The Best iPad Accessories

One of the best parts of owning an iPad is that you’re never short on accessories. There are a wealth of cases, cables, adapters, styli, keyboards, stands, and more out there to trick out your slate. But what should you buy? I’ve spent more than a year filling a corner of my tiny New York apartment with boxes of gear to test and find the best iPad accessories. Whether you own an iPad already or you recently picked one up after perusing our Best iPad guide, there’s something here for you.

Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including the Best iPhone and Best iPhone 12 Cases and Accessories.

Updated August 2021: We’ve added new gear from Twelve South, Satechi, Logitech, T-Stand, Gear4, Zagg, Incipio, Nimble, and Anker. 

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  • ipad air in multiple colors

    Wait. Which iPad Do You Own?

    There are so many iPads out there, it can be hard to identify the exact model you own. Do you have the iPad Pro from 2017 with the 10.5-inch screen? Or the 9.7-inch one from 2016? It doesn’t help that Apple avoids the sequential naming structure it uses for the iPhone. But no matter. 

    Accessory makers usually indicate what iPad a case, folio, or keyboard cover is designed to work with. Most of our picks below are for the newest hardware, but they’re often also available for older iPads. Just search for the product name and your iPad model. 

    If you see a retailer mentioning a specific generation, this is Apple’s current lineup:

  • An Easy Way to Draw or Write

    The Apple Pencil is one of the most useful tools you can add to the iPad. The entire 2021 lineup supports it, from the Mini to the Pro. It’s excellent for drawing, with an imperceptible delay as the Pencil moves across the glass display. Like a normal pencil, your lines get thicker as you press down harder. The Pencil is also great for navigating iPadOS, which has handwriting support in various search fields so you don’t need to switch to the keyboard to type—and it’s handy for signing or marking up documents.

    The first-generation Pencil has some drawbacks. There’s no good place to connect it to your iPad when you aren’t using it; you need to remove the cap and plug the end of the stylus into the iPad to charge it (it has a Lightning connector); and it loves to roll off any surface. Apple fixed all of these issues with the second-generation model, which magnetically sticks to the top of compatible iPads and wirelessly charges. Sadly, it only works with recent iPad Pro models (2018, 2020, and 2021) and the 2020 iPad Air.

    Another Alternative: The Apple Pencil is expensive. A more affordable option I like is the Logitech Crayon ($70). It’s especially great for kids because it’s thicker, yet still maintains great palm rejection, good pressure sensitivity, and low latency.

  • A Cheap Stand-Up Case

    Spigen’s folio case is bulkier than Apple’s case, but it protects the entire tablet with a bumper covering the edges, a tough back cover made of thermoplastic polyurethane and polyurethane leather, as well as a magnetic latch to keep the folio closed. You can convert the display cover into a stand to prop the whole thing up (there are two angle options). When it’s in Theater Mode, you won’t see much wobble or sliding when tapping the screen.

    The downside is it doesn’t automatically turn off the display when you cover it up, so make sure to lower your screen time-out setting to 1 minute or so to prevent unnecessary battery drain. You also lose out on the satisfying click the second-generation Apple Pencil makes when you snap it on because it has a dedicated slot for storage. Thankfully, the Pencil still wirelessly pairs and charges.

  • A Better Folio Case

    This OtterBox folio fixes everything I didn’t like about the Spigen case above. First off, it’s more attractive; the back is clear so you can see the design and color of the iPad you chose. There’s a similar level of protection, the display cover can fold into the same two angles (propped up or slightly raised for when you want to sketch), but covering the screen up actually turns it off. The folio’s latch keeps the whole thing tightly closed, and it also holds any Apple Pencil. The latch does kind of flop around when it’s not closed though. You can buy it for various older iPads.

    For the latest iPad Pro models, Otterbox revamped this case slightly (calling it the Symmetry Series 360 Elite), and it regresses the design in two ways. It’s now harder to open the folio part as it sits flush with the case’s frame, and the new slide-out storage for the Apple Pencil makes it harder to take the stylus out. Those flaws are something you’ll deal with every day, so stick with the Spigen folio case above if you have the 2021 Pro. 

  • An Arm Mount

    When possible, I put all my screens on arm mounts. Ultrawide monitor? Mounted. iPad? You bet. It clears up the precious space that would’ve been taken by a pesky stand, and you can adjust the angle and height of the screen. Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo delivers this luxury. I’ve mounted it to the side of my desk so I can see incoming notifications on the iPad immediately, and it’s easy to remove the slate when I want to browse before bed. The clamp is fairly slim and doesn’t need much clearance, so you can attach it to shelves, kitchen counters, or bed frames. 

    If you do want to use a stand instead, Twelve South includes one and it can raise the iPad’s screen fairly high. It supported the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the base iPad with no trouble. If the hinges ever start feeling a little loose, you can tighten ’em up with the included hex key.  

  • A Sketching Surface

    Drawing on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a wonderful experience. Its magazine-like size gives it good stability on your lap if you’re sketching on the couch, but I can’t say the same for drawing on the smaller iPads. Without a good surface, it can be awkward. That’s where the Sketchboard Pro comes in. It expands your surface area, so you can comfortably doodle anywhere—in bed, on the couch, or even on a desk—because it has legs you can pull out to tilt the screen. You can even stand it vertically like an easel to get your Bob Ross on!

    It has an integrated handle for easy toting, storage space for your stylus, and a spot to plug in to recharge your iPad while drawing. There’s broad support for a variety of new or old iPads, and you can even change the centerpiece in case you upgrade to a different iPad. The cons? It’s heavy and big.

  • A Stable Stand

    If your iPad stays in one place in your home, like in the living room or the kitchen, then this is what you should use to prop it up. It has carried my 12.9-inch iPad Pro for several months and the hinges haven’t loosened up at all. The rubber base prevents it from sliding easily, and there are two hinges to tweak the height and viewing angle of the tablet. It’s lightweight enough that you can tote it around from room to room, though the Twelve South stand is better suited for the coffee shop or for travel.  

    A Portable Stand: If you prefer going caseless but want to prop your iPad up in the coffee shop, the Compass Pro from Twelve South ($60) is elegant, lightweight, and portable. You can angle it however you want with the back leg, and the metal build and silicone grips keep it steady. I tested it with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and it had no trouble holding it, though I do wish the back leg’s hinge had more resistance. It would sometimes change positions when I lifted the slate off.

  • A Keyboard and Trackpad

    Cursor support has turned the iPad into a more capable computer, but if you plan on doing work on these tablets, you should invest in a keyboard and trackpad. The Combo Touch has both. It’s also detachable, so you can ditch the keyboard part and still have a case. It’s impossible to dislike. The whole package is fairly slim, has a lovely fabric texture that’s nice to the touch, and looks spiffy!

    The kickstand easily passes the lap test—it didn’t wobble much or make the iPad fall off while I typed with it on my lap. The backlit keys are helpful if you’re in a dark room, and the typing experience is pretty nice. Best of all, it connects via Apple’s Smart Connector, so there’s no need to futz about with Bluetooth or worry about charging it.

    ★ A Cheaper Option: Zagg’s slightly more affordable Pro Keys cases aren’t as elegant as Logitech’s system, but you can connect them via Bluetooth to two different devices. That means you’ll need to recharge them via USB-C. I like the keyboard a little more, though the trackpad isn’t as roomy. It’s a detachable system with a separate case for the slate, and it’s available for the iPad ($140) or the iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro ($150)

  • A Bluetooth Keyboard

    If you don’t want to fuss with keyboard cases, Bluetooth keyboards are the way to go. I really love using the K380—totally not because it comes in a fun pink color. Totally. It’s a quiet but tactile keyboard, and you can connect it to a total of three devices and switch between them quickly. It’s slim, lightweight, and portable. It’s powered by two AAA batteries, which lasted four months for me. Did I mention it comes in pink?

    Upgrade Pick: Want a keyboard that matches the design of your iPad a little more? Then go with Satechi’s Slim X1. As the name suggests, it’s slightly slimmer. It connects via Bluetooth, and like the Logitech it can pair with three devices. It charges via USB-C, but I only had to plug it in once a week or so. If you want a keyboard with a NumPad, go with Satechi’s Slim X3 ($90)

  • A Slim Trackpad

    If you want a roomier touchpad, I like Apple’s thin and light Magic Trackpad 2. There are no physical buttons—Apple’s Force Touch sensors let you feel various levels of pressure on the pad. You can also use some iPadOS gestures on it, limiting the need to reach for the screen. It pairs via Bluetooth and recharges with the Lightning port.

    If You Prefer a Mouse: The Logitech Pebble ($25) is tiny and slim. A bigger, more ergonomicgaming mouse might be a better option for a permanent desk setup, but for work on the go, the Pebble is a quiet clicker that pairs quickly and has a smooth scroll wheel.

  • A Cheaper Keyboard Case

    The last thing you want to do after spending $330 for the cheapest iPad is to spend more than $100 on a keyboard case. Zagg’s Messenger Folio 2 solves that problem. You get a wonderful, compact keyboard cover with great key travel for good typing. I also like the dedicated keys for going Home, opening up the recent apps menu, and locking the iPad, though it’s a shame the keys aren’t backlit and there’s no trackpad.

    It looks sleek, with a fabric-like exterior (stylus holder included), and your iPad screen will turn off as you close it. There is only one viewing angle, but it stays put on my lap when I type. You have to recharge it via USB-C, but mine didn’t need a charge for two months, despite my using it for a few hours every day. It connects via Bluetooth, so you can see the remaining battery life through a widget. It’s only compatible with the 7th- and 8th-gen iPad, and the 3rd-gen iPad Air (2019).

  • A Hub With More Ports

    Using your iPad Air or Pro for work or school? You probably need to add more ports, like an HDMI port to hook up the tablet to a bigger 4K screen, or a headphone jack in case you need to use corded headphones. This one from Satechi kills two birds with one stone. It’s a hub, so you get an HDMI port, USB-A, 3.5-mm audio port, SD and MicroSD card reader, and a 60-watt USB-C charging port. But it also works as a stand, so you don’t need a folio case or separate stand to prop your iPad up. 

    The hub connects to the iPad Pro or iPad Air via USB-C (the cable hides away underneath). You can’t change the viewing angle, but the stand folds up, making for a surprisingly compact hub. It won’t take up too much space in your backpack, and it’s lightweight despite its aluminum build. The only downside? If you plan on propping your tablet up vertically for video calls, you’ll have to lean forward so your face is in the center of the frame.  

    A More Traditional Hub: If you prefer a standard dongle-style hub, I really like the HyperDrive from Hyper ($90). It has six ports: 60-watt USB-C, USB-A, MicroSD, SD, 3.5-mm audio, and 4K 60-Hz HDMI. You can either stick it into your iPad Air or Pro’s USB-C port and have it slit flush and firm with the edge, or you can swap to a flappy, short cable. You need the cable if you have a case on your iPad, and Hyper provides the screws and screwdriver to swap the part out (it took me two minutes). Just remember to unplug it when you’re not using it, as it will slowly drain your tablet’s battery. 

  • For Lazy Viewing

    When I’m watching a show on the iPad in bed, I usually lay on my stomach so my arms don’t get tired from holding it up. But that strains my neck. Enter: the Tstand2. It looks bizarre—as if a robot’s rectangular arms have grasped your chest and stomach—but it can essentially suspend any tablet and uses your body as a firm base. I thought I’d get annoyed at the weight of the thing on my body, but it’s a surprisingly comfortable system. It even includes an adapter so you can attach your smartphone. (It also can hold a Switch or Kindle.) 

    Back at the desk? Don’t ditch the Tstand2! Flip the base the other way and use it as a stand for your iPad, though it is a lot bigger than other stands. This version improves upon its predecessor with a rubber finish that doesn’t pick up any fingerprints and feels nicer on skin. It has stronger hooks for securing your gadgets, and a stronger frame overall. It was successfully funded on Kickstarter and the company is taking preorders on its website, with plans to ship next month. 

  • Feature-Rich Earbuds

    Do you need to spend $200 on earbuds? No. We recommend tons of great wireless buds in this guide that cost a lot less. But if you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, you’ll probably want these. AirPods link to your iCloud account, so every Apple device you own knows they exist when you pop open the case. That makes it simple to quickly pick up where you left off when you switch between your iPhone, MacBook, or iPad. Forget about unpairing and reconnecting.

    We recommend the Pro model because they have silicone ear tips that are much more comfortable than the regular AirPods, plus they sound dramatically better. Battery life is below average (4.5 hours per charge), but they do a great job blocking out droning ambient sounds around you.

  • A Case for Kids

    Kids and tech don’t play well. They might spill a drink on the slate, drop it off the table, or just make the whole thing sticky. Trust us, you want to slap a case if you’re putting an iPad in front of them. This thick case from Zagg-owned Gear4 looks like a repurposed pool noodle (it’s made of EVA foam, so it feels like one too). It raises the edges around the screen, so the iPad won’t take the brunt of a drop. The buttons are still accessible, and the kickstand can keep it upright at two angles. If you’re in the car, the kickstand’s weird design lets you suspend the tablet around the front car seat headrest without an additional accessory. 

  • A Charging Adapter

    Apple hasn’t nixed the charging adapter from its iPads yet, but it probably won’t be long before you’ll need to start buying your own. Or maybe you just want a spare for another room. I like these tiny adapters from Anker. They use gallium nitride (GaN) technology, which allows them to output more power yet retain a compact size. There’s a 65-watt and 30-watt option, but the latter is more than enough to fast charge your iPad Pro. If you want to use the same adapter to juice up your MacBook, then go for the 65-watt model. You’ll need to supply your own cables.

  • A Battery Pack

    Find yourself away from a wall outlet often? A portable charger can juice your iPad up instead. I really like this one from Nimble. It supports USB Power Delivery and can output 60 watts, enough to juice up a MacBook Air or Pro. It recharged the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with enough left in the tank to charge other gadgets. It’s not chunky, and the USB-A and USB-C ports mean you can hook up two devices at once. The best part? The exterior is made of 73 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, comes in plastic-free packaging, and has a two-year warranty. 

    Nimble has a smaller 5,200-mAh charger, but it’ll only top up your iPads. It doesn’t have enough capacity to fully recharge any of them except for the iPad Mini. For more portable charger recommendations, read our guide here.

  • A Durable Cable

    If you’re rough on your tech, Apple’s charging cables aren’t going to last. These double-braided Kevlar ones from Nomad will. They have a built-in cable tie and, depending on what iPad you own, you can choose between a USB-C to Lightning cable or USB-C to USB-C. We’ve linked to the 3-meter model below, but there’s a short 1.5-meter cable option too. It comes with a five-year warranty.

    ★ Cheaper Cables: These USB-C to Lightning and USB-C to USB-C Nimble cables are also great. The knit design is attractive, they’re made from certified plastic and aluminum, and they’re cheaper.  

  • A Flash Drive

    If you’re like me, you’re constantly dismissing the “iCloud Storage is Full” notification from your iPhone. Maybe it’s time to offload last year’s travel pics onto the iPad to clear out space on your phone. Flash drives are always handy to have around to transfer data on the go. This one from SanDisk has various storage options you can choose from (going all the way up to 256 gigabytes), and it also comes in Lightning and USB-A or Lightning and USB-C variants, depending on the iPad you have (I tested the former).

    You’ll need to download SanDisk’s iPadOS app for the drive to be registered, but once that’s done it’s smooth file transferring afterward. Alternatively, if you plug it into an iPad via a hub, you can easily access it via Apple’s Files app.

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    Other Great Accessories

    iPad accessories are endless, and we’ve left out several we’ve tested but didn’t like too much. We like the ones below, but not as much as our previous picks.