When it comes to keyboard cases, Logitech is at the forefront with its innovative accessories for tablets. Logitech's Create has been a great alternative for iPad Pro users looking to replace Apple's own Smart Keyboard with a more protective, backlit keyboard accessory to serve as a more complete laptop replacement. And it's now finally available for the smaller and more portable 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Like its larger brother, the Create for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a folio cover case with an integrated backlit keyboard that never requires charging or wireless pairing as it is designed to be powered on using the iPad Pro's Smart Connector, just like Apple's Smart Keyboard. But unlike Logitech's Create for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, this smaller and slightly cheaper version has a built-in Apple Pencil holder and doesn't feature an aluminum-reinforced keyboard construction. And as a result, it's also much lighter and easier to carry around. Albeit, nowhere near as light and slim as the arguably flawed Smart Keyboard cover from Apple. Want to know more on how the Create fares in day-to-day usage? We've got the full review for you after the break!
The Create for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is identical to its larger counterpart from the outside, but on the inside it features an all-plastic keyboard construction. The backlit keys are still all full size and are a real pleasure to type on as they provide great depth and springyness with lots of softness as they are depressed. I found myself typing really quickly and without any significant errors during the time that I have been using this keyboard. As much as I like the slim factor of the fabric-coated keyboard layout of the Smart Keyboard from Apple, the keys on Logitech's Create keyboard are even more enjoyable to type on and closely resemble the keys found on the company's incredible desktop keyboards. The fact that this particular keyboard doesn't have the same metal trim as the larger 12.9-inch Create keyboard doesn't necessarily mean that it's inferior. There's little to no flex or give when you type on it and overall it feels very sturdy given the fact that it's a relatively slim plastic keyboard overlaid on a nylon cover. Though I will say that it's not as premium in quality as Logitech's 12.9-inch Create keyboard.
It's worth noting that the Create's keys are all very bright and legible under any lighting condition thanks to the well-spaced layout and even backlighting on each and every key. You'll find a top row of function keys including a home button, screen brightness, keyboard brightness, audio playback controls, a search key and a lock/unlock key amongst the standard and familiar keyboard layout you'd find on every Mac-compatible desktop and laptop keyboard. And yes, you can use the arrow keys to navigate web pages and swiftly scroll through your Twitter or news timeline instead of swiping with your finger.
But the biggest issue we found is that the Create's backlit functionality has a battery-saving feature that automatically turns off the light after a short period of time when no typing is done. So if you're in the dark and you stop every so often to type, the backlit keys turn off and you're left with a keyboard layout that you can't see until you press a key only to delete what you had just inadvertently typed, which is just annoying. This issue could have been resolved and made the user experience in the dark a lot more enjoyable is Logitech implemented its touch-sensitive feature from its wireless illuminated keyboard where the keys automatically turn back on when you touch the keyboard before having to type on it.
Speaking of battery saving features, I haven't noticed any drop in battery on my iPad Pro leading me to believe that the Create uses a very low amount of power through the Smart Connector to power it on. There are two levels of backlight settings to choose from for the keys including the option to completely turn off the backlighting. It’s also worth noting that the area around the Create’s Smart Connector is magnetic and securely attaches onto the side of the iPad Pro when you hold it close to it.
The viewing angle is fixed and cannot be adjusted, sadly. Though it is positioned at a relatively comfortable viewing angle for typing and watching videos.
The outside of the Create keyboard case is made out of this very rugged, highly textured nylon fabric material that resists water and dirt. It by no means will provide your iPad Pro with water protection, but it won't damage very easily either. That being said, I'm really not a fan of how this material feels. It's not very enjoyable to hold or touch and I would have much preferred a softer, more rubberized exterior instead – similar to what Apple has designed its Smart Keyboard cover with.
Ports and speakers are fully accessible at all times whilst the iPad Pro is inside the Create.
Buttons are also easily pressable thanks to these free-flowing integrated button controls.
And yes, there are precise cutouts for the rear-facing camera and LED flash in case you’d like to awkwardly take pictures and video with your iPad Pro attached to a folio keyboard case.
While you won't be doing much holding with a keyboard case, when you do want to just hold your iPad Pro like a regular tablet, you will run into a few of the Create's caveats. And one of them being that it's really an awkward thing to hold when you flip the keyboard cover portion around the back of your iPad like you would when using an Apple Smart Cover. The bulkiness of the keyboard cover isn't that bad, but it's enough to tire one's hands. The added weight doesn't help either. The keys can be a nuisance when you're holding your iPad, but since the keyboard isn't powered independently, you can press them all you want without causing any issues. I find myself using my iPad Pro in its landscape orientation more often than not even when I'm not typing on the Create's keyboard because I'd rather not hold onto it with this case on. Handholding this entire thing is definitely doable, but you'll find that simply removing the iPad from the case will be an easier and quicker alternative.
There’s even a loop holder where you can keep you Apple Pencil in when you’re not using it. And you won’t need to worry about it or the keyboard touching your iPad’s screen because of how the Create’s raised rubber bumper is designed to rest against the screen instead, elevating it away from the keyboard and any stylus you choose to keep inside. On the opposite side of this raised rubberized bumper, part of the case that locks the iPad Pro into the Create also features a raised lip that goes around the iPad’s bezel.
Logitech's Create for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will set you back $130, but it's one of the best keyboard cases your money can buy that is as good if not more superior than Apple's own offering. Typing on the Create's backlit keyboard is a real treat, and the fact that it's entirely powered by the iPad Pro's Smart Connector is a great feature that makes using it effortless and highly convenient. Although not the best option for a protective standalone case, the Create does offer better protection than other keyboard covers such as the Smart Keyboard by Apple. It's a relatively slim package that transforms the iPad Pro into a mobile powerhouse for those looking to replace their laptop and get a lot of writing done using their tablet. We can't find a better option than Logitech's Create if you rarely use your iPad by itself, protection and a seriously good backlit keyboard is what you're after.
That said, we would have liked to see a higher quality keyboard build quality similar to that of the larger 12.9-inch Create model, a more forgiving exterior material that's more pleasing to the touch - as well as some sort of touch or proximity sensor that can automatically control the backlighting feature of the keyboard rather than having to press a key when it turns off after a short period of inactive use. The only keyboard case we can think of that can outdo Logitech's Create is the pricy but very impressive Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case.