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NuPhy Air96 Keyboard Review: Brings Style and Functionality to Any Setup

This mechanical keyboard can go with you anywhere, work with any setup -- Windows and MacOS -- and has a battery that can last almost an entire work week.

Theodore Liggians Social Producer
Theodore is a Social Producer at CNET. He's a casual gamer and mechanical keyboard enthusiast that loves to watch movies and build gadgets around the house.
Theodore Liggians
3 min read
Theodore Liggians/CNET

NuPhy's Air96 could be the one and only mechanical keyboard you'll need for work and play, wherever you do those things. Its low-profile design makes it easy to pack away, and its sturdy aluminum frame gives you peace of mind knowing it can survive a bumpy morning commute. This keyboard's minimalistic design fits everywhere from your work-from-home setup to your office desk to a cafe table with a tablet. 

The model I tested came with NuPhy's Aloe linear switches that provide a smooth typing experience paired with NuPhy's Ionic White keycaps. I swapped the original keycaps with the company's shine-through keycaps to increase the visibility of the letters in low light; they were hard to see at times when gaming at night. This also created a nice contrast between the white base and black keycaps, and it grabbed the attention of more than a few people who saw it and asked about the keyboard. 

NuPhy offers a number of other keycap sets that I can see adding a touch of color while maintaining its simple aesthetic. The keyboard's switches are hot-swappable, too, and NuPhy has a variety of switch options to mix and match with the keycaps to customize the Air96 to your liking.

But if you're looking to customize this keyboard with other keycaps, that's where things get tricky. The keyboard is technically compatible with any keycap that uses a cherry stem, but this is a low-profile keyboard, which is why it's so travel-friendly. Depending on the profile and height of the keycaps you choose, they might not be able to press the key down far enough for the keystroke to register. 


The Air96 has two switches. Choose between MacOS and Windows, and between a wired, wireless and 2.4GHz connection.

Theodore Liggians/CNET

When it comes to switches, the same low-profile hitch applies, and your options get even slimmer with only NuPhy's selection of their own four switches, eight from Gateron and another six from Kailh. That's a fair amount, but still more limiting than full-height switch options. Similar to standard switches, though, the slim selection of low-profile switches range from $26 to $54 to complete the 100-key Air96. Right now low-profile mechanical keyboards aren't as popular -- or plentiful -- as standard-profile mechanical keyboards, so the variety in them is still limited.

The keyboard is wireless via Bluetooth or 2.4GHz with the included USB dongle, and is powered by a 4,000-mAh battery. It's big enough that you'll type a long time between charges. When you're not actively using it, the Air96 disconnects after a few minutes of no use and reconnects quickly to allow you to resume whatever you're doing. 

I mainly used it wirelessly via Bluetooth for work, but it can be used wired with the provided USB-C-to-USB-A braided cable. Connecting wirelessly and switching from my MacBook for work to my Windows computer for gaming was easy with a key command and a flick of a switch.

One of the most enjoyable features of the Air96 is its dedicated MacOS shortcut keys. Most mechanical keyboards offer only a swappable Windows and Command key, so having dedicated keys like a screenshot and Launchpad key helped increase productivity. Sure you can customize macros with Nuphy's Console software, but here it's already given to you. 

For $120, the Air96 is well worth it for its sturdy, low-profile design, battery life and features that are typically found in many other full-sized mechanical keyboards that start at $200.