The most effective third-party keyboard for iPad Professional [Review]

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review

If you wish to use your iPad like a laptop computer, including a Brydge keyboard has lengthy been one of the best ways to do it. There are different options — a lot of them, in truth — and plenty of are extra reasonably priced. However none of them are nearly as good as a Brydge keyboard.

And no Brydge keyboard has been higher than the brand new Max+ for iPad Professional. Like its predecessors, the Max+ is superbly constructed from anodized aluminum, with a backlit keyboard that delivers a stellar typing expertise. The massive distinction with the Max+ — which makes it even higher than the Professional+ — is a bigger, extra dependable trackpad and a brand new, rather more seamless magnetic docking system on your iPad.

The Max+ is just not solely the very best Brydge keyboard ever made, but in addition the very best third-party keyboard you should buy for iPad Professional. Right here’s our full evaluation.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Professional evaluation

I do a whole lot of typing on my iPad Professional. Much more than I do on my Mac. And since selecting up the 2020 mannequin final spring, I’ve performed most of that on a Magic Keyboard. Previous to that I used a Brydge Professional keyboard, however when Apple introduced mouse assist to iPadOS, I wished a trackpad. I used and reviewed the Brydge Professional+ — the corporate’s first iPad keyboard with a built-in trackpad — final April, and I used to be greater than slightly upset.

I had been utilizing Brydge keyboards for years as much as that time, and I had cherished each single one in all them. They’d at all times delivered nice typing experiences and designs far superior to different iPad keyboards. That’s what made the Professional+ and its built-in trackpad, which merely wasn’t ok, so disheartening. I encountered all types of issues with trackpad stability and reliability, and I wasn’t the one one.

With the brand new Max+, nonetheless, Brydge is again to its finest.

Brydge Max+ magnets make issues straightforward

The Max+ sports activities a well-recognized design, made virtually totally from aluminum and measuring simply 17mm thick. It weighs a hefty 2.1 kilos and feels prefer it may shield you from a landmine. It’s most likely too heavy for many who prefer to journey gentle — when coupled along with your iPad Professional its weight will increase to a whopping 3.6 kilos — however in order for you a laptop-like expertise on your iPad Professional, there’s nothing higher.

Not like the Professional+ and different predecessors, the Max+ does away with Brydge’s acquainted hinges that when held your iPad Professional in place. As a substitute, it employs a brand new docking system that takes benefit of the numerous magnets constructed into your iPad. Merely place your machine into the case and it snaps into place. It’s nonetheless safe, however the brand new system makes it loads simpler to take away your iPad while you need to use it as a pill.

Turning your iPad Professional right into a pocket book.
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

I’m an enormous fan of this modification. Though the hinges work effectively on earlier Brydge keyboards, they’re not very best for many who prefer to ceaselessly use their iPad Professional with out a keyboard connected. They’ve to carry onto your iPad tightly to make sure the machine doesn’t slip out, which makes eradicating after which reinserting the iPad slightly cumbersome. You additionally needed to fear about alignment, however the magnets now handle that for you.

The revised design additionally permits for a extra polished end. Whereas hinged Brydge keyboards shipped with an optionally available cowl that connected to the rear facet of your iPad — and have become indifferent far too simply — to make the hinges sit flush in opposition to its again, that’s not wanted. The keyboard’s cowl, which sits in opposition to your iPad, supplies full protection.

A tip-top typing expertise

One factor Brydge didn’t make important modifications to with the Max+ is the typing expertise — and that’s a great factor. The keys are ever so barely firmer now, offering a extra responsive really feel, however the general typing expertise is simply as stellar as we’ve come to anticipate from Brydge keyboards. It’s a pleasure to make use of, even for prolonged typing periods.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review
A stellar typing expertise.
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

The keys are a great measurement and effectively spaced, so that you shouldn’t encounter too many typos when you’re used to them. Though they’re smaller than a MacBook’s keys, which is not any shock because of the smaller footprint of the Max+, I discover them simply as quick and as snug to sort on. And, not like the Magic Keyboard, the Max+ gives helpful shortcut keys.

The highest row of the keyboard permits you to management media playback, modify your iPad’s quantity and show brightness, cycle enter languages, and return to your Dwelling display with out touching your iPad’s display. There’s additionally an influence button to show the keyboard off, and a Bluetooth button for pairing. On the bottom-left facet, there you’d lastly discover the operate key on a MacBook’s keyboard, there’s a dictation button.

Backlighting and battery life

Your complete keyboard is backlit, which makes it straightforward to see in dimly lit rooms, and you’ll modify its brightness or flip it off utterly if you want. Doing so can have a somewhat substantial affect on battery life; Brydge says that, with the backlight disabled, you’ll stand up to 3 months of use (based mostly on two hours of typing per day) from a single cost. However that’s lowered to only 40 hours when the backlight is left on.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review
Backlit keys are nice for late-night work.
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

I’ve been typing on the Max+ all day (at the least eight hours most days), 5 days per week within the a number of weeks that I’ve had it. I preserve the backlight disabled as a lot as potential, although I do flip it on within the night if I want it. I’m having to cost the Max+ roughly twice per week. Fortunately, it makes use of the identical USB-C connection as iPad Professional itself, in order that’s easy.

In reality, in a pinch, you’ll be able to cost the Brydge Max+ out of your iPad if you must. This may clearly drain your iPad’s battery sooner, so that you gained’t need to be doing it recurrently, however it’s helpful if the Max+ dies while you’re on the transfer and also you want it to get issues performed.

No signal of a Sensible Connector

You’ve most likely labored out by now that the Max+ doesn’t use a Sensible Connector. Not like Apple’s personal Magic Keyboard, which attaches on to your machine so that you just by no means must cost it or fear about pairing, the Max+ depends on Bluetooth, like its predecessors. There are benefits and drawbacks to that, so don’t be too upset.

Sure, it means you must cost the keyboard from time to time. Nevertheless it additionally signifies that the Max+ isn’t draining your iPad Professional’s battery (until you’re charging it out of your iPad) whilst you use it. And with Brydge’s latest keyboards, Bluetooth connectivity is best than ever. It’s instant-on, so your iPad lights up as quickly as you hit a key — regardless of how lengthy you’ve left it doing nothing — and it really works surprisingly brilliantly.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review
No Sensible Connector, however higher Bluetooth.
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

The Max+ makes use of Bluetooth Low Vitality expertise, so it’s environment friendly, and it has been extremely dependable for me. I’m but to expertise a dropped connection or any noticeable lag. Even when I’ve allowed the keyboard’s battery to get so low that the machine turns off, it immediately reconnects as quickly because it has been charged sufficient to energy up once more.

I’ve to confess that I would favor a Sensible Connector if I had the selection, and I hope Brydge goes down this route sooner or later. Having mentioned that, the enhancements to Bluetooth connectivity are nice, and apart from having to cost the Max+, I’ve seen no actual distinction in keyboard responsiveness or reliability in comparison with the Magic Keyboard.

A trackpad that truly tracks

In my evaluation of the Professional+ final yr, I detailed quite a lot of points with its trackpad that made it close to inconceivable to make use of on the time. Lots of these issues have since been fastened with updates, however I’m happy to say that they’re all nonexistent with the Max+, because of new trackpad {hardware} and improved firmware. What’s extra, it’s now considerably larger, so it’s rather more snug to make use of.

I’ve discovered the Max+ trackpad to be easy and correct virtually the entire time. It’s maybe not fairly as good because the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad, however it’s definitely loads nearer — and loads larger. The stuttering and inconsistent habits that when plagued the Professional+ has been eradicated with this improve, and it’s now a pleasure to make use of, nonetheless you employ it. Scrolling, one other drawback for the Professional+, can also be enormously improved.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review
Have a look at the scale of that trackpad!
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

The bigger trackpad design makes the Brydge Max+, when paired along with your iPad Professional, look much more like a MacBook. That may definitely be pleasing to some. However I do have two minor complaints. One is that the trackpad is somewhat noisy while you click on it. And one other is you could’t get rid of that drawback by enabling tap-to-click in iPadOS as a result of the trackpad is so huge that you just by chance contact it whereas typing.

I’ve raised this problem with Brydge and I’ve been advised they’re trying into it. Nonetheless, iPadOS is predicted to deal with palm recognition, so maybe enhancements will are available in iPadOS 15 or a future replace.

A observe on iPadOS 15 and compatibility

Whereas we’re with reference to iPadOS 15, it needs to be famous that Apple’s beta software program shouldn’t be used with the Max+ keyboard simply but — particularly you probably have an M1 iPad Professional. Early variations of Apple’s software program are inflicting issues with trackpad enter, which shall be fastened earlier than iPadOS 15 makes its debut this fall. However steer clear for now.

As for compatibility, the Max+ works completely with all fashions of iPad Professional launched in 2018 or later. I’ve been reviewing the 12.9-inch model, however an 11-inch model, which additionally works with the most recent iPad Air, can also be now obtainable to preorder from the Brydge web site.

The decision

It pained me to so harshly criticize the Brydge Professional+ after it launched final yr as a result of, till then, I had solely good issues to say about Brydge merchandise. So I’m delighted that the Max+ has turned out so effectively. It combines the terrific typing expertise Brydge keyboards are identified for with a bigger trackpad that’s now effectively value utilizing.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro review
With out Brydge’s trademark hinges, the Max+ is simply easier.
Photograph: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

And all that’s packaged right into a design that brings huge enhancements with out straying too removed from Brydge’s profitable formulation. It’s nonetheless constituted of high-grade aluminum. It nonetheless seems spectacular. And now it does a good higher job of holding onto and defending your iPad Professional with out making the machine tough to take away while you need to use it as a pill.

The most effective bit? Regardless of its aluminum design, its extra helpful keyboard (because of these operate keys), and its bigger trackpad, the Max+ for 12.9-inch iPad Professional is priced at simply $249.99 — a full $50 cheaper than Apple’s Magic Keyboard, and solely $20 greater than the Sensible Keyboard Folio. The 11-inch mannequin is much more reasonably priced at $199.

I respect that’s nonetheless not low-cost, and extra reasonably priced alternate options can be found. However you probably have the money to spend and also you need the very best third-party keyboard you may get for iPad Professional, get the Brydge Max+.

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