Reviews

Xiaomi Mi Pad Review: Great Hardware Letdown By Software

Software

Software continues to be the single biggest drawback of the Mi Pad. While MIUI 6 for phones includes several features such as the highly lauded themes engine, security center as well as a built-in antivirus client, the Mi Pad version of the software does not have any of these services included.

As for MIUI 6, it is clear that Xiaomi’s software continues to be heavily inspired by iOS. The drop-down notification menu, lack of an app drawer as well as the red notification badge on app icons are all very similar to what we’ve seen on iOS. Xiaomi even decided to add an orange tag for new app installs, and use the same multitasking interface as iOS.

Also, Xiaomi is not the fastest vendor when it comes to rolling out updates, as MIUI 6 is still based on Android 4.4 KitKat. With most vendors already rolling out Android 5.0, there is no word from Xiaomi as to when it will make the latest version of Android available on its devices, including the Mi Pad.

That being said, MIUI 6 brings much-needed elegance to the platform, with the whole operating system now boasting a cleaner, flatter look with modern fonts. The built-in services, such as the calendar, weather client, clock, mail client and browser all have a uniformity in their design, and thanks to the stellar hardware, we never encountered any lag or stutter when navigating the interface.

Considering that the tablet is aimed at power users, one would think that the ability to flash a custom ROM would be encouraged by Xiaomi, but the lack of availability of kernel source files means that options for users looking to install another ROM are severely limited.

Efforts by the modding community to build a ROM for the tablet is further hampered by the fact that it comes with Nvidia’s Tegra K1, which thus far has had commercial success in two other tablets: the Nexus 9 and the Nvidia Shield Tablet. Even then, the variant used in the Nexus 9 features the dual-core custom-designed Denver CPU, meaning that the kernel files available for the Nexus 9 will not be of any use for modders looking to leverage those to build a ROM for the Mi Pad.

There has been some progress in this regard, with the tablet gaining an unofficial CyanogenMod 11-based port earlier this year, and the MIUI community overall looking to add more features to the tablet. Xiaomi has also indicated that it would be releasing kernel files for the Mi Pad in the near future, having done so for the Mi2 and Mi2S already.

A nifty feature for users looking to tinker with the tablet is the availability of two partitions, which means that you can dual-boot two different ROMs on the tablet. For instance, if you’re looking to install CM11 on the tablet, you can do so without having to overwrite the stock MIUI partition.