August 19, 2022

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Tablets are in a weird spot right now. They’re pretty much perfect for travelling, but...

Tablets are in a weird spot right now. They’re pretty much perfect for travelling, but that remains more limited than normal due to you-know-what. For home use, many people now have a large phone in their pocket that’s more than suitable for scrolling through TikTok, watching YouTube or making family video calls.

So when the Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet arrived for testing, we had one question: does the slate have a reason to exist? Now, a couple of weeks later, we have an answer. Even though it is often easier to reach for the smartphone, it’s still a definite yes.

And more than simply having a reason to exist, we found it became the go-to way of consuming social media, video apps and streaming content while lounging on the sofa or relaxing with a black coffee before starting work in the morning.

Whether it’s reading news, checking emails, watching Twitch or bingeing Netflix,  we consistently wanted to keep the Pad 5 within easy reach. When you have a Google Pixel 6 Pro in your pocket and a laptop nearby, that’s a sizable compliment.

We tested the Cosmic Grey variant of the device with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. From display to battery life to price point, we were impressed with the tablet. That’s not to say there were no drawbacks, and we will delve into our full experience with the Xiaomi Pad 5 throughout this full review.

If you just want to know if you should buy one, here’s the one-paragraph verdict: it’s a great Android tablet and a viable alternative to the entry-level iPad. It feels great to hold, and a high-end vibe permeates the device. It’s a shame that it doesn’t come with a stylus, and while it certainly won’t replace your laptop, it feels premium for the sub-£400 price and does more than enough to earn a recommendation from us.

For more on tablets, be sure to check out our guides to the best Android tablet, best budget tablet, best tablet for kids and our list of the best tablet of the year.

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Xiaomi Pad 5 review: summary

The Xiaomi Pad 5 is an Android tablet that’s very well suited for both home use and travelling. With a vivid display, strong battery life and a premium vibe, it shines when the focus is on watching media content or online shopping. For anyone who doesn’t want an iOS tablet, it’s a viable alternative to the entry-level Apple iPad.

Price: The Xiaomi Pad 5 is priced at £369 in the UK

Key features:

  • Vivid 11-inch display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Snapdragon 860 chip gives smooth performance
  • Frame is thin and light but still feels premium
  • MIUI for Pad software is refined and clutter-free
  • Great for watching videos and social media

Pros:

  • Nice 2560×1600 display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Intuitive, fast software

Cons:

  • No stylus bundled in the box
  • Selfie camera placement
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

What is the Xiaomi Pad 5?

The Xiaomi Pad 5 is an Android-based tablet that is suited to anyone who wants a portable device for consuming media, social media or mobile gaming.

While it follows the standard template for what an Android tablet should look like, it has a sleek modern aesthetic that earns extra points for being so thin. Seriously, it is thinner than a Google Pixel 6 smartphone. We suspect many others.

Priced from £369, it’s more affordable than the iPad Air 4 (from £579) and Yoga Tab 13 (from £699), so it’s closer to the Huawei MatePad Pro (£399), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (£329) and, of course, the entry-level iPad (from £319).

It has several high-end specs. A refresh rate of up to 120Hz and the 1600×2560 (WQHD+) display are standouts – but that’s not all. The 8720mAh battery lasts for multiple days at a time, and the quad-speaker setup is both loud and clear.

It comes in two colours – Pearl White and Cosmic Grey – and benefits from smooth performance thanks to a Snapdragon 860 chipset that’s lurking inside. The “MIUI for Pad” Android skin is pleasing, too. There’s very little clutter or unwanted apps out of the box, and it boasts intuitive multitasking shortcuts and navigation menus.

Xiaomi Pad 5 and Google Pixel 6

Xiaomi Pad 5 and Google Pixel 6

What does Xiaomi Pad 5 do?

  • Runs on the Android operating system, so it has full access to the Google Play marketplace and all of its major apps – from Netflix to Wayfair.
  • Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chipset and has zero trouble with streaming or gaming apps such as Twitch, YouTube or Call of Duty.
  • Scrolling through apps is silky smooth due to the 120Hz refresh rate option, which allows the screen to refresh itself 120 times every second.
  • Comes with an 11-inch 1600 x 2560 (WQHD+) display that is great for both home use and travelling, while its light weight is a big plus too.
  • Supports accessories including stylus and keyboard cover (sold separately), so it’s possible to make the tablet much more useful for your work life.
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How much is the Xiaomi Pad 5?

The Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet with 6GBRAM/128GB storage costs £369 in the UK and is available via the Xiaomi website (mi.com) and Amazon (stock permitting).

Is the Xiaomi Pad 5 good value for money?

Taking inspiration from phone-lingo, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is something of a mid-range tablet when it comes to price. The very compelling sub-£400 tag puts it up against two major competitors: the iPad 9 (£319) and the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (£329).

The Apple iPad remains the dominant tablet brand, and for anyone who is already in the iOS ecosystem, it’s a no-brainer that the iPad 9 is the best option. The S6 Lite from the slightly better known Samsung does not have a 120Hz refresh rate but is a bit more affordable and comes with an S-pen stylus in the box.

But the Pad 5’s price point is a far cry from the ultra-premium iPad Pro 12.9-inch or the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. After testing, we are confident that Xiaomi’s offering more than justifies its figure, and you are very unlikely to feel short-changed.

Xiaomi Pad 5 design

It can be difficult to stand out from the crowd for Android tablets. Most will be a familiar slate, often black or grey, with a glass front and plastic or aluminium back. You will see at a glance that the Xiaomi Pad 5 follows that general style.

That’s not to say it’s bad. In fact, it’s pretty great. The first thing that you are likely to notice is that it’s thin. Like, thinner than most modern flagship smartphones. We loved that. It just feels nice to hold.  If we wanted to browse YouTube and had a choice between the tablet and our phone, the Pad 5 would win most times.

The metallic frame runs along every side of the device and gives it a premium feel, while the plastic back has a matte-but-reflective coating that does a good job of limiting fingerprints. Any smudges that do appear will wipe away well.

It’s subtle and minimalist, which we also liked. The top of the Xiaomi  Pad 5 houses two speakers and the power button, while the bottom has two more speakers and a USB-C port. The left side has three connectors for accessories. The right side is where you will find the volume buttons, which have a satisfying clickiness.

It won’t win design awards, but it works. It feels adult, and everything is broadly where you would expect it to be, with the only potential issue being the selfie camera.

In one of the bigger snags, some users may find the front-facing 8 MP lens to be a little oddly placed. The camera is on the top of the device (when held in portrait orientation), meaning if you switch to landscape, it leaves you at a slightly awkward angle. Anyone using their Pad 5 tablet for video calls should be aware of this.

The dark bezels (borders) that run along the edges of the display are under 1 cm and offer plenty of space for your fingers when holding the device. We generally prefer bezels to be as small as possible – giving more screen to play with – but we never had an issue with the size of the Pad 5’s borders during day-to-day use.

Pad 5 - side profile

Xiaomi Pad 5 display and audio

A tablet’s display is the star of the show. After all, it’s what you will actually use to watch all that content. Unlike on smartphones, a low-resolution panel is painfully obvious when blown up to 11-inches, and can instantly ruin the experience.

While the Xiaomi Pad 5 doesn’t have anything as fancy as an OLED, we were very impressed with its screen. Bright, vivid and responsive, there were no complaints about how the 2560×1600 panel showed high-resolution YouTube video. The size was perfectly suited to watching content on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The WQHD+ panel display has a 16:10 aspect ratio and 500 nits of brightness – that’s roughly the same as the Apple iPad 9 and the latest iPad Mini 6.

You can choose from two refresh rates in the settings menu: standard (60Hz) and maximum (120Hz). Broadly, the bigger the number, the smoother the performance on the display, but often at a cost of some battery life. We chose 120Hz and never looked back. This is a major selling point for the Pad 5 to have at this price.

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Audio was impressive, too, with four Dolby Atmos-sporting speakers giving more than enough bass for the profile to sound full without loss to clarity. Using a Dolby Atmos demo video – a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road – the setup did a great job of separating the distorted rumble of cars from the narrator’s voice.

The speakers go louder than we would ever use them in public, and when you are out and about, the tablet has Bluetooth 5.0 for pairing wireless earbuds alongside a single USB-C port. Be warned, though, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack on this one.

Read more of our tablet reviews:

Xiaomi Pad 5 features

In many ways, it was the simplistic and no-fuss features of the Pad 5 that won our attention. That sounds bad, but it’s not. As a media device, the tablet does exactly what you would want it to do. The menus are intuitive, the touch controls are highly responsive, there are never any app crashes, and the display is top-notch.

Xiaomi’s version of Android software – MIUI for Pad – is customizable and has a lot of options to make it your own. There’s a dark mode and a reading mode that may help with your eye comfort, and much like on Android phones, you can choose from gesture or button navigation controls. We liked the option to mirror the back and menu buttons. This brings the back button to the right side, so your thumb is in a much more natural position when using the tablet in portrait orientation.

There are also two separate drop-down menus on the home screen. Swiping down on the right side shows a control centre with quick links to WiFi, Bluetooth, mute, Aeroplane mode, brightness and more. Swiping down on the left opens up your active notifications, alongside the date and time. It’s a small but nice touch.

Holding down the nav bar’s middle button opens up Google Assistant, so you can control the tablet’s software or ask questions using voice commands.

And multitasking on the Xiaomi Pad 5 is simple but effective. Tapping the square button on the nav bar shows you an overview of all open apps. From there, hold down on one of the windows and tap a split view icon, and it will place the tab on one side of the screen. You can have another app open on the other side.

We didn’t use it a lot, but it’s great to have if you want to watch a Twitch stream while also checking your emails or reading the news, for example. And it definitely works best in landscape mode, which gives apps more room to breathe.

On the back of the Xiaomi Pad 5 is the rear 13MP camera. For video, it can shoot 4k, 1080p or 720p at 30 frames per second (fps). Image results are adequate in good light, but it’s not a feature we have ever used too much on a tablet. Even in dimmer lighting, the selfie camera has more than enough quality for video calls.

The tablet is only available in a WiFi variant, so there’s no cellular features such as phone calls or text messages via a network provider, nor 5G connectivity.

The slate supports add-ons and accessories that are sold separately – including the official keyboard case and Xiaomi Smart Pen. In one of the biggest misses of the tablet, the Pad 5 does not come with a stylus in the box, and unfortunately, at the time of writing, the accessories do not appear to be easy to buy in the UK.

For anyone wanting to use their new tablet for artistic projectors or drawing apps, the lack of a stylus means the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (£329) may be a better option as it comes with a pencil stylus in the box and is £40 more affordable. It is one of the only big misses but may be overcome with third-party add-ons.

Pad 5 - camera

Xiaomi Pad 5 set-up

If you have ever set up a modern Android smartphone, you won’t find any surprises with the Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet. It’s a streamlined and easy to follow set-up process, as it gives you the option of setting up your theme, Gmail, passwords, Google Play logins etc., in a step-by-step guide. The only account you may not already have is a Xiaomi (Mi) profile, and you will have to sign up for a free one at this stage.

At the initial stages, you can connect to your home WiFi and update the tablet to the latest software. You can also transfer data from another device if needed. It is a straightforward process that’s intuitive and easy to understand for everyone.

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Xiaomi Pad 5 battery and performance

The Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet has an 8720mAh battery that promises the equivalent of over 16 hours of video playback and more than 10 hours of gaming. That’s all very well from a marketing perspective, but what does that mean in reality? Here’s a breakdown:

  • The battery will easily last for an entire day and likely closer to two
  • Under very heavy use, say for gaming, you will get around 10-12 hours
  • 33W fast charging boosts battery from 40% to full in under one hour
  • The battery will go from dead to 100% in around two hours

Like smartphones, battery life will be hugely influenced by how much the tablet is being used, but it has a “battery saver” mode to boost it further. On the Pad 5, turning on that mode at 100% was showing us a massive 116 hours.

Of course, that number is much lower in reality and would it only be anywhere near that amount if you don’t touch, or even look at, the device.

For heavier use, you are likely to get between 10 and 12 hours of battery life, but that would massively extend to multiple days if you were only using the tablet for shorter blasts. It isn’t unusual to pick up the tablet a few times a day to watch some videos before putting it back down, and, coming back 24-48 hours later, it would still have plenty of charge in the tank. The Xiaomi Pad 5 supports 33W fast charging.

We found the iPad 9 battery gave around 10 hours of constant video playback. Tests have shown that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite lasts around 12 hours in heavy use.

The Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chipset, which is a high-end mobile processor. The performance during our weeks of testing was consistently great. Apps opened quickly, there were no unexpected crashes, and the high 120Hz refresh rate really added to the overall feeling of smoothness.

Pad 5 back

Our verdict: should you buy the Xiaomi Pad 5?

We started by questioning if the Xiaomi Pad 5 even had a reason to exist with so many great phones in pockets. From our time with it, it’s an easy yes.

It’s not a tablet that will replace your laptop, and it’s not incredibly well suited for work productivity. However, when used as a portable media consumption device, for streaming platforms, online video and gaming, the Xiaomi Pad 5 shines.

If you prefer the Android ecosystem, it’s a viable alternative to the entry-level iPad. We’re happy there’s another company that’s willing to enter the tablet space and compete against Apple, Samsung and Lenovo devices that still dominate.

While the big players are unlikely to be too worried by the release of the Pad 5, that doesn’t mean Xiaomi hasn’t created a compelling new rival.

And while Xiaomi should be commended for nailing the aesthetics and premium feel of what is a fairly affordable slate, the Pad 5 is not perfect.

The biggest miss is that it doesn’t come bundled with a stylus pen, and the add-ons, including the official keyboard case, don’t appear to be readily available in the UK at time of writing. Without the pen, it loses appeal for artistic projects. Without the keyboard, it loses any sense of being useful for some productivity sessions.

There are likely to be decent third party options sold separately as the tablet uses USB-C and has Bluetooth 5.0, but the lack of official accessories is certainly felt. We only tested the standalone device throughout the review process.

There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, zero expandable storage options, no 4K display and no 5G or cellular connectivity on the Xiaomi Pad 5, either.

If you are a heavy stylus user, we recommend the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite instead.

Ultimately, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is a fantastic all-rounder of a tablet with intuitive software, great app performance and a sleek design. It didn’t replace our phone or laptop during our weeks of testing but became a go-to method for watching YouTube and Twitch. The 11-inch display size perfectly complements that style of use.

Rating

  • Features: 3.5/5
  • Screen and sound quality: 4/5
  • Design: 3.5/5
  • Set-up: 4.5/5
  • Battery life and performance: 4.5/5

Overall: 4/5

Where to buy Xiaomi Pad 5

The Xiaomi Pad 5 tablet with 6GBRAM/128GB storage costs £369 in the UK and is available via the Xiaomi website (mi.com) and Amazon (stock permitting).

For the latest news, reviews and deals, check out the RadioTimes.com Technology section. For more on this tech, check out our guide to the best Android tablet.