Review: Logitech's Combo Touch iPad keyboard a fully functional alternative to Apple's own

It doesn't look as elegant as the Magic Keyboard - but the Combo Touch has substance if not style.
It doesn't look as elegant as the Magic Keyboard - but the Combo Touch has substance if not style Photo credit: Newshub

In my review of the otherwise impressive 2021 iPad Pro I did highlight one major flaw - the need for an external keyboard.

Apple's Magic Keyboard looks great - but its very hefty NZ$639 cost is a heck of a lot of extra money you're going to have to fork out for what I consider core functionality.

Third-party peripherals have long been a standard of using Apple products, particularly when it comes to cases for phones and tablets. I still remember my rotating Targus iPad case with some fondness, twirling it around like an expensive fidget spinner.

But Logitech has been my go-to for keyboards and mouses for many years, and my previous generation iPad Pro still has a Logitech case attached to it.

The new Combo Touch backlit keyboard case with trackpad is designed for the new generation of iPad Pros and, at $389.90 for the 12.9-inch version, that's nearly $250 less than Apple's own.

So is it worth going third party in the hope of saving some cash? Or is Apple's own keyboard the only realistic option?

I've been using the new Logitech Combo Touch keyboard case with my new 12.9-inch iPad Pro for a couple of weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

The two most important functions for the Combo Touch to be a worthwhile investment are its effectiveness as a protective case and how good a typing experience it provides.

On both of those it more than hits the mark.

Logitech case
Photo credit: Newshub

Putting the rubber case on the iPad for the first time wasn't the easiest, but some finessing around the edges and it was secure. 

Notches are where they should be - for the speakers, the charging port and the microphones - and there's a gap along the top that fits the Apple Pencil 2 perfectly for charging.

It's a snug fit that adds to the feeling you are getting extra protection around the important parts - a previous iPad screen perished when it landed on an unprotected corner, for example. The Apple version leaves those edges exposed.

I'm not willing to put an expensive gadget on the line to test it out, however, so I'm taking the fact this case would avoid breakage on face value.

The keyboard is as good as I've come to expect from Logitech. I'm definitely not the easiest to please when it comes to keyboards - which comes from years of touch typing and being worn down by bad experiences.

The spacing between the keys feels natural and the addition of backlights means I no longer need to try and feel for the notches on the F and J keys to work out how to type in the dark.

It handles beautifully and I was able to reach full speed touch typing without issue. If you've used a Logitech keyboard before there will be no surprises that it just does what it's supposed to - and very well too.

An added bonus is the row of shortcut keys at the top, providing for a variety of functions including one touch volume and iPad brightness control as well as the brightness of the key backlights.

I did worry about the placement and size of the integrated trackpad initially, concerned my thumbs would cause random movements of the cursor, meaning text would appear randomly in documents. But this didn't happen once in all my hours using.

And so to that trackpad. I found it highly responsive and it handled multi-touch gestures beautifully. What more could you ask for?

Unlike Apple's own, the keyboard detaches from the protective case, an added convenience that allows more flexibility.

Logitech case
Photo credit: Newshub

It means even if you just want touch-screen functionality, the iPad is still going to be offered some degree of protection. It connects back up easily and uses Smart Connector to do so which means you don't need a separate battery or have to worry about Bluetooth pairing.

And, as a final bonus, you can turn the keyboard around and it will sit flush with the keys against the back of the iPad. I found this particularly useful when reading graphic novels in bed. The overall feel of it bested the feel of the naked iPad in such circumstances.

The bad

There is only one major flaw with the Combo Touch keyboard case, in my opinion, and that's the kickstand.

It's painfully flimsy and when I'm pulling it away from the back of the iPad to sit upright it often feels like I'm going to break it.

Because it's so slight, it naturally has a little bend in it, meaning it's less than ideal when not placed on hard surfaces. That makes it less fun to use while watching movies in bed than the alternative.

Also, at certain angles, if you put any pressure on the top of the iPad the kickstand gives way slightly, causing the whole package to move.

If I had to nitpick? I'm also a little worried about the Oxford Grey fabric finish on the keyboard as well as the outside of the case.

That's because history strongly suggests I will sooner or later spill something on this lovely keyboard that'll permanently stain it. While that doesn't impact on the functionality, just knowing it's likely plays on my mind.

Logitech case
Photo credit: Newshub

The verdict

What you give up in looks with the Logitech you more than make up for with the dollars you are saving, in my opinion.

The Magic Keyboard is a stunning addition if you can afford it, even if style does triumph over substance in certain circumstances.

How you use your iPad should, ultimately, be the ultimate arbiter in terms of which you should buy.

If it never leaves your desk then going with Apple makes sense.

If you're a clumsy bugger, like me, then the Logitech gives me a sense of security that I don't otherwise have. Spillages aside.

The strong rubber surroundings to protect while in transit - and also if dropped - combines with the multi-function configuration of the keyboard and case to provide a package that is both affordable and desirable.

And, with a typing experience that is worthy of the Logitech name, you're unlikely to be disappointed.

Newshub was supplied a Logitech 12.9-inch Combo Touch backlit keyboard case with trackpad for this review.