scorecardXiaomi Pad 5 Review - Is it best Android alternate to iPad Air?
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Xiaomi Pad 5 Review - Is it best Android alternate to iPad Air?

Xiaomi Pad 5 Review - Is it best Android alternate to iPad Air?
News11 min read

  • Xiaomi Pad 5 starts at a price of ₹26,999.
  • Xiaomi Pad 5 runs on Android 11 out of the box and is said to get Android 12 update in future.
  • The brand also sells a keyboard cover and a stylus for the Pad 5 separately.
Xiaomi recently launched the Pad 5, its first tablet, in India. The brand's entry into the tablet space after a long hiatus indicates how lucrative this segment has eventually become. Xiaomi Pad 5, on paper, is a beast of a tablet for its price with high-end specs and a competitive price tag. But is it really? I have spent 10 days with it and I have an answer to that.

Price & Availability
Xiaomi Pad 5 starts at ₹26,999 for the 6GB RAM & 128GB storage capacity variant. There is another variant with 256GB storage capacity and similar RAM available at ₹28,999. You can buy it from Amazon or Mi’s store.

Design - Feels Premium
When I held the Xiaomi Pad 5 for the first time, I was really impressed with the premium feel. A design significantly inspired by Apple’s iPad Air, this latest tablet also sports a sleek frame. The materials used are different though. Xiaomi Pad 5 comes with a metal frame that encompasses a glass front and a plastic back. The tablet feels solid, and the weight distribution is favorable. At 500 grams, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is comfortable to hold, the flat edges allow you to maintain a firm grip around it, even with one hand.

The color variant with me is the cosmic black, it’s subtle and looks chic. There are other options like Pearl white and Green, but I find this one to go well with the design.

Turning the Xiaomi Pad 5 around introduces us to the camera bump, yes it is protruding, but it won’t bother you that much. Especially once you put a case on it. Other design characteristics include volume rockers which are on the top left if you are holding the tablet in landscape mode and on the right-hand side in portrait mode. There is a power lock and unlock button that is on the left side when you hold it in landscape mode and on the top right when you hold it in portrait mode.

The buttons are tactile and feel robust. On the bottom, you will find the USB Type-C charging port next to the speaker grill.

The lack of a fingerprint sensor definitely surprised me on the Xiaomi Pad 5. Since it has a respectable size just like the iPad. What does that mean for security? I talk about it in the latter half of the article.

Another drawback is the lack of IP rating, which is disappointing. A major use case for a tablet is for people who like to travel and water resistance and durability becomes paramount in such use cases.

Xiaomi Pad 5 features an 11-inch 2.5K Display. It’s an IPS LCD panel with 1600x2560 pixels resolution. Before I get to the display quality, it’s important to highlight the chunky bezels we see around the panel. These bezels are thick and shiny and it might take some time for you to adjust to them. While they do not affect the actual display performance, they kept me distracted as it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Xiaomi has managed to provide a commendable display in this budget. It’s vibrant, well lit, and produces natural colors while retaining details. I do wish that the black levels were a bit better especially around the corners, but this is expected with an LCD.

Like most other LCD panels, apps like Youtube let us set up a video to 4K, which is not true. That being said it’s fun to consume content on the Xiaomi Pad 5 with respect to the screen. Dolby Atmos support also adds a zing to watching movies from different OTT apps. I watched Batman V Superman (2016) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The display also supports a max refresh rate of 120Hz. It is as fluid as one expects it to be, and the screen becomes a breeze to work around with. Xiaomi does not provide an adaptive refresh rate feature on the Xiaomi Pad 5, this to me is a missed opportunity. I might be knit-picking here but I feel it could have worked wonders on a tablet of this capacity. Yes, 120Hz is great, but an adaptive refresh rate means the screen could switch refresh rates according to the content on display.

Unfortunately, Xiaomi fails to provide an efficient set-up on this tablet to compliment the screen. The quad speaker setup might sound hefty on paper but it is a disappointment in day to day usage. The main issue is the level of loudness as the volume gets damped in some situations - like when there’s a full-speed fan running in the same room.

When I was watching something by myself I was mostly dependent on my TWS buds, and when it came to watching with others I connected a Bluetooth speaker.

Stylus and Keyboard cover

It is with the display that we also get introduced to the first accessory, Xiaomi Smart Pen.
It’s sleek, and you can maintain a firm grip on it. There are buttons mounted on it, which have dedicated shortcuts on them. But does it do its job well? Yes, it does. As expected it makes your life easier when it comes to interacting with the display. I mostly used it to make notes, change volume levels, and do a bit of photo editing. In each of these use cases, the stylus never gave up on me.

That being said if you are a professional designer and create visual graphics, then the performance might lag behind the likes of Apple Pencil or S-Pen. Graphic intensive tasks usually require long-term interactions with the display, in this case, the pen starts to struggle. Like missing out on long strokes. The battery life of the stylus is favorable and at 100% capacity, it can last upto 3 days. Fortunately, it can be connected magnetically to the pad itself which also charges it. So, chances are most of the time the stylus will be sufficiently charged.

Overall, if you chose to go for Pad 5 then, I would suggest spending another ₹4,999 for the stylus as well.

Now that the stylus has been covered it's important to talk about the keyboard cover as well. Made of Good quality leather, the case, just like the device, also feels premium. It snaps right up on the Xiaomi Pad 5 and is easy to take off as well. However, I was struggling a bit when connecting the keyboard section. The magnetic strength hinders the smooth transition we get to see on a device like Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. I had to take out the tablet and attach it dedicatedly with precision quite often in order to use it properly.

This gets tiring after a while. I hope Xiaomi fixes this design in the next iteration of the case. The real-time experience of using the keyboard is satisfactory. The keys are tactile and it’s fun typing on them. The keyboard despite being small has a respectable travel distance of 1.2mm. For that matter, this review is written on the Xiaomi Pad 5. Yes, you can’t switch between windows and tabs from the keyboard itself, but then Xiaomi isn’t pitching it like one. This is not meant to replace your laptop, instead, it provides you easy access to general online computing. And, it does manage to succeed in this endeavour. Just like the stylus, I highly recommend getting the keyboard case with your Xiaomi Pad 5.

Before closing this section I must mention that if you are planning to buy the Pad 5 just to consume content, then you can do away with these accessories. In case you want to occasionally use it like a laptop you can connect a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard with it. This is a more affordable alternative for casual users.

User Experience
Xiaomi Pad 5 runs on Android 11 out of the box and pairs up with the Mi UI 12.5 skin. This particular Xiaomi skin has been updated and customized for tablet orientation. For starters, you won’t find an app drawer by default on the device, instead, the apps remain on the home screen. Another nice touch is the widget section, revised and optimized they do add up in productivity.

My go-to favorites were email and calendar. I could set reminders, and even reply to emails from the home screen itself, this was very handy. Of course, there is a split-screen function on board as well. Xiaomi is usually good at executing this, so no wonder it works smoothly on the Xiaomi Pad 5. You can open up to two windows simultaneously which is what a general user would incline towards. But with ample real estate, I feel one could use 3 apps as well. Maybe Xiaomi should consider it with a future update.

Just like the iPad, we get to see an app tray on the bottom of the screen as well, which pops up when we swipe upwards from the bottom half. There were times when I was trying to navigate back to the home screen but instead the app tray would pop out. If you want to solve this issue altogether, turn off gestures and use navigation buttons instead.

As mentioned previously in this review, Xiaomi Pad 5 does not come with a fingerprint reader, instead, it has a face unlock. Unlike the more fancy IR blasters that we see on other devices, this one works with the front camera. And as it is with generic face unlocking, the problems are similar here. In low lighting conditions or while wearing a mask, the Xiaomi Pad 5 struggles to unlock. For the most part, I had to punch in my numeric pin to get inside.

Xiaomi Pad 5 Performance
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor turns out to be the right chipset for this device. Delivering a fiery performance the SoC works in sync with the OS on board. The Xiaomi Pad 5 boots up without any lag, and you can begin to interact with the device right off the bat.

The 6GB RAM onboard is more than sufficient for genric tasks like web browsing or social media. Additionally, it holds up well against heavy tasks too. To test the gaming performance, I played BGMI on the Xiaomi Pad 5 and the performance was satisfactory. There were no frame drops and the game ran smoothly on UHD settings. Yes, the tablet did a bit warm but not unbearably hot. I edited pictures on Adobe Lightroom, and the performance was commendable there as well.

The 128GB internal storage variant might be sufficient for most users, however, I would suggest going for the 256GB variant. Since a tablet is used for long and it is your local device for storing media and important documents. In this case, it’s even more important since you do not get a microSD card slot to expand the storage capacity. Something I believe should have been there.

But it’s not just the microSD card slot that’s missing. There is also no SIM-card slot on board. It’s a general fact that people don’t make phone calls from their tablets. While it’s true having a SIM card has more than just one application. Primarily a SIM card gives you access to the cellular internet on the go. Xiaomi has managed to clip the wings on the Pad 5 with this move in my opinion. A powerful device of this nature is shackled by the sheer absence of the internet when on the move. I can still connect it with my mobile hotspot or ask for WiFi passwords when I move around. This is a major flaw in my opinion.

Xiaomi Pad 5 comes with an 8720 mAh battery. A respectable size for the tablet, it was difficult to kill it. On light days, the Xiaomi Pad 5 would give a mileage of upto 2 days. Of course, the battery dipped to a day if I binge-watched 3 feature films in a single sitting. Do note that the battery performance depends majorly on your usage patterns. Xiaomi Pad 5 supports 22.5W fast charging which takes about 2 hours to charge it completely.

Camera Performance
The camera on a tablet has 2 important use cases, video calls, and scanning documents. The Xiaomi Pad 5 is an overachiever in these 2 fields. The main camera is a 13MP shooter, which clicks decent images. Xiaomi is well aware of the first use case I mentioned - scanning documents that’s why we also see a document mode in the camera app. A small add-on with a big real-time impact. I did not have to download third-party apps to scan documents on this one since I could do it from the native camera app. Otherwise, the pictures were soft and undersaturated in most cases.

The main camera can also record 4K videos at 30fps, however, the results are underwhelming, and I doubt users will ever turn to that.

The lens module on the back gives an impression that there is a multi-camera set-up, however, the other lens just reads 13MP. That’s a sign of a re-used camera module from some other Xiaomi device. This is a bit miss leading so be careful.

The front camera is an 8MP shooter and is good for video calls. Taking selfies for your social media feed should remain your smartphone's job. The output, in this case, is also soft, and the performance further dips in low light conditions.
Xiaomi Pad 5, turns out to be a great option for people who are looking for a powerful media device. One which is not only great for consuming content but also for playing games. Of course with added accessories, it will also add to your productivity. Can it replace your laptop? No. Can it keep you away from your phone? Yes. However, if you are a content creator or more specifically a graphic designer, then the pad 5 does not replace the iPad Air for you in any shape or form.

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