OnePlus targets a Mac-first, quieter design with its first mechanical keyboard

white mechanical keyboard close-up
Enlarge / We don’t yet know what OnePlus’ mechanical keyboard will look like. But Keychron’s products may contain clues.

OnePlus, primarily known for making smartphones like the OnePlus 10 Proworking on his first mechanical keyboard. The company faces a crowded market, but offers keycaps with macOS-ready captions and an alleged emphasis on customization, including open-source firmware.

OnePlus first teased his keyboard earlier in December. He’s getting customer feedback to help design the product before testing it next month. An official reveal is expected in February, followed by mass production from March to April. OnePlus already sells various non-phone technologies, including monitors, outside the United States. At the time of writing, OnePlus’ upcoming keyboard is listed on the company’s US website.

A community post today by OnePlus Product Marketing Manager “Percy T.” revealed that the keyboard would have a “MacBook layout”, suggesting there would be no number pad. Despite its macOS-leaning keycap callouts, OnePlus said it would also be a linux keyboard and work with Windows PCs.

The message claimed that it would be easy to switch between operating systems. OnePlus could accomplish this with something like a switch on the side of the keyboard that you slide depending on the operating system you’re using, because the Clechron K14 Is. Keychron helps OnePlus design its mechanical keyboard.

OnePlus’ first clacker will also use a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, while many high-end keyboards opt for a plastic casing and metal top plate. This means we can expect a heavy device from OnePlus. The Keychron Q2, for example, only has a 65% layout but weighs around 3.63 pounds. OnePlus’ first post about its foray into keyboards, however, said its customers want a keyboard that’s not too tall, which could have implications for the thickness of the keyboard and its key shape.

Working with Keychron, it’s reasonable to assume that OnePlus is taking inspiration from the company’s most popular designs; however, Percy T. claimed that OnePlus smartphones inspired the choice of “silky” aluminum.

“We knew that aluminum worked really well to give our older devices a distinct feel. With CNC aluminum manufacturing, we can promise the best hand feel while delivering weight and durability for long-range use and stability. long term,” wrote Percy T.

Still, we can’t help but get Q2 (and other Keychron keyboard), especially since OnePlus announced today that its keyboard will also have a double-seal design in an attempt to reduce the noise of typing and the hate of your surroundings. This design worked well in the Q2 to eliminate metallic clanking sounds and the annoying clicking of the stabilizers. Although some of the large keys sound discordantly different from the rest on the Q2.

For customization, the keyboard will have hot-swappable switches and will work with the VIA app to configure the keyboard’s open-source QMK firmware. VIA tends to be less intuitive to start with than finely tweaked software from major peripheral manufacturers, such as Razer Synapse. But the app allows users of various operating systems to use an open source method of programming the keyboard, from creating macros and FN layers to lighting (if the mechanical keyboard OnePlus decides to offer it) , and without having to reflash the keyboard firmware afterwards.

We were fans of Keychron’s Q2 with its quieter dual-seal internals and solid aluminum construction. But I hope OnePlus comes up with something that’s more than a Keychron clone and brings a unique identity and value to mechanical keyboards.

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