June 13, 2020

Workaround for iPad Pro Magic Keyboard battery drain.

Though not a recognized issue by Apple, there are plenty of complaints that the new Magic Keyboard is sucking the battery life out of the iPad Pro. From what I can tell, this is an iPadOS bug. This article gives you a few options on how to get around the issue in order to save your battery life.

My tale.

With the Smart Keyboard attached to the new iPad Pro 11", my battery was fine. Got the Magic Keyboard and the battery started draining. Since the Magic Keyboard is designed to pull its power from the iPad, you’ve got to expect a little drain, but I was seeing a 20% drain overnight while the iPad was just sitting there unused. Apple replaced it with a new Magic Keyboard, but: same issue. A bunch of defective keyboards? Unlikely. And iPadOS bug? Likely.

The real problem: The backlight stays on.

I noticed that the backlight on both Magic Keyboards responded normally for a few days (shutting off when the iPad went to sleep) but eventually just stayed on all the time. This is happening even when the iPad Magic Keyboard was closed or not plugged in to power. What might not be obvious is that the backlight can look like it’s off during the day, but is actually only dimmed, so you might not notice this issue except for at night.

The workarounds.

I don’t have a complete fix. Nor does Apple (if they don’t acknowledge it as a problem). Some say to turn off the backlight by dragging the brightness slide all the way left: Home > Settings > General > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboard. But I really use the keyboard backlight a lot, so that’s not an option for me. There are three workarounds. Your mileage may vary.

  • Do a Soft Reset. Sleep+Volume Up bottons > Slide to Power Off fixes this for a while, which is why I think it’s on OS bug. Normally I’ll do a soft reset once a week, but the problem was happening more than that. The other option is a little less invasive than doing constant resets:
  • Turn off your iPad Pro manually. This defeats the whole purpose of having an automatic shutoff, but the Magic Keyboard seems to stay off until the iPad Pro is manually turned on again. So when you get notifications that turn on the screen, they won’t turn on the keyboard, unless you touch a key, the screen or the sleep button.
  • Remove the iPad from the Magic Keyboard. Redditor AJMcCoy612 suggested this one. When I tried it, the keyboard backlight definitely went out, but wouldn’t relight until I did a soft reset.

Hopefully Apple will do a quiet fix for this, as it’s kind of silly to keep replacing a bunch of fully-functional $250 keyboards because of an OS bug.

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