Logitech MX Keys Mini review: Honey, I’ve shrunk the keyboard
“The Logitech MX Keys Mini delivers the same great typing experience in a smaller, more ergonomic experience.”
- Comfortable typing experience
- Compact and lightweight for travel
- Advanced features
- Sustainable design and packaging
- Can’t be used as a wired keyboard
How do you improve on a near-perfect keyboard? It’s a good problem for Logitech to have with its MX Keys peripheral, which quickly became a fan-favorite keyboard on retailers like Amazon.
The solution Logitech adopted was to release a more compact version of its widely acclaimed keyboard in the form of the MX Keys Mini and MX Keys Mini for Mac. Both the standard and the compact keyboards share similar layouts, with the made for Mac edition coming with Apple-specific keys, like the option and command keys. Versions with international keyboard layouts will also be available.
It’s not for the serious mechanical keyboard lovers out there, but most everyone else will find a lot to like about what Logitech has done with the MX Keys Mini.
Smaller doesn’t mean cramped. Like the regular MX Keys, the MX Keys Mini boasts full-size keys for easy typing. To shrink down the dimensions of the keyboard — the standard version measures 131.63 x 430.2 x 20.5mm — Logitech essentially removed everything to the right of the enter key and repositioned the arrow keys to an inverted T layout. This reduces the width of the MX Keys Mini by 134.21mm to 295.99mm.
This equates to a reduction in size of just over five and a quarter inches — or 30% in size. The compact dimensions make the MX Mini more portable, so it’s easier to slip it into a smaller bag when you need a better keyboard to type on while remote. The real advantage, however, is that a narrower keyboard makes it more ergonomic to type on.
As a result of the new size, the weight of the keyboard drops from 810 grams to 506g, or 1.16 pounds. A lot of the weight can be attributed to the keyboard’s solid construction, which features a full metal shell on the top side that surrounds the island-style keys. There’s a slim plastic strip that extends from the top of the keyboard, and that area houses the sensors, battery, and circuitry. The other dimensions also changed slightly, but they’re mostly similar to the original model.
Like the original, the Mini edition features individual keys with a circular dimple on the keycap, a design feature that helps with comfort when typing. The chiclet key arrangement are decidedly more modern in appearance than the 1990s-style keycaps on mechanical keyboards and looks like it could have been taken straight off of a laptop. The company claims that the dimple on each key contours to your fingertips when you’re typing, and automatic backlighting is also available for working at night.
The MX Keys Mini comes in three colors — rose, graphite, and pale gray — and features white LED backlit keys. A built-in battery delivers up to 10 days of use on a single charge with the backlight enabled or up to five months of usage sans lighting, Logitech claims, and it can be recharged via the included USB-C cable. The keyboard version that we received for review is graphite and comes with slightly darker gray keycaps and white character lettering.
Our model isn’t the one that’s made for Mac, but it also comes with dual keys that support Mac and Windows — for example, the Apple Option key can be used to activate the Start menu on Windows, while the Command key can also serve as the Alt key on Microsoft’s OS. If you’re a Mac user looking to adopt the MX Keys Mini, the big downside is you won’t find a Touch ID fingerprint scanner on this third-party keyboard.
As part of the company’s commitment to sustainability, the MX Keys Mini is made with up to 30% post-consumer recycled plastics, however, the level of recycled plastics found in the lighter hues will be far less than what is implemented on the darker graphite colorway. The company says this is because it’s far too difficult to extract and recycle plastics from existing keyboards — which oftentimes are made from darker materials — and turn them into lighter colors as found on the rose and pale gray keyboard.
Typing and features
Many of the key features found on the larger MX Keys are carried over to the MX Keys Mini, including the ability to pair and use the keyboard on up to three different Bluetooth devices. The keyboard comes with alternate keys on the Function row to switch between devices. Logitech claims that the keyboard will work with a broad array of devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS, and iPadOS.
The company will also release a special enterprise version that connects using a more secure and proprietary Logi Bolt connection. This B2B model will require a special USB-A dongle to work, while the consumer model that you’ll find in many retail stores will work with Bluetooth.
1.8mm of travel is plenty for long sessions of comfortable typing.
Logitech didn’t provide specifications for the key travel and pitch of the MX Keys Mini, but they feel no different than on the original, full-size version, which is advertised with 1.8mm of key travel. This makes key travel comparable to what you’d find on some larger pro-grade laptops and gaming laptops. Many smaller laptops in the 13-inch range come with keys with between 1.1mm and 1.5mm of travel, while some larger 15-inch notebooks come with keyboards that offer 1.5-1.8mm of travel. Either way, 1.8mm of travel is plenty for long sessions of comfortable typing.
For comparison, Apple’s latest Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Pro comes with a shallower 1mm key travel distance that uses a new scissor switch implementation, while the company’s older butterfly keys on some older Intel model laptops delivered just 0.7mm of key travel.
The MX Keys Mini feels like it was designed for those who love laptop keyboards but prefer to work at a desk. While my MacBook Pro keyboard feels different when typing — Apple’s keys are less stiff and louder — the similarly sized Logitech delivers the same ergonomic experience. When I paired the Logitech MX Keys Mini to my Apple Mac Mini on my desk, it really did feel like I was working on a mobile workstation.
If you’re used to working on a laptop without a built-in number pad, having a similar-style arrangement in an external keyboard makes it easy to adjust and will help with ergonomics if you have the proper desk setup. Having an external monitor woulsdbe ideal, but even if you choose not to connect to a secondary monitor, placing your laptop on a stand will help, as you’re not stretching your neck to look down at your laptop’s screen.
And when you add the right external keyboard to the setup, you’ll get an even more comfortable PC environment with deeper key travel. Placing the keyboard closer to your body also helps reduce arm fatigue.
And to fit more modern modes of communication, the MX Keys also comes with some dedicated buttons to help make it easy to get your message across. There’s an emoji button that brings up an emoji picker so you can choose the best emoticon to express yourself in an email, for example, and a new dictation button helps you leverage your operating system’s voice-to-text engine to type by using your voice.
If you consistently work across two or three different devices as part of your workflow, the MX Keys Mini is really designed for you. The multidevice pairing ability allows you to connect up to three devices without requiring a KVM switch, and it can also help save on desk space, as you won’t need a separate keyboard for your desktop and a secondary tablet, like an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 8.
Like its bigger sibling, the MX Keys Mini delivers a very comfortable typing experience with its full-size keys. Compared to the butterfly key switches on my aging MacBook Pro 13-inch, the keys on the MX Keys Mini travel deeper, are stiffer (as in it requires more activation force), and are slightly more quiet. A quieter keyboard could be useful if you’re sharing a small apartment with someone else and prefer to work at night.
The backlight automatically turns on if your hands approach the keyboard.
LED backlit keys on a wireless keyboard isn’t a novel technology, but Logitech made some smart upgrades to make this beloved staple even better. Like the backlit keyboard on many modern laptops, the backlight can be adjusted manually — there are six levels of brightness and you can also turn it off — or automatically based on the ambient light in the room.
Thanks to magnetic sensors, the backlight can also automatically turn on if your hands approach the keyboard. This feature may sound trivial, but is extremely useful. On other keyboard models, after a period of inactivity, the backlight times out to save battery life. To reactivate the backlight, you have to haphazardly tap on any key on the keyboard to wake it up.
If you hit a non-character key, like the Shift key or the Control key, for example, you’ll be fine. But if you hit on any of the character keys, like a letter, then you will inadvertently add gibberish to your opened document and need to delete any additions you made. Distorting the magnetic field on the MX Keys Mini to wake up a backlight is a genius solution to a problem not many people were even aware they had until they used Logitech’s keyboard.
Given that the keyboard comes with full-size keys, I find that I didn’t need any period of adjustment to acclimate to the keyboard, and was able to type accurately and quickly right out of the box. My typing speed and accuracy on this model rivaled that of keyboards on Apple’s, Lenovo’s, and HP’s laptops, and I didn’t have any problem with typing accuracy. The deeper key travel feels more similar to Windows laptops than Mac laptops.
As someone who primarily works on a laptop, the biggest complaint with the MX Keys Mini is that the keys felt a bit too stiff. While key travel is generous, the keys on Logitech’s keyboard require a greater amount of actuation force before they begin to move. The greater actuation force needed could result in more finger fatigue, at least until you get used to the keyboard. It took me about a day to acclimate, and once I did, the MX Keys Mini delivered one of the better typing experiences with responsive switches outside of a mechanical keyboard.
Logitech didn’t provide exact measurements for actuation force for the Mini, but in general, the typing experience is very similar to the larger MX Keys. If you have experience with the MX Keys, you’ll feel right at home here. In comparison to Apple’s external Magic Keyboard that ships with the iMac, the MX Keys will feel a little bit more quiet when typing and require slightly more actuation force.
Mac users who opt for this keyboard will have to sacrifice Touch ID support, a feature that is supported on some of Apple’s newer external keyboards. This isn’t limited to Logitech, however, as no third-party Mac keyboard supports fingerprint identification on the Mac at this time. With most Windows systems relying on facial scans using Windows Hello, this may be less of a concern for PC owners.
The MX Keys Mini comes with a single USB-C to USB-A cable for charging and connects to your PC or Mac using Bluetooth. The Mac edition will ship with a USB-C to USB-C cable instead. tThe USB-C port on the keyboard is solely used for charging, and you won’t be able to connect it to your PC to use as a wired keyboard. You can still recharge the battery while using it over Bluetooth.
While I didn’t experience any lag or latency from the wireless connection, if you are concerned about Bluetooth security or are worried about input delays, you can also opt for the MX Keys Mini for Business model, which works with Logitech’s proprietary Bolt standard. Logi Bolt, as it is called, will also work with Bluetooth if you happen to not bring the adapter with you while traveling.
In my weeklong testing of the MX Keys Mini — this review was entirely composed with the MX Keys Mini that was connected via Bluetooth to a MacBook Pro — I was not able to deplete the battery. During the day, the backlight was generally off to conserve power, and at night, I let the keyboard automatically adjust the backlight to match whatever ambient lighting was available.
Despite the added comfort of using a narrow keyboard, the MX Keys Mini isn’t designed around ergonomics.
Compared to a wider, full-sized keyboard complete with a number pad, having a narrower keyboard on the the MX Keys Mini makes working on long documents more comfortable, though it may not be ideal solution for those in the finance or accounting professions. If you’re working with a lot of numbers or live inside Excel spreadsheets, you’ll be better off with a keyboard that comes with a dedicated number pad, like the full-sized MX Keys.
Logitech’s team informed me that the narrower dimension was designed for ergonomics. It’s meant to reduce muscle fatigue as your arms aren’t spread so wide apart and lead to a more natural posture at your desk. But despite the added comfort of using a narrow keyboard, this keyboard isn’t designed around ergonomics in the same way as those with a split design.
Another advanced software-based feature of the MX Keys and MX Keys Mini is called Flow. With Flow, you’ll need an MX-series mouse, like the MX Master 3 or MX Master Anywhere. Once these devices are paired across multiple computers, you can essentially copy and paste text, files, and documents between Mac and Windows devices. This helps to simplify your workflow so you don’t have to rely on USB drives or cloud storage to access a document that’s located on another paired device, and in practice, it works really well and complements the multi-device pairing support.
Logitech isn’t afraid to mess with a tried-and-true formula to improve its existing products. By slimming down its popular MX Keys while retaining full-size keys, the company has made arguably one of the best keyboards on the market even better by making it more portable and focusing on ergonomics.
Are there any alternatives
Priced at $99, the Logitech MX Keys Mini costs the same as the full-size version when it begins shipping next month, so you’re making a trade-off between ergonomics and having a dedicated number pad for data entry in spreadsheets. There are also plenty of other wireless and wired keyboards that compete in the same space as the Logitech MX Keys series, but keep in mind that you’ll be sacrificing some of the advanced features — deep key travel, Flow, and sophisticated backlighting — if you opt for cheaper models.
Some brand-name competitors include Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which sells for the same price, or the new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which adds a $50 premiu. There’s also Microsoft’s Premium Designer Compact Keyboard, which comes in at $50 less than Logitech’s offering.
How long will it last?
The MX Keys Mini is backed by Logitech’s one-year limited hardware warranty, while the MX Keys Mini for Business with Logi Bolt support enjoys an additional year of support.
A premium keyboard like the MX Keys Mini should last for many years. Unlike a laptop, there aren’t many innovations in the keyboard space that will warrant an upgrade to a newer model any time soon, so this device should last for as long as its rechargeable battery is capable of holding a charge.
Should I buy it?
Although pricey as a Bluetooth accessory, the MX Keys Mini is a solid investment that will help you stay productive and keep your body happy thanks to its thoughtful ergonomic design. It delivers the great typing experience that the original MX Keys offered, only in a more compact package.