Xiaomi has made a fortune out of copying the homework from Apple throughout the years. Its MIUI is a tasteful replica of iOS, while several of its prominent smartphones have always resembled the iPhone of that year. The same goes for its latest tablet, which despite all the differentiation from the regular MIUI ecosystem, is an unmistakable clone of the iPad. The Xiaomi Pad 5 may run on Android but in terms of its looks and feel, many will wonder why there’s no Apple logo on its back!
You may think it is an exaggeration but the Xiaomi Pad 5 is truly copying the homework from the modern-day iPad. That is not a bad deal considering the introductory starting price of Rs. 24,999 for the base 128GB storage variant. And, mind you — this is no cheap iPad knockoff. For an iPad loyalist like me, adapting to the MIUI for Pad-ways was a child’s play. But is it worth buying, considering the rest of the package? That is something I found out over the last 10 days.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 resembles largely the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen, considering its slim bezels around the display, and the same kind of flat sides. The build quality is almost as nice as the iPad, although the choice of materials is different. Unlike the all-metal body on the iPad models, the Xiaomi Pad 5 has a metal frame sandwiched between the glass display and the plastic rear. Plastic may trigger some critics and fanboys but be assured the Xiaomi Pad 5 is among the best built tablets you can buy today. And, plastics make for a fairly lightweight tablet that is manageable to flick around.
Now note that the Xiaomi Pad 5 is not exactly a new tablet and you can tell that from its Mi 11X-inspired rear camera hump. That camera hump holds a single 13MP rear camera. The tablet also features a set of quad speakers, and a USB 2.0 port. I wish Xiaomi had offered more colour options on the Pad 5, considering the standard black variant looks dull.
Note that as part of the package, you get the 22.5W charger in the box. You will need to buy the keyboard case and Smart Pen separately.
This is where the Pad 5 beats most tablets priced much higher. The 10.95-inch display has a WQHD+ resolution with support for 120Hz refresh rate, and support for DCI-P3 colours as well as Dolby Vision. Show these stats to any nerd and they will go wild. The LCD display is a tad below the iPad Air’s display in terms of colour vibrancy and liveliness but it looks good overall.
What makes up for it is the 120Hz refresh rate, which makes this one of the smoothest tablet displays. Scrolling feels naturally smooth, animations appear buttery, and so do games. We noted that YouTube and a couple of other apps were restricted to 60Hz only, which could be an issue from the app developers.
With Android tablets, you can only expect flawless performance on those high-end tablets from Samsung — the cheaper ones are all sluggish and dreary. Xiaomi has been clever here by avoiding any of the Snapdragon 700 series chips and gone for the Snapdragon 860 chip. This is the same chip that powered the Poco X3 Pro, and had impressed us back then with its raw performance capabilities.
It does the same on the Xiaomi Pad 5. In terms of AnTuTu scores, the Snapdragon 860 just about beats the MediaTek Dimensity 920. Paired with the MIUI for Pad interface, this is one fast tablet that is eager to take commands. The interface is snappy and games take almost the same kind of time they do on an iPad, or any other high-end Android phone running on a Snapdragon 870 chip. Throughout my time with the Pad 5, this tablet did not show stutters, or lags. Never did it lag, or run out of breath while doing the multi-window multitasking bits on the MIUI for Pad. I haven’t seen any Android tablet working as flawlessly as the Xiaomi Pad 5, save for those exorbitantly priced Samsung Galaxy Tab S8.
We need to talk about MIUI for Pad interface. It had all those MIUI 13 elements we have come to love on Xiaomi phones but all designed to resemble the iPadOS. The dock at the bottom works almost like the one on iPadOS, and you can bring it up while playing any game, or running any app. Xiaomi has implemented clever gestures to bring the dock up and all of it feels natural. Even in the multi-window mode, the back gesture works exactly the way you expect. I haven’t seen this kind of convenience on other tablets, not even the iPad.
And may I also highlight the fact that MIUI for Pad has absolutely no bloatware or adware apps. This is the cleanest version of MIUI I have seen in a very long time, and I wish Xiaomi brings something like this on its expensive flagships. I also wish Xiaomi introduced it with Android 12 instead of the ancient Android 11.
At the time of writing this review, I did not have access to the keyboard cover and Smart Pen stylus. Xiaomi is selling the Xiaomi Pad 5 Cover at a price of Rs. 1,499, while the Smart Pen will cost Rs. 4,999.
Next, let us talk about the speakers. The quad speakers sound tempting on paper but in reality, they don’t pack the same punch as promised. The audio quality is good for a tablet of this price but the four speakers don’t pack enough punch and volume as expected from a quad speaker setup. Next to the iPad Air’s dual speaker setup, the soundstage seems limited and weaker.
And yes, the Xiaomi Pad 5 has a pair of decent cameras. The 13MP rear camera is good enough for scanning documents and taking photos for mails or projects, but the image quality is far from what you see on similarly priced smartphones. The 8MP front camera is good for video calls and selfies.
There are certain omissions that are glaring. Xiaomi doesn’t offer LTE connectivity on the Pad 5, which means you have to stay within Wi-Fi networks or keep a dongle handy to get work done on the move. The tablet also lacks GPS, which is another weird omission — this hurts while doing research on Maps. Also, the tablet comes with 6GB RAM as standard and I wish it had come with 8GB RAM to better future-proof, at least on a high-end model.
On paper, the Xiaomi Pad 5 has a battery big enough to keep it going for days on light usage. The 8720Ah battery is large on paper but given that Android isn’t as power efficient as iPadOS, the Xiaomi Pad 5 with regular use ends the day with 30-40 percent remaining. This usage involved an hour of conference meeting, 2-3 hours of video watching, and an hour of basic tasks (emails, social media, and more). The 22.5W charger that comes in the box takes close to two hours to fully recharge the battery but the 33W Xiaomi charger can do the same 30 minutes faster.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 is the much-needed refreshment needed in the affordable tablet space. In a world where every other brand simply makes a tablet for the sake of getting a share of the emerging demand in this segment, Xiaomi comes along with one that cares for the tablet experience. Yes, it is an iPad clone in a mega way but it does it tastefully. MIUI for Pad is easily the most refined tablet experience we have seen in a long time, and I sincerely hope that it continues to make it better than ever. The hardware in itself is great — the display is beautiful and so are the speakers for the price. It is built very well too.
That said, the Xiaomi Pad is limited in the way it is made. With an iPad, you have the ecosystem benefits, and some well-designed apps. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy tab models, wherein having a Samsung phone enhances the experience.There’s none of that convenience on the Xiaomi Pad 5 — there are no associated benefits if you use a Xiaomi phone. Additionally, Android itself is not well designed for tablet apps and it shows, despite Xiaomi trying its best to bridge the gap.
Hence, the base iPad is still the best tablet experience you can have for less than Rs. 30,000. The Xiaomi Pad 5, however, is a very close second and offers a great overall experience, especially for the creative users. As long as you want a feature-packed tablet for doing basic tablet things such as watching movies, playing games, and doing basic productivity tasks, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is a great recommendation.
Copyright © HT Media Limited
All rights reserved.