It’s hard to believe, but the iPad turned 10 this week. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen Apple continue to update the iPad’s software, release new hardware, and even more recently, finally give the iPad its own operating system, iPadOS.
Whether you’ve held on to the same iPad for the last decade or have the latest and greatest model, there are plenty of accessories to help you get the most out of your tablet. Who knows — maybe a keyboard or stylus will be what pushes the iPad far enough that it can finally replace your old laptop.
For years, Apple has pushed the narrative that the iPad can replace a computer, and finally, in 2019, the company updated its entire lineup to work with its own Smart Keyboards. What makes Apple’s solution different from Bluetooth keyboards is that it uses the Smart Connectors built into the iPad for data and power. Meaning, instead of your having to worry about charging your keyboard or dealing with annoying Bluetooth delays, the keyboard is powered by your iPad and instantly connects and communicates with your tablet.
Each version of the Smart Keyboard folds onto itself and props up your iPad. Here are the options and their prices:
- Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen.) ($189.99, originally $199; amazon.com)
- Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro 11-inch ($169.98, originally $179; amazon.com)
- Apple Smart Keyboard for 10.2-inch iPad, 10.5-inch iPad Air, 10.5-inch iPad Pro ($157.81; amazon.com)
- Apple Smart Keyboard for iPad (7th Gen.) and iPad Air (3rd Gen.) ($143.99, originally $159; amazon.com)
Admittedly, not everyone likes the look and feel of Apple’s own iPad keyboards. Whether it’s the feel of the keys or the lack of viewing angles, Brydge offers a well-respected alternative. The entire lineup uses Bluetooth to connect to and control the iPad, and you’ll need to remember to charge it from time to time — but overall, Brydge keyboards are fantastic.
If you’re looking for a keyboard for an older iPad, check out the rest of the Brydge lineup.
If you own an iPad that supports Apple Pencil, you’ll want to pick one up. (You can view Apple’s chart of iPad models with Apple Pencil support here.) The Apple Pencil is one of the best writing tools for any tablet, not just the iPad. There are two models, with the type of iPad you own determining which Apple Pencil you need to buy (and how much you’ll spend).
If you have a third-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch or an 11-inch iPad Pro, then you need the $120 second-generation Apple Pencil. For all other iPad users, the $89.99 first-generation Apple Pencil is what you need.
The Apple Pencil is a fine writing tool, but if you want to save money, look no further than the Logitech Crayon for iPad. It’s not a real crayon, mind you, but a less expensive alternative to the Apple Pencil. It works with any iPad released in 2018 or later, and costs $69.95.
When Apple released iPadOS in September, the iPad gained an important feature: mouse support. Yes, you can connect a wired or wireless mouse to your iPad and use it to control your tablet, clicking and scrolling through websites and apps. You’ll need to enable mouse support in the Settings app under accessibility and assistive touch, and once you do that, you’ll see a mouse pointer on your iPad’s screen.
The current generation iPad Pro models have a USB-C connector for data transfers and charging, instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. In addition to wider compatibility with more products, using USB-C opens the door for options like a docking station for your iPad. Seeing that it only has one port, it only makes sense that users would want to take full advantage of it.
Satechi’s $59.99 Type-C Mobile Hub matches the space gray color scheme of the iPad Pro, and provides a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, an HDMI port, USB Type-A port and a USB-C port.
Apple’s iPad Pros come with an 18-watt wall adapter and a USB-C charging cable, but your iPad Pro is capable of charging even faster. If you constantly find yourself pressed for time or waiting on your iPad Pro to finish charging, then you’ll want RAVPower’s $24.99 30-watt wall adapter. The increased power of the wall adapter will fast charge your iPad Pro, decreasing the amount of time you have to wait for a full battery. In addition to faster charging for your iPad Pro, the RAVPower 30-watt USB-C wall adapter has an additional USB port, so you can charge more than one device at the same time.
Anker’s PowerCore+ 26800 PD battery pack will help you keep your iPad charged while on the go. It’s portable and easy enough to carry with you, giving you the ability to charge up to three devices at the same time. At $118.99, it’s not the cheapest battery pack available, but it’s one of the more powerful packs. It can charge at speeds up to 45 watts via the USB-C port, meaning it can even charge a laptop. Also included for that price is a 60-watt wall adapter and a USB-C to USB-C cable.
Speck Products has a wide-ranging lineup of cases for all types of devices, including all of the various iPad models — particularly the older models.
Some of my favorites include the $39.95 iGuy case for those with young kids who are using an older iPad model, or the $55 StyleFolio Pencil case, which has a couple of dedicated spots to carry or prop up the Apple Pencil.
Otterbox is a name synonymous with heavy-duty protective cases for phones and gadgets. The company also has iPad cases that fall under its Symmetry and Defender Series, adding a rugged level of protection. Whether you’re clumsy (it’s OK, I can relate) or use your iPad in an environment where you feel more comfortable with the added protection, the Otterbox iPad cases are worth the cost.
If you have the latest iPad, you can pick up a Defender Series case for $89.99 from Best Buy. iPad Pro owners can get a Defender Series for $129.99 for Best Buy.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed price at the time of publication.