Here's Our First Look At The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro

Until recently, OnePlus has been largely a smartphone manufacturer, but it's been expanding its lineup of accessories in recent years, with devices like the OnePlus Buds, even going as far as launching the OnePlus Watch to complement its expanding smartphone lineup. Late in 2022, OnePlus made a rather strange announcement: it would be working with Keychron to develop a mechanical keyboard. 

Keychron is a mainstay of the mechanical keyboard market and brings a lot of experience to the table when it comes to designing and manufacturing keyboards. Although not much else was known about the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro, we did know that it would be created in collaboration with Keychron using OnePlus's Featuring platform. Featuring is a platform OnePlus launched in December 2022 specifically to co-develop more niche tech products and bring them to wider markets using OnePlus's logistics and manufacturing capabilities. The Featuring platform builds on OnePlus's previous attempts at a similar program, which it called Power of Community. The OnePlus Keyboard 81 looks like a compelling offering, especially if OnePlus can release it at a reasonable price, which is what OnePlus has become known for. 

A OnePlus Keyboard developed in collaboration with Keychron

At the end of a rather lengthy announcement post to the OnePlus Community, OnePlus sneaked a peek at its Keyboard 81 Pro, which, as the name suggests, features an 81-key (or 75%) layout. It makes sense that Keychron would adapt a design that it already has in its arsenal, and that's what it seems is happening here. 

According to the Community post, the keyboard will feature Keychron technology, which is vague, but the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro bears more than a passing resemblance to the likes of the Keychron Q1 Pro, which could give us an indication of what to expect. The OnePlus Featuring crowdfunding page confirms those suspicions, revealing a double-gasket design, wired and wireless functionality, a USB Type-C connector, a Mac/Windows layout switch, and, perhaps more excitingly, compatibility with QMK/VIA. In case you're not a keyboard nerd, QMK/VIA is open-source customization software that lets you add shortcut layers, rebind keys, customize macros and RGB for your keyboard, and save those custom options to the keyboard firmware. 

In essence, it seems like OnePlus aims to use Keychron's technology and quality — which are already well-regarded by the mechanical keyboard community as an excellent entry-point into the hobby — and design a flashy enclosure, dial, and a set of keycaps with OnePlus flair. The product timeline states that mass production is to begin between March and April 2023, according to the crowdfunding campaign, which has 3771 backers, as of writing.