Xiaomi Pad 5 Review: The Android Tablet Experience Done Right


The Xiaomi Pad 5 is a new entrant in the mid-range tablet segment in India and is priced competitively starting at Rs. 26,999. It packs a powerful processor and a high refresh rate display, two hardware features that are not commonly found on a tablet around this segment. This makes it a very competitive product, especially when you consider that it is also compatible with a stylus and keyboard cover accessories, which can be purchased separately.

Is Xiaomi’s Pad 5 a good enough mid-range Android tablet and more importantly, does it have anything special in the software department that could help it be more than just a media consumption device? Let’s find out in this review.

Xiaomi Pad 5 price in India

The Xiaomi Pad 5 is available in two variants and both of them have 6GB of RAM. The base variant comes with 128GB of storage and is available for Rs. 26,999, while the other offers 256GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 28,999. The tablet is available in a single colour called Cosmic Gray and comes with a charger in the box, along with a USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable.

There are three accessories available for this tablet, which are sold separately. The Xiaomi Smart Pen is priced at Rs. 5,999, while the simple foldable cover is priced at Rs. 1,999. There is also the Xiaomi Pad Keyboard cover, but this is yet to go on sale in India as as of this review, so we don’t have the pricing.

Xiaomi Pad 5 design

The Xiaomi Pad 5 has a metal frame with flat sides, sandwiched between a glass screen on the front and a polycarbonate sheet at the back. The Gorilla Glass 3 cover over the display does not attract fingerprints easily, but the smooth matte-finished rear panel is a smudge-magnet and is quite hard to keep clean. If you buy the cover case, this should cover the back and offer some protection against dust and grime.

The Xiaomi Pad 5’s back panel is made of polycarbonate and gathers fingerprints easily

 

When held horizontally, the tablet has two speakers each on the left and right sides, a magnetic connector for the Smart Pen on the top of the frame, and three contact pins for the keyboard accessory at the bottom. The only component that doesn’t sit flush with the rest of the tablet is the single camera module at the back, but it doesn’t protrude too much. The power and volume buttons are located close to the top left corner. They are easy to find but require some pressure to use.

The Xiaomi Pad 5 feels quite premium and weighs about 511g, which I found to be a bit heavy. Indeed, it’s not ideal for one-handed use. Attaching the keyboard accessory adds quite a bit of weight and makes the whole package nearly as heavy as an ultra-thin laptop, so I preferred to remove it when doing things such as gaming. The standard foldable cover (without the keyboard) is said to be a lot lighter and it also works as a foldable stand for the tablet.

Out of the three accessories, I would say that the Pad Keyboard is a must-have if you plan to get some work done with the Xiaomi Pad 5, provided Xiaomi actually makes it available.

Xiaomi Pad 5 specifications and software

The Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 SoC, which was announced in 2021. This is basically an upgraded version of the Snapdragon 855+ SoC, which was announced in 2019. It’s built using the 7nm process, but was designed for use in premium smartphones, so performance should not be much of an issue. What does seem a bit questionable is the 6GB of RAM, especially keeping in mind Xiaomi’s heavy MIUI skin, but we’ll see how that works out in the following section.

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Shown above is the Xiaomi Pad 5 with the Smart Pen and Pad Keyboard accessories

 

As for communication standards, the Xiaomi Pad 5 lacks 4G/5G cellular capability and is only available as a Wi-Fi model. There’s Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5, and a USB Type-C port, but it’s missing a 3.5mm headphone jack which I feel could have been easily accommodated given the tablet’s size and thickness. The lack of an LTE option may turn out to be a dealbreaker for those who need to be connected to the Internet when travelling. Unlike the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (Review), I was able to install WhatsApp and make voice and video calls without any issues, so cellular capability would have come in handy. The tablet has a 8,720mAh battery and supports up to 33W fast charging, although Xiaomi bundles only a 22.5W charger in the box.

The Xiaomi Pad 5 runs ‘MIUI for Pad’, which is a customised version of MIUI 13.0.5 based on Android 11. While it looks similar to what Xiaomi typically offers on its mobile devices with similar looking iconography and UI elements, the brand seems to have cut down on preinstalled first-party apps, which is a very good thing if you ask me. In fact, there is just one preinstalled third-party app, which is Netflix. There’s also a Notes app, which looks very similar to iOS and iPadOS but works well with the Smart Pen.

The Xiaomi Pad 5 has plenty of tablet-friendly customisations all over the user interface. The home screen has a macOS inspired dock and menu bar which stays open at the bottom when on the home screen. It can be used to pin frequently used apps and also shows you the apps that are currently opened. You can access it with a swipe-up gesture (on either side of the horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen) when using an app. Oddly, this gesture is not available if you switch the navigation style to the three buttons instead of the default gesture-based interface.

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The dock and menu bar stays open at bottom when on the home screen

 

Things are a lot easier with the gesture-based navigation as the dock functions like the Windows 11 taskbar, showing apps that you have pinned in the dock and the currently open apps to the side. It reduces the need to jump into the recents menu and makes switching between apps a lot easier. As is the case on Xiaomi’s smartphones, you can also swipe upwards on the bottom bar to switch between other open apps.

Apps can also be opened in Floating windows, as Xiaomi calls it. Once again, not all apps work in this mode and this strangely also includes some native Xiaomi apps such as Calendar. Regardless, the floating windows feature works very well for supported apps. You simply need to long-press on an app icon and a pop-up menu will show a floating windows button. Tapping on that opens the supported app in a vertical windowed mode, similar to how it appears on a smartphone.

However, you can resize the floating window by dragging the dots at the bottom corners of the window. If the app has been built to adapt to a tablet-like layout, you will see the layout of the app, such as Outlook, change as the window stretches. The floating apps will reload when you switch between vertical and horizontal orientation, as it needs to adjust the layout accordingly. The floating windows can also be minimised to a small preview-like window, which is good if you need to focus on the main app, while keeping track of other activities in the windowed apps.

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The Floating windows feature on the Xiaomi Pad 5 is really useful and works well with supported apps

 

There are limits to the floating window feature. I was only able to open two apps in windowed mode, while a third app ran in fullscreen mode in the background. It works really well when you want to do some serious office work. I had the Chrome browser open in full screen, Google Docs in a separate window, and Slack open in another window, which made the tablet quite useful for productivity tasks.

While MIUI for Pad seems heavily inspired by Apple’s iPadOS, it is one of the better Android tablet operating systems I’ve used. As expected, some apps such as Instagram only opened in fullscreen mode, while the Google Discover section appeared as it does on a smartphone but with plenty of empty space on either side of the feed. Google’s new Material You widgets looked great and worked as expected, but lacked some features such as the ability to match the colour of the wallpaper because the Pad 5 doesn’t run Android 12.

Xiaomi Pad 5 performance

Software performance was very smooth on the Xiaomi Pad 5, thanks to the capable processor and the 120Hz display which made everything feel fluid. While I was able to multi-task with three apps opened at the same time using Floating windows without any app crashes or restarts, previously launched apps pulled up from the recents menu often restarted, hinting that the device could have benefitted from more RAM.

The 10.95-inch WQHD+ (1,600 x 2,560 pixel) LCD display produces natural colours when used in the Standard colour mode. It’s bright enough to tackle direct sunlight and offers decent sharpness, with a pixel density of 275 PPI. The display is Dolby Vision certified, and while Netflix and Amazon Prime Video did allow streaming of Dolby Vision content and everything worked as expected, the display had trouble when it came to showcasing good details in the darker areas in some TV shows. Black levels in streaming video content usually ended up looking somewhat grey.

The tablet also offers a maximum 120Hz refresh rate which was useful when playing games. While everything seemed perfectly fine for a mid-range tablet, I did notice some ghosting when scrolling through text, be it in an app or when browsing through web pages. Audio quality was also quite good and sounded immersive when playing games and watching movies, so much so, that I didn’t feel the need to connect a pair of earphones.

When it came to benchmarks, the Pad 5 performed as expected. It managed 5,72,369 points in AnTuTu and 683 and 2,522 in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively. These scores were similar to a mid-range phone such as the OnePlus Nord 2 (Review) smartphone which has a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC.

Gaming performance was quite good. Asphalt 9: Legends looked brilliant and felt almost console-like, with detailed textures and ran well with the 60fps mode enabled. Call of Duty: Mobile worked well at the highest settings that game allowed on the tablet, which was ‘Very High’ graphics and ‘Max’ frame rate, with all effects turned on. The tablet barely got warm even when gaming at these settings. Those who don’t like holding up a tablet (because of its weight) can also pair a controller with it, provided the game supports it.

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The Xiaomi Pad 5’s Pad Keyboard is a bit compact when compared to a 13-inch MacBook Pro

 

The Xiaomi Pad Keyboard case has magnets hidden inside its leather-like plastic exterior and they hold the tablet firmly in place when attached. The quality of the case is really good. The keys have good travel for a soft tablet keyboard and the typing experience is quite comfortable despite its smaller-than-usual size. What I missed was a trackpad, which would require less interaction with the display. You can connect a mouse via a Type-C hub or Bluetooth, but you will need a desk to properly work with such a setup.

There are keyboard shortcuts as well and Xiaomi has also included a customisable multi-tasking key which it calls the Function key. This can be used in combination with the other character keys to launch both native and third-party apps. A double press of the Function key allows you to switch between recently used apps, which came in handy when doing work on the tablet. While the keyboard met my expectations even at the software level, there were several instances where the tablet would not detect the keyboard even when attached.

Xiaomi also sent me the Smart Pen to try out. This accessory attaches to the top of the tablet and uses inductive charging to charge. The pen charges fully in about 20 minutes and you get a satisfying snap when it is placed perfectly in the centre, followed by a notification on screen showing the current charge and charging status of the pen. Oddly, the pen can still be attached to the left and right of the correct charging spot, but it won’t charge. The pen weighs just 12.2g and the soft tip offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity similar to Samsung’s S Pen.

The Smart Pen worked as expected and not just for creative workflows, but also comes in use for simple things such as signing documents. There’s very little input lag and it feels quite natural when scribbling with it. Palm rejection when using the pen on the Xiaomi Pad 5 isn’t perfect, which did lead to a few stray scribbles in the app. The Smart Pen also has two buttons, one of which can be held down to take a screenshot of the on-screen content (which can be annotated on later), while the other can be used to open a new note from Xiaomi’s Notes app.

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Xiaomi’s Smart Pen accessory is useful for sketching and signing documents

 

The Xiaomi Pad 5 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. Camera quality was decent at best, and a lot better than what I expected from a tablet. Video recording quality was below average. The rear camera was handy for scanning documents and the LED flash made it useful in low light. The front camera also managed background exposure quite well and the subject appeared sharp and clear on video calls. It is also used for face recognition, which is the only form of biometric security as the tablet lacks a fingerprint reader. While the 2D face unlock system is not very secure, it does make it easier to quickly get past the lockscreen and it worked well both indoors and outdoors under sunlight.

Xiaomi Pad 5 daylight camera sample (Tap to see full size)

 

The 8,720mAh battery lasted for a day-and-a-half when performing my work duties, with the display set to sleep after five minutes, which meant that it was almost continuously on during that time. With casual use, which mainly included playing games and watching videos (along with Slack and two email accounts on sync in the background), the tablet easily ran for over two days of real-world use on a single charge.

These results were quite good, and more so because I had the display’s refresh rate set to 120Hz. In our HD video loop test, the tablet lasted 15 hours, 59 minutes, which was impressive. Charging the massive battery took 1 hour, 57 minutes using the included charger which was good given that most tablets usually take a lot longer. You can shorten the charging time by purchasing a 33W fast charger from Xiaomi separately.

Verdict

While the original Xiaomi Mi Pad (Review) was a solid budget tablet that offered excellent value and performance back in 2015, Xiaomi’s new Pad 5 is a proper mid-ranger that was built with productivity in mind, which is not commonly found at this price point.

More importantly, Xiaomi has also optimised the software experience really well, which makes it a lot more useful once you use it with some of the accessories. The tablet offers a quality display for watching videos and the 120Hz refresh rate is useful while playing games. The Smart Pen is also quite handy and on the whole, the Pad 5 definitely works well as a productivity device.

However, there are a few things missing such as a 3.5mm headphone jack and cellular connectivity, but I would not consider these to be deal-breakers at this price, even after using the tablet for several weeks.

Since there’s no direct competitor, the Pad 5 competes with more expensive devices such as the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (Review) priced at Rs. 44,990, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (Review) which is priced at Rs. 39,999 onwards for the base Wi-Fi only model. For those peeping over the fence on the iOS side of things will definitely find better app support with the Apple iPad (2021), but it starts from Rs. 30,999 for the base 64GB Wi-Fi only model and can get very expensive really quickly with all the accessories. However, it lacks the high refresh rate display and quad-speaker audio that the Xiaomi Pad 5 offers, giving the Xiaomi tablet a bit of an edge.



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Written by bourbiza

bourbiza is an entertainment reporter for iltuoiphone News and is based in Los Angeles.

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