Ever since tablets were invented, Apple’s iPads have been the market leader. On the other hand, Android tablets are often ridiculed. However, this could be changing. The new Xiaomi Pad 5 follows Samsung’s excellent Galaxy Tab S7, which was released last year.
Since the release of the Mi Pad 4, Xiaomi’s last tablet, it’s been over three years. While Xiaomi was once known as a maker of “pretty good” products for their price, it has now evolved into a true premium hardware manufacturer, and its latest tablet, Xiaomi Pad 5, is easily its best-looking yet.
It’s a start, but is it enough to restore Android tablets’ credibility?
Xiaomi Pad 5: Hardware and Design
With an 11-inch widescreen and sides that look like Apple’s modern iPads, particularly the 2020 iPad Air, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is an 11-inch widescreen tablet. Aside from the obvious fact that Xiaomi’s 2021 model will have hard, flat metallic sides, which Apple has been using for the past year, I will argue that there aren’t many ways to design the front and chassis of a tablet. If you look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 from the front and side, it also looks like an iPad.
In addition to the DCI-P3 color gamut, the Xiaomi Pad 5’s 11-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS LCD panel refreshes at 120Hz and can display over a billion colors. Even when used indoors and under shade, I find the tablet’s surface very reflective.
Were I Xiaomi, I would have chosen the 3:2 screen aspect ratio (like iPads) rather than going with a wider screen aspect ratio. But that’s just my personal preference — those who spend more time gaming or watching movies will prefer the Xiaomi Pad 5’s screen size.
Due to its excellent quad-speaker system tuned by Harmon Kardon, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is also ideal for Netflix binges.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 SoC, an 8,720-mAh battery, and 6GB of RAM with either 128Gb or 256Gb of storage power the Xiaomi Pad 5. The Xiaomi Pad 5’s components aren’t exactly 2021’s top-of-the-line components, but they do solidify it as an affordable, upper mid-range tablet. There is no fingerprint scanner on the tablet, so you must use a PIN code, password, or the not-so-secure face unlock.
In addition to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 SoC, the Xiaomi Pad 5 comes with an 8,720 mAh battery, as well as 6GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal storage. Even if they aren’t 2021 flagship components, these components solidify the Xiaomi Pad 5’s position as an affordable, upper mid-range tablet. You can’t unlock it with your face or a PIN code because there’s no fingerprint scanner on this tablet.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Performance as a standalone tablet
In light of the fact that Xiaomi did not announce a keyboard case at the global launch event (the keyboard case is only available in China for now), it’s clear that Xiaomi intends for most consumers to use the Pad 5 as a handheld tablet.
As a result, the tablet performs admirably in this regard. There is no doubt that the Xiaomi Pad 5 is a fantastic media consumption device on the sofa or bed thanks to its grippy back texture, lightweight, and excellent speakers. But even though Qualcomm’s SoC, the Snapdragon 860, runs at 7nm, it can handle any app I threw at it, including graphically intensive games like CarX Highway Racing and Sierra 7.
The 8,730 mAh battery lasts a respectable amount of time on a single charge. Even though I hadn’t charged my tablet during my first three days with the Pad 5, the tablet’s battery was still at 73 percent after three nights of roughly hour-long gaming/movie sessions. When I charged the battery to 100 percent on day four, I used the Pad 5 as a work machine for nine hours, and it still had 25 percent left over.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Performance as a work machine with keyboard case
For this reason, Xiaomi did not make its keyboard case for the Pad 5 available to English media reviewers (meaning outside of mainland China). A Xiaomi Pad 5 was purchased by me (for approximately $66 in today’s currency) because using it solely as a handheld tablet would not be utilizing it to its full potential.
With a plastic-and-rubber exterior and a magnetically attached back, this keyboard case looks and feels like any other keyboard case available for the iPad or Galaxy Tab S7 (or any other tablet). Only one viewing angle is available compared to other keyboard cases from Samsung or Huawei, which offer two.
Well-spaced keys with good feedback. The keys are well-spaced and responsive. Because I’m a very fast touch typist, this allows me to type fast. A trackpad or function keys are not available on the keyboard, however.
In spite of this, I was able to write articles and complete some of my daily tasks. Even though I’d prefer a screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of a wide-screen, I can open WordPress and a second window like Chrome or Slack in split-screen view without any issues. A third app cannot be opened on Xiaomi’s software, however. Split-screening two apps or having one app floating above the other is your only option.
Xiaomi Pad 5: Performance with Smart Pen
An approximately $60 stylus, the Xiaomi Smart Pen is designed exclusively for the Xiaomi Pad 5. Like the Apple Pencil, it magnetically attaches to the top of the Pad 5, where it charges.
Apple Pencil or Samsung’s S-Pen for Tab S7 provides similar sketching experiences. I don’t know how many points of pressure Xiaomi’s Smart Pen can detect, or how much latency it has down to the millisecond, but I was able to sketch on Xiaomi’s tablet and get results similar to the iPad with the Apple Pencil. The digital on-screen ink follows my pen strokes closely enough that I didn’t notice any latency.
On the downside, there is no way to convert handwritten words into digital text. This feature has always struck me as a bit of a gimmick to me. To be fair, most people reading this article probably type faster than I do, so why do I need to write words that will then be converted into text? As a result, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei tablets all have this capability (even if I have almost never used it).