OnePlus is targeting a quieter Mac-first design with its first mechanical keyboard

Zoom in / We don’t know what the OnePlus mechanical keyboard will look like yet. But Keychron products may hold clues.

OnePlus, primarily known for making smartphones like the OnePlus 10 Pro, is working on its first mechanical keyboard. The company faces a crowded market but boasts keycaps that feature macOS-ready legends and a claimed focus on customization, including open-source firmware.

OnePlus first teased the keyboard earlier in December. Receives customer feedback to help design the product before testing it next month. An official unveiling is expected in February, followed by mass production in March-April. OnePlus already sells many technologies that aren’t phones, including screens, outside of the US. As of this writing, the upcoming OnePlus keyboard is listed on the company’s US site.

Today’s community post by OnePlus Director of Product Marketing Percy T. He revealed that the keyboard would have a “MacBook layout,” indicating no number pad. Despite the keycap legends leaning toward macOS, OnePlus said it will also be a Linux keyboard and work with Windows PCs.

The post claimed that it would be easy to switch between operating systems. OnePlus can make this happen with something like a switch on the side of the keyboard that you slide into depending on the operating system in use, as the Keychron K14 does. Keychron helps OnePlus design its own mechanical keyboard.

OnePlus’ first clacker will also use a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, while many premium keyboards opt for a plastic case and metal top plate. This means that we can expect a heavy peripheral from OnePlus. For example, the Keychron Q2 has only a 65 percent layout but weighs about 3.63 pounds. However, OnePlus’ first post about its entry into keyboards said its customers want a keyboard that isn’t too long, which could have implications for the thickness and shape of the keyboard.

By working with Keychron, it’s reasonable to think OnePlus is taking cues from the company’s most iconic designs; However, Percy T claimed that OnePlus smartphones inspired the choice of “silk-smooth” aluminum.

Books by Percy T. “We knew that aluminum worked great to give our vintage machines a premium feel. With aluminum CNC machining, we can promise the best in-hand feel while providing weight and durability for long-term use and stability.”

Still, we can’t help but take cues from the Q2 (and the other Keychron keyboard), especially since OnePlus announced today that its keyboard will also feature a double-gasket design to try to reduce keyboard typing noise and the hate of those around you. This design worked well in the Q2 to eliminate metallic sizzles and stun scattering stabilizers. Although some of the big switches looked very different from the rest of the switches in Q2.

For customization, the keyboard will have hot-swappable keys and will work with the VIA Configuration app’s open source QMK keyboard firmware. VIA tends to be less intuitive to get started than the finely polished software from the big peripheral makers, like Razer Synapse. But the app allows users of different operating systems to use an open-source way to program the keyboard, from creating macros and FN layers to lighting (if the OnePlus mechanical keyboard decides to offer that), and without having to reflash the keyboard firmware afterwards.

We were fans of Keychron’s Q2 thanks to its quieter, double-gasket interior and its solid aluminum construction. But it is hoped that OnePlus will come up with something more than just a Keychron clone and bring a unique identity and value to mechanical keyboards.

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