It has been a while since Xiaomi introduced a tablet in the Indian market. Well, seven years to be precise. The only Xiaomi tablet launched in India was the Mi Pad back in 2015 — at a very affordable starting price of Rs 12,999. But the tablet market has evolved a lot since then, and thanks to the pandemic, there’s been a renewed interest in this particular segment.
Xiaomi itself knows there is some potential here, and is hoping to make an impact. But what exactly does the Xiaomi Pad 5 offer and what’s different from other Android tablets? Here’s my first impression of the device after having used it for a few days.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Key specifications, what are the accessories?
Let’s quickly highlight the specifications first. The Xiaomi Pad 5 has a 10.95-inch 2.5K+ resolution display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. The tablet is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 processor, comes with 6GB RAM and has options of 128GB or 256GB storage. There’s no LTE variant in India, and this is a Wi-Fi-only tablet, though keep in mind that China does have cellular options.
The 8720 mAh battery comes with 22.5W fast charging, which means it should be good enough for most heavy-duty usage as well. Xiaomi Pad 5 gets a 13MP rear camera, which has a mode ready to scan documents– given this is a potential use case for tablet customers– and an 8MP front camera. It comes with quad-speakers with Dolby Atmos supported.
The company is also introducing a Smart Pen, which connects magnetically to the side of the tablet and charges. The Smart Pen supports a host of functions on the Xiaomi Pad 5. There’s a Xiaomi Pad Keyboard as well, which acts as a cover and keyboard stand. These two items have to be purchased separately, which is standard with most tablets.
Xiaomi Pad 5: What about the software?
While Xiaomi’s tablet boasts of all the right specifications and yes, it does look like an iPad clone, the essence of a good tablet is software and ease of use. And that’s where Xiaomi might have a tough time convincing users, given that MIUI typically does not get such a positive reaction.
With the Xiaomi Pad 5, the tablet runs what the company called MIUI for Pad, a version of MIUI 13 which has been modified to work smoothly on tablets. Xiaomi is also promising there are no ads on the MIUI for Pad. So far in my experience, it is less cluttered than what MIUI typically is, say on a smartphone. I have not seen any ads either and the number of pre-loaded apps is less.
There’s support for split-screen and floating windows. Split-screen is quite useful. One could have a document open on one side, while the other could have a video playing. Remember, not all apps on Android support split-screen. For instance, Gmail does not support this. One can activate the split-screen by going to the Recents menu on Xiaomi Pad 5. Just swiping up from the bottom of the screen and holding open this menu will show all the apps you have open. Then long-press on any app to see whether split-screen is supported.
I could open YouTube and Google Docs side by side. But it took me a few tries to get the gestures sorted. I realized Gmail on the Android tablet does not support split-screen, which does feel odd. There’s also an option for floating windows, where any app can remain on the home screen as an easily accessible version.
Xiaomi also sent the Smart Pen and keyboard cover. While the pen attaches to the Pad 5 magnetically, it doesn’t always feel so secure, especially with the keyboard cover attached. A few times, the pen just separated easily as I moved the tablet which isn’t ideal. Not sure if there’s a design flaw or if I did something wrong when attaching the pen.
I did type a small article using the keyboard and I found the experience surprisingly good. I hate smaller keyboards and am very skeptical that they will work for me. But this one worked quite well. The Pen’s response also seems satisfactory for now and you get a replaceable tip as well in the box. What also helps is that the Pad 5 can connect to any Bluetooth mouse, which can make navigating a lot easier. For me, especially when typing an article, I do a lot of scrolling up and down and I find a mouse better suited to the purpose.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Some final quick thoughts
As reviewers, we tend to see a lot of devices on a daily basis. And at times, it can be tough to get excited about some of these. But the Xiaomi Pad 5 certainly has my interest, given I’m reviewing a tablet after a long time. It also looks like a refreshing take on an Android tablet and at Rs 24,999 (this is an introductory price for the 128GB option), it could very well shake up the tablet market a bit more.
Xiaomi is hoping this can be an alternative to the iPad 9 (which is currently around Rs 30,000 in the market) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab A series. So far, this looks like a promising product. But whether this is good enough to be your next tablet buy, do wait for our full review, which will be out soon.