Xiaomi Mi Pad Review: Great Hardware Letdown By Software

After conquering the smartphone market in key emerging markets such as China, Xiaomi’s venturing into the world of tablets with the Xiaomi Mi Pad.

While this year’s offerings by Xiaomi such as the Mi Note have followed an original design, last year’s products such as the Mi Pad bear a striking resemblance to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) offerings, with Xiaomi clearly targeting the iPad mini with its first tablet. In broad strokes, both tablets share the same pixel density at 324 ppi, the same 4:3 ratio and are offered in a 7.9-inch form factor. That’s where the similarities end, however, as both products are aimed at entirely different buyers.


The iPad mini features an all-metal chassis that feels great in-hand, with Xiaomi deciding to go with plastic on the Mi Pad. There are several Android-based tablets in the price segment Xiaomi is targeting, but by offering much better hardware than tablets priced significantly higher, the Chinese vendor is once again looking to punch above its weight.

The front of the Mi Pad is an unassuming slab, and features the Mi logo etched onto the top left corner. The top section also hosts the front camera sensor. At the bottom, you’ll find three capacitive buttons. The camera sensor at the back is on the top left corner, with the built-in microphone directly underneath. At the bottom, there are stereo speakers sitting below another Mi logo.

The volume rockers as well as the power buttons are on the left side of the tablet, and there’s a micro-USB charging port at the bottom and a 3.5mm audio jack at the top. The volume and power buttons have decent travel, which as it turns out is hard to get right as evidenced by HTC with the first few production runs of the Nexus 9. Xiaomi has however managed to get the tactile feedback right as far as the buttons on the Mi Pad are concerned.

The gentle sloping sides allows you to grip the Mi Pad with ease, with the tablet belying its size when held in-hand. The overall build quality of the tablet is top-notch, but the decision to go with a glossy plastic back wasn’t the best by Xiaomi as it makes the tablet quite slippery at times. The Mi Pad is available in several colorful configurations ranging from white, blue, pink, green and so forth, with the more colorful options distinctly reminding us of the iPhone 5c.