I can’t believe my favorite new keyboard is by a phone brand


OnePlus Keyboard 81 on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

I don’t get enthusiastic about keyboards a lot lately. There are so many good ones on the market and little in the best way of innovation. No shock, then, that I wrote off the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Professional instantly after it was introduced. How good may a keyboard from a cellphone firm be in any case? Boy, was I incorrect.

Like all new keyboard, I pulled the Keyboard 81 Professional out of the field and drummed my fingers alongside the keys, anticipating a harsh, disagreeable smattering of plastic and squeaky springs that I’d heard many occasions earlier than. This inventory mechanical keyboard really feel isn’t unhealthy, however I’ve become a keyboard snob over the previous few years (and sure, be happy to roast me for that truth). However I didn’t hear that sound or really feel that really feel. The Keyboard 81 Professional was quiet.

It sounded good — it was that sound, the one that you simply hear from these ASMR TikToks and YouTube shorts. It was refined however thick. Boisterous however tame. It was that sound that lesser keyboards try to attain however usually fall in need of. It was a sound and really feel that I needed to return again to. Even after just a few days out for a visit, I used to be actively interested by getting again to my desk to sort up half a dozen articles on the keyboard.

OnePlus logo on the Keyboard 81 Pro.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

Excessive reward, for certain, however let’s carry the Keyboard 81 Professional again all the way down to Earth. It’s a mechanical keyboard that was co-developed by OnePlus and Keychron. That’s an vital description as a result of, in accordance with the corporate, this isn’t only a Keychron board with some branding slapped on high. “It’s a distinctive keyboard,” is what OnePlus informed me.

From what I can inform, the premise of the keyboard is Keychron’s Q1 Pro. It’s the identical 75% structure, it comes with a quantity knob, and critically, it features a double gasket mount. For me, a gasket mount is a must have for any keyboard. It situates the plate between units of rubber gaskets, providing a little bit of levity whenever you sort. You don’t truly really feel the keyboard shifting as you sort, no. It’s a really feel, providing a little bit of push and pull that’s extra snug to sort on for lengthy periods.

This can be a double-gasket mount. That simply means it has twice as many gaskets for extra push and pull. The result’s a keyboard that feels remarkably clean to sort on, even whenever you slam in your keys like I do. It seems like you possibly can glide throughout the keyboard with none regard for the way exhausting you’re urgent.

Ports on the back of the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

There are just a few different issues the Keyboard 81 Professional inherits from the Q1 Professional. It helps Home windows and Mac with keycaps for every and a toggle on the again of the keyboard, and it helps wired or Bluetooth modes with as much as three gadgets. It is also totally hot-swappable, so you possibly can change out the important thing switches, and it comes with a south-facing PCB, permitting the customizable RGB lighting to shine via. And don’t fear, you possibly can nonetheless reassign RGB and remap keys via QMK and VIA, similar to you possibly can with the Keychron board.

So, what on this planet did OnePlus do? For starters, there’s the branding. Certain, the Keyboard 81 Professional has just a few distinctive keycaps, nevertheless it additionally has a shiny aluminum plate over just a few keys on the fitting facet, together with a clear quantity knob that’s domed within the middle, making it simpler to press. There’s additionally the distinctive hinge design, which is a single adjustable bar across the again of the keyboard. It doesn’t actually change the performance outdoors of providing you with extra choices in your typing angle, nevertheless it positively seems to be cool.

Volume knob on the One Plus Keyboard 81 Pro.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

However there’s extra. First is the Marble-mallow materials OnePlus used for the keycaps. I’m unsure what materials or course of these keycaps use, actually, however they really feel improbable. True to OnePlus’ claims, they really feel smooth to sort on. I do know that sounds unusual given that you simply’re slamming on a chunk of plastic, however there’s one thing concerning the keycaps mixed with the double gasket that makes the Keyboard 81 Professional really feel mild.

The important thing switches are additionally completely different. You have got two choices, both the tactile Winter Bonfire or the linear Summer season Breeze switches. I examined the Summer season Breeze model, however the distinction between tactile versus linear isn’t what’s fascinating right here. It’s that the important thing switches have a tactile “bump” level of 0.5mm. You’ll be able to barely faucet the keys and they’re going to nonetheless register an enter.

Key caps and switches on the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

These modifications might not appear to be a lot, however they positively improve the already strong basis of the Keychron Q1 Professional. In fact, you may simply purchase a Q1 Professional — it’s providing most of what the Keyboard 81 Professional does, in need of the design, switches, and keycaps. However OnePlus isn’t charging a lot of a premium.

The Q1 Professional is $200 totally assembled, however you may simply spend $300 for those who purchase a barebones equipment with keycaps and switches. The Keyboard 81 Professional is $220 for the Winter Bonfire model with PBT keycaps and $240 for the Summer season Breeze model with Marble-mallow keycaps. That’s not an enormous premium contemplating this can be a tricked-out model of the Q1 Professional.

OnePlus Keyboard 81 on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Tendencies

I definitely don’t thoughts the premium. The typing expertise on the Keyboard 81 Professional is great, and I truly prefer it a bit greater than my custom-built Wonderful GMMK Professional. It’s even higher than the Asus ROG Azoth, and that keyboard retails for $250. And on the Azoth word, don’t write the Keyboard 81 Professional off for gaming. It’s a Keychron board, and it comes with OnePlus branding, however I used to be gaming on the Keyboard 81 Professional for 2 weeks with none points, from Diablo IV to Future 2 to Dave the Diver (I feel I would like extra alphabetic selection in my Steam library).

I knew how a lot I preferred the Keyboard 81 Professional a couple of minutes after utilizing it, and it has held as much as that lofty expectation for weeks. I anticipated it to reach at $300 or extra given the typing expertise, although. Now that I do know the worth of $200, it’s straightforward to advocate, regardless for those who want a high-end keyboard for typing, gaming, or each.

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