Last year we tested Logitech’s entry Combo Touch case for the eight-generation iPad and deemed it the ultimate accessory for Apple’s entry-level tablet. Flash forward over a year later, and we now have the 2021 iPad Pro — a device that delivers more than enough power for work and play while also making the content look great. And while you could opt for a Magic Keyboard — the Apple-made $299 or $329 keyboard and trackpad accessory that lets your iPad float — we’d recommend taking a look at the Logitech Combo Touch for iPad Pro instead. Its starting price is just $199.99, and that’s just one reason why it’s a better option. Let’s break down why.
A dynamic keyboard with — wait for it — a row of function keys
Apple got a lot right with the Magic Keyboard when it first released in the spring of 2020. It delivers a punchy typing experience with plenty of travel and a large trackpad for navigating iPadOS. Oddly enough, though, it only offers the standard QWERTY keys with the required extras (shift, caps lock, tab, etc.) and doesn’t have a top row of function keys. While the keys are backlit, you can’t control the backlighting with a key command. A little odd.
The Combo Touch fixes this from the start. You get a full standard QWERTY keyboard with the required keys and a complete row of function keys. The top row features keys for home, screen brightness, digital keyboard, spotlight search, keyboard backlighting control, playback controls (reverse, play/pause, forward), volume down, volume up, mute and lock. It’s a similar experience to what you’ll find on Logitech keyboards and even the MacBook Air. It’s also the same layout that we loved on Combo Touch for iPad.
These integrate directly with iPadOS and work out of the box — no need to install a specific app or even play around in settings. While working between this review in Ulysses (a word processing app) on the left and viewing a PDF in Notability on the right, we could easily hit the Spotlight search key to pull up an asset or check a term. The screen brightness keys are convenient when you don’t want to stretch your hand and manage it from the Control Center. Similarly, media playback lets you stay focused on your work with the ability to control whatever is playing in the background without having to switch to your music app.
Function keys make all the difference and sit on top of an excellent keyboard. You get a complete set of keys, and it’s roomy, especially on the 12.9-inch variant. The 11-inch Combo Touch feels a bit tighter, but not to the point where you can’t work on it efficiently. Logitech has opted for plastic keys that are embedded into the woven build of the Combo Touch. The woven material felt especially lovely on our palms and is similar to the Alcantara fabric on the Surface Laptop. There’s a decent amount of separation between the keys, which makes accidental presses a rare occasion.
Given how thin this portion of the Combo Touch is, it doesn’t have the most depth or travel of any keyboard that we’ve tested. Logitech’s external K380 performs better, and the Magic Keyboard doesn’t leave you with a bottoming-out sensation. Still, though, there’s a tight recoil effect that delivers a decent amount of feedback. It’s not as energizing or bouncy as other keys, but typing on the Combo Touch is a dynamic experience.
Right below the keyboard is a rectangular trackpad. It’s very smooth and easy to get a handle on, like the one found on the Magic Keyboard. And in terms of navigational capabilities, it’s expansive enough for single or multi-finger swipes. Pressing the trackpad to click within iPadOS 15 delivers an audible sound as well.
And all of the control-centric features are on the keyboard portion of the case. It’s a fully woven material that leaves the keys facing the screen (and since they’re matte, we have no concerns about scratching) and a simple woven finish facing the outside world. It magnetically attaches to the hull of the case, which surrounds the iPad Pro itself. And it uses a smart connection to auto connect with the case, which is linked to the iPad. It’s a strong magnet as well that doesn’t come off with a light tug; you’ll need to use some force. It also keeps the keyboard portion flat on whatever surface you set it on. We didn’t have any connection issues; it was instantly paired from the first attachment. You also don’t always need to have the keyboard portion attached.
Enter any mode with an adjustable kickstand
The other half of the equation with Combo Touch is the wrap-around case portion. It’s a plastic and rubber build that you’ll place the iPad Pro inside of. We had to use a little force when installing it, as we wanted the rubber lip to be entirely around the iPad Pro’s edge. Logitech has also designed the case with five cutouts — one for each of the four stereo speakers and the USB-C port. Those with a third-party cable can rest easy, as the port cutout is plenty large.
Logitech does not add a second USB-C port into the equation, which power users may be disappointed by. If you want to charge and plug in a separate device, you’ll need a dock.
On the right side when held vertically, or top when used horizontally, there’s a cutout in the case for the Apple Pencil. Unlike the Combo Touch for the entry-level iPad with a strap to slide the Pencil through, this variant for the iPad Pro lets you attach it directly. This way, the Apple Pencil stays in place, thanks to magnets, and can wirelessly charge. You’ll find a plus and minus button on the side for volume, as well as one for power.
It’s plenty durable, and the material used provides some shock absorption. If you happen to drop the iPad Pro, it will have some protection. We also appreciate the raised lip around the display if you don’t have the keyboard portion attached.
The rear side of Combo Touch is the same woven material with a small Logi logo. It won’t stick out, though, as it’s the same color as the weave. But the real star is the kickstand on the back. You can extend it out nearly flat for a mode that’s perfect for sketching or note-taking. You can pull the kickstand out and prop the iPad up like a laptop — we’ve been clinging to this mode the most.
It works great on a table or any flat surface, but it’s a balancing act of sorts when trying to use it on your lap. The size of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro makes that act twice as hard. In situations like that, we miss the Magic Keyboard, as it works on our lap, thanks to the weight in the bottom case and the iPad Pro being held above it. Still, the Combo Touch lets you use the iPad Pro in more ways than the Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard.
Aside from not providing you with an extra port, our only other qualm is that if you’re not a fan of cases, you likely won’t like this. Logitech has made a pretty slim solution, but it is a little clunky. The case had to be thick enough for protection and the kickstand. It also keeps you from having to use Bluetooth pairing, as there’s a Smart Connector built into the case, which matches up to the iPad Pro. That handles the connection, pairing and power all without bothering you to do anything. And that’s an absolute joy.
Logitech’s Combo Touch case isn’t just a more affordable keyboard and trackpad combo case than Apple’s Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard. It also adds in a bevy of other features and lets us take advantage of the multi-mode nature of the device. There are still times where we like the Magic Keyboard a bit more, since it’s better on laps, but the Combo Touch is a new go-to solution for us. When paired with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, it is the ultimate accessory.