There are some great alternative options when it comes to cases for the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But, if you prefer Apple’s Magic Keyboard, the company has a new one of those, too. Which, at one point, sounded like the only option for folks getting the new large tablet — even if they owned the old model.
Apple introduced the Magic Keyboard, with its unique design, built-in trackpad, and an additional USB-C port, for both the 11-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro last year. While it might not be as well-equipped as other third-party folio cases out there, Apple’s price tag is exactly what you’d think it would be: high. So it stands to reason that many folks out there expected the case to work with at least a few future models of the iPad Pro lineup moving forward.
But Apple rocked that boat a bit this year, after it introduced the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its mini-LED display. That design change introduced a slightly thicker body, which, in daily use, probably won’t mean anything for the owner. Unfortunately, the original Magic Keyboard wasn’t designed for a slightly thicker iPad Pro, and, as a result, it was billed as unusable with the new tablet.
That led a lot of of people to raise their eyebrows in consternation.
Priced at $350 and just about a year old, many people weren’t expecting to have to upgrade so soon. Not an accessory from Apple built specifically for a device that, honestly, wasn’t changing much. Design change is inevitable, even if it takes years to get there, but for many an uptick in thickness by 0.5mm probably shouldn’t warrant having to drop hundreds of dollars again for a new Magic Keyboard.
The potential silver lining here is that Apple clarified the situation and technically owners of the original Magic Keyboard won’t have to upgrade to the new accessory if they pick up the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Apple says that while the old Magic Keyboard won’t offer up a precise fit, it will still hold and protect the new tablet. It just won’t be snug.
Here’s how Apple put it in a support document:
The first generation of the Magic Keyboard (A1998) is functionally compatible with the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th-generation) with Liquid XDR display. Due to the slightly thicker dimensions of this new iPad Pro, it’s possible that the Magic Keyboard may not precisely fit when closed, especially when screen protectors are applied.
Some said that Apple should have known that the new iPad Pro with its mini-LED display would be thicker than the model it was replacing. Maybe it should have. And, with that knowledge, it should have also designed the original Magic Keyboard accordingly so they wouldn’t have to make this change. I guess that’s possible — it’s not like Apple decided to go with the mini-LED display in January of this year for a product shipping in May. But, only folks at Apple know the answer to that one.
I do think that, sometimes, companies make mistakes along the way. Sometimes a decision that seems great (adopting a better display in a popular product) will upend a good decision in the past. The Magic Keyboard is a great accessory, sure, but it’s also expensive. Along with that price tag comes the expectation that it will work with future models it’s supposed to be accessorizing. Maybe that’s not a realistic assumption. Honestly, I think a case can be made on either side of that particular fence.
But, as companies make these decisions and move on to the next big thing, maybe offering up some goodwill for the customers that may have been left behind (but still want to keep up!) isn’t a bad idea. An easy way to get there in this particular case is to offer a trade-in program for the original Magic Keyboard. Just for the 12.9-inch variant, of course, because Apple didn’t make any changes to the 11-inch iPad Pro. But, let customers who bought the OG Magic Keyboard trade it in for the new one, so they don’t have to worry about an imperfect fit for their new, and expensive, tablet.
Sadly, I don’t expect Apple to do this, which is a real shame. But, what do you think? Should Apple do something for the customers who bought the old Magic Keyboard and are upgrading to the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro?