Technophile

Xiaomi Pad 5: Call it the Android iPad

Mala Bhargava | Updated on: May 30, 2022

With a brilliant screen, good battery life and specs, this Apple-like tablet is a strong contender 

I did a double take when I spotted the box that Xiaomi’s Pad 5 turned up in. It looks exactly like Apple’s iPad packaging, right down to the colours. Only a crooked logo placement on the top — and reading the name, of course — tells you this is no Apple product. It certainly has tried hard to be, as can be seen in so many of the details, but Xiaomi has brazenly copied Apple right from the start and seems to have got away with it. 

Apple-like

The Pad 5 tablet comes in a big box complete with charger — which also looks a bit Apple-like. The 10.95-inch tablet itself does look different in many aspects. It has a good build, but uses different materials from the iPad. The aluminium framed plastic back is not bad looking but does display finger smudges that don’t wipe off as easily.

It’s in a flat boxy styling with buttons in the expected places. Look around the sides and you’ll notice there’s no 3.5 mm jack or SIM tray as there’s no cellular option. I’ve learnt the hard way that one doesn’t really need to spend on an LTE version of a tablet because one rarely uses it outside of a WiFi zone and when necessary to do so, there’s always a phone to provide a hot spot. The power button doesn’t double up as a fingerprint sensor so one has to use other methods to lock the device. 

Chip and storage

The display on this tablet may be an LCD, but it does a good job of looking like an AMOLED panel. Resolution is 1600 x 2560 pixels and the screen looks bright with strong popping colours and no washout on changing angles. On top of that, it has a 120Hz refresh rate. Bordered by slim bezels, it makes for a good place to watch movies and videos, read and browse. It supports HDR10, Dolby Vision and Widevine L1 and is also a good shape and size on which to consume content. To keep things more comfortable, there are temperature adjustments that adapt to to ambient light. There are stereo speakers on the tablet. 

Powering the tablet is the Snapdragon 860 chip, older but still powerful. There’s 6GB of RAM with either 128GB or 256GB of storage; no memory card slot. The device still works on Android 11, with no specific date given for an upgrade. If you maintain the tablet well and make sure you install security updates, the Pad 5 should continue to perform quite well for a few years. It works well at all everyday tasks without getting the least bit heated up. You can even game somewhat, though it doesn’t seem to have been tuned for that purpose. 

You can do light work with this tablet if you add a keyboard. Like with the iPad, you have to buy the keyboard and stylus separately. These are of course important if you want to enhance the productivity angle of this tablet. A cover is in any case a good idea, and also serves to prop up the device. Keyboards can be wireless ones from anywhere, but it’s always better to see if you can get one that’s made for it. I have tried out the Xiaomi Pad keyboard and it’s a replica of Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole again. 

It’s really nice to see that the pen or stylus isn’t a ‘dumb’ one. It works for writing, drawing etc, but also for navigating the device. It doesn’t have the huge bouquet of features Samsung’s S-Pen does but its two buttons do have options for selecting things on screen. 

Camera, battery and price

If there’s one big drawback with the tablet’s 8MP front camera, it’s that it isn’t positioned the best way for video calls in landscape. You can look where you like, it doesn’t come out right. In Portrait mode, it does. The rear camera is a 13MP. 

There’s a 8,720 mAh battery onboard which supports 33W charging. It also lasts quite well. 

The Pad 5 costs ₹26,999 for the 128GB version and ₹28,999 for the 256GB version. Apple’s ‘regular’ iPad is only a little more expensive (prices can vary) so one does have the choice of going with either, but be aware that choosing the iPad vs an Android tablet is really a matter of which ecosystem you think you will be more comfortable with. Many users are used to Android because of their phones. But those who use the iPhone, MacBook etc will find the iPad fits right into the what they do. That said, the cost of ownership of an iPad will be higher. There are excellent apps on the App Store that put Android apps to shame, but they typically cost, as does every accessory that can be used with the iPad. 

As for the Android world, it has tended to have a lot of compromised tablets, so it’s nice to see one that is trying to attain better quality, even if it does imitate the iPad. 

Published on May 24, 2022
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