The iPad Pro accessories, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, may be in short supply worldwide but that doesn’t stop iFixit from tearing them down. The Apple Pencil teardown demonstrated some clever internal component miniaturization and the Smart Keyboard has similar tricks. Most notably, the teardown shows Apple’s “conductive fabric material” that runs down the length of the accessory. Rather than trailing wire or a ribbon cable inside the keyboard, Apple is using special fabric that can send power and data in both directions. iFixit believes this has durability benefits too, claiming it should be less likely to break than normal wiring would over the course of the product’s lifetime.
In fact, in general, the Smart Keyboard is praised for its durability here. The entire product is encased in a rich fabric for water and stain resistance leaving no visible holes; iFixit literally had to cut their way inside the keyboard. Inside, there are a lot of protective layers to keep the components in place. The less good news is that iFixit scored the Smart Keyboard a 0/10 for repairability as any attempt to get to the internals involves damaging the device permanently.
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Although the actual keycaps themselves are pretty straightforward, no backlighting or anything to make them technically complex, iFixit confirms that the dome switches are the same as the 2015 Retina MacBook. They also notice a stiffening weight is included on the space bar, enabling firm presses across the entire width of the key to be picked up without wobbling.
That’s the Smart Keyboard: pretty durable for something that looks delicate but if anything breaks, you are out of luck. Apple has allowed third-party manufacturers to use the Smart Connector so you aren’t limited to the $169 first-party offering if you don’t want it. Right now, the only Smart Connector alternative is the $149 Logitech CREATE — check out our review of the keyboard here.