iClever Portable Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard (IC-BK03)
If you want to type away on your smartphone and/or tablet all day, the iClever IC-BK03 Portable Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard could be for you. It’s highly portable, with a unique foldable design that reduces the keyboard to about the size of an iPhone 6 Plus, and it works with devices that run Android, iOS, and Windows. The keyboard itself is a little cramped, but that’s to be expected in a peripheral this size, and a sturdy aluminum build and light weight easily make up for it. Add impressive battery life, and an affordable $49.99 price, and you have an easy Editors’ Choice.
The iClever Portable Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard measures 10 by 3.5 by 0.3 inches when open. When closed, it measures by 5.75 by 3.5 by 0.75 inches. It weighs 6.24 ounces, making it one of the most compact and lightweight keyboards we’ve tested. For comparison, the 7.1-ounceMicrosoft Universal Foldable Keyboard measures 11.6 by 4.9 by 0.2 inches open, and it folds to 5.7 by 5.0 by 0.4 inches, with a weird gap the runs down the middle of the keyboard. Another Editors’ Choice portable keyboard, the Logitech K810 Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard, measures 11.3 by 5.1 by 0.4 inches, and weighs 11.89 ounces. The iClever is the smallest of the bunch and is easily stowed in a purse or coat pocket.
The hinged case is made of brushed matte aluminum, which gives it an industrial, yet professional look. The hinges work very well to fold the keyboard in on itself for storage, but a locking mechanism would have been a nice addition. As a result, using the keyboard in your lap isn’t a terribly viable option. The keyboard is best used on a flat surface like a desk, table, or airline tray table. Handily, tiny rubber pads on the hinges prevent the keyboard from sliding around. There is no magnetic connection on the iClever keyboard either, so it won’t physically attach to any of your devices. But Bluetooth lets the keyboard work from up to 30 feet away.
Simply unfurling the iClever keyboard powers it on. A green LED in the middle of the keyboard above the number 7 key blinks a couple times to let you know it’s activated. However, there’s no way to tell if it’s on or not after that, though it goes to sleep after 15 minutes of idle time. Tapping any key wakes the keyboard up. A power switch somewhere on the case would be nice, but thankfully, the 210mAh lithium-polymer rechargeable battery will last you a long time. iClever promises 84 continuous hours of use and 218 days of standby time. I never ran out of juice during the testing period. When you do need to plug the keyboard in, it takes about two hours to fully charge with the included micro-USB cable. The micro-USB port is located on the top edge of chassis, near the number 8 key.
Bluetooth pairing is simple. Unfold the keyboard, then press the Function button and C key simultaneously to activate Pairing mode. A blue LED next to the Power LED will begin to blink. Then you select the iClever Portable Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard in your device’s Bluetooth settings menu. To test, I paired the iClever keyboard with a Samsung Galaxy S6, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and an iPad Air. All connected easily.
The iClever works with Android, iOS, or Windows tablets and smartphones, but it doesn’t work with Mac computers, Nokia devices, or Windows 8 PCs. For broader compatibility, there’s the Logitech K810 Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard, another top pick that works with Android, iOS, and Windows, including Windows 7, 8, and 10. But it doesn’t fold up, and it costs twice as much as the iClever keyboard.
The Typing Experience
Typing takes some getting used to, which is common for a compact keyboard. The chiclet-style keys feel bit cramped, which is also standard for a keyboard this size, though the 0.5-by-0.5-inch key size is still viable for typing long missives. After a few tries I got used to typing very quickly. Those with larger or wider hands might find it too tight, but I had no problems. The keys offer the right amount of resistance and feedback and they’re quiet, too. As far as minor annoyances go, the Backspace key is all the way in the upper right corner, plus it’s small, but I grew used to reaching over to it with my pinky. Instead of a row of dedicated function keys, there’s a single Function button that toggles the number row for functions like Cut, Copy, Paste, and media controls. If you use an Apple tablet and you want a row of dedicated iPad-specific function keys, the ClamCase or the Zagg Zaggfolio have you covered there, although those options are not as small as the iClever, and they don’t work with Android or Windows devices.
The keyboard ships with the aforementioned micro-USB charging cable, and a felt carrying pouch, which is a nice add-in, but is barely wide enough for the keyboard to fit inside, and it peeks out from the top. The iClever’s sturdy aluminum build should be enough to help it survive in a backpack or bag. You may not want to work on it all day, but it’s perfect for quick typing sessions or when you want to finish a document and the onscreen keyboard isn’t cutting it. The price is also something to consider. There aren’t many under-$50 Bluetooth foldable, portable keyboards that perform as well as the iClever.