The best accessories for your new iPad

If you plan to be a “pro” user of an iPad Pro, you’ll probably need more than the tablet’s single USB-C port. Apple has provided little guidance to which USB-C hubs and adapters work best with the iPad Pros — there’s no MFi certification for accessories like this yet. Some hubs specifically advertise that they work with the newest iPad Pros, and if you want to be really safe, I’d recommend buying one of those that comes from a reputable brand.

One of the most popular in that category is HyperDrive’s USB-C adapter. I’ll admit I was skeptical about this one, mostly because so many Amazon reviewers and YouTube personalities have raved about it (and I have a hard time believing a 6-port adapter the size of a lighter should cost $90). However, after testing it out, I can say it delivers on its promises: it’s a neat little adapter that’s just large enough to fit an HDMI port, a USB-C port, a USB-A port, micro- and regular SD card slots and a headphone jack on its edges. That should cover most things you’d need an adapter for, save for hardwired internet.

However, what sets the HyperDrive USB-C adapter apart is that it comes with a tool kit that gives you more flexibility in how you use it. The default plate that surrounds the USB-C plug fits iPads without screen protectors, but there’s an included plate that accommodates screen protectors. HyperDrive even included a third plate with a dongle-like attachment so the adapter doesn’t have to sit right up against the iPad. All you need to do is use the tiny screwdriver that’s in the box to switch out the plates.

Buy 6-in-1 USB-C adapter at Hyper – $90

Anker USB-C hub

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

I think that somewhat justifies its $90 price tag. So many adapters that hug the iPad Pro’s edges are slick but they become basically unusable if you have a case, skin or screen protector.

But $90 for an adapter is still a lot of money and I’d only recommend spending that much if you plan on using the iPad Pro as your daily driver. A cheaper alternative is Anker’s 5-in-1 USB-C adapter: it works just as well as HyperDrive’s, has most of the same ports with the exception of an extra USB-C port and a headphone jack, and costs only $26.

There aren’t many Lightning adapters that add the same versatility to other iPads. However, one accessory that I’ve found really useful in a pinch is SanDisk’s iXpand flash drive. For $45, you can get 128GB of extra storage for your iPad (or iPhone) with this little thumb drive. If you primarily use your iPad to save photos or documents like PDFs, you can easily free up internal storage by offloading files you don’t need immediately with the iXpand drive.

Buy Anker 5-in-1 USB-C adapter at Amazon – $26

Buy SanDisk iXpand (128GB) at Amazon – $45

Other useful accessories

Portable power banks for iPad Pro

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

Most of us aren’t taking many trips right now, but having a battery pack in your bag is still useful when you’re on the go. RavPower’s 26,800mAh power bank can charge the latest iPad Pros 1.5 times using its 30W USB-C PD port. It also works with the newest MacBook Pros and other USB-C laptops in addition to the Nintendo Switch — so it can be your one-stop-shop for all your charging needs. I also appreciate that it comes with its own USB-C to C cable, so you don’t need to remember to bring one with you, as well as the microUSB cable used to charge the power bank itself.

RavPower’s PD charger will set you back $60, but you can opt for the $50 Anker Powercore Essential PD charger if you want to spend a bit less. Its 20,000mAh capacity will provide at least 50 percent more juice to most iPads and both its USB-C and USB-A ports are 18W for high-speed charging. It’s not great for larger devices like laptops, but it works well with smartphones and tablets.

If you’re a heavy user of the Apple Pencil or another stylus, you should consider getting a screen protector for your iPad. They pull double-duty: not only do they act as a first line of defense if your iPad goes careening onto the concrete, but they can also enhance the digital drawing and writing experience. Using a stylus on an iPad is strange at first because gliding the stylus nib over a glass surface feels nothing like “normal” writing. Matte screen protectors can replicate the pen-on-paper experience to a point, and they also prevent the stylus nib from wearing down so quickly. Bersem’s paper-like screen protectors are a great value at $21 for a pack of two. Not only does the matte finish help when you’re drawing or taking digital notes, but it also reduces screen glare and doesn’t interfere with FaceID on the newest iPads.

Buy RavPower 26,800 power bank at Amazon – $60

Buy Anker 20,000 power bank at Amazon – $50

Buy Bersem screen protector (2-pack) at Amazon – $21

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