Xiaomi is a company that has had a huge impact in many, many parts of the consumer electronics world – it’s continued ability to mass-produce high quality, high-spec’d products at very cheap prices has bedazzled customers and befuddled competition.
This approach has proven to be very close to revolutionary, because what essentially does (and it often goes unnoticed), is that it forces the competition to do the same. It may not prompt all of them to follow suit, but as compulsive hunters of budget devices, we consumers surely get viable, capable options.
While, admittedly a few of Xiaomi’s recent launches have not had the same impact as the earlier ones, but their new tablet, the Mi Pad 2 can change that. It is a serious device.
How serious you ask? Well, it’s chasing down the Apple iPad Mini to say the least, which really sets the standard for all tablets, and looking at it’s construct, on paper, it seems like it may have what it takes to challenge the Mini.
And they’ve played it smart – this is the only tablet in the world that comes in two variants that run two different OS’. Amazingly good idea, to cast a net this wide!
Well, let’s peel back a few layers and take a closer look.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad draws a lot of inspiration from the iPad Mini. It’s sort of declared war on the flagship with the launch of the first Mi Pad back in March 2014, and seeks to move from Challenger to Champion with the Mi Pad 2. And this time around, Xiaomi don’t want to only wage battle on the price front.
Hence, shouldn’t be surprising, that the display on the Mi Pad 2 is spec-to-spec like that of the iPad mini 2 – a 7.9-inch IPS Retina display with 326 ppi at 2054×1536 resolution.
The display in general is great, and the UI comes with settings that enable you to control color and brightness to your preference. And it helps the display’s cause, big time!
Features like color enhancement, eye pattern, as well as color temperature adjustment drive a smooth user experience, bordering on top-of-line quality.
Disclaimer: Some of these features are available only on the Mi Pad 2’s Android variant, though.
The display is sharp and crisp and very vibrant. There is hardly any pixelation on the screen no matter how much you zoom in. Given the size of the screen, that is pretty impressive.
Also, the colours are pretty neat and the blacks are truly deep which does come as a surprise considering that this is an IPS LCD panel. The viewing angles are great too.
Verdict: The display of this device seems just a tad better than that on the iPad Mini 2, and that is quite a feat given that the world considers Apple as the (so far) undisputed leaders of LCD panels. To be honest, the ability to customize/personalise colours and temperature give this display the pop that the ‘restrictive’ iPad denies.
We’ll say it again – the Mi Pad 2 looks a lot like the iPad Mini 2.
First, because it’s the truth.
Second, because that’s what’s going to strike you the moment you see it for yourself.
Third, because it’s somewhat of an achievement, especially when you see their price tags side by side.
Xiaomi’s indicated that it uses an aluminium alloy in the construction, thanks to which, the Mi Pad 2 really much classier than the original plastic-endowed Mi Pad. The back of the device is clean simple and upbeat. It really gives you a high quality feel.
The top left corner sees a highly reflective Mi logo. The rear camera along with the microphone are placed in the upper left corner and at the bottom are the two speaker grills. Apart from the camera and the logo, both front and back of the phone are bare and look kind of empty. This maybe because it is a 7.9 inch tablet and you really don’t want to undermine the simplicity of the device by adding graphics and things like that to the body of the device.
Physically, the device feels solid in your hands. It really boasts of ‘Mi quality’ feels ever so sturdy.
At 7.9 inches the tablet is medium sized by tablet standards. Surprisingly, it the Mi Pad 2 is narrower, thinner and lighter than the iPad mini 2.
The device is not very curvy but has slightly curved edges. I believe this to be a good thing for a device that you have to use with both your hands (no matter what anyone says, a tablet is a two handed device!), because the flats on the sides and on the bottom provide you with a better grip.
The battery is sealed under a non-removable shell.
On the right are the volume keys while the left houses micro SD card tray. The 3.5mm audio jack sits at the top and the micro USB port at the bottom.
The design of the device is plain and simple and very efficient. It looks slick and beautiful and the built quality is top drawer.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 uses an Intel Atom chipset running a quad-core 2.24 Ghz CPU.
Xiaomi had to ditch the Nvidia’s Tegra K1 graphics processor that it used on the original Mi Pad, so that it could launch a Windows version of the Mi Pad 2!
The SoC is supported by 2 GB of RAM, which is absolutely necessary, given that Android runs heavier than iOS, and has significantly higher processing requirements.
All of this means that the performance of the Mi Pad 2 is satisfactory – we experienced no problems while multi-tasking or playing demanding games on it. That said, it’s not blazingly fast.
There also seems to be a slight issue of heating while gaming. The upper rear of the device seems to heat up to a point where it is sometimes not comfortable to hold the tablet. The heating seems to be limited to one side of the device which really gives you a contrast of temperatures between your hands while holding the device in landscape mode and it is not a good feeling.
Apart from this there were no issues barring the occasional crash of an app while performing a CPU intensive task.
While Xiaomi provides two performance modes – Balance and Performance, we found that there really does not seem to a significant difference on the performance of the device, nor the battery life.
The tablet does not feature GSM capabilities – so don’t expect to use it outdoors. It’s a crying shame though, as tablets are meant to be used while on the move, and with the hindrance of having to prop it up with an external hotspot connection!
Oh, for want of a nail….
As we mentioned earlier, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 is the only tablet in the world that comes in two flavours – Android as well as Windows OS.
The Windows OS option is available only for the 64 GB option; in reality you get only about 43.2 GB storage available on the device (the rest is consumed by the Windows OS!).
Xiaomi has opted for 64-bit Windows 10, but there aren’t those many 64-bit applications available yet (which is the also the case with the 64-bit A7 processor on the iPad mini 2).
When you run a few tabs in Chrome Windows it shows that the memory is already over 70%!
We believe that the tablet would’ve been better served with 4 GB of RAM – I’ve seen many tablets running 2 GB Windows 10, being still quite usable. Not exactly the case with the Mi Pad 2. It doesn’t die on you, but just don’t expect to multitask seamlessly.
Once you fully consume the RAM, Windows starts to use virtual RAM which tends to slow things down significantly.
On the apps front, there’s not a lot that Xiaomi has pre-installed in the tablet. In fact, you’ll hardly find any app with the Xiaomi brand name on it. And they’ve been smart with something else too – you can lock certain apps under the Child Mode if you want that protection on a tablet shared with a child.
I must say thought – the OS on the Mi Pad 2 has all of Windows 10’s features, and it really feels nice to use Windows on a tablet of this size and quality. It really is very smooth and seems very well optimised (barring the RAM-induced slowdowns).
By now we may have become too familiar with the trend that tablet cameras follow – not much utility, not used often, and never ever really used for serious photography.
Some say – we (users) have lost expectation when it comes to tablet cameras, whereas others say we don’t really need the camera on our tablets in the first place!
Well, Xiaomi understands that and has played accordingly. The Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 comes with an 8 megapixel primary camera on the upper left back side. It doesn’t feature LED flash, and the camera UI has been stripped down of most complex settings.
That said, the camera does focus fast on still objects and you may not have to hold that 7.9 inch frame up for long periods of time to capture stills. It can also capture full HD (1080p) video at 30 fps, which is usually the standard for these camera modules.
The tablet also comes with a secondary 5 megapixel camera in the front, which is decent for selfies, videos calls (on Wi-Fi since the tablet does not feature GSM capabilities) and 720p video recording.
Entertainment on this device is simply superb. Watching movies is a delight on this tablet and so are playing games.
The primary source of this joy is the vibrant 7.9 inch display – it really provides you with a quality experience.
The secondary source of the amazing entertainment unit that this device is the brilliant audio quality.
The audio output from the stereo speakers on the rear of the tablet sound great – they are loud, have the right hint of bass. Overall, they’re probably some of the best tablet speakers at this time.
Finally, someone hasn’t overlooked the speakers!
Well done on Xiaomi for some smart choices and for your understanding of customer needs!