Custom mechanical keyboards have seen an upward trend in the past few years. Once considered niche and novelty, custom keyboards are now mainstream and more accessible, thanks to multiple brands competing in this space. Now, we have another player. OnePlus, the phone manufacturer best known for producing flagship-killer phones, has unveiled its first-ever mechanical keyboard — the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro.
The First-Ever Mechanical Keyboard by OnePlus
Teased back in December 2022, the OnePlus mechanical keyboard is finally out! Let’s look at the features and specifications.
OnePlus × Keychron
While this is OnePlus’s first rodeo into the mechanical keyboard space, they’ve chosen the right partner. The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is made in collaboration with Keychron, one of the most popular mechanical keyboard brands known for their feature-rich, expertly crafted keyboards. The Keyboard 81 Pro reflects the image of its makers — the attention to detail in design that OnePlus brings, paired with the technology and keyboard manufacturing expertise of Keychron.
Layout & Design
The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro adopts a 75% layout, which retains the fn row, arrow keys, and home cluster (aligned vertically) but gets rid of the numpad for a more compact footprint.
It boasts a CNC aluminum construction reminiscent of older OnePlus devices, offering a clean and premium aesthetic. The keycaps feature two distinct shades of grey, lighter in the middle and darker at the outer keys, which pair well with the silver aluminum frame. You also get two red accent keys — Esc and Enter — and a transparent rotary volume knob that looks stunning.
The Keyboard 81 Pro also features a sleek rod-style stand at the rear, which makes the keyboard stand out (no pun intended). Overall, the design is fantastic and undoubtedly better looking than most other options in the market.
OnePlus hasn’t specified which switches the Keyboard 81 Pro will ship with — only that it will feature tactile and linear options. The mechanical switches are hot-swappable. However, it remains to be seen with which switches they can be hot-swapped.
Since it’s a Keychron-designed keyboard, we can only speculate that the mechanical switches will either be from Gateron or Keychron itself. However, it appears we will need to wait a little longer to find out.
Double Gasket Mount
The Keyboard 81 Pro offers a double gasket mount design. But hold on? What is a gasket mount, anyway?
A gasket-mounted keyboard has rubber gaskets between the plate and the keyboard housing (both top and bottom) to provide a more cushioned, comfortable typing experience. Gaskets also help dampen the sound of the keyboard. While OnePlus has clarified that it’s not trying to build the most silent keyboard, the gaskets help make your keyboard sound better. However, OnePlus’s implementation of the gaskets and the overall sound and typing experience can only be evaluated once the keyboard hits the market.
The Keyboard 81 Pro features wired (USB Type-C) and wireless (Bluetooth) connectivity options. You have a dedicated toggle at the back (the famous alert slider from OnePlus phones) to switch between wired and wireless modes.
The keyboard also offers multi-OS compatibility, with extra attention given to Mac users. The layout matches the MacBook keyboard layout key-for-key (like all other Keychron-designed keyboards). Windows and Linux users aren’t left in the dark either. The keyboard features a dedicated switch to help you toggle between the Mac and Windows modes.
PS. If you’re on Linux, selecting Windows Mode will give you better compatibility.
OnePlus has specified on its website that the Keyboard 81 Pro runs an open-source firmware and is QMK/VIA-compatible, which is fantastic, as it will give you extra control for re-mapping the keys, creating macros, and setting up custom lighting effects via the QMK/VIA software.
Pricing & Availability
While pricing hasn’t yet been announced yet, OnePlus has stated that the keyboard will be available for purchase starting April 2023. Keep an eye on OnePlus’s website (visit) for updates.