Shrinking the iPad 2 down to the iPad mini, while still keeping the tablet as useful was an impressive feat of engineering. Logitech has achieved a similar feat to Apple, shrinking down one of our favourite full-size iPad accessories, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, down to mini size.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini (which retails at £68) is the first keyboard case for the iPad mini we've tested that we can recommend enthusiastically. The Ultrathin does a good job working within the confines of the mini's footprint, and while it's not a perfectly natural keyboard, it delivers a more comfortable typing experience than the competition. It also doesn't hurt that, like its bigger sibling, the aluminium-clad Ultrathin is one of the best looking tablet accessories you'll find.
Design and setup
Just like its big brother, the Ultrathin Keyboard mini uses the same thin and light aluminium frame with glossy plastic accents and a magnetic hinge that works just like Apple's own Smart Cover. At just under 8mm thick and weighing 220 grams, the Ultrathin certainly lives up to its name. Above the keyboard is a thin ridge that props the iPad up for typing – a more elegant solution than the Belkin Portable Keyboard Case's folding design.
Like the full-sized Ultrathin, the mini is not so much a case as it is a screen cover. It'll protect the glass screen when closed, but leaves the scratch-prone aluminium back and side edges exposed. The Ultrathin mini activates the iPad's automatic Sleep/Wake function when opening or closing the cover. However, it isn't magnetised, so the cover could flap back open if carelessly thrown in, say, a backpack, which might affect the tablet's battery life by waking the iPad as it travels. Keep this in mind when you place it in a bag.
Along the right edge is a power switch, a Bluetooth pairing button, and a micro-USB port for charging. Power the Ultrathin on and it will automatically enter pairing mode, and from there, you can pair it with your iPad like any other Bluetooth accessory. Pressing and holding the Bluetooth button puts the cover back into pairing mode should you need to pair with another iPad.
Given the size of the iPad mini, all keyboard cases are going to have to make some sacrifices to fit within the confines of the tablet's small footprint. That said, the Ultrathin mini has one of the more comfortable full QWERTY keyboards I've tested. The chiclet keys are well defined and properly spaced, with a satisfyingly springy feedback. I was actually surprised by the amount of travel in the keys, given the shallow depth of the cover itself.
The Ultrathin's aluminium frame yields almost no flex, also making it suitable for use in your lap. One point to note is that the Ultrathin combines the numbers and Function key rows into one, requiring you to hold a Function key to access things like media controls – a small niggle which doesn’t meaningfully dampen an otherwise excellent typing experience.
You buy the iPad mini for its portability and looks, something you sacrifice with keyboard cases like the Belkin Portable Keyboard Case. Fortunately, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini follows in the footsteps of its full-size counterpart, offering a comfortable keyboard and a design that preserves the minimal Apple aesthetic. In exchange, you get minimal protection.
And if you're looking to take on any serious typing tasks, I'd recommend checking out a separate Bluetooth keyboard, and combining that with a standard case. But if you want a case with an integrated keyboard, the Ultrathin mini offers the best combination of form and function going, netting it our Best Buy award.