Same but better
Note: This review was first published on 31 July 2023.
Can it really pack more value than last year's Pad 5?
Compared to the three-year waiting period between the Xiaomi Pad 5 and the Xiaomi Pad 4, this one-year break to the launch of the newXiaomi Pad 6 has passed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, given the short period, the Pad 6 feels more like an incremental upgrade rather than a major refresh.
To recap ourXiaomi Pad 5 review, it was able to tick all the boxes nicely as an all-rounder device for casual use. Need to be entertained? You got it. Want to take notes? No problem! And all for justS$449( the original RRP) for the tablet.
This leaves the Xiaomi Pad 6 with some rather big shoes to fill in terms of expectations. But having already achieved a good balance previously, this might not be such a bad predicament. Pegged at just $10 more than the Xiaomi Pad 5, at a glance, the new Pad 6 at S$459 seems to have kept all that matters for its prospective buyer and improved it marginally. Check out the specs comparisons between both models:-
|Xiaomi Pad 6||Xiaomi Pad 5|
|Launch SRP||From S$459||From S$449|
|Network||Wi-Fi only||Wi-Fi only|
|Operating system||MIUI for PAD (Android 13)||MIUI for Pad (Android 11)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 870||Qualcomm Snapdragon 860|
|Memory||6GB (LPDDR5 RAM)8GB (LPDDR5 RAM)||6GB (LPDDR4X RAM)|
|Display||11-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 pixels resolution (WQHD+), 309 PPI, 144Hz refresh rate, 550-nits brightness, DCI-P3HDR10, Dolby Vision supportTÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light CertificationCorning Gorilla Glass 3||11-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels resolution (WQHD+), 275 PPI, 120Hz refresh rate, 500-nits brightness, DCI-P3Dolby Vision support|
|Camera||13MP (rear)8MP (front)||13MP (rear)8MP (front)|
|Video Support||4K30FPS (rear)1080p30FPS (front)||4K30FPS (rear)1080p30FPS (front)|
|I/O Ports||USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen1)||USB-C|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6, WiFi 5, WiFi 4 and 802.11a/b/gBluetooth 5.2||Wi-Fi Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/acBluetooth 5.0|
|Storage||128GB (UFS 3.1)256GB (UFS 3.1)||128GB (UFS 3.1)256GB (UFS 3.1)|
|Other Features||4 speakers (Dolby Atmos)||4 speakers (Dolby Atmos)|
|Battery||8840mAh33W wired charging (Supports QC4 and PD3.0)||8,720mAh|
|Dimensions||253.95 x 165.18 x 6.51mm||254.69 x 166.25 x 6.85mm|
While Xiaomi called its Pad 5 a “productivity and entertainment” device, this Pad 6 arguably deserves the title even more.
The Xiaomi Pad 6 features an 11-inch WQHD+ (2,880 x 1,800 pixels resolution) display at 309ppi supporting Dolby Vision for a vivid visual experience. While Pad 5 was already pleasing, the new Pad 6 packs a higher resolution andpixel density to flatter you more.It offers a 99% DCI-P3 colour gamut for 1.07 billion colours and a refresh rate of up to 144Hz (up from 120Hz on the Pad 5) for a smooth gaming experience.
It is powered by a Snapdragon 870 chipset, 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, a quad-speaker setup that also supports Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res Audio. All of this is kept juiced and running with an 8,840mAh battery. If you check the specs table above, you'll note that all of this is an incremental upgrade over the Xiaomi Pad 5. Even the processor is just a beefed-up Snapdragon 860 series from more than two years ago when it was pegged as an upper mid-range class. We'll share more in further pages if we findit adequate for everyday use today.
While not as popular as a smartphone for photography, the Xiaomi Pad 6 still comes with a 13MP rear camera that is housed in a sizeable camera bump and an 8MP front camera. I really don’t get the need for the large camera bump, as it’s so large that even when using a cover, the Pad 6 can't lie flat. This might be a concern for some of you as well.
The front camera can be used to unlock the Pad 6 or for video conferencing. To help with this, the camera is a centred ultra-wide front camera with what Xiaomi calls a FocusFrame function that automatically adjusts the camera to keep the user clearly in the middle of the shot, making it somewhat similar in function to Apple’s Center Stage.
Apart from the camera specs that remain the same, the rest of the hardware is a small improvement over the Pad 5.
Despite that, there are a few omissions that feel like Xiaomi deliberately left them out. For one, the Pad 6 unit doesn’t have a SIM card slot and thus must rely on Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. It's odd that it doesn't have a SIM-capable version considering this is Xiaomi's sixth iteration, even if you were okay to pay more for it.Another is a missing headphone jack. Call me old-fashioned, but I like being able to plug in my headphones in a fuss-free manner, and I'm sure many would feel the same since wired earbuds for the same price as a wireless counterpart deliver far better sonic performance. Finally, expandable storagewould also have been nice, but that's missing too.
Embracing its look and feel
The Xiaomi Pad 6 comes clad in a metallic rear housing that I really like as it is fingerprint resistant. On the rear, besides the huge camera housing, you’ll also find the three embedded magnets that will hold the tablet in place when the tablet is used together with the tablet's keyboard cover and the normal official cover.
Don’t sneer at those magnets. Small they may be, but they are mighty! They're strong enough to hold the Pad 6 in place when only holding the cover. Barring any form of strong shaking, the magnets should be enough to hold the tablet in place through most situations.
The only buttons on the housing are the power button and volume controls, so there is little clutter. Add to this the slim bezels, and you get a very modern-looking tablet that would easily satisfy most people. Along the 'bottom', you'll finda USB-C port with two of the four Dolby Atmos supporting speakers (with the other two lined at the 'top').
Unlocking the screen is a simple matter of swiping up from the bottom. What I liked is that depending on where you invoked this, whether slightly to the right, middle, or left, the unlock pattern would pop up there. This is great if you're only using one hand to access the device. There is an option to use facial recognition to unlock the Pad 6, but none for fingerprint use.
I liked the clean feel of the Xiaomi Pad 6, and overall, it feels solidly built. It was also nice not to really worry about getting it messy with fingerprints all over the rear housing.
When I was carrying it, though, I felt it was heavier than its 490g would have it be. While watching Netflix in bed, I kept feeling as though I could drop it if my concentration lapsed, which would have been rather painful. This could likely be because I'm used to a smaller form factor like an iPad Mini that I normally use; thus, I found holding the Pad 6 with both hands while playing gamestiring. So for those looking to jump on the Android bandwagon from an iPad Mini, you might want to factor in that a larger device would naturally weigh more.
To be fair, the weight of the device is one that has actually improved from its predecessor by a good 20 grams, but yet, it's not as lightweight as an iPad Air. Granted, both devices are in a completely different price bracket, but physically, they are similar in size.
The major complaint I haveis aboutthe camera bump. Why does it have to be so big that the Tab 6 can't lie flat on my table?
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