I don’t review too many Android tablets because they’re usually the same ol’ story. The affordable ones are all kinda, well, terrible. The expensive ones *cough* like the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet *cough* are often just way too darn expensive. If you’re going to spend that much money, why not just get an iPad, right?
Which is why I was very intrigued when the Xiaomi Mi Pad was announced. It seems to boast some very, very impressive specs, for a price-tag (Rs 12,999 here in India) that still made it quite affordable. So what’s the catch? Or is this just plain and simple, yet another great value-for-money product from Xiaomi?
Here’s my Xiaomi Mi Pad Review.
The Video Overview:-
Here is a detailed video overview of the Xiaomi Mi Pad. Just incase you prefer video, to text:
The Xiaomi Mi Pad comes with the usual in-box contents that you’d expect with a tablet.
There’s no headphones, expectedly, but there is a charging adapter, microUSB-to-USB cable, microSD card tray remover tool, and various documentation. Here’s a video unboxing to give you a better idea:
More info in my Xiaomi Mi Pad Unboxing post.
A larger iPhone 5C.
That’s the best way to describe how the Mi Pad looks, and Xiaomi has been very inspired by Apple’s designs here.
That’s not entirely bad, to be honest. I mean, hey it worked for Samsung right?
The Mi Pad has a shiny plastic shell, that has rounded corners which make it somewhat comfortable to hold and use. The Mi Pad comes in various colours in China, including blue, pink, yellow, and green, but in India only the white version will be sold.
Measuring 202 x 135.4 x 8.5 mm, the Mi Pad is a milimeter thicker than the iPad mini, and weighing 360 grams it also is 30 grams heavier. Not that those differences are really that significant at all.
Build quality is actually quite solid, for something made primarily out of plastic. It doesn’t feel quite as premium as the all-metal iPad mini does but it certainly feels like a tablet that should cost substantially more.
I’m actually really glad that Xiaomi chose to go with a more compact size, instead of a giant 10 inch tablet, as that makes the Mi Pad a lot easier to carry around, on your daily commute, or if you travel a lot. Still, you’ll need both hands to use it comfortably.
Moving on, at the front of the Mi Pad is a 7.9 inch IPS LCD display, at a very high 1536 x 2048 pixels resolution.
That results in about 324 ppi pixel density, and a decent enough screen-to-body ratio of about 70.7 percent. The IPS screen is very responsive, and also happens to be fully laminated, protected with good ol’ Gorilla Glass 3. The fact that it is a 4:3 aspect ratio display, unlike most Android tablets, is definitely appreciated.
As a result of that high resolution, icons and text all look Sharp and clear on that screen. The pixel density is well into Apple’s “Retina” (326 ppi) territory, so there’s no way you’d be able to spot out any individual pixels either.
Colors are nicely saturated, and viewing angles are pretty okay. But that being said, the screen doesn’t quite get bright enough to be very legible outdoors on a sunny day. This is partly due to the moody auto-brightness setting though.
There’s quite a bit of bezel all around that screen, but considering this is tablet, it does admittedly make it easier to hold.
Above the display, you’ll find the centrally located 5 megapixel front facing camera, with the Mi branding on the left side. There’s also a notification light here, and an ambient light sensor hidden somewhere.
Below the display, you’ll find the usual three Android capacitive touch buttons for recent apps, home, and back. The keys are backlit, which is much appreciated. Interesting to see that the centre ‘home’ button looks oddly similar to the soft-cornered square found on iPhones and iPads, heh.
Coming to the rest of the tablet, at the top you’ll find the lone headphone jack.
While at the bottom, you’ll find just the microUSB charging port.
On the left side you’ll find no buttons but there is a microSD card slot. The Mi Pad is a Wifi-Only tablet, so there’s no SIM card slot onboard.
On the right side, you’ll find the power/screenlock button and the volume rocker button.
They have a faux-metal coating which makes the buttons feel a little cheap, but they’re easy enough to find and use.
Coming to the back, you’ll find the 8 megapixel rear camera on the top left side, with a paid of speaker grills towards the bottom, under the Mi logo and various regulatory symbols.
The glossy plastic back panel means that the Mi Pad can be quite slippery. It also tends to pick up dirt and finger grease fairly easily.
All in all, the Xiaomi Mi Pad looks nice enough for a tablet nowadays. If you’re lucky enough to get one in the various colour options, it’ll definitely stand out.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor, which makes it quite the beast.
The quad-core Tegra K1 consists of four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 2.2GHz, with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a 192 CUDA-core desktop-grade Kepler GPU.
As a result, the Mi Pad can handle absolutely any Android game you throw at it, no matter how intense. Asphalt 8, and processor-heavy games from the ‘Tegra Zone’ like Riptide GP2, all ran smoothly with no frame-drops or stutters. Suffice to say, this tablet can very easily handle your every day apps as well. It does tend to get a little warm, but all in all Nvidia seem to have done a pretty good job with the TEGRA chips here.
Here’s a couple benchmark results to give you a better idea:
The Mi Pad is available in China in 16GB and 64GB version of internal memory, but only the 16GB is sold here in India. Out of that 16GB, there’s about 12.8GB available to actually use, but there’s also the aforementioned microSD card slot as well.
While the Mi Pad unfortunately does not have a cellular version right now, in terms of connectivity, there’s dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB-OTG. No GPS, Radio, or NFC though.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad runs MIUI v6 which is based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
We’ve seen MIUI plenty of times before, on the Mi4 and the Redmi 1s, but this time around it has been slightly customised to suit a larger display, which is very evident in some of the built-in apps.
Overall it is the same clean, minimalistic interface but surprisingly this time around there is no theme store available. Which is understandable considering how most themes were made for a much lower screen resolution, and probably wouldn’t scale very well to the Mi Pad.
There’s also no Security suite which is usually present in Xiaomi’s smartphones, but these aren’t really a big deal at all.
Apart from that, it’s MIUI like we’ve seen before. Just like other Chinese smartphone company skins, there is no app drawer or separate list of apps. Instead, all your apps and widgets are laid out on iOS-like homescreen panels.
There’s one more tiny difference though. To keep things neat, you can’t have both widgets and apps on one homescreen panel. Instead, you have widgets on one panel (or more) and apps on another panel (or more) separately. Infact the first homescreen panel itself, is a neatly arranged collection of a search bar, notes, calendar, calculator, clock, and music player widgets, all together.
But you’ll still definitely need some organisation skills to keep things from looking too cluttered, but I’ve grown quite used to this style of UI after all the Chinese smartphones I’ve reviewed in the last few months. Still, if you don’t like the UI, you could always install another third party launcher, like the Google Now launcher which looks kinda cool on the Mi Pad. On that note, I should mention, that there’s a bunch of Google apps pre-installed on the Mi Pad sold here in India.
Just like on a Xiaomi smartphone, you can pinch-out to customise the homescreen, and change wallpaper, transition effects, etc.
Apart from all that, there’s the same drop-down notification panel, with quick settings, and the same ol’ MIUI lock screen.
Typing on the Mi Pad is easy enough with both hands. You could install a third party Android keyboard like SwiftKey, but the built-in keyboard is good enough.
The Mi Pad is pretty good at handling multimedia, and can easily playback HD video with no issues at all.
Safe to say it handles web browsing very well too, and even has a built-in browser in addition to Google Chrome.
That being said, the location of the rear speakers does mean it tends to get muffled when you’re holding it in landscape, or playing a game.
As much as I hate people that use their tablets to take pictures, in the wild, a decent set of cameras on a tablet is always appreciated.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad has an 8 megapixel rear camera, and a 5 megapixel front facing camera for #selfies, which is pretty impressive for something in this price range.
The camera app is a basically a larger, but less feature-filled version of Xiaomi’s smartphone app. Just like you’d expect, there’s the ability to switch between image mode, or video mode, and a shortcut to the gallery, all on the right side.
On the left (or top in portrait) side, you’ll find more controls, including a toggle for the front facing camera, an audio toggle, built-in filters, and a ‘beautification’ mode for #selfies.
In terms of image quality, the Mi Pad’s rear camera takes some pretty good photos in daytime situations. Colors are rich, and well saturated, but details are kinda sketchy, with quite a bit of noise.
Since there’s no flash, or even an HDR mode, you won’t be taking too many images in low-light scenarios. Unless you don’t mind pictures with a lot of noise. Honestly, the camera on your smartphone is probably going to be better for those situations.
The front facing camera though, is pretty good for #selfies and video calls!
Here’s a couple camera samples from the Xiaomi Mi Pad, just to give you a better idea:
The Battery Life:-
The Mi Pad is powered by a 6700 mAh battery, which is good enough to last upto 3 days worth of moderate usage, if you stick to using it for a few hours of web browsing, videos or games each day. Naturally, lots of video or gaming will see battery life drop quicker.
I was able to get about 11 hours and 30 minutes worth of video playback time (on medium-ish brightness) on the Mi Pad, which was more than enough to get me through a flight and a long layover last week.
All in all, that battery life is pretty good for a tablet.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad succeeds at being the first interesting Android tablet to come along in a while now, mostly because of it’s combination of high-end specs and a very affordable price-tag.
While Android on tablets isn’t as pleasant an experience as iOS on a new iPad, Xiaomi’s UI is nice enough, though most Android apps are still not really optimised for this resolution and aspect ratio.
But while that would make it hard to justify buying a really expensive Android tablet, like the Xperia Z4 Tablet or the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, the Xiaomi Mi Pad is priced so affordably that it is just plain and simple, incredibly value for money. Infact the only thing that boasts similar specs, is the Google Nexus 9 which is more than double the price (Eeesh), and less portable.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking to pick up a new Android tablet, the Xiaomi Mi Pad is where the party’s at. Definitely recommended. Heck, I don’t even need an Android tablet and I’m tempted to get one.