Chinese tech manufacturers are now becoming more visible in the horizon, and the more popular and leading brands are now under threat. This is made possible due to the release of high-end products, at an unbelievably budget-friendly price tag, something that we thought were impossible when companies like Apple and Samsung were dominating the market.
And Xiaomi, which is probably the leader of the pack, became celebrated because of its bang-for-the-buck products. From well-built and powerful smartphones, impressive budget headphones, and now, an impossible tablet, the Mi Pad.
Xiaomi’s flagship tablet boasts a great amount of appealing specifications. But, is the Mi Pad the one for you? Does it really match some of the most expensive devices on the market? Let’s figure that out.
Mi Pad Specs
- 7.9″ IPS display 326ppi, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- 2.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 quad-core CPU
- 192-core NVIDIA Kepler GPU
- 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 128GB
- 8 mp BSI rear camera w/ Sony sensor, f2.0 aperture
- 5 megapixel front camera
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- WiFi Direct
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 6,700mAh battery
Design and Build
Right off the bat, it’s pretty obvious where did Xiaomi get inspiration in the construction of this device. But for those who are still clueless, we have an iPad Mini wannabe right here. Either if it’s a good thing or bad will really depend on your ethical perspective. But for m e, personally, I think having the same footprints with a renowned device, at a more practical price, is a win for us consumers. We can almost achieve the same value of a well-built device, at a cheaper price.
The Mi Pad’s measurements and the front-end’s aesthetics may look very identical with the tablet from Apple, but the similarities may have just end there (or at least for now). The materials being used and unalike hardware positions may differentiate Xiaomi’s tablet to Apple’s.
Right on front we do see the 7.9″ IPS display, with a pretty unconventional aspect ratio of 4:3, instead of the widely used 16:9 which has a widescreen field of view. These particular aspect ratio have always been the iPads’ screen shape, but in the last few years, Android devices were starting to plunge-in by introducing devices with the same aspect ratio; most notable products are the Nexus 9 HTC and the recently announced Galaxy Tab A from Samsung
We also have the 5-megapixel front-facing camera and the capacitive buttons on front.
The left side only has the very discreetly hidden microSD card slot (capable of up to 128GB). The right side contains the volume controls and the lock/power switch. These buttons are only made with plastic, but doesn’t feel any cheap. Despite being made with second-rate material, and having a very thin profile, they feel surprisingly tactile.
The top has the 3.5mm headphone port, at the bottom we got the microUSB port.
At the back we got the 8-megapixel BSI camera; the two microphones for noise-cancelling, which is pretty odd as it’s placed too close to each other (beneath the camera, the other is at the upper-middle corner). But nevertheless, the microphone can capture sound pretty well, with no complaints from the party I’m speaking with over Skype.
Another thing that separates this device from the iPads’ looks is the speaker placement. The drivers on this one is placed at the back of the device, rather than at the bottom, alongside the microUSB port. This type of design kinda works for me as I don’t get to block the speakers when I’m holding the device on landscape.
Despite the low price tag, it seems that Xiaomi didn’t skimp on any compromises on this device. The device has a pretty sharp 7.9″ Full HD IPS display, with 2048×1536 resolution, and has 326 pixels-per-inch. If the resolution sounds unfamiliar, it’s because of the device’s unusual aspect ratio of 4:3. The majority of Android devices that are on the market today uses a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, which is perfect for watching movies or any other video streaming; thus, watching almost any media on the Mi Pad will display black bars at the top and bottom of the frame to fit it perfectly on it’s almost-square display, this is because almost all of the videos today are shot and produced for widescreen displays. But nevertheless, a 4:3 display is more fitting to almost the greater part of tablet usage. This thing is suitable for other productivity or day-to-day apps, reading, and etc. A popular comparison would be the iPad, which uses the same ratio.
Devices with this type of aspect ratio is also perfect for one-handed operation. Since the device is slightly has more compact dimensions, it’s more ergonomic to use. Also, most photos are taken with the same aspect ratio, which means you can view them on this device using the overall space on the display. Although black bars are now mostly present on videos or any other clips as they have a standard size of 16:9.
In contrast to other departments, it’s in this particular area is where the Mi Pad shines the most. Xiaomi’s flagship tablet is the earliest adaptor of the quad-core Tegra K1 chipset. We got a 2.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 processor, with NVIDIA’s Kepler GPU with 192 CUDA Cores.
And just by the way it sounds, we do have a beastly processor that’s concealed on this device. The NVIDIA GPU that’s packed in this device has almost the same architecture with some top-class desktop graphics cards.
But before we proceed to our actual tests, let me just inform you that there’s a setting hidden on the battery section that gives you an option to choose from Balance to Performance, which oversees the processor’s operations to conserve battery. Naturally, I’ve ticked Performance under it so fully utilize the chipset’s capabilities, if that particular settings actually limits it.
Now with that all set, we’ll go now to all the tests I have ran on this thing. Benchmarking tests shows a predictable list of results; the scores it gathered are busting off the roof. And real-life usage approves those results. Processing and graphics performance is just seamless; games ran fluidly with no visible frame drops, applications also looked stunning with beautiful visuals. Although it’s in the small things that the chipset shows vulnerability — the device’s software version, which is also worsen by the company’s own UI on top made minor activities felt a little bumpy (full detail in the software section).
Of course, we really can’t have it all. It’s in the software and the user-interface is where the device’s frailty at. The Xiaomi Mi Pad is only running under Android 4.4.4 Kitkat, a very outdated software version, considering the long time presence of Android Lollipop and the recent announcement and the hype going on on Android M. Although I have seen some threads with people working to port Android Lollipop on the MiPad, but you have try it on your own risk.
What makes things worse is the skin on top of Android, the MIUI. Despite receiving timely updates, it’s still noticeable how the company’s own UI is bugging and slowing things down. Despite having a beastly processor, some jitters and bumps are still present; browsing the home screen, switching between apps, checking’ social media feeds, and etc. shows a lot of annoying stutters and lags.
But nevertheless, aesthetically speaking, MIUI is a pretty good-looking interaface. There’s a huge resemblance to the looks of Apple’s iOS, which Xiaomi also followed its footprints by omitting the app drawer. The exclusion of app drawer leaves all the applications projected in the home screen itself; and having this feature may be a pain to some — organizing apps into folders may be cumbersome, and widgets are now gone. Although some applications are can still be easily interacted on the homescreen, but these are just the preinstalled and native apps.
Check out some of the UI screenshots:
It’s very unusual to tablet devices to have a very capable camera module, as taking high definition photos are usually reserved in a more compact and small device, like a smartphone. But Xiaomi seems like doesn’t know how to stop. The Mi Pad boasts an 8-megapixel BSI sensor from Sony, and a 5-megapixel front-facing one.
The sensor is also covered with a wide aperture of f/2.0, which basically translates to having a lens that’s broadly open, thus, letting more light to pass through, and resulting to bright photo, with less visible noises and detail-distortion.
Judging at the shots I’ve taken below, the Mi Pad’s 8-megapixel primary shooter can really snap beautiful photos, or for a tablet at least. Photos looked more sharper and colorful, in comparison to other competing devices under this category. The images it produces has the right contrast and details are well-captured, even smaller objects are visible. Although, it’s a little obvious that there’s some post-processing being done by the software. Some colors looked like they’re under steroids, which makes it look unnatural and also adds some noise and distortion. Shooting in low-light environment is also the same story. For a camera with an f/2.0 aperture, photos are decently brighter, thus, details are more visible with less visible noise artifacts.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera also shines on this one, which I think the most used and abused camera on a tablet, rather than the primary one. This thing is perfect for video calls and, of course, selfies. The quality of photos it can produce is just pleasing. It’s bright and clean. Taking snaps at scenarios without proper lighting is also possible — it was still able to reproduce photos with the righ exposure, although grains are now more visible.
Check out these sample shots:
The front-facing camera also has a pretty merrymaking feature: as the camera app recognizes your face, it can predict your age. Although don’t expect some sharp accuracy on this one; I’m 20 years old, but the device did said I’m 27 yrs old , or sometimes 30 yrs. old. Ouch
The Mi Pad is also capable of shooting videos at 1080p, and as per my test, each frames in the clip I have taken has the same quality on its stills, which, as what I have said earlier, is pretty pleasing for a tablet device.
Xiaomi’s flagship tablet also utilizes a voluminous battery. We’re dealing with a whooping 6,700mAh battery. Something that we rarely see in this type of devices. Despite having a slick aesthetic, it’s quite hard to perceive that there’s a ginormous power supply on this one.
And it is without a surprise how impressive the battery’s performance on this one. The device did last for 21 hours on an average with light to moderate use like casual web browsing and checking social media accounts. While the result of my durability test was still nonetheless impressive. I’ve played a YouTube playlist on this one, with both the display brightness and volume set on 50%. With the Power Settings set on Balanced the device did last for almost 8 hours and 15 minutes, while changing the settings to Performance, which obviously should consume more juice, the device was still able to impressively stand for a good 7 hours and 20 minutes.
Xiaomi’s first card on the tablet market is a very impressive first step, which is unsurprising considering the company’s track record. The Mi smartphones were a bigtime hit, and the Mi Pad is no exemption. I would like to give it to the company’s impressive business plan for the success of their product. If you own a Mi device, you maybe went through all the hassle of getting one, since there are only very few official Mi physical store around the globe and the demand on their product is always on all-time-high, thus they’re always out-of-stock. The company is able to cut cost by only selling their products online and having a minimal product line-up; this helped the company introduce top-class smartphones at a budget-friendly prices.
As for the Mi Pad, this thing is really a representation of a product that’s a bang-for-the-buck. We got a sharp 1080p display, capable front and back cameras, powerful processor and large 6700mAh battery; all of this goodness are stuffed on a price tag of only Php 10,999.00.
But the device is not without its weakness. The outdated software can really be disturbing. Nope, I’m not just nitpicking. Software is still a crucial part on any device; both the hardware and software should work perfectly with each other, which can release each other’s full potential.
But nevertheless, the Xiaomi MiPad is probably one of the best Android tablet I’ve seen to date. For those who are looking for an all-around device, this one is worth checking out.
Xiaomi Mi Pad is available on Suncellular’s Gadget Plus Plans. Click here for more details.
- Beautiful and sharp display
- Powerful processor
- Decent camera
- Lengthy battery life
- Regular updates
- Plastic build
- 4:3 aspect ratio may not appeal to everyone
- Slightly buggy software