitals). This doubling-up of keys removes the need for an extra row of buttons, and allows for larger keys.
Again, like the Keyfolio, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case will only display your iPad landscape (wide view) only. This is the most common design in keyboard cases. However, Belkin makes a QODE Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case that allows you to rotate the iPad into the portrait (tall view) alignment, as well as detach the iPad from the case easily.
There is also no backlighting — a feature that is again reserved for the pro version only.
The Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 is a sturdy, protective design, that is versatile and sleek. It's available in black, white, and a stylish white with gold to match the new gold colored iPads.
• Smart Case • One Angle Setting • Covers and Protects back & front • Thin & Lightweight • NO Backlighting • Dedicated Function Keys • Good tactile feedback • Landscape alignment only • Bluetooth • Battery Lasts up to 3 months •
119.99 ($69~119.99 online)
Like the previous two designs mentioned above, the Logitech Type+ protective case with integrated keyboard has a similar z-fold design, so it has some of the same advantages and disadvantages, with slight differences.
Logitech has been a popular maker of computer keyboards for decades, and the typing experience on this one shows why. The keyboard has concave keys and a good feel with clicks that make it feel like a full-sized keyboard.
Like the other z-fold designs, the keyboard automatically turns on and off when you flip the iPad into typing position (held by magnets) and close the case. Dedicated function keys offer the convenience of not having to move your hands back and forth from keyboard to screen unnecessarily.
One unique difference in the design is that the iPad is held in place at only two corners by plastic clips. While this means it will be easier to remove it from the keyboard case when you want to, it also means more of it is exposed when it's flipped open. The clips are pretty secure, but a few people complained online about them breaking and not holding the iPad in place.
This model doesn't have backlighting in the keys, and like the kensington above, only one angle setting for typing.
While the Logitech Type+ may not be as “full featured” as its similarly priced counterparts, it has the best typing experience and most solid keyboard, offers good protection, and a lightweight design.
The case comes in several colors, including black, green, blue, and purple.
Bonus: SHARKK iPad Air 2 Keyboard
• Smart Case • Multiple Angle Settings • Covers and Protects back & front • Thin & Lightweight • No Backlighting • Dedicated Function Keys • Landscape and Portrait viewing • Bluetooth • Battery Lasts 60 hours •
68.99 ($34~49.99 online)
No, I haven't lost count. I came across this 5th option while doing research for keyboard cases.
SHARKK is an increasingly popular maker of affordable electronics and accessories. Admittedly, I don't have direct experience with the SHARKK iPad Air 2 Keyboard. But, over 1,1oo positive reviews on Amazon has got to count for something. So, I'll mention it here.
The single most attractive feature of this case keyboard is the price. At under $60, it's clear why this is such a popular option.
Considering that price, it's actually a pretty solid design loaded with features.
It has a unique mechanism to hold the iPad upright. Levers extend from the back adjust to multiple viewing angles, and the propping arm lets you rotate the iPad into both landscape and portrait alignment. This makes it quite flexible, and more versatile than any of the other cases mentioned above.
The case has a textured surface that enhances your grip while offering protection against bumps and drops. A clasp locks the case closed, and keeps it from opening accidentally.
An array of dedicated function keys across the top row of a full keyboard layout feature some iPad-specific functions including screen brightness, media controls, and copy/paste buttons.
This flexibility and affordability comes with only a few drawbacks.
While nicely thin and lightweight, it has a delicate, flimsy feel. The part that holds the iPad in place and rotates, can feel like it's going to break at times, so you might want to be gentle with it.
Some people have complained that the clasp that locks to keep the case closed is a little difficult to unlock and open. You have to click a little button to make sure it pops open. This sounds like only a mild inconvenience.
Finally, the typing experience of the keyboard can feel a little soft and mushy. The plastic doesn't feel sturdy, and can bend under slight pressure.
SHARKK's iPad Air 2 Keyboard Case has all the features you'd want at an affordable price. You might want to be a little careful with it. The design is clunky, but functional — it gets the job done.
Purchase the iPad Air 2 Keyboard on Amazon.
Conclusion: The Best iPad Air 2 Keyboard Case
These are only
four (now 5!) options for case-keyboards for your iPad, and of course there are many others to check out.
The best iPad Air 2 keyboard case is going to a balance of features such as durability and weight, typing angles, convenience of use, and special functions. Many are well reviewed, and easy to find online. Check out the variety on Amazon.com.
Is there another iPad Air 2 case keyboard you'd like to see reviewed? Or do you have a question about (or an experience with) one of the above keyboard cases that you'd like to share? Feel free to add something to the comments below, and I will respond as soon as I can.