OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro review: A great but familiar keyword

Solid, satisfying, and comes with a OnePlus twist.

OnePlus has been around for a decade, and during this time, it’s primarily focused on smartphones and smaller accessories like wireless earbuds. But this year, the company made some changes, not only introducing its first Android tablet but also announcing its first keyboard, the Keyboard 81 Pro. While you’d expect a lot of buzz around this product, there really wasn’t. It didn’t really help that it took close to five months to become available to purchase.

Well, we finally have the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro in our hands, and boy, is it beefy. It’s sturdy, heavy, has some solid construction, and the keys felt comfortable after an eight-hour day of typing. But while we’d love for it to have been a fully original product, we can’t help and notice that this keyboard is extremely similar to the popular Keychron Q1 Pro. While neither OnePlus nor Keychron claims that this is just a reskinned Q1 Pro, it’s clear that the partnership between these two companies has yielded a familiar keyboard.

Now, is the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro worth $200+? I think for that price, there are better options, like the slightly cheaper Q1 Pro. Of course, if you’re on a budget, there are more affordable mechanical keyboard options out there. But if you’re a diehard OnePlus fan and want the finest typing experience, look no further.

About this review: OnePlus sent us a OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro for the purposes of this review and did not see its contents before publishing

OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro A must-have for any OnePlus fan8 / 10

The Keyboard 81 Pro is a solid mechanical keyboard that features premium materials, excellent customization potential, and a color scheme that’s distinctly OnePlus. While it’s extremely similar to Keychron’s popular and excellent Q1 Pro, OnePlus is still offering a solid option for its fans while also not sacrificing the experience. 

Form factor 75% Switch options Winter Bonfire switch (optimized tactile), Summer Breeze switch (linear) Colorways Winter Bonfire version: Dark gray color, PBT keycap; Summer Breeze version: Light gray, Marble-mallow keycap Backlight RGB Construction Aluminum Dampening Gaskets, foam Keycaps PBT / Marble-mallow Supported operating systems Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS Hot-swappable Yes Battery capacity 4,000mAh Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1 / Wired Typing angle Adjustable Software customizability QMK/VIA Dimensions 33.83 x 15.05 x 4.73cm Weight 1.88kg Price Winter Bonfire: $219; Summer Breeze: $239 Number of Keys 81 Num Pad No Battery life Up to 100 hours (lowest brightness) Pros

  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Great software support
  • Co-created Keychron switch feels good
  • Works wired and wireless


  • Flex when pressing some keys or using knob
  • Pricey
  • Needs a more complete manual

$219 at OnePlus $219 at Keychron

Pricing and availability

The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is available at OnePlus and Keychron’s websites. It comes in two versions: Winter Bonfire, which costs $219, and Summer Breeze, which comes in at $239. Regardless of where you buy it, you will not have the option to customize the switches or keycaps. At the time of writing, the Winter Bonfire model is available, while the Summer Breeze model is currently sold out. OnePlus also seems to have rotating promotions, with the current one providing discounts on wireless earbuds.

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Design and features

Minimal with little pops of welcome flair

The Keyboard 81 Pro looks quite subtle for the most part but does provide some excitement with tasteful pops of color from the red keycaps. As mentioned before, there are two different models available: Winter Bonfire and Summer Breeze. Both keyboards utilize a similar color scheme with dark gray, light gray, and red keycaps. The Summer Breeze model utilizes light gray keycaps for the letter and numbers, with dark gray on the surrounding keys, while Winter Bonfire model flips this aesthetic. Since this is a preconfigured keyboard, you won’t have the ability to customize its appearance or switches (although you can do that after purchase if you see fit).

If you’re a diehard OnePlus fan and want the finest typing experience, look no further.

What separates the Keyboard 81 Pro from the Q1 Pro are OnePlus-specific design touches. The keyboard has bright red keycaps for Esc and Enter, although if you look closely, you’ll notice that the Esc key is emblazoned with the OnePlus logo. It’s not super noticeable, but the package doesn’t include a traditional Esc key replacement if you don’t like it. The keyboard also comes with a translucent knob that can be customized to control things such as volume, zoom, brightness, and more. While the feedback of the knob is great, it’s made from plastic. That isn’t to say that it feels cheap; it just doesn’t feel as premium as some of the other components.

As far as other differences between the two, the Winter Bonfire model makes use of polybutylene terephthalate plastic (PBT) for its keycaps and has custom Winter Bonfire switches (tactile), while the Summer Breeze keyboard is a bit more unique, with a Marble-mallow keycap and custom Summer Breeze switches (linear). We were informed that the Marble-mallow caps are made from a thermoplastic material that provides “a soft bounce in each press for ultimate comfort, enhanced hand-feel, and optimal durability,” and it definitely feels how it’s been described.

Wired, wireless, and plenty of room for customizations

This keyboard is plug-and-play when connected using a wire and can be paired to compatible devices wirelessly using Bluetooth. OnePlus includes a bright red USB-C cable that can be used for plugging into a computer or just for charging. The keyboard is also compatible with pretty much any platform out there, from macOS, Windows, Linux, and even Android and iOS.

While there are some default settings within the keyboard, you can always customize the keys and knob to your liking using VIA. VIA is a popular online portal that will allow you to customize and diagnose your keyboard. As you might expect, the keyboard is instantly recognized, and you can tinker with the settings to your heart’s desire.

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As far as battery life goes, this model is rated for up to 100 hours of use, with the backlight illumination set to its lowest. Despite using it for the past couple of weeks, I’ve had yet to charge it, mainly because I don’t have the lighting activated most of the time.


Comfortable, sturdy, but not without its faults

Despite OnePlus’ inexperience in the field of keyboards, it thankfully didn’t cut any consumer-facing corners here, ensuring that its keyboard delivered a premium typing experience. What was most surprising was the sheer weight of the keyboard, coming in at around 4.16 pounds (1.87kg), which is quite heavy. This weight can be attributed to the bottom and top cases being made from aluminum. Thankfully, this heft provides a sturdy base, with the keyboard unyielding even after hours of violent typing.

After weeks of use, the keycaps and switches feel good, providing just the right amount of response and sound. It’s what I had hoped for, especially since OnePlus worked with Keychron to co-develop its own custom switches. The model tested here has linear switches, so you won’t get the traditional clicky sounds that can be satisfying, but each keystroke did provide the right amount of feedback, and the Marble-mallow keycaps were soft yet firm to the touch.

Of course, just talking about the feeling won’t really provide an accurate experience, but OnePlus doesn’t provide much detail with regard to its switches and keycaps, like how much travel there is and its operating force. It’s also unclear just how resilient the keycaps will be over time, but for the duration used, the colors didn’t fade, and a glossy, oily sheen didn’t appear. Since this keyboard does make use of hot-swappable switches and keycaps, if there ever is an issue, it’s as easy as buying a new set. Things also seemed solid with the construction, but taking it apart, you can see there were a few cut corners, like case foam that’s extremely thin.

A couple of final notes about the keys. One has to do with the RGB backlighting, which doesn’t shine through the keycaps. Also, while OnePlus does provide paperwork with its keyboard, the instructions are limited and don’t appear to have the full list of commands that will allow you to customize the RGB lighting. Luckily, you can find these on the Keychron website.

Moving onto the knob and the kickstand, I can happily share that the knob works well when controlling a variety of functions on the keyboard. For my use, I used its default implementation, which controls the volume. While it looks and feels good to use, the knob itself doesn’t feel the best since it’s made from plastic. As far as the stand goes, it’s firm and can easily be adjusted to set up the keyboard to a more comfortable typing angle. There are small silicone nubs to protect your table and prevent the keyboard from sliding. Even more clever is that you can use it to prop up the keyboard vertically, which is a neat trick when you want to store it and have it take up less desk space.

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Should you buy the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro?

You should buy the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro if:

  • You’re a OnePlus fan
  • You have $240 to spend on a mechanical keyboard
  • You want a premium typing experience

You shouldn’t buy the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro if:

  • You’re not a OnePlus fan
  • You don’t have $240 to spend on a mechanical keyboard
  • You need more keys than what this keyboard offers
  • This is going to be your first mechanical keyboard

The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is a great keyboard, and although the company doesn’t state it, it shares a lot of similarities with Keychron’s popular and highly-rated Q1 Pro. With that said, the Q1 Pro is the better (and cheaper) option. You get a similar experience, but with the Keychron model, you can customize your switches during checkout. On Keychron’s website, there’s even a shell white model that looks identical to OnePlus’ offering.

So we have to ask, “Who is this keyboard really for if you can just buy the Keychron?” The obvious answer is that it’s for OnePlus fans. And if you choose to go with the Keyboard 81 Pro, you’re still going to get top-notch build quality, great software support, and a design that’s simple and not overbearing. Perhaps the icing on the cake is that if you get tired of the default setup, you can customize the keyboard the way you want, thanks to its removable keycaps and switches.

In the end, I can appreciate where OnePlus is coming from. It’s been around for a decade, and naturally, the company is trying to expand outside its traditional wheelhouse with new devices. This keyboard isn’t wholly original or built from the ground up, but at least it’s not a piece of junk or some unenthusiastic attempt. If you’re a fan of OnePlus, you’re going to like this and feel good using it. Sure, there’s a cheaper and better alternative with the Keychron, but what good is that if you’re not repping the brand you’re invested in?

OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro The best keyboard for a OnePlus fan

The Keyboard 81 Pro is a solid mechanical keyboard that features premium materials, excellent customization potential, and a color scheme that’s distinctly OnePlus. While it’s extremely similar to Keychron’s popular and excellent Q1 Pro, OnePlus is still offering a solid option for its fans while also not sacrificing the experience. 

$219 at OnePlus $219 at Keychron

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