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Apple Magic Keyboard review: Should have called it basic

Susie Ochs | Oct. 21, 2015
It's a standard Bluetooth keyboard—where's the magic, again?

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Apple’s keyboard isn’t magic. It’s not writing this review for me while I sip a margarita and play Two Dots, and I feel like that would be magic. What the Magic Keyboard is, is a pretty nice Bluetooth keyboard that charges with a Lightning cable. Whether that’s worth Apple’s somewhat steep $99 asking price is up to you (keep in mind Apple’s older, now-defunct Wireless Keyboard was only $69), but the Magic Keyboard is slim, compact, and pleasant to type on.

Lightning strikes

My Magic Keyboard arrived fully charged, and it comes with a Lightning cable, which you’ll use to charge it from a USB port on your Mac. A switch on the back turns the keyboard on or off—any good Bluetooth keyboard should have this, so you can easily power it down before you shove it in your laptop bag. At 11 by 4.5 by 0.4 inches and 0.5 pounds, the Magic Keyboard is highly portable.

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Now you can charge your keyboard, iPad, iPhone, mouse and trackpad all with one cable. (Soon your Apple TV remote and Apple Pencil too.) Credit: Roman Loyola

I connected the keyboard to my MacBook Air with the Lightning cable, just to make sure it was charged all the way, and that had the bonus effect of auto-pairing the keyboard with the Mac over Bluetooth. I didn’t have to go to the Bluetooth preferences to set the keyboard up, and when I disconnected the Lightning cable, the keyboard stayed paired.

Charging with a Lightning cable instead of using AA batteries seems like a small thing—pretty much every Bluetooth keyboard has a built-in battery these days, mostly charging with a micro-USB cable. But I love having the extra Lightning cable that came with the Magic Keyboard. I already tend to keep a Lightning cable in every workspace and laptop bag for topping off my iPhone and iPad anyway, so it’s nice to not have to worry about toting spare AA batteries or a micro-USB cable.

Shorter travel, snappy feel

The Magic Keyboard uses scissor-switch keys, like its predecessors the wired Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad ($49) and Apple Wireless Keyboard, which Apple has discontinued but is still available for $49 from Other World Computing. The keyboard is a little bit shorter top to bottom, and the travel of the keys is shortened as a result, but I didn’t feel much of a difference between it and my laptop, a late 2013 MacBook Air.

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The Magic Keyboard (bottom) is nearly the same size as the wireless Apple Keyboard it replaces.  Credit: Roman Loyola

 

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