- Our choice for the #1 Best Overall iPad accessory is Apple’s Magic Keyboard.
- iPad accessories are very affordable and available from a range of different manufacturers.
- The best iPad accessories let you do more with your device, like typing or drawing.
- Before purchasing an iPad accessory, you should always look at the price, what devices it is compatible with, what it does, and who makes it.
Apple’s iPad is an amazingly powerful device that can practically replace a computer. Coming in between a phone and a computer, the iPad packs plenty of features for work, school, and play.
However, the iPad has a lot more potential when combined with some of the best accessories. Because of its popularity, there are literally thousands of accessories available.
From protecting the device from physical damage to making it work like a computer, you are sure to find something that enhances your experience. Best of all, Apple continues to add support for different accessories.
Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the top five accessories every iPad owner needs to get.
- Best Overall: Apple Magic Keyboard
- Best for Keeping Your iPad Safe: OtterBox Defender Series Case
- Best for Drawing: Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
- Best for Preventing Scratches: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass+
- Best for Private Listening: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
#1 Best Overall: Apple Magic Keyboard
- Compatible with the iPad Pro (3rd, 2nd and 1st generation) and iPad Air (5th and 4th generation)
- Trackpad, a USB-C port for charging, backlit keys, and front and back protection
- New floating cantilever design
- Folds into a case
Apple’s Magic Keyboard takes the top spot for best overall iPad accessory thanks to its range of functionality. As the name implies, the Magic Keyboard is a keyboard designed to work with your iPad.
But it also gives the iPad some of the capabilities of a laptop. Of course, it provides some protection to the device, as well. The Magic Keyboard attaches to the back of the iPad and serves as a stand. It has a hinge so you can adjust the angle of the screen while using it.
But, when folded, the Magic Keyboard protects your iPad’s screen. In the Magic Keyboard is a conveniently placed USB-C port that provides even more support for devices like flash drives.
You can even charge the iPad by plugging a cable directly into the Magic Keyboard. The keyboard itself is very similar to the ones found in Apple’s MacBooks. The keys are even backlit for visibility at night.
One of the best features of the Magic Keyboard, and one that sets it apart from the Smart Keyboard, is the trackpad. You can navigate your iPad using the trackpad just like on a computer.
Apple makes several cases for its iPad lineup, but the Magic Keyboard has the most features. However, it also has the highest price tag. Pricing varies by iPad model and size, with the larger iPad Pro case costing $349.
The cheapest is for the 10th generation iPad, which is known as the Magic Keyboard Folio, and it starts at $249. Unfortunately, the Folio version doesn’t have all of the same features.
|Adds cursor to your iPad.||Costs almost as much as an iPad.|
|It’s easy to setup and use with most apps.||It’s easy to set up and use with most apps.|
Check out the Apple Magic Keyboard on Amazon.
Best for Keeping Your iPad Safe: OtterBox Defender Series Case
The best way to keep your iPad safe is with the OtterBox Defender Series Case. An iPad is an expensive investment, so it is important to prevent it from getting damaged.
Just like a phone, iPads are very fragile, and dropping them can easily crack the screen or even damage the metal casing. Therefore, using a case is the best defense against physical damage.
But they also make a range of cases for other devices, like tablets. By far, the most popular OtterBox case is the Defender series, which uses a two-piece design.
The first layer consists of two pieces of plastic that encase your iPad. There is also a small piece of foam to prevent scratching. The second layer is a molded piece of rubber that really helps with falls.
While it adds some bulkiness, the OtterBox Defender series also makes the iPad easier to hold compared to the metal exterior of the device. The case itself is not waterproof, but it does have covers over the charging port and buttons to prevent dirt and debris from getting in.
It also comes with a cover to protect the screen when not in use. The cover doubles as a stand, and it even has a slot to store the Apple Pencil. While OtterBox Defender cases start around $89, they are definitely a worthwhile investment for any iPad owner.
|It’s the best way to keep your iPad safe.||Cases are expensive for just rubber and plastic.|
|Some models include a screen protector.||The case adds a lot of bulkiness to the iPad.|
Check out the OtterBox Defender Series Case on Amazon.
Best for Drawing: Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
If you are an artist or just want to try doodling on your iPad, then the Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) is a must-have accessory. If you aren’t familiar with the Apple Pencil, don’t worry. Like the Magic Keyboard, there isn’t much attention given to the Pencil since it is just an accessory.
However, with the release of the 2nd generation Pencil a couple of years ago, it is quickly becoming a must-have device. Because the iPad relies on a touchscreen for all navigation, its input is rather limited compared to a computer.
Although there are a number of cheap pen devices, they are not nearly as accurate or as useful as Apple’s own device. The Pencil works seamlessly with your iPad, and it even has a magnet to connect to and wireless charge directly from the tablet.
Unlike some cheaper pens, the Pencil has a narrow point, which makes selecting or drawing easy and accurate. As mentioned, the Pencil does need charging since it has a battery inside.
This provides advanced features like a button integrated into the side. Additionally, it even has a sensor in the tip to detect how hard you are pressing. The idea behind the Pencil is that it mimics a real writing instrument, whether that be a pencil, crayon, or marker.
You can use the Pencil to navigate your iPad, for drawing, or signing. Although the pencil is a bit pricey at $129, you can use it with free apps like Apple Notes or paid ones like Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Designer.
|Magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad.||It’s not compatible with all iPad models.|
|Recognizes how much pressure you apply.||Doesn’t feel like a real pen or marker.|
Check out the Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) on Amazon.
Best for Preventing Scratches: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass+
To protect your iPad’s screen against scratches, you need the ZAGG Invisible Shield Glass+ screen protector. Apple uses pretty strong screens for its devices. Thanks to advancements in technology, your iPad’s screen is more resilient to scratches than earlier models. However, they are not indestructible, and it is still pretty easy for them to get scuffed up.
A screen protector is your best choice for keeping the screen looking like new. Best of all, if the screen protector gets scratched up, you can just peel it off and put a new one on.
This is especially important if you are leasing a phone, using a work phone, or planning to trade your phone in. In all of these scenarios, you will need to return the phone in like-new condition with a scratch-free screen.
But not all screen protectors are made equally. The cheapest screen protectors are just pieces of plastic that stick to your device’s screen. Some cases have similar screen protectors built in.
The problem is that they can inhibit some sensitivity, but they also don’t feel good to swipe your finger across. Quality screen protectors, like the ZAGG Invisible Shield, use a thin piece of tempered glass.
The benefit is that it feels just like the glass screen on your iPad. Additionally, it is thicker than plastic protectors and provides more protection.
A tempered glass screen protector also prevents the device’s screen from cracking by absorbing impact forces. No screen protector can guarantee that your screen will be perfectly safe, but the Invisible Shield will do a great job of protecting your screen.
|Protects screen from scratches.||May feel a little different than the actual screen.|
|It’s available for all iPad models.||Screen protectors are very hard to remove.|
Check out the ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass+ on Amazon.
Best for Private Listening: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
- Apple-designed H2 chip
- Low-distortion, custom-built driver
- Up to 2x more Active Noise Cancellation than the previous AirPods Pro
- Personalized spatial audio
- Up to 6 hours of battery life or 30 hours with the charging case
To rock out while using your iPad or for private FaceTime calls the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) are the best choice for private listening. They’re a pair of earbuds that offer the latest in audio technology.
Apple has been making earbuds for a long time, going back to the early days of the iPod. In that span of time, they’ve radically changed the way people listen to media. AirPods Pro consists of two wireless earbuds and a charging case. The small earbuds are completely wireless and even have a built-in battery.
There is also a microphone that works for recording videos or even talking on video chat. Apple also makes a standard version of AirPods that is cheaper but doesn’t have all of the features of the Pro version.
The upgrade to the Pro version gets you noise cancellation, which uses balanced audio waves to cut out external noise. Because of it, the AirPods Pro have swappable rubber tips that fit your ear.
Each pod also has a button that you can use for volume adjustments, pausing, or skipping songs. You’re also not limited to using AirPods with an iPad since they use standard Bluetooth technology.
The AirPods case packs in a surprising amount of technology, including a battery pack that will recharge the AirPods in between plugging it in. Of course, the latest generation has wireless charging, as well.
Like other Apple devices, AirPods also have Find My iPhone in case you lose them. Although they are pretty expensive for earbuds, they are one of the best iPad accessories and tech you can buy.
|Work with all Bluetooth-compatible devices.||They don’t fit well in all ear types.|
|Have noise-blocking capabilities.||They’re very expensive for wireless earbuds.|
Check out the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best iPad Accessories: Step by Step
When searching for iPad accessories, there are four main things to look at:
Let’s review each of these criteria in more detail.
The first thing you should consider is what the iPad accessory does. Do you need a case or a keyboard, or both?
In addition, does the case come with a screen protector, or do you need to purchase one separately? Some accessories serve multiple purposes, like cases that not only protect your iPad but also make it easier to hold onto.
An often overlooked factor is who makes the accessories you want to buy. Apple makes numerous accessories for the iPad, and they tend to be some of the best options.
However, they don’t make everything, and that is where third-party accessories come in. The problem is that third-party manufacturers are not made equally, so you should look at reviews if you aren’t familiar with the brand.
You will undoubtedly want to think about how much accessories cost and whether they are worth the cost. This also plays into manufacturers since many accessories come in a range of different prices.
An iPad is a very expensive device, and Apple accessories are equally expensive. But it is important that you purchase quality accessories for a seamless experience.
Lastly, you should double-check that the accessories you are looking at work with your iPad. Apple makes a number of different iPads, and they each vary by generation.
It is critical that you confirm the accessory is designed to work with your specific device. In some cases, it may be difficult to find accessories, particularly for older iPads.
What to Know Before Buying iPad Accessories
Additionally, Apple makes a standard iPad, which is a completely different shape than the Mini, Air, and Pro. Then there are different generations of each model, making finding the right accessory even more confusing.
Fortunately, some accessories, like the Apple Pencil, are pretty universal between iPad models. But even that has limitations as it relies on wireless charging, which isn’t built into older iPads.
You may also want to consider whether or not you plan to upgrade your iPad in the near future. If you are thinking of upgrading, then you may want to hold off on purchasing an expensive accessory.
Using iPad Accessories: What it’s Like
Each iPad accessory has its own pros and cons, but the best ones integrate seamlessly with the device. For instance, the Pencil magnetically holds onto the side of an iPad.
Similarly, Magic Keyboards do a great job of quickly and easily connecting to the iPad and staying charged while your iPad is charging. These minor details make the accessories stand out from cheaper alternatives.
One thing that you must know about iPad accessories is that cases aren’t for everyone. While we highly recommend an iPad case, some people feel that they take away from the slenderness and style of Apple’s design. But you will likely get the most use out of an iPad accessory like AirPods since they have other uses beyond an iPad.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©NYC Russ/Shutterstock.com.