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Redmi Pad review: Is it ready to disrupt the segment?

Lounge takes the Redmi Pad, the new budget tablet from Xiaomi through its paces. The verdict? Read on

Redmi has just unveiled its first tablet in the country, positioning it as the best in the  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>10,000- <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>20,000 price segment
Redmi has just unveiled its first tablet in the country, positioning it as the best in the 10,000- 20,000 price segment (Sahil Bhalla)

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There’s no doubt that one of Xiaomi India’s aims is to disrupt every product segment that it enters. Redmi, Xiaomi’s sub-brand, has just unveiled its first-ever tablet in the country and they’re positioning it as the best in the 10,000- 20,000 price segment. With approximately 20 other tablets on the market in this segment, is the Redmi Pad the ‘Right Choice’, for you, as team Redmi thinks? Let’s find out.

The Redmi Pad features a 10.61-inch 2K LCD (2000x1200 resolution) display with a 90Hz refresh rate (first in the segment), a 15:9 aspect ratio and 400 nits of peak brightness. The tablet comes equipped with quad speakers (with support for Dolby Atmos) and support for Widevine L1 certification, so you can binge your favourite shows in high-definition. The Redmi Pad features a metallic body, weighs just 465 grams and has good weight distribution. Lastly, the Redmi Pad works with many stylus’s out there, but for that, you’d have to purchase one separately.

I’m not going to get into all the specifications for this review, but just in case you’re one of those that judge the product by what’s under the hood, here’s a quick glimpse.

Xiaomi is known to blow away people with its pricing and the same can be said for the Redmi Pad, which starts at just 14,999 for the base variant. I’ve been using the Redmi Pad for about a week now and I’d like to take you through a day with the tablet.

A day with the Redmi Pad

Having woken up around 8 AM to find that the tablet was depleted, I immediately plugged it in courtest the 22.5W adapter that is provided in the box. The Redmi Pad has support for only 18W though and that meant that it was a little slow in fully charging the massive 8,000mAh battery. By 10 AM, once I was done getting ready, I unplugged it only to find that it wasn’t yet over the finish line. Safe to say that the tablet takes just over two hours to go from nought to full charge.

As I had to go from South Delhi to Gurgaon for some work, I found it the perfect day to test the tablet along with some accessories. Armed with the Nothing Ear 1 earbuds (since the Redmi pad omits a 3.5mm headphone jack) and the Logitech MX Mechanical Mini wireless keyboard, I set out. As I sat (luckily I found a seat) in the Delhi Metro, I took out the Nothing Ear 1 earbuds and instantly connected them to the Redmi Pad. Without a hitch, the two communicated with each other and the next thing I know I was engrossed in an episode of University Challenge on YouTube. I noticed for a second that there was a lag in the connection, but for the most part, it worked as intended. There’s also quite a bit of reflection from the display, so do keep that in mind.

I couldn’t help but think that the Redmi Pad, being positioned as the first tablet for many buyers, should have kept a 3.5mm headphone jack. Most budget-conscious consumers still use wired headphones daily and would have made heavy use of the headphone jack. Nonetheless, the Redmi Pad works pretty flawlessly with TWS earbuds.

I watched a bit of University Challenge and then switched to Amazon Prime Video and put on an episode of The Grand Tour. Not once did I feel like the tablet would fall out of my hand and neither did I get tired of holding it. The colours were vivid and the viewing angles were good. Having a 2K display with Widevine L1 support does help.

Having reached my destination, I turned off my tablet and threw it in my backpack alongside all my other gadgets. I was afraid that the glass would get scratched. Xiaomi has said that an official case (with a stand) is releasing at a later date and hasn’t provided any details on its pricing.

At the cafe at 32nd Avenue, I took out my keyboard, connected it via Bluetooth to the tablet and started typing an article on the Redmi Pad. Thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate, scrolling through Twitter on one side and typing on the other (thanks to the Split Screen feature) was a blissful experience. Couple that with the 15:9 aspect ratio and everything became easier. There were a few times where I noticed a lag between what I was typing and what appeared on the screen but it happened so infrequently during my 2000 plus words that I typed that it didn’t matter.

I even did a video call with a friend (yes, as a freelancer, I had no office Zoom calls to attend) on Google Meet and it was their video came out crisp and clean. The good thing is that the camera is now at the top of the screen when in landscape mode along with the mic. That makes it easier for calls and more. Thanks to the 8MP front camera with a 105* field-of-view and the Focus Frame feature, I was able to get up and move around and the camera followed me. Using the camera for video calls, my friend said that my video came out sharp and the audio was clear.

While testing out the camera before the call, I noticed a few details were missing. Even the pictures that came out (with both front and back cameras) were a little dull. I wouldn’t recommend using the tablet as your primary camera for photos. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend any tablet in the market to replace your smartphone or DSLR.

I couldn’t wait to get home to play some Call of Duty: Mobile and stream some cricket highlights. At this point, I still had just under 50% battery left. I reached home, took out the Redmi Pad, flung my backpack aside and turned on some Call of Duty: Mobile with the speakers turned on to the max. With two speakers on each side of the tablet while in landscape mode, my fingers would constantly cover them. I’m not sure where else Xiaomi would have put the speakers, but it's unfortunate.

With the Helio G99, up to 6GB of RAM and dual-band WiFi 5 support, I could play a session of Call of Duty: Mobile lag free. That’s something I haven’t been able to do on a tablet in this segment before. It could have been an even better experience as the speakers get quite loud and don’t distort much when over 70%. Instrument separation is decent. The bass and treble aren’t going to blow you away, but for a budget tablet, this is mighty good.

By the end of my two hours of gaming on the Redmi Pad, the battery life was down to approximately 20%. The screen was on most of the day, and it was pushed to its limits. I performed various tasks from taking photos in the Gurgaon heat to video calls to gaming, streaming YouTube and much more. The 8,000mAh battery comfortably lasted me a day, but by the next morning it had run out of juice.

A few missteps for the Redmi Pad

Let me just sum up where the Redmi Pad could have done a better job.

1. Fingers covering the speakers when holding the tablet in landscape mode. That ruins the experience when holding the tablet and watching videos and/or gaming.

2. The tablet charges quite slowly. It’s only rated for 18W charging and that may be fine for first-time buyers. Once you’re exposed to all the fast charging technology out there, then you’d be annoyed by the slow charging speeds of the Redmi Pad.

3. Screen timeout: It may just be me but I didn’t find this option in the settings. The screen goes blank pretty fast when inactive and there’s currently no way to change that.

4. Auto brightness: MIUI has gotten much better over the years but the auto brightness bug still affects the devices once in a while. I noticed a few times where the brightness wouldn’t go up to the max when outside in the harsh sunlight.

5. Omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack: As mentioned above, a lot of first-time buyers don’t have TWS earbuds, and probably wouldn’t want to invest in them just yet. Hence, retaining that 3.5mm headphone jack would have made a big difference.

Is this the “Right Choice” for you?

To say that Xiaomi has done a great job with the Redmi Pad would be an understatement. To bring a tablet in the 10,000- 20,000 price segment that is loaded with many features is quite the achievement.

For first-time buyers, the Redmi Pad becomes the automatic recommendation and there isn’t anything close. There are about 19 other options in this segment, one of which just released the other day, but even so, the Redmi Pad tops them all.

The Redmi Pad comes in three colours - Graphite Gray, Moonlight Silver and Mint Green. I’d say go with Mint Green as it will stand out. I know budget consumers and first-time buyers are price conscious but a word of advice is to avoid the 3GB variant. It’s got less storage and won’t be great for gaming. If you can stretch your budget, the 6GB/128GB variant shouldn’t be the only one on your list. Just do remember that to make this a complete experience for all your note-taking, video calls, gaming sessions and more, you’d need to purchase some accessories - a wireless keyboard, TWS earbuds, a stylus and a case - separately. Adding the cost of these accessories to your tablet may make your final amount heftier.

That said, the Redmi Pad should still be affordable when everything is priced in. At an introductory price of 16,999 (MRP of 19,999), the 6GB/128GB variant is an excellent purchase. With Diwali coming up, a gift to yourself might just be on the cards.

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