The Xiaomi Pad 5 will attract many customers mainly because of its price in India. At starting Rs 26,999, the Android tablet comes with a 120Hz LCD display with Dolby Vision, quad speakers with Dolby Atmos, customised MIUI 13 for Pad, and Snapdragon 860 SoC, which is quite capable of handling heavy tasks. Moreover, Xiaomi is not only offering the option to get proprietary accessories, but customers can even connect third-party keyboards and gamepads to improve the overall experience. And if you want to use the tablet for video calling, we get capable cameras at the front and back.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 even has a variant with 256GB storage that obviously costs more at Rs 28,999. It is still more affordable than the iPad 9th-Gen 64GB that costs Rs 30,990. During a product briefing session, the company claimed that its new-gen tablet meets most requirements, be it gaming, productivity, and entertainment. So today, I will be taking a different route for this review and particularly highlight these areas instead of talking about design, battery, and other parameters. I still believe that budget tablets aren’t a replacement for laptops (yet), but they can be super handy to tackle smartphone fatigue.
Xiaomi Pad 5 for entertainment: Tablets can be great for viewing content as we get more viewing area and slimmer form factor than a laptop. Though many budget tablets promise Full-HD or greater resolution, they lack the most basic Android key to unlock high-resolution videos. So first things first, we get L1 Widevine certification for OTT platforms, meaning Netflix and Prime videos will play at Full-HD or Ultra-HD resolution, provided you have the top-tier plan.
We get a 10.95-inch LCD display with WQHD+ (1,600 x 2,560 pixels) resolution, 500 nits brightness, and Dolby Vision support. For smooth scrolling and browsing experience, we get a 120Hz refresh rate display that Apple reserves for its ‘Pro’ iPad series. To even amp up your entertainment experience, there’s a quad-speaker system that offers ample bass and loudness. For reference, I watched Premier League games on Disney+ Hotstar, Ozark season 4 Part 2 on Netflix, and Office on Amazon Prime Video, and all the apps worked perfectly fine, and the videos were sharp and vivid.
Similarly, users who enjoy reading can reap the benefits of the ‘reading mode’ that the Android 11-based MIUI 13 includes. Of course, this reading mode isn’t as versatile as the paper-like experience that Amazon Kindle offers, but we do get a nice, matte finish that works with major news websites too.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 sadly does not include a 3.5mm audio jack which may disappoint some users who still prefer using wired earphones. There’s no LTE variant of the tablet (yet), so if you want to use the device outdoors, you’ll need to rely on the phone’s hotspot as I seriously advise against using public Wi-Fi connection. Lastly, some may even question Xiaomi’s decision to use an LCD panel, but honestly, most users won’t even realise the difference here thanks to higher resolution, Dolby Vision, and adequate brightness.
Xiaomi Pad 5 for gaming: Gaming on Xiaomi Pad 5 is equally good, mainly because of the reliable display and processor. We also get a USB-C port with OTG support, so you can connect third-party gamepads. I used a wireless gamepad (Ant Esports GP300 Pro) and established a connection through the 2.4Ghz dongle. You can even hover over the apps with the gamepad, but the experience is not fully optimised.
The gamepad worked fine with negligible lag or stutters while playing Asphalt 9, but titles like Call of Duty only support Xbox controllers, which I couldn’t test. I also played Kraftons’s BGMI which didn’t face any issues with top graphics settings enabled. But playing the action title on a 10.9-inch touch-enabled screen feels awkward.
If you care for benchmarks, the Xiaomi Pad 5 scored 760 and 2,526 points in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core CPU test. In the 3D Mark 1-minute long WildLife GPU test, the tablet attained 3,265 points – better than most affordable rivals. Lastly, its CPU throttled to 95 percent of its max performance. The scores indicate that the Xiaomi Pad 5 should work vastly better than most of its budget Android competitions.
Productivity on Xiaomi Pad 5: As mentioned earlier, the Xiaomi Pad 5 gets a custom MIUI 13 for Pad that I enjoyed using thoroughly. We still get some bloatware and spammy notifications from proprietary apps, but users can disable them from the Settings menu. Overall, the MIUI 13 does offer some nifty features, but the software needs some optimisation as texts are still jumbled for certains apps. It is still running on Android 11, and the company did confirm the arrival of Android 12L, though that may take some time.
However, I was happy that the interface is mostly intuitive, and even elderly customers will find the tablet easy to operate. Users can also use apps like Instagram and Facebook too.
If you’re a teacher or professional who relies on video calls, the front camera delivers an above-average performance under perfect lighting conditions. As expected, the images and videos are grainy under low light settings. The 13-megapixel back camera, on the other hand, delivers sharp photos and performs much better than budget tablets like Galaxy Tab A8 and Nokia T20.
However, readers must remember that the Xiaomi Tab 5 isn’t a laptop, and it’s mainly useful for entertainment purposes. I’ve said in a previous Nokia T20 review that budget (or mid-budget in this case) Android tablets are great for tackling phone screen fatigue and managing smart home devices. In that regard, the Xiaomi Tab 5 can increase productivity as it will also help you de-clutter smartphone apps.
Accessories: The Xiaomi Pad 5 does not include proprietary accessories like the keyboard or stylus and customers need to purchase them separately. I highly recommend customers to buy the Xiaomi Pad 5 Cover, which costs Rs 1,999 and it can help protect against scratches. It also lets users mount the tablet for a comfortable viewing angle.
If you want something more chic, I recently got the DailyObjects Mount Adjustable Phone Stand that features a wooden base and is available in multiple colours. It doubles as a tablet stand and costs the same as the Pad cover. It can be highly useful if you want to use the tablet as a secondary monitor in landscape mode. The Mount even allows customers the comfort of using the tablet while it’s charging.
Xiaomi also sent us the Xiaomi Pad keyboard that I couldn’t find on the Mi Store and the price remains unclear. The keyboard includes squishy keys, but you cannot adjust the height like on Apple’s Magic Keyboard. However, it still works better than Apple’s iPad basic cover and keyboard as the Xiaomi keyboard offers better feedback and travel space.
There’s also a Xiaomi Smart Pen (Rs 5,999) available in a black finish. We get in-line controls to take screenshots or take quick notes. Users can attach the pen on the side, where it also charges magnetically. Its packaging includes a replaceable soft tip if you’re into designing. To be fair, both Xiaomi accessories work smoothly; however, many Android apps still need optimisation to work seamlessly with them.
Verdict: While making their purchase decision, many would get confused between the Xiaomi Pad 5 or Apple iPad (9th-gen). At this point, it is all about requirements.
If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, getting an iPad makes more sense as you get seamless integration with iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch. Apple also promises five to six years of OS updates, more than any competition is willing to offer. The iPad features metal finish, while the Xiaomi Pad 5 comes with a plastic body.
However, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is definitely worth checking out (I’d say even buying) if you’re an Android user and don’t want to spend extra to get 128GB/256GB of storage. To put it simply, the Xiaomi Pad 5 can be seen as an Android-alternative to the Apple iPad (9th-Gen). But the tablet’s future Android OS updates look doubtful, and the MIUI 13 for Pad still needs some work.