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iPad Pro 12.9 2021 case compatibility issues explained

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• The 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 is by 0.5 mm thicker than its predecessor.
• Apple does not provide clear explanation about backwards compatibility.
• Your older cover or keyboard case may not fit the new model.

Have you bought a Smart Folio, Smart Keyboard Folio or Magic Keyboard for your previous-generation iPad Pro 12.9? Do you wonder whether it will fit the newest model released in 2021?

Read on. I will try to explain all compatibility issues and flag some warnings.

Note: Read about iPad Pro 11 2021 case compatibility

The problem

iPad Pro 12.9 2021 (5th generation) is by 0.5 mm thicker than the 4th-generation model released in 2020. The remaining dimensions (width, height, and shape) are the same.

Apple confirmed with Forbes, that the Magic Keyboard 2020 will work with the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 – but there is one problem: it can’t be fully closed. Read the full story.

▸ The same problem (the 2020 Apple accessory not fitting well the 2021 model) may also apply to Smart Folio and Smart Keyboard Folio. Original Apple accessories are the benchmark of perfection. They were perfectly fitting the 2020 model which was 0.5 mm thinner. And half a millimeter makes a huge difference for Apple.

▸ Apple does not provide clear info about backward & forward compatibility of the Magic Keyboard, Smart Folio, and Smart Keyboard Folio.

▸ When you visit Apple online store, you will see that the Magic Keyboard is compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 from 2021, 2020, and 2018. You may wrongly assume that your old case will fit the 2021 model.

▸ I have checked url addresses of the current iPad Pro 12.9 accessories in Wayback Machine. These pages were added to the Apple website in late April 2021. It would suggest that they are improved accessories that are now compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021. Otherwise, a new device (iPad Pro 12.9, 5th generation, 2021 release) would just have been added to old webpages.

▸ The conclusion is that Apple is in the process of replacing older accessories with improved versions that fit both the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 and two earlier generations.

iPad Pro 12.9 2021 case compatibility – DIY check

Do you want to see what happens if you get the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 and put it inside your 2020 Magic Keyboard or Smart Folio? You can find it out in seconds.

Look for a piece of cardboard that’s 0.5 mm thick and place it on the display, close to the folding part of the case. Then close the cover.

Old Smart Folio not fully compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 2021

I have just done it with my iPad Pro 11 and Smart Folio. As you see, the part of the tri-fold cover is raised by about 7-10 mm above the screen surface.

It would be even more if you decided to use the screen protector.

iPad Pro 12.9 2021 case compatibility – things to remember

Having all the above in mind, I think you should assume that an original Apple cover or keyboard you bought for 2020 iPad Pro 12.9 is not fully compatible with the 2021 model.

This applies to:

  • Magic Keyboard bought before late April 2021.
  • Smart Folio bought before late April 2021.
  • Smart Keyboard Folio bought before late April 2021.

On the other hand, Apple’s move to replace accessories instead of adding a new dedicated model just for iPad Pro 12.9 2021 has one big benefit: any new iPad Pro 12.9 accessory will fit the 2021 model and two earlier generations.

What you have to keep in mind is the release date of the accessory. Only the one that was added in April 2021 or later is compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 2021.

It is especially important when you are buying Apple accessories in other online stores than Apple. Please double-check the date of adding the product to the listing.

For instance, if you go to Amazon and find the Magic Keyboard, make sure to scroll down to see “Technical Details” section. Find “Date First Available” line. If it displays “April 20, 2021” or a later date, it means this accessory is fully compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021.

iPad Pro 12.9 case compatibility warning

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