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Samsung, please copy Apple's ridiculously expensive iPad Pro keyboard design

Galaxy Tab S6
Galaxy Tab S6 (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Happy Saturday-ing at home, peeps! Today we're going to talk about tablets!

It seems like most people on the Android side of tech aren't really into tablets, not even the ones who run things at Google. I fall into that category, but a big reason why is that they really aren't that great when you try to get any work done with one. You need an external keyboard (and maybe even a mouse) to type more than a few words and tablet keyboards have a long history of being giant pieces of crap that you only used because there was no better alternative.

I get it. A tablet is designed to be light and portable and if you attach a substantial keyboard to one like ASUS did with the old Transformer series you end up with a laptop, so you might as well be using a Chromebook or a MacBook Air. Samsung must know this because it tried to address the situation with the Galaxy Tab S6's first-party keyboard that was stiff and sturdy in some of the right places and had a built-in trackpad that was good to use.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 review: The best Android tablet ever

Now Samsung needs to go the extra mile and just copy the hell out of Apple's new iPad Pro keyboard and call it done. Seriously — copy it, then fight about it later in court and give zero Fs about what Apple pundits have to say about it all.

As someone who has suffered through trying to use the Pixel Slate on my lap with its flimsy and very crappy keyboard, I have some authority here. If you have a Slate and have done the same, you know what I mean when I say flimsy book cover style keyboards have no business existing for any device bigger than 5-inches and if you try to use one you'll spend more time keeping it perched on your lap that you will be typing. They're awful.

What you do is make the bottom stiff enough to stay flat, which is exactly what Samsung has done with the Tab S6, and make the back stiff enough to hold the tablet in place. Samsung didn't do that second part with the Tab S6, and it will flop over on you unless you hold things fairly still. Then along comes Apple with some very pretty and seemingly gravity-defying keyboard that still uses a magnetic mounting mechanism, and the company stuck a jillion dollar (OK, $299 for the 11-inch version but I'm still close enough) price tag on it because it knows it can get away with it.

It's expensive but probably worth it for people in the Apple ecosystem. Samsung could do it better and cheaper.

I thought just like that when I first saw it, too. Then I got to thinking. What if Samsung copied that mf'er, complete with the fantastic trackpad integration, then sold it as a $179 accessory to the next Galaxy Tab S premium model? Keep the folio keyboard for everyone who almost never wants to use a keyboard (after the price is cut way down) but have this magical new accessory keyboard that does everything just as good or better than Apple's new swanky stuff.

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A photo posted by on

We all know Samsung can do it. Don't look at me that way, you know damn well Samsung copied plenty of things from Apple and Apple copied plenty of things from Samsung or Android and that every company copies anything that's good. Realize that this means better products for us to buy and stop caring what company CEOs cry about; that's what lawyers are paid to do.

Anyhoo, Samsung could build and sell a new keyboard a lot lower than Apple will and people who want to try using a tablet as a real work device would benefit. Two things make that something I really want to see: Android's "openness" and Samsung's ability to make small but significant changes to its designs.

A Galaxy Tab S6 would be just as great for working as an iPad Pro if it were easier to type on the go on it.

Android has the benefit of having an open file system — meaning you can plug a device in and access actual files and folders — and uses the regular USB standards. That means you can plug an SD card or a thumb drive or a camera or whatever in and it can just work without any "Made for Samsung" BS necessary.

And Samsung is not afraid to take an existing design and tweak it with new ideas. Sometimes we hate that, but other times it makes the people at Samsung look like the crazy super-geniuses they probably really are. Samsung would identify what's wrong with the design and try to correct it with version two. And three. And four. Samsung would add new trackpad gestures and improve how Samsung DeX or Android's desktop mode works with the trackpad. Samsung would take that keyboard design and turn it into something of its own.

And that's when I'll actually want to use a Galaxy Tab S every day. Please make it happen, Samsung.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

32 Comments
  • I will say the S6 is an amazing tablet but dang does that keyboard suck.
    My favorite is from the Slate, still have it and still wish most tablets had the same keyboard
  • "Now Samsung needs to go the extra mile and just copy the hell out of Apple's new iPad Pro keyboard and call it done. Seriously — copy it" If Samsung does that exactly they deserve to be sued. Plus it ll just prove Samsung can't innovate and has to copy. You can definitely bet Huawei will.
  • " Plus it ll just prove Samsung can't innovate and has to copy." Huh? When every single thing that Apple has done since the iPhone 5 is to copy the Samsung Galaxy line? Remember back when Apple used to mock large screens? And physical keyboards? And styluses? All they have done since then is copy the Galaxy and the Galaxy Note. And they've gotten away with it! (Some people claim that they are copying the Surface when Samsung had all that BEFORE the Surface). Meanwhile, Samsung is copying Apple LESS than everyone else right now. It took them the longest to lose the headphone jack and they never did copy the notch.
  • Apple was wrong as they saw the market wanted bigger screens and so made two types of sizes to cater who wanted bigger or smaller screens. Samsung mocked and eventually followed with the removal of the headphone jack. Regardless if they lasted they still ended up removing it contradicting they re stance of still having it. They re Fold has the biggest notch of any phone lol. And that's why they removed all their advertising making fun of Apple with no headphone jack and having a notch.
  • So you're saying: they've both been wrong, and they both copy each other.
  • They probably should also copy the price, eh?? 😟😔
  • If you really need a keyboard for your tablet then you dont need a tablet. You need a laptop. Tablets are useful as tablets because they dont have keyboards. They are media consumption devices. Not work devices
  • Exactly my thoughts!
  • Maybe someone's you need a tablet, and sometimes you need a laptop and you don't want to buy 2 separate devices.
  • This is only true of Android and ChromeOS devices. It IS NOT true of the iPad Pro. Tons of people use the iPad Pro for work. And yes, I would personally use my current Chromebook and my previous tablets for work on the go if I actually had any worthwhile apps to make it possible instead of the dumb smartphone apps. There are actually productivity apps for the iPad ... lots of them. At some point I am going to get a ChromeOS tablet with good enough specs and storage to use Linux applications. (My current Chromebook with the Celeron CPU and 16 GB storage ... not even close.) I will absolutely use it for work when I am away from my MacBook, which is a lot. Or actually be able to leave my MacBook at home a lot more often than I do now.
  • You must've never used DeX. It's an insanely good desktop mode for tablets.
  • Seems like your right, all mfgrs, including Apple, have horrible solutions in virtual keyboards. Typing on one now, using SwiftKey, and it's no fun.
  • Apple should copy how android natively supports a mouse like my phone that I used in 2012.
  • You living under a rock? :D Apple announced native mouse support few days ago, I mean the article itself is talking about Apple's new keyboard with a trackpad.
  • If history is any indication, you don't have to tell Samsung to copy Apple's design. They will.
  • Lol this^ and along with Huawei
  • The history of Apple copying Samsung is far longer and more pervasive. It is just that no one acknowledges it when they do. Where Samsung did copy Apple for their early designs - and will people please acknowledge that multiple judges and juries ruled that Samsung's copying was nowhere near as egregious as Apple claimed ... Apple's lawsuits against Samsung were mostly for the purposes of PR which worked like a charm - Samsung hasn't lifted a thing that matters from Apple since they worked with Google to make the Galaxy Nexus. By contrast every thing that Apple has done since the iPhone 5 has been to emulate Samsung's Galaxy products.
  • So something like the Surface has been rocking for years now? I haven't gotten to play with one of Apple's yet, does anyone know if there are any major differences in functionality or usage between the two?
  • Copying the iPad Pro keyboard won't do a thing to help the biggest weakness that Android and ChromeOS have, which is the lack of productivity apps/applications beyond Google Docs/Office 365. Go to the Apple forums. Those iPad Pro owners are already talking about how this keyboard and trackpad are going to make using the apps that they need for their jobs easier and better. Until Android and ChromeOS get their own versions of those same apps, this will be just another unused accessory on a device that is looking for a purpose beyond word processing, casual gaming and streaming movies. You could make an argument that Huawei, Lenovo and the other companies who make Surface clones - which by the way maybe includes Samsung - should do this and since most of the companies that make Surface clones also make Android and ChromeOS devices, they can reuse that same design for their Google platform products too. Otherwise ... why bother. Even if Samsung is able to get the cost down to $150 (or as much or more than the cost of like 80% of Android tablets that are actually sold) that is still too much to pay for something that you won't have any real use for other than to say "We have one too at the price that it is actually supposed to cost so TAKE THAT APPLE!" Fine, but I say that that same money and put it towards something that you would actually use like a Nintendo Switch Lite or a Stadia Pro subscription.
  • I don't get you. You call Slates keyboard bad but S6s keyboard fine? Have you used S6?
    Obviously you have never used S6 keyboard otherwise you would know it literally can't be used as a keyboard. It's just a 120 dollar garbage that if you start typing faster than 50 word per minute it stops working.
  • Samsung makes awesome hardware but terrible software. Bixby? Please. Their tv software? Ugh. Doing everything to hide Android? Why?
  • "Android has the benefit of having an open file system — meaning you can plug a device in and access actual files and folders — and uses the regular USB standards. That means you can plug an SD card or a thumb drive or a camera or whatever in and it can just work" Mmm.. you do know iPads have file system for a while now? I'm sure Android is probably even more open in some ways, but Apple opened up a lot, you have local storage where you can store anything, you can connecting USB drives and so on, it's pretty good situation now. From what you're saying it seems like you may not know about this, which is strange considering you write about tech..
  • I have an ipad, running the ipadOS, and it's far from open. Android is a much better system for people who are not drinking the koolaid. It's far from a pretty good situation, it's a hackjob. Android, and windows tablets for that matter, you can just plug into the tablet and it all works. No dongles, etc. Just go. I can install a micro SD card and have expandable storage. My son's ipad is maxed on storage. Apple even makes clearing up the storage in the ipad frusturatingly difficult. He's moving to a surface tablet next. Open, able to do things besides play a few games and have a great expandable system. As for the keyboard, the surface keyboard is miles ahead of the silly looking second gen apple offering.
  • Well I said Android is more open. But in comparison to what we had before, now iPad is way more functional. "Android, and windows tablets for that matter, you can just plug into the tablet and it all works. No dongles, etc"
    What are you talking about dude. You can plug stuff into iPad and it works too. And dongles are dongles, it's not an OS problem, most Androids have USB-C or even micro USB, without additional ports like USB A, so in most cases Android or iPad doesn't matter, you need a dongle if you wanna plug something like USB A. "I can install a micro SD card and have expandable storage"
    If you're talking about internal card readers, some Android devices offer that functionality some don't, but that ability to use memory cards as pretend internal storage is garbage. I bought a card to double the storage and it only uses part of the card to store things, maybe 1/3, for most things my phone still uses true internal memory and I'm running out of space again, it's next to useless. Next time I will just get larger storage option when I buy my phone, it's way less hassle that way, much better option than that messy nonsense with fake internal storage. If you're talking about external storage for files, like hard drives, it works with iPad. You don't even have to use a dongle if you have an iPad with USB C and for example hard drive with USB C, it works as you would expect, "just go". Not to mention Android doesn't have file manager by default (unless your manufacturer preinstalled it), which is pretty annoying. iPad has default file management app, don't even have to spend time searching for some 3rd party manager like you might with Android.
    Maybe you just don't know that much about iPad storage management functionality? Files app is quite polished and it's fairly functional and does what most users would want. Here's one video about iPad file management you can watch https://youtu.be/8fDVFXwav28 "My son's ipad is maxed on storage. Apple even makes clearing up the storage in the ipad frusturatingly difficult. He's moving to a surface tablet next"
    Surface and Windows have advantages, if that works for your son great. But for me it's kinda the opposite in a way, I constantly run out of space on my Windows PC, Windows just eats storage and it's not always clear for what. I never run of storage on my iPad.
  • im talking micro SD. pretty well every device besides crapple has them. yes your apple magic device is the most amazing thing ever. We get it. the kool aid is strong. It has no affect on me however. I bought ipads and iphones because of the reality distortion field. However, after using them, its all crapple smoke and mirrors. I am selling my apple ****. it's just that, over priced ****. sewage. excrement from cupertino. The difference in running out of space on windows is you can actually delete stuff to create room, on iOS good ******* luck. 21gb of 32 gb used up by un d deleteable apple bull. I have multiple windows devices, I would love to see where windows just "eats storage" as you say. Please, humor me. 21gb of 32gb of ipad storage taken up with crap that apple wont let you delete is a tough one to beat, even for a lemming like yourself.
  • Stop talking like I'm some kind of Apple apologist fanboy. I'm not pretending that Apple is perfect had some problems myself with my iPad. All I'm saying iPad became much better with iPad OS and it was strange to me that the author talked like he didn't know current situation.
    " I would love to see where windows just "eats storage" as you say. Please, humor me."
    I said "it's not always clear for what" for a reason you doofus. And there's a reason programs exist for cleaning Windows crap that builds up over time. And there's gazillion folders in Windows you never know if it's used or not and if you can delete or not. It's just a problem with less managed more complex OS with a ton of legacy, not saying that's not a compromise worth having in exchange for more powerful OS, but it's a compromise nonetheless and it's your choice what matters to you more. I don't know what takes storage on your iPad, maybe you're not being thorough with the contents of the apps, or maybe it's not your fault who knows (you could try factory reset might help). But next time don't buy ridiculous 32 GB storage iPad, and yes it is stupid that Apple still sells 32 GB version if default really takes so much, I just don't have that problem and to me it's filling up really slowly.
  • Again. I can delete any folder in windows. Done. I cannot on ios. Done. There is no argument. Apple is ****. Windows and Android is not. Please. You dance around everything I say. Try again bozo.
  • Lol, because 1 single factor that you find important defines what's s**t for everyone. F**k your black and white view, no nuance whatsoever. That's a completely asinine way of thinking. Good luck in your life you self centered mindless dou**e.
  • WOW, touch a nerve much. My view is black and white becuase that is what we are discussing dumbass. You cannot expand storage on an ipad, you can on android tablets. You cannot delete files that apple deems undeletable, you can on android tablets. what don't you get? since you are slinging insults, take a look in the mirror, dou**e. You are the one trying to make a grey area out of a black and white situation. Do you need a cuddle puppy? AND YES, THIS ONE SINGLE THING IS A BIG THING WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF ROOM ON YOUR IPAD AND CANNOT DELETE CRAP TO GAIN SPACE THAT IS TAKEN UP WITH APPLES GARBAGE. YES I AM YELLING SINCE TALKING DOES NOT GET THROUGH YOUR EARWAX.
  • Wow, what a piece of work you are, you choose what is the topic of the conversation regardless of what another person is talking about. Somehow only what you are talking about matters, you are 100% right, and there can be no nuance. You are self centered dou**e. And I'm not the one who started with insults you hypocrite. Arguing with you is pointless since you have no ability to recognize another point of view.
  • ipad pro is still an accessory to a Surface. 😏
  • Ipad pro is a toy. Surface is a tool.