Keychron K2 is the only mechanical keyboard you should get for iPad [Review]

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keychron k2
Clickety-clacky, there's no going back
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You probably need a keyboard. If you have an iMac, then you already have the one Apple included the box. If you have an iPad or a MacBook, then you should have that thing up on a stand at eye level, with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad attached so you don’t kill your neck/back/wrists. And if you want a clicky keyboard that works great with all three, then pretty much your best (and only) option is the Keychron K2, a beautiful, solid little device that can work with just about any device you have.

Keychron K2 review: Built for Mac and iOS

FFS, Keychron.
FFS, Keychron.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Keychron K2 started out as a Kickstarter project, but is now available to purchase from your favorite keyboard emporium. It’s an aluminum-encased mechanical keyboard, with LED backlights, Bluetooth and the ability to switch between three different Bluetooth devices. You get a choice of key switches — more on that in a moment — and a USB-C connecting cable for hooking it up without Bluetooth, and/or for charging.

But the most important part for Mac and iPad users is that it has proper command and option keys, plus a top row that mimics the Mac’s own media and control keys.

Almost all mechanical keyboards are made for Windows. They have their Alt and Windows keys reversed, when compared to the Mac’s Command and Option keys. On the Mac, you can just reverse them in System Preferences. On the iPad, you’re stuck, unless you find one of the few Mac-friendly keyboards like the DAS (and they’re huge).

The K2 has two (tiny) switches on its left edge, next to the USB-C port. One switches between USB, Bluetooth and power off. The other switches between Windows/Android and Mac/iOS. This is the killer feature, because it means you can use it with the iPad. Everything works, including screen brightness settings.

Gimmicks and features

The K2 has LED lights behinds all its keys, which means you get a nice, crisp light through the letters on the keycaps, and in the gaps between the keys. But the maker couldn’t stop there. These are RGB LEDS, and by tapping the dedicated key (top right corner), you can cycle through 15 or 20 different patterns.

Some are subtle (plain white or slowly pulsing red), and some are garish (different colors for each key, or even pulsing, scrolling rainbow animations). Some are just plain distracting (hit a key and a light wave ripples out from it across the rest of the keys).

I keep mine on white. I wish I could lock it, because if you accidentally hit the mode-switching key, you’ll have to cycle though all the other modes to get back. An automatic sleep mode saves battery. I have been using mine for a month or two, and rarely have to charge it. If it does die, the included USB cable can charge it and connect it at the same time.

Three-way Bluetooth

The other uncommon feature is the triple-Bluetooth connectivity. Hold the Fn key and tap any of the 1, 2 or 3 keys, and you’ll switch to a different paired device. You can pair it to an iMac, a MacBook and an iPad, and switch between them almost instantly.

The Keychron K2 keys

If you like mechanical keyboards, then you will get on great with the K2. I prefer Blue switches, which are the noisiest of all mechanical key switches. But you also can choose Gateron Brown or Gateron Red switches. The switches inside the keys cannot normally be seen, but they are indeed color-coded to indicate relative clickiness, and also the feel of the switch activation.

Compared to the Filco Majestouch I’ve been using for five years or more, the K2 is pretty great. Key travel actually feels a little longer, but that might also be the fact that the unit sits a little higher on the desk. It’s not quite as comfortable for me to use as the Filco, either. But neither is it really any worse. Just different. And the Filco can’t be used with an iPad, at least not with the ⌘ and ⌥ keys working as expected.

I’m only a month or two into my use of the K2, so I have no idea of its longevity. But it is solid AF. I mistakenly bought the plastic version instead of the aluminum one, but it feels very solid.

Ridiculous switches

You can read this in the photo, but not in real life.
You can read this in the photo, but not in real life.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In facts, there’s only one thing I don’t like about the Keychron K2. Or two things, if you include the annoyingly implemented backlight switching. The other thing is the switch that lets you select Bluetooth, USB or off. It’s tiny, feels cheap, and has lettering that is impossible to read, even for young eyes. You will have to learn the positions, and remember them forever. Or make your own label to stick on the side, I guess.

But all in all, the K2 is a great keyboard, especially if you’re a Mac-trained iPad user. And it starts at just $74 (prices vary depending on backlight type and chassis material). Recommended. Especially at this price.

Buy from: Keychron