Xiaomi Pad 5 Review & Mobile Gaming Performance

by in General | Nov, 29th 2021

Saying that the Xiaomi Pad 5 took the world by storm would definitely be overly theatrical, but it wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect. It is a budget Android tablet with many of the bells and whistles we’ve become accustomed to seeing on much more expensive, premium products and is, therefore, an absolutely stellar option for anyone looking to get a wider canvas for their mobile gaming and/or content consumption needs!

Just like Xiaomi’s phones, the Pad 5 is an absolute price-to-performance king and is more than worth its MSRP.

For this review, we’ll focus more on the intangibles, the things that often define the user experience but are seldom talked about. We’ll touch on the regular bits as well like build quality and all that jazz, so don’t fret — the point of this review is to give you a thorough, in-depth understanding of the Xiaomi Pad 5, its many strengths, few weaknesses, and overall gaming performance.

Far Better Than You Would Expect

Needless to say, Xiaomi got the fundamentals right. The Pad 5’s enclosure is thin, beautiful, and assembled with care. There’s no creaking or shoddy craftsmanship — it feels far better and more premium in the hand than you’d ever expect given its price tag. The back of the tablet is made from plastic but that, too, sounds worse than it actually is. All in all, you’re not going to be disappointed or left indifferent.

On the front, there’s an 11” IPS display (2560×1600) with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has HDR10 support, full DCI-P3 coverage, and gets up to 500 nits bright. While it might not be as jaw-dropping as an AMOLED panel, the screen is sharp, has great contrast rations, and is plenty bright, too, so you’re not going to have any complaints whatsoever. It feels incredibly fast as well thanks to fluid animations and the aforementioned high refresh rate.

At its core, we have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 860, a 7nm SoC that’s still sufficiently powerful for basically any task you might throw its way. The Adreno 640 GPU is also pretty potent, although it is by no means a behemoth when it comes to mobile gaming — but more than later. You’re getting 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM (more than enough for daily tasks), and 128/256GB of blazingly fast UFS 3.1 storage. As for I/O, it only comes with a single USB-C port that supports up to 33W fast charging.

The biggest surprise, however, is just how loud the Pad 5’s speakers can get. The sound is crisp and clear, astoundingly immersive, even. And there’s ample bass, too! Having such good stereo speakers is a rarity at this price point. And, needless to say, consuming any kind of content is an absolute joy!

There’s no microSD card slot so you can say goodbye to any kind of storage expansion further down the line. That’s not the biggest of dealbreakers, but it’s nonetheless worth mentioning.

Gaming on the Xiaomi Pad 5

This is where things get a bit more complicated. The Xiaomi Pad 5 is great for gaming but only if your needs are “casual” — long sessions into the wee hours of the night are out of the question, at least if you’re into the more demanding AAA titles like, say, Genshin Impact. The Snapdragon 860 is powerful, make no mistake, but it’s not going to blow your mind when it comes to gaming performance nor will it allow you to crank up the settings and reach that oh-so-important 60 FPS mark in today’s most popular titles.

In other words: it really depends on the game you’re playing as well as your expectations. The Adreno 640 is a solid GPU and can definitely deliver, but it still pales in comparison to most other top-of-the-line SoCs that are currently on the market. Anything that isn’t super demanding will run like a dream, and it won’t tax the SoC all that much either. But if you veer into the “triple A” realm then you’re not going to have a good time.

Digital Card Games — As expected, digital card games like Legends of Runeterra, Hearthstone, and Magic: the Gathering Arena look and play extremely well on the Xiaomi Pad 5. There’s really nothing to complain about, and its 11” screen is especially great when it comes to the overall clarity of the action.

The colors are vibrant, the sound is amazing, and it all flows seamlessly, resulting in a gaming experience that’s truly phenomenal. Granted, the games we’re talking about aren’t all that demanding, but the point still stands. The bigger display also comes in the clutch in those long, drawn-out games of MTG where the board gets so populated it becomes extremely hard to discern what’s what.

In any case, if this genre is your cup of tea, you’re guaranteed to have a blast!

Pokemon Unite & LoL: Wild Rift MOBA titles also run exceptionally well on the Xiaomi Pad 5 and they look great, too! As cliche as it might sound, the colors really “pop,” and you can also make out the fine details in games like Pokemon Unite and LoL: Wild Rift. You can crank up the settings as well without incurring any kind of performance penalty — the Adreno 640 can handle it with ease.

Whether playing MOBAs on an 11” tablet makes sense is up for you to decide, though. It’s easy to keep track of what’s happening but the control scheme isn’t exactly a great fit for such a large display. You can still manage, of course, but it’s a bit of a challenge, and it might affect your play in a negative way if your fingers can’t reach a certain part of the screen fast enough.

The same goes for Asphalt 9: Legends, one of the most popular racing games on the market. It runs flawlessly on the Xiaomi Pad 5, although you really shouldn’t max everything out as the game might start to stutter a bit once there’s a lot of action on screen. Still, it looks great and runs like a dream, so there’s no reason to worry.

PUBG New State also runs surprisingly well. We haven’t seen any slowdowns and you can even push the graphics settings further than you’d expect. The amazing stereo speakers also come in clutch for all of PUBG’s minute sound cues.

Genshin Impact, on the other hand, is where things start to fall apart. It’s a well-known fact that Genshin requires the latest and greatest hardware in order to run properly. Still, it’s somewhat surprising that the game struggles to maintain a steady frame rate — and looks downright dreadful — on the Xiaomi Pad 5. Heck, we’re putting it mildly here! The game can run, but experiencing the vast and beautiful world of Genshin on this tablet should only be a last resort.

It’s like playing Cyberpunk 2077 on a GTX 1050. You can do it, but you really shouldn’t.

It just doesn’t do it justice, and it’s not for a lack of trying. Simply put, the SoC inside this beautiful device isn’t powerful enough to handle MiHoYo’s breakout hit. You can tinker with the settings but you’re still not going to end up with a satisfactory experience. To reach a (relatively) consistent 30 FPS, you’ll have to lower almost every single option and even then you’re not guaranteed to have a good time.

Some games will give you a bit of leeway in that sense, but Genshin Impact is no such title. Jagged edges, abysmal draw distances, frame drops, and everything in between. The Snapdragon 860 is no match for one of the most popular mobile titles on the market which, frankly, shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise seeing how it came out all the way back in Q2 2019.

For any kind of daily task or even light-to-moderate mobile gaming, it’s not going to show its age. Genshin — and possibly any title of similar depth and complexity — is out of the question, unfortunately.

In fact, if you really want to see what the SD860 is capable of handling, just head over to YouTube and check out basically any benchmark video. It was at one point an extremely popular and widespread SoC and its capabilities are well documented.

Other Notable Quirks

Seeing how this is a Xiaomi device, you’ll have to put up with MIUI. Now, this isn’t exactly the worst possible fate one could imagine, but it’s still worth noting. Some of its aspects are great — it’s mostly fluid and its looks aren’t too egregious, either.

Still, if you’re used to, say, Samsung’s One UI or basically any “clean” version of Android, MIUI will probably get on your nerves. Now, granted, these are minor drawbacks and it is nitpicking, but it’s also worth mentioning as it invariably ends up shaping and affecting the entire user experience. The version of MIUI on the Xiaomi Pad 5 has been adapted to accommodate its bigger display, but it’s still rough around the edges.

Closing Remarks

To put it as simply as possible: this tablet punches way above its weight class; we can’t sing its praises enough. It might not be as alluring as some of Apple’s most popular offerings, but it’s nonetheless an exceptional alternative that offers much of the same bells and whistles for a fraction of the price.

MIUI isn’t particularly nice to look at nor is it as polished as some of its alternatives, but it still gets the job done and rarely gets in the way. And even its lacking looks can be transfigured thanks to third-party launchers like Nova.

All in all, if you’re in the market for an Android tablet and don’t want to spend a small fortune, the Xiaomi Pad 5 should definitely be at the very top of your list of priorities! It’s not a gaming behemoth, but it’s not half bad either, especially if you’re a casual gamer looking to partake in the occasional match of PUBG.


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