At $149.99, the Combo Touch is a full wraparound protective case with a built-in Apple Pencil holder. That main hull case is paired with a keyboard and trackpad attachment that connects via the Smart Connector on the side of the iPad. This not only gives you a keyboard and trackpad, but it acts as a Smart Cover to protect the screen.
It’s the closest thing to an all-in-one accessory for the iPad — similar to the Magic Keyboard — but is also available for other devices. We’ve spent about a week typing and putting the Combo Touch through its paces. Let’s dive in.
Unlike the Magic Keyboard, which aims to be subtle and stealthy, the Combo Touch is thicker and heavier. It also comes in two parts. For the 7th Gen iPad, the case with keyboard weighs 21.52 ounces (610 grams) and is 0.89 inches (22.55 millimeters) thick. Not quite chunky, but it makes the standalone iPad thicker.
The extra weight and thickness provide notable features. It covers the basics by giving you access to all the ports. You can still easily plug in a Lightning connector for charging or even a dongle to that port for peripherals. There are cutouts that allow the speakers some breathing room, and the headphone jack is usable. The power buttons and volume controls are slightly raised out of the rubber edging, so you can easily find them. You’ll find a sleeve that fits the first generation Apple Pencil located on the left side (when it’s held vertically) or the top (when it’s horizontal). Since it can’t magnetically attach to the iPad like the second generation of the Pencil, this is a great way to store it.
There’s a cutout for the main camera on the back, and you’ll immediately notice the woven design. The main back also features a kickstand, which allows you to stand the iPad up. It’s flimsy when you first open it, but extending it by about 20% gives it more stability. It’s hard to use it on a lap with the kickstand extended and the keyboard attached: It gets quite wobbly pretty fast and it can be frustrating to try to type. It’s possible, but it isn’t the best experience.
But it works just fine on a flat surface and is a solid experience. The keyboard is fully detachable, and with it removed, the kickstand is a great way to use the iPad on a lap to watch films or browse.
The kickstand offers 40 degrees of movement, which means you can use it to stand the iPad up, or if you flip it all the way up, you can lay the iPad flat and have it slightly tilted. This is great for sketching, note taking and even photo edits.
The keyboard uses Apple’s Smart Connector standard to connect to the iPad. On the 7th Gen, these are found on the left side of the iPad, so the keyboard attaches to this section. When the keyboard is removed, this side is slightly exposed. The Smart Connector standard works with the iPad as soon as it is attached. The connector provides a direct connection (which instantly allows you to type and move the cursor around) and provides power to the keyboard from the iPad.
There’s not much, if anything, wrong with the keys on the Combo Touch. It’s an enjoyable experience, and thanks to its QWERTY setup, you can easily learn the layout. The keys have plastic tops embedded into the woven design. It fixes our major gripe with the Smart Keyboard from Apple as these aren’t covered in cloth. You don’t feel the keys bottoming out, either.
The keys are also spaced well, with ample room between the rows. You get all the core functions: letters, numbers, delete, return, shift, control, option, command, caps lock and the globe. There’s no LED indicator on the caps lock; you’ll just need to know if you have it on or off. Tapping the Globe Key will let you easily switch languages and access emojis. The arrow key setup here is not inverted like on the Magic Keyboard and takes up full-size key caps. Up and down are half keys stacked one above the other.
The best news is that you get a full row of function keys designed for the iPad. It doesn’t resemble the classic function keys on a Mac or Windows PC. You get a Home button, brightness up and down, on-screen keyboard, spotlight, keyboard backlighting up and down, full playback (backward, pause or play and track forward), volume down, volume up, mute and a lock button. These are all incredibly handy and are quite possibly our favorite feature other than the typing experience. We found ourselves quickly memorizing the location of these keys and becoming reliant on them. Similar to the way using a cursor becomes second nature, these function keys will as well.
And typing on the Combo Touch is great. It’s slightly smaller than the average keyboard, but it doesn’t feel tiny or confined. You can easily find the key you’re looking for and develop accuracy when typing. There’s a nice recoil effect when you hit a key that makes it feel quite punchy. The act of typing doesn’t feel tiring either, which is a nice bonus.