Android tablets are totally coming back, right? Google has launched a few tablet apps lately after years of neglect, it gave talks at Google I/O on how to design tablets apps, and the Android 12 developer preview shows the company is working on a taskbar-like UI for big-screen devices. Now, the world’s most popular Android device manufacturer, Xiaomi, is releasing an Android tablet for the first time in three years.
The Xiaomi Mi Pad 5 Pro seems just a little inspired by Apple’s flagship tablet, the iPad Pro. Xiaomi regularly produces wild, technology-packed designs, but it also occasionally falls back into old habits of being an Apple clone manufacturer. This is one of those times.
The company’s new tablet has an 11-inch, 120 Hz, 2560×1600 LCD and is relatively high-end with a Snapdragon 870 SoC (that’s a 7nm chip with four Cortex A77 cores and four Cortex A55 cores). The base unit comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with options for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s an 8600 mAh battery, NFC, a side fingerprint reader/power button, Wi-Fi 6 support, a USB-C port, and a whopping eight speakers, all split between the left and right sides. The frame and back are both aluminum, and the tablet weighs 515 g.
The one part of the design you could complain about is the front camera, which is on the left side of the device in landscape mode, so it’s not really good for landscape video calls. It’s especially strange when the keyboard accessory, side speakers, and side fingerprint reader all really encourage landscape use as the primary mode, but the camera conflicts with that. The reason for the odd location might be support for the pen accessory, which uses the top edge of the tablet (in landscape) to magnetically attach and wirelessly charge.
Cloning Apple is certainly a bad Xiaomi habit, but the company is also keeping with its good habits, which is being super cheap for what you’re getting. The Mi Pad 5 Pro starts at CNY 2,499 (~$386) or about half the price of the entry-level 11-inch iPad Pro, which is $799. There’s also a cellular version with a presumably better primary rear camera (50MP versus 13MP), the Mi Pad 5 Pro 5G, which clocks in at about $540—still around half the price of the $1,000 cellular iPad Pro. Xiaomi is also selling iPad-style accessories like a keyboard for about $62—way cheaper than the $300 Magic keyboard for the iPad, and a stylus for about $62, also smoking the $129 Apple Pencil when it comes to the price. There are probably a million ways the iPad Pro is faster and more polished than Xiaomi’s offering, but for half the price, many consumers will probably consider it close enough.
For now, all these prices are converted from CNY, since the device is currently only sold in China. That’s where all Xiaomi devices start out, though, and usually, they get wider rollouts.