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Using Milwaukee One-Key Hands-on Review

We did some in-depth testing of the latest Milwaukee One-Key hammer drill and impact driver. For the record, the non-One-Key models simply lack the integrated Bluetooth-based tracking and tool control. We’ve already covered the full features of Milwaukee One-Key technology, but this Milwaukee One-Key review focuses on actually using Milwaukee On-Key software hands-on. We provide a bit more detailed look at what it’s like to use the app and software. We also go over as much of the detail and use of it as possible in this Milwaukee One-Key review.

Editor’s Note: If you want to see how well the latest Milwaukee hammer drill and the impact driver performed in terms of speed and torque, check out our best 18V cordless drill and best 18V impact driver reviews.

Setting Up and Using Milwaukee One-Key

Before we get too far in this Milwaukee One-Key review you have to first download the app and set up an account if you want to follow along. Using Milwaukee One-Key and setting it up isn’t painful. You just download the app and configure it with your name and email. After that, log in and begin connecting to your One-Key compatible tools.

We’re going to save the inventory capabilities of the app and desktop web software for a bit later in this Milwaukee One-Key review because I want to jump right into the most exciting feature for tool addicts: Tool control.

nearby Milwaukee One-Key tools

With Milwaukee One-Key tool control you can custom tune the digital controls of your hammer drills, impact drivers, and more to get them to perform exactly as you’d like. You can connect to your One-Key tools in either of two ways. Once you launch the Milwaukee One-Key app, you can click the Inventory button to show all tools in your inventory.

using Milwaukee One-Key tool inventory
All One-Key-equipped tools located within 100 ft. of your smartphone app will show a blue WiFi icon next to the name of the tool.

All One-Key-equipped tools within a 100 ft. radius of your smartphone app will have a blue WiFi icon next to the name of the tool. Click the tool to connect to it. If you have a large arsenal of tools, the search feature will help you narrow down the list. The second way to connect is to hit the Nearby Devices button (see further above). This scans the area and lists only devices within a 100 feet area that you can connect to. As with the other method, you simply click on the tool to connect to it. This second method is actually quicker if you want to get directly to the Tool Controls area of the app.

Testing Speed Settings

To understand how we could configure custom speed settings, we set a “PTR Eclectic” mode for our Milwaukee 2706-20 hammer drill, giving Mode 1 a maximum speed of 1000 RPMs in High (2) gear. With our Extech RPM33 laser tachometer we measured about 1006 RPMs. This definitely falls within the margin of error for our testing (1/2 of 1% to be more precise).

In Low (1) gear, which we set to 350 RPMs, the Milwaukee 2706-20 One-Key hammer drill measured 351—about the same accuracy if you estimate the differential to increase with the speed. In these modes, the difference between what I configured to what I measured was truly negligible. Testing the Milwaukee 2757-20 impact driver at the highest speed yielded a slightly different result, with our measured RPMs coming in at 2865 instead of the expected 3000 RPMs at maximum speed (about a 4% difference). Still, setting speed with the One-Key system is something you can do with a reasonable level of confidence.

Storing One-Key Settings

When you store a setting in one of the four available slots, the system lets you know by giving you an onscreen verification. The tool also blinks the WiFi indicator and the number you’re saving to. It follows this with two more flashes to let you know it’s ready for whatever’s next.

Milwaukee One-Key WiFi button
See that Blue Wireless icon? It lets you know the One-Key tool is connected to—and talking to—the app. When you connect, the LED light and the Wireless icon flash to let you know you’ve got the right tool (You don’t want to program another tool in your shop accidentally, right?).

Configuring Your Drill to Mix Thinset

One of the things I was eager to do in this Milwaukee One-Key review was to see if I could mimic (or even best) the settings offered by the Hilti SF 10W-A18 4-speed drill. We were impressed that you could finally have a high-torque, low-speed mode for mixing mud, paint, and—of course—thinset. These drills have finally gotten to the point where they have enough torque and electronic motor protection to pull it off without damaging the tool.

For all of these applications, you need Low speed. Do they, however, provide the torque needed to make it work? This is where One-Key gets really advanced. Milwaukee understands the different ways you can use a hammer drill, and they set up their software to customize each. With One-Key, you can set any of the four quick-mode buttons for Custom Drill Control, Custom Drive Control, or Hole Saw. Here’s how those setting options look and how they differ from each other.

Custom Drive Control

With the Custom Drive Control you can set either a clutch torque range or a fixed clutch torque for the tool. This lets you adjust what the 1-13 clutch settings actually mean for this particular drive mode. That range can be very wide or very narrow, or you can bypass it entirely. You can also configure maximum speed in both Low and High gear. This gives you even more practical control over the tool in driving applications.

Under the More Options section, you can configure the trigger ramp-up duration (the duration of the tool’s soft start trigger control), LED duration (how long the LED stays on when you tap the trigger), and the LED brightness. You get options for setting the LED light duration between 0-30 seconds. You can even set it so that it’s always on, effectively turning your drill into a mini flashlight should the need arise.

Milwaukee One-Key tool modes

Custom Drill Control

On the Milwaukee 2706-20 hammer drill, the Custom Drill Control preset enables High and Low-speed range settings with Kickback control (and no clutch). Milwaukee One-Key Kickback Control seems to monitor current draw to the motor (as torque) as opposed to using a multi-axis chip to sense whether the tool has actually rotated too far too fast. You set the torque shutoff level (anywhere from Low (1) to High (10) with High being the most torque before the tool shuts down. The More Options settings are identical to the ones in Custom Drive Control, and you can configure both the trigger ramp-up duration and LED duration and brightness.

One-Key app custom drill control

Hole Saw

In the Hole Saw preset area you get to select both the size of the hole saw and the material. This preconfigures what Milwaukee considers a good starting point for both speed and torque settings. For now, the system presumes the use of a bi-metal hole saw, but we expect to see more options in the future for newer carbide tooth models.

Once you set the hole saw, you can further adjust High and Low-speed range settings with Kickback control that gives you a torque shutoff level. The More Options settings are identical to the prior two preset modes described.

One-Key app hole saw speed warning
When you select the Hole Saw preset in the app, One-Key reminds you that you’re going to want to be in Low gear to make it work properly.

To set up a custom “Mixing” mode in memory slot 4 that would turn my Milwaukee 2706-20 M18 Fuel One-Key hammer drill into the consummate cordless thinset mixer, I set the Low speed (1) gear to max out at 100 RPMs (the slowest it would go) but allowed the tool to use its maximum amount of torque at that speed. But that’s not all. I also configured the same preset so that High speed (2) gave me 2000 RPMs with the same full torque (Level 100). Now I had a truly dynamic Preset that would work for high torque applications in both Low and High speeds. Once finished, I stored my Button 4 setting as “Mixing” and began testing the tool.

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