the trackpad keyboard that “MacBookizes” the iPad Pro

The first time I saw the iPad back in 2010, when Apple launched the first generation of the device, the thought that went through my head was: “that’s an iPod touch with a big screen” . I didn’t see much difference between the tablet and the touch screen player that I already used daily to listen to music, download games and surf the internet (what good memories I have of my iPod touch 2g), only that the panel of the former was bigger and that watching videos on it was more comfortable, and little else.

Two years later I ended up with a first generation mini iPad. Getting one was a real odyssey. It was sold out everywhere. The factor that helped sales was undoubtedly the price: it was notably lower than the iPad on the market with a 9.7″ screen. After I got my hands on it, my perception didn’t change either: a device for consuming multimedia content, surfing the Internet, playing games and checking email, and little else.

the trackpad keyboard that “MacBookizes” the iPad Pro
the trackpad keyboard that “MacBookizes” the iPad Pro

It wasn’t until I got my hands on the iPad Pro (2018) that I noticed a significant change. Although Apple’s iPad keyboards have been a regular fixture for years, the Smart Connector and Smart Keyboard played an important role for me in taking the Californian’s professional tablet more seriously as a device to create content, not just consume it.

My job is to write, so a keyboard is a fundamental tool. The Smart Keyboard really caught my attention because of the feeling it gives when you press the keys, one I’ve never had before with any other keyboard I’ve ever held. However, although it is correct and does its job perfectly, has several points to improve . Some of them Apple has solved it with the Magic Keyboard, the new keyboard for the iPad Pro (2018 and 2020 only), although the cost of this one is quite big (339 or 399 euros depending on the size of the tablet you have).

Since I purchased my iPad Pro in late 2018, I’ve been looking for a keyboard that meets a number of requirements , and with the release of iPadOS 13 a new one was added to the list: the trackpad. Not many people have a built-in trackpad to take advantage of this new feature, so the Brydge Pro+ is a real eye-catcher.

Giving “superpowers” to the iPad Pro with the Brydge Pro+

Brydge Pro+

Features

Compatibility

11″ iPad Pro and 12.9″ iPad Pro (2018 and 2020)

Weight

550 grams (11″) and 690 grams (12.9″)

Colors

Space Grey

Keys

Backlit and English QWERTY arrangement

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0 and USB-C (charging)

Viewing angles

0-180º

Autonomy

3 months (average daily use of two hours without backlighting) or 20 hours with backlighting

Materials

Aluminium

Content

Brydge Pro+, Magnetic protective cover, USB-C recharge cable and user manual.

Brydge is a brand that specializes in computer accessories and tablets. In their catalogue we can find docks for Apple MacBook, USB-C to HDMI 4K adapters or keyboards for various devices such as Microsoft’s Surface or Apple’s iPad, as well as cases and other protective items.

The iPad keyboards, available for a variety of models, have earned a reputation among users for using rugged construction materials, having very elegant designs and offering an experience close to that of the keyboards found on conventional computers.

With the advent of support for external mice via Bluetooth or cable on iPadOS 13 the Brydge team decided to move on and create their first keyboard with integrated trackpad for the iPad Pro . The company already had experience developing this type of peripherals for other brands’ tablets, but the limitations of Apple’s operating system for theirs prevented them from connecting one.

The Brydge Pro+ is compatible with the 11″ and 12.9″ iPad Pro launched in 2018 and 2020 as it has the same dimensions and a very similar shape factor (excluding the main camera, which in the 2018 version we only have one lens and in the 2020 version we have two lenses and the ToF LiDAR 3D sensor). In the box, apart from the keyboard, comes a protective cover to cover the back, the user manual and a USB-C cable to recharge the device’s battery.

Magnetic cover to protect the back of the iPad Pro

The protective cap adheres to the iPad Pro magnetically. As you can read on the website, all users who ordered before March 18 will receive a version that supports only the 2018 version of the iPad Pro, while all users who ordered after that date will find one that fits both the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros in the box. This is because that was the day the new models were announced , and at the time of publication of this analysis it will not be a problem for those interested in getting hold of the keyboard.

As with the Magic Keyboard, the Brydge Pro+ does not have a “tablet mode”

The tablet is attached to the keyboard by two hinged tabs located at the ends of the keyboard that allow you to bend it over or lift it like the lid of a laptop. These tabs have a rubberized interior to protect the screen of the device. You have to exert a slight force to be able to fit it well, being its removal somewhat easier and less cumbersome. This system allows you to adjust the viewing angle of the iPad Pro from 0 to 180 degrees, something impossible with the Smart Keyboard Folio, with a result similar to that of the Magic Keyboard.

This is the maximum openness of the Brydge Pro+ keyboard with the iPad Pro

The problem, as with the new Apple keyboard, is that the tablet can’t be rotated into “tablet mode” (that is, with the keyboard folded up on the back of the iPad). The solution is to remove the iPad from the keyboard to, for example, use the Apple Pencil more comfortably when drawing or taking notes by hand.

One of the biggest differences between the Brydge Pro+ and the official Apples keyboards is the way it connects to the iPad Pro , as the latter takes advantage of the Smart Connector and does not require a battery to operate, while the Brydge Pro+ relies on Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology and a rechargeable battery through its built-in USB-C connector.

From the Brydge website they claim that the battery of the Brydge Pro+ has an approximate autonomy of up to 3 months using it an average of two hours a day , which is drastically reduced if the backlighting of the keys is activated. I’ve been using it daily for almost a month, and I’ve only had to recharge it once (even though the battery came with a 50% charge) using it more than two hours a day. Recharging it is not a big problem either because it is done through a USB-C port, and the cable that comes with the keyboard has this connector on both ends, so it is possible to power it through the iPad Pro itself.

The Brydge Pro+ is recharged via the integrated USB-C connector and can be powered by the iPad Pro.

If there was a catch, it would be that we always have to carry this cable with us to cope with any improvisation, but it’s small and doesn’t take up any space. When the keyboard is not being used it automatically goes into a power saving mode to avoid further battery consumption, which is to be welcomed. To get it out of this hibernation you just need to press any key. This mode is activated after approximately 20 minutes of inactivity.

As I mentioned above, the keyboard of the Brydge Pro+ is backlit , which is a great addition when we are working in a place where the light conditions prevent us from seeing the keys correctly. This feature will be welcomed by users who type while looking at the keyboard because they have not yet been able to memorize the position of the letters. There are several levels of brightness and, of course, the higher we have it, the more battery power it sucks. With the lowest brightness level it is perfectly usable.

The Brydge Pro+ has several brightness levels for key backlighting.

The fact that the keyboard is backlit is a great advantage over the Smart Keyboard Folio, although it is a function that can be found on the Magic Keyboard, although the price difference of the latter compared to the Brydge Pro+ is remarkable. Regarding the keyboard itself, the travel is quite good , and typing with it is comfortable, being a similar feeling to the one we can find in the MacBook pre butterfly mechanism. Another interesting feature of the Brydge Pro+ is the row of multimedia keys at the top to control volume, brightness, content playback, etc. This is something we cannot find in either the Smart Keyboard Folio or the Magic Keyboard.

The fact that there is no Spanish-language version of QWERY can be a problem for many Spanish speakers

The biggest drawback of the keyboard is that the key layout is English QWERY , i.e. we don’t have the Ñ key and several symbols and punctuation marks are shifted. And it’s not that they sent me a model with this layout, but they don’t offer it in Spanish. Although when you press the key that corresponds to the semicolon the Ñ appears (right next to the L, like on Spanish keyboards), it is not drawn, which can be a problem for those who write while looking at the keyboard.

The key element: the integrated trackpad

The trackpad of the Brydge Pro+ has the correct dimensions for the size of the keyboard.

All I’ve mentioned so far is something we could find in previous versions of Brydge Pro for the iPad Pro, because the element that makes the difference and earns the Plus in its name is the trackpad . Many users (including myself) were waiting for the arrival of the mouse function since it was seen in the first betas of iPadOS 13, and that it has improved so much in the latest versions of the operating system allows a greater comfort when using certain applications, mainly those related to office automation such as Word or Pages.

The trackpad isn’t as big as the one we have in the MacBook, but it’s quite correct size considering the dimensions of the keyboard. Its surface is multi-touch, offering the possibility of making gestures with more than one finger to execute actions. We have the possibility of scrolling through a website or text document by sliding two fingers up or down, pressing with two fingers to activate the right click or even activating Exposé by doing tap with three fingers in one of the four corners of the trackpad.

Comparison of Brydge Pro+ trackpad with a 1 euro coin

Brydge advised us to make a number of adjustments to make the trackpad work more smoothly, such as reducing movement in the Accessibility panel. In addition, to configure some gestures it is necessary to activate the AssistiveTouch function. The process for this is fully explained in the user manual included with the purchase of Brydge Pro+, with screenshots for further assistance.

To ensure the correct functioning of the keyboard we will need to have installed the latest available version of iPadOS and downloaded the application Brydge Connect , as the Brydge Pro+ will be receiving updates with improvements and new features from time to time, and to download these updates we will need this app and connect the Brydge Pro+ to the iPad Pro using the included USB-C cable. The update process is very simple and the user is guided at all times.

The application sends notifications to keep us informed of the release of new updates.

The first time I used this trackpad I had mixed feelings because the experience it offered was not what I expected, finding some mistakes. Luckily, it improved significantly after installing the update that Brydge’s team released a couple of days after receiving it. However, there is still room for improvement , as I find some differences between the Brydge Pro+ and a Logitech Bluetooth mouse that I use daily on the iPad Pro, the latter working a little better. If your hands are sweating a lot, I recommend you dry them before using the trackpad, because otherwise it won’t be as accurate.

Final conclusions and price

After almost a month of daily use of the Brydge Pro+ I have been able to test it in enough time to have an informed and justified opinion. Overall, the experience has been satisfactory : typing with the keyboard is comfortable, and having the keys backlit and a row of function keys is quite useful. Although I would have liked it to be in Spanish, it hasn’t prevented me from using it, although I have had to do trial and error on several occasions to find the odd symbol and punctuation mark.

As for the trackpad, I’ve used it a lot, especially in word processing applications and web browsing. It’s easier for me to select words and apply formatting with the mouse than with my finger on the screen, and when your work is based on writing this is a big reason. However, I have faith that it will continue to improve with future software updates as there are areas to be refined.

Its design makes it fully integrated with the iPad (especially if it is Space Grey), but adds quite a bit of weight to the whole , since the keyboard itself weighs 550 or 690 grams, and if you add the iPad Pro keyboard it is similar to that of an ultra-book type laptop, something that is inevitably noticed when transporting it.

The Brydge Pro+ has two prices depending on the version: 219.99 euros if the iPad Pro we have is 11″ or 249.99 euros if it is 12.9″.

BRYDGE Pro+ – Space Grey Aluminium Bluetooth Keyboard

Today on Amazon for 314.68

This product has been released for testing by Brydge. Please see our corporate relations policy .

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