With the Magic Keyboard coming out for the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros, many people–including myself–were left longing to have a better keyboard and trackpad option for their 2019 iPad 7. Thankfully, Logitech didn’t leave people like me out of their lineup, they instead created the Logitech Combo Touch. Does it have a futuristic floating option? No, but it does offer more than any other keyboard on the market for the 2019 iPad 7, iPad Air 3, or 10.5” iPad Pro.
With 20 years under their belt, Logitech knows what it takes to make a worthwhile typing experience. That said, getting to the point where I could use all of the keys as intended took some time and a trip to the Logitech support website to get there.
Some Keys Weren’t Working
When I first set up this case I decided to test out the keys. After my first Brydge keyboard, I feel like I have to do it to ensure that nothing is dead on arrival. When testing it, I noticed that the apostrophe (‘) key and the backslash () key were not functioning. What was more interesting was that when I held down Shift and pressed the quotation mark (“) key, it accurately typed on the screen.
I was perplexed at this; it was obvious the key wasn’t the problem. I did more digging and noticed that Logitech offers an app to update the firmware on this keyboard. Hoping that there was some kind of firmware update, I installed it on the app to see if Logitech came up with a fix. Sadly, there was nothing.
At this point, I felt like the only way for me to get this issue fixed was to either wait for some kind of firmware update from Logitech, if there ever would be one, or contact Logitech in hopes they know a workaround on this. I spoke with Logitech Support about this issue and they had a quick fix for my issues.
According to Logitech, iOS 13.4 has an issue where the hardware keyboard settings don’t recognize all of the Combo Touch’s keys. The fix for this was to open up Settings and go to General>Keyboard>Hardware Keyboard and change the layout from Automatic to the US option. Once I did that, every key worked as expected. According to the Logitech Expert, I chatted with, this is an iOS/iPad OS bug. At first, I felt like this was a Logitech screw up, but after updating from 13.4 to a 13.5 public beta the issue resolved itself without issue. Hopefully whatever caused this issue is fixed with the upcoming iOS and iPad OS update, if not it would be a real pain for people to make this change manually.
Better in Every Way
Once I managed to get the issue with my keyboard fixed, I was finally able to try it out and see how it worked. Logitech has a track record for making keyboards with solid typing experiences, and this one is no exception. The key travel is much deeper than the Butterfly keys on the Smart Folio Keyboard and allows for a much more comfortable typing. The responsiveness to the keys is quick and precise, I never feel like a key isn’t recognized when I type on it. Finally, the size of this keyboard fits even my big hands. Coming from my MacBook Pro, It did take some time to get used to it after working on a full-sized keyboard. That said, I was able to make the switch in a matter of minutes.
There is one thing that I wish Logitech, and really every keyboard manufacturer would change. The egregious arrow keys.
Much like older MacBook Pros, the arrow keys have full-sized left and right arrow keys but have half-sized up and down arrow keys, making a three-key sandwich. As someone that never managed to get used to this kind of setup. I desperately want all four arrow keys to be uniformly half-size–which is also known as the inverted T setup. As someone that writes a lot on my iPad, seeing this bad sandwich-looking arrow keys setup makes me feel as if I am being punished for wanting to quickly move around my text with a keyboard rather than tapping on a screen or using the trackpad. If anyone has any ideas on how I can get used to these arrow keys I am all ears. For now, I will be looking down and placing my fingers on these atrocious arrow keys every time I need to use them.
Logitech Control App
One new thing that came with this keyboard was the Logitech Control app. Turns out, Logitech has listened to their users cry for more control over their keyboard. In the app, you can update the firmware of the keyboard, if they ever send one, as well as change settings to the physical keyboard. You can increase the backlit time on the keys from 10, to 30, or even 60 seconds. Furthermore, you can adjust the fade for the backlight keys making the time it takes to go from lit to unlit slower or faster.
By default, both settings are at their lowest setting, but I personally don’t mind if the keyboard stays lit longer. I decided to make my keys stay lit for 30 seconds instead of the default 10 seconds. Given that this keyboard is powered by the Smart Connector, one can assume the longer you leave your keys backlit the faster your battery will drain. I don’t know by how much, but I suspect LED lights don’t take much power to stay illuminated, and I would rather grab for my charger a few minutes sooner if that means I can see the keys I am typing on in the dark.
The keyboard case is primarily covered in a fabric akin to nylon. It has a heather gray look to it, which makes for an elegant looking computer. My only concern, which is the same as the Smart Keyboard, is that over time your hands will make this clean fabric turn from a heather gray to a smeared brown. Even if I were to wash my hands every time I use it, I know that over time the oils and dirt my hands will dirty this fabric. That said, if Logitech were to use a plastic or metal alternative, I don’t think it would be as inviting and comfortable as the fabric lining they chose is. My hope is that this case won’t be ruined over time, but it is a risk I am willing to take.
One thing I may do in the future is to wipe down the keyboard with a microfiber cloth dampened with water. That is the most common way Apple has instructed people to clean their Smart Folio keyboard. Granted, the Smart Folio Keyboard doesn’t have exposed keys that are susceptible to water damage. If this keyboard does become grimy and dirty looking I will take my chances and try to clean it as best I can.
This keyboard case does allow for you to remove the keyboard itself and have it act simply as a tablet with a kickstand. The Surface-like design allows for the iPad to be angled for any viewing mode you want. You can go from watching a YouTube video to writing notes with your Apple Pencil in a matter of seconds by lowering the iPad and opening your handwriting app. I absolutely love that you can use your iPad in any way you want with this case attached. If we were to compare this to the Brydge keyboard, you would never have been able to use that keyboard case for drawing on your iPad, as it was strictly only for laptop-style work.
If you are hoping this case is slim and sleek, you’re going to be disappointed. This case is a beefy monstrosity. Once you put on the keyboard and the kickstand case on your petite iPad, it more than doubles in thickness. In fact, it is almost as thick as a 2010 MacBook Pro, you know, the one that had a disc drive still in it.
While considering buying this product, I looked at other reviews before making my decision and every single one of them spun this thick case as something about being ultra-protective of the iPad. Personally, I am not here to protect my iPad from a 30-foot fall with half-inch plastic encasing my iPad. That said, the thickness isn’t as blasphemous as it’s previous predecessors like the ironically-named Slim Combo. While I would like this case to be slimmer, I really am not sure where Logitech could slim anything down. The kickstand is a perfect thickness and allows the iPad to be in a wide range of angles without compromise, the plastic going around the iPad is on the thicker side but that will only make the edges thinner, and the keyboard needs to be as thick as t it is because key travel is important and Logitech knows that.
I am not an engineer, nor do I play one on TV, but as I think more about this keyboard case the less I can find a simple way to make it any slimmer without compromise. So, if you want a keyboard with a great typing experience that is smart-connector compatible, you have to sacrifice a few millimeters and a few extra ounces to make that happen, or buy the Apple Smart Keyboard with the inferior, yet slimmer, Butterfly keys.
At the end of the day the thickness doesn’t bother me enough to consider not using it, but if you decide to buy this keyboard know that it is a keyboard that has more to love than most iPad keyboards. Not to mention, it’s the best keyboard case that offers trackpad support for these iPad models.
The most anticipated feature on this keyboard is the built-in trackpad, and it doesn’t disappoint. All of the gestures that Magic Keyboard uses are available for this keyboard, and they work flawlessly.
The trackpad, compared to the Magic Keyboard, is a tad smaller measuring in at 3 ¾” wide by 2 1/8” long while the Magic keyboard trackpad for the 12.9” is 4” wide and 2 1/8” long. Both the Combo Touch and the Magic Keyboard pale in comparison to the 2017 13” MacBook Pro coming in at 5 5/16” wide and 3 5/16” long. While it may seem small compared to the MacBook Pro trackpad size, it isn’t a dealbreaker.
I haven’t seen the Magic Keyboard for the 12.9” in person, but from what I can tell the reason for the both the Magic Keyboard and Combo Touch being close in size is because the Combo Touch doesn’t need room for the keyboard to float atop the case like the Magic Keyboard does. In fact, the only thing keeping this keyboard from bumping right up to the iPad itself is a small section of the case used to keep the plastic keys from touching the glass screen. Logitech did a beautiful job in making every millimeter of this case count, and users like myself are grateful for that.
There is one thing about this trackpad that is different from that of the Magic Keyboard, though. The trackpad for this case is a “diving board” style trackpad while the Magic Keyboard is one solid piece like that of the MacBook and MacBook Pros. To explain, you can click at the very top of a Magic Keyboard without issue, while with the Logitech Combo that top part is cannot be depressed for a click because it depends on that top part as a spring to allow the rest of the trackpad to be depressed. Thankfully, there is an easy fix for this.
If you want to save yourself from worrying about whether you have your hand on the right part of the trackpad to click, just turn on “tap to click” and you can use this trackpad without any of the aforementioned issues. To do this, open the Settings app and go to General>Trackpad and turn on Tap to Click. Once that is enabled, you will no longer need to press down on the trackpad at all to click, you simply tap on the trackpad and all will be well. Once I turned this setting on. my issues with the trackpad were immediately resolved and I have been using it joyfully since then.
If you have an iPad Air 3, 10.5” iPad Pro, or the 2019 iPad 7 and are looking for a keyboard, you should pick up this keyboard immediately. It’s bulky and not as slim-looking as the Apple Smart Keyboard, but it is a hell of a lot better to type on and offers trackpad support when seemingly no one else does. With the price-point less than the Smart Keyboard it is a no-brainer that this is the superior keyboard for anyone looking to use an iPad for their work.