OnePlus is expanding beyond phones and mobile accessories such as the new OnePlus 11 and OnePlus Buds Pro 2 into... mechanical keyboards? The upcoming OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro may not be the most direct extension of the company's existing products -- the announcement of its first Android tablet, the OnePlus Pad is a more logical fit. But it was created with feedback from OnePlus fans and designed to match the premium style of its other devices.
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OnePlus co-engineered the keyboard with Keychron, a company well known to mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. (Keychron currently has a Kickstarter campaign for its latest wireless model, the Q1 Pro, which has the same layout as the 81 Pro.) The collaboration is the reason for the clunky name. The Keyboard 81 Pro is the first product released from the co-creation platform OnePlus Featuring. And based on the announcement, the 81 Pro does sound like a balanced blend of the two brands.
The wireless Keyboard 81 Pro has a CNC aluminum body with a specialized double gasket that, on other Keychron keyboards I've used, deadens any ping and removes any hollowness. Instead, you get a pleasing thock with the press of every key.
You'll have a choice of red linear or blue clicky switches, but they're hot-swappable so you can customize your typing experience with other switches. The switches are topped with unique Marble-mallow keycaps made from a thermoplastic material that OnePlus says produces "a soft bounce in each press for ultimate comfort, enhanced hand-feel and optimal durability."
There is a customizable crystal-clear knob in the top right corner of the keyboard. Press the red Esc key and turn the knob and you'll be able to silence notifications, just like the alert slider on OnePlus' premium phones. The keyboard also works with open-source firmware QMK and VIA for remapping keys or creating macros. Plus, the backlight can be changed to multiple RGB lighting effects. A switch on the rear lets you change between MacOS or Windows keyboard layouts, and the keyboard can be used with Linux and Android as well.
Pricing and availability for the OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro will be available in the coming weeks. However, Keychron's fully assembled Q1 Pro is available on Kickstarter for a little less than $200 and is expected to ship in April. Make of that what you will.