The Mi Pad 3 is the latest tablet from the Chinese company, Xiaomi. It costs right around $300 and rivals Apple’s iPad Mini in build quality and specifications. What appeals to me the most about the Mi Pad 3 is its premium build and software. It measures in at just 7mm thick and consists of a unibody aluminum shell that is cool to the touch and most certainly premium. The bezels around the 7.9-inch QHD IPS LCD display are relatively thin as well. There’s enough room to grip the tablet with your thumb but not too much more.
The display itself is very crisp. It has good contrast and viewing angles. The only concern I have with it is the display size itself. The smartphone in my pocket measures in at 6.2 inches. The question you’re going to have to ask yourself before you buy this thing is if you really need a tablet that is a couple of inches larger than the display in your smartphone. I mean there will be a market for tablets with 8-inch displays. But given the lack of updates to the iPad Mini line, it’s evidence that the market for such tablets are shrinking while the market for large smartphones is on the rise.
The software is very appealing. Out of the box, the Mi Pad 3 is running Android 7.0 Nougat, which is a must for an Android tablet. You get a lot of useful features likes Quick Settings toggles that appear on the top of the notification panel and some other useful features but there is a big catch. Mi UI version 8.0 is on top of Nougat and for whatever reason, many of Nougat’s signature features are missing. For example, split view multi-tasking is not available with this version of Mi UI. I read a report that said Mi UI 9.0 will be coming to this device in mid 2017, bringing a multi-tasking feature and a PIP (picture-in-picture) feature. But in my opinion, there’s no excuse why multi-tasking isn’t available here out of the box with Android 7.0. It’s such a tease.
But with that said, there are some other features I admire. I like how in the settings you can determine if you want to show notification icons, connection speed, and Wi-Fi network you are connecting to up top in the notification panel. You can do this on other Android devices but having the option to enable these features in the settings out of the box is pretty neat. One feature that is found in the developer options of most smartphones is built into the settings here. Xiaomi has made it easier to tweak the device’s animations under Battery & Performance, you can hide or show system animations. This will speed up your device or slow it down, depending on the settings you select.
There’s also a neat feature to auto start apps. Under app settings, you can add notifications to auto start when the device is booted up. It’s reminiscent of a full-fledged laptop or desktop. I think it’s pretty neat.
So you can tweak some of these settings to improve the performance but the Mi Pad 3 runs very well out of the box. It’s being powered by a MediaTek MT9176 Hexa-Core processor with 4GB of RAM. It would be nice to see a high-end Snapdragon processor but the MediaTek chip seems to perform well and there’s a generous amount of RAM. The biggest con is the lack of ROMs that support MediaTek processors. Geekbench 4 spit out a single-core score of around 1,600 and a multi-core score of around 4,000.
The Mi Pad 3 has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor and 5-megapixel front-facing sensor. The rear sensor will likely not perform better than your smartphone but it’s convenient to have for select applications. The same can be said about the front-facing sensor, though I found it to perform on par with the front-facing sensors found in many flagships out there.
Under the hood, we have a 6,600 mAh battery that should provide an average around 8 hours of screen on-time. Xiaomi says you’ll be able to get up to 12 hours of battery life but I think that’s a little bit of a stretch and will require you to be using the tablet at low brightness. What’s neat to see is, however, is that the battery is larger than the previous Mi Pad.
There are dual stereo speakers on the rear of the tablet that does a decent job. They don’t get as loud as I would have liked and they don’t quite compare to the speakers found on the newer iPads. It would have been nice to have them located on the front of the tablets so audio is blasted towards your face. But these speakers are not terrible.
All in all, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 is a solid alternative to the iPad Mini. For $300 (give or take), you get a fast Android tablet with a good screen and amazing build quality. The biggest problem I have with it is its awkward size. I just can’t really justify buying an 8-inch tablet when the phone in my pocket is only a couple of inches smaller. I could see this tablet being great for a family or for young kids who are too young to have smartphones.
Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 via GearBest.com: http://www.gearbest.com/tablet-pcs/pp_621635.html?lkid=10771249