If you’re searching for your Mac’s wireless mechanical keyboard, look no further than the Keychron K2. Although not as small as its predecessor, the sleek, streamlined nature of the K2 is a far cry from the bulky mechanical keyboards that you might be used to. Look at the details of our hands-on review.
- 84-key keyboard with function keys
- Mac layout with Control, Option, and Command keys
- Available in white backlight and RGB backlight
- Customizable with 18 RGB backlight profiles
- Available aluminum frame
- Gateron red, brown, or blue key switches
- Replaceable curved profile key caps
- NKRO support (wired mode only)
- 6-degree angle stand
- Wired and wireless (Bluetooth) capability
- Switch between up to three Bluetooth devices
- USB-C port
- Includes USB-C cable
- Mac/iOS and PC modes
- 4000mAh battery
Design and build
Let me start by saying that the original Keychron K1 was never actually used. In his hands-on test. Keychron seems to have built on the momentum from the first version of his keyboard when he created the K2.
As you’ll see, the $79 K2 features a design more in line with your average mechanical keyboard, although it also features a smaller footprint than some of the common wired mechanical keyboards I’ve been using over the years. Most specifically, the K2 features angled keycaps and Gateron key switches, that provide a great tactile feel.
A black aluminum frame with slim bezels wrapping around the perimeter of the keyboard includes the Keychron K2 config I’ve been using. The keys, along with a single orange ESC key, feature a mix of dark and light gray keys. I ended up replacing the ESC and arrow keys with my WASD custom mechanical keyboard pilfered keys in an attempt to make them stand out more.
The chassis of aluminum gives it a solid, weighty feel, and the keys look great. It’s a rather minimalist keyboard, which is largely what I like. You will find rubber feet below the keyboard that can be adjusted to provide a 6-degree angle for comfortable typing.
The biggest complaint I have with the build quality of the Keychron K2 is the tiny Bluetooth toggle and on the left side of the unit the device switches. It’s not that the switches themselves are awful, but the switch tags are unlikely to be tiny and you will almost need a magnifying glass to identify them. Once you learn from memory what each button does, this is going to be less of an issue.
Switches and tactility
Tactile reaction is the most important feature of any keyboard, and traditionally mechanical keyboards have that in spades. Tactility is strongly influenced by the type of switches that are found below the keycaps. When pressing a key, different types of switches give rise to a different feeling.
The original K1 features low-profile switches with a total key travel of 3±0.5 mm, while the K2 features a significant increase with a total travel of 4±0.4 mm. You’ll notice a big jump in the overall travel distance between the two if you’re coming from the original.
You can configure the Keychron K2 with red, green, or blue key switches from Gateron. Traditionally, blue switches result in a more clicky tactile response, while brown switches have a nice touch feeling, but are usually smoother and quieter.
I chose the brown switches because they need less power than a blue switch with a smoother touch bump. Key switch preference is highly subjective, so if you have never encountered a mechanical keyboard before, I think you should start with the brown switches as they provide a good experience on the middle ground.
In addition to the switches, the key caps feature a curved profile, making it easy for your fingers to identify and rest on. Overall, in relation to the key cap and key switch design, I am quite pleased with the sound.look and feel of the keyboard.
Battery life and connectivity
Having a mechanical keyboard with built-in wireless Bluetooth connectivity was almost impossible until a few years ago, that’s one of the things that made the original K1 so cool. I’ve seen more wireless Bluetooth adoption for keyboards lately, but it’s still a rare occurrence.
The Keychron K2 features the ability to connect to a Mac or iPad Pro via a wired USB-C link or via Bluetooth wireless without any help from external Bluetooth dongles. The system also deals for Android devices and Windows machines by turning on the side of the device switch.
After 10 minutes of inactivity, the keyboard automatically goes to sleep to help conserve battery life. A simple key combination on the keyboard will disable auto sleep mode, but doing so will cause the battery to exhaust more quickly.
I find auto sleep mode irritating because I often leave my desk for minutes at a time, so waking up from sleep and reconnecting to Bluetooth takes a few seconds for the keyboard. If your workflow is similar to mine, I recommend that you disable auto sleep mode and load the keyboard if appropriate. Of course, you can always turn it off manually to save battery for extended periods of time when not in use.
I was able to get out of the keyboard somewhere in the vicinity of three weeks of use before I had to charge it again with auto sleep mode enabled. Keychron notes, that, depending on the type of RGB lighting used, you can expect to get 10-15 hours of full use. Aim for longer life with the disabled backlight.
Overall, I was able to get about a full week of auto sleep typing and disabled backlight, but during the week I’m certainly not the most prolific typer.
Use the right-angle USB-C cable to connect your device directly to your Keychron K2 when the battery gets low. This will not only serve as a means of recharging the internal battery, but will also allow you to switch to cable mode through the switch on the left side of the keyboard.
The Keychron K2 includes, next to the charging port, a low battery indicator light. When the battery level is below 15%, the light will flash rapidly and remain solid while charging. That’s great, but I wish there was a more detailed battery indicator that gives you a better idea, even at higher levels, of the current battery life.
The Keychron K2 features an RGB backlight option with multiple switchable light effects, just like many popular keyboards today. For a demonstration of all the lightning effects on hand, be sure to watch our video.
Through pressing the dedicated light effect key in the upper right-hand corner, users will easily cycle through the effects. Users can also use the Function + arrow keys to cycle through their choice of solid background colors.
I don’t have a strong view either way of RGB lighting, but I know it can be a polarizing feature. Some users are going to love it, others are going to be indifferent some are going to hate it. Count me in the category of indifference. I find some of the effects distracting, but I don’t mind some of them, particularly the solid colors that are animation-free.
If RGB lighting is not your tear cup, you can dim the backlight to four levels or, if desired, disable it completely. Keep in mind that the RGB backlighting plays a role in the performance of the battery life so that it can also contribute to your decision on how to use it.
Keychron also makes a K2 version without RGB, with a white LED backlight. It’s cheaper, and if you know you’re never going to use RGB, I recommend this option.
Pairing and switching between devices
By simply pressing the function + 1-3 key the K2 can switch between up to three different devices.
Because the Keychron K2 is relatively portable, though it comes with limitations, I find it makes for a pretty good iPad Pro companion. Even though a mechanical keyboard is tiny, it is still large enough and heavy enough to make traveling with it awkward.
In the sense that not all of the default keyboard shortcuts seem to work with iOS, I also found the keyboard limit. I could use all the shortcuts available in apps, for example, but I couldn’t use system shortcuts to go back to the home screen (Command+H) or switch between apps (Command+Tab) while in an app.
However, despite these limitations, when typing long-form content, I enjoy using the K2 around the house with my iPad, as it provides a much better tactile typing experience than Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, or even the Magic Keyboard.
There’s not a lot of mechanical wireless keyboards on the market, but the Keychron K2 is the best I’ve used. The K2 is a solid offering from a pure tactile point of view, forgetting its wireless capabilities. This keyboard should stand alone on the basis of its mechanical key switches and excellent tactile key caps.
Using a built-in backlight is a nice feature to have on a wireless mechanical keyboard, but Keychron went out with complex responsive lighting effects by giving it RGB backlighting. Not every user will appreciate this, but it will undeniably help the K2 stand out among other keyboards from third parties.
I love the minimal design of the Keychron K2, and I respect the fact that with just a few key presses it can quickly switch between three Bluetooth devices.
If you’re looking for a great mechanical wireless keyboard, it might be for you. It’s not perfect, but the Keychron K2 generally stands out as a mechanical keyboard, and because of its feature set it’s pound for my favorite keyboard. Thanks to its build quality, built-in wireless capability, Mac-centric key caps, and its ability to switch from up to three devices easily, it’s made all the better.
The Keychron K2 can be find on Amazon for about $80 in all three of its Gateron key switch flavors.