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27
Feb

Vivo X6Plus review


The chances are that you haven’t heard of Vivo, it is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that makes quite a large range of smartphones, but until now it has focused on the main Asian markets. However, like so many Chinese OEMs, the company is looking to gain more recognition in the west. As part of its push westwards, Vivo recently released two high-end smartphones: the Vivo X6 and Vivo X6Plus. Ash has done a fantastic unboxing/first look/travelogue for the X6 and now it is my turn to take a look at the X6Plus.

Design

Like the Vivo X6, when you take a quick look at the Vivo X6Plus and you will probably think it looks much like another well-known phone, one which bears a fruity motif. That said, the device does look good, it seems well-made and thanks to the metal frame it has a premium feel to it. The buttons are responsive yet firm, however it is worth mentioning that the capacitive keys on the front aren’t back lit.

The device is quite big, due to its 5.7 inch display, however if you are used to handling large screen phones then it won’t feel out of place. For some context the Vivo X6Plus is narrower than the Huawei Mate 8 (which has a 6 inch display) and narrower than the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (AKA Note 4 Edge), however it is wider than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

Going around the phone, the volume rocker and power button are on the right, while the dual-SIM tray is on the left. At the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and on the bottom is the micro-USB port and single speaker. On the back is the rear facing camera along with its flash LED, plus the finger print reader. It is the two bands that run across the back, near the top and bottom, that give the Vivo X6Plus a certain iPhone-esque look.

Display

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Face the Vivo X6 and you will be looking right into a 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED panel. Sure, it’s lacking that QHD resolution, but I must say this display is very good. It looks beautiful and has great viewing angles. I really have nothing to complain about here.

moto x vs nexus 4 aa display colorsSee also: AMOLED vs LCD – What is the difference?129

Hardware and performance

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As well as the crisp Full HD AMOLED display the Vivo X6Plus also boasts 4GB of RAM, a finger print reader and quick charging. The only slight let down is the choice of processor. The X6Plus uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615. The 615 is an octa-core processor with 8 Cortex-A53 cores, with four cores clocked at 1.2GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Accompanying the CPU is the Adreno 405 GPU.

In terms of every day use these specs are adequate and most users won’t find themselves wishing for more CPU power, and because of the 4GB of RAM even some power users will find the X6Plus more than sufficient. However if you play a lot of 3D games, use CPU intensive apps or visit a lot of complex websites then the Snapdragon 615 will be under powered for you.

The use of a Cortex-A53 octa-core SoC is also reflected in the benchmarks. The Vivo X6Plus scored 780 on Geekbench’s single-core test and 3143 for the multi-core test. For some context, those scores are lower than the octa-core Cortex-A53 Kirin 935 found in the Huawei Mate S, lower than the octa-core Cortex-A53 MediaTek Helio X10 found in the Redmi Note 2 and lower than the quad-core 32-bit Snapdragon 801. If you want to see more benchmark scores for some of 2015’s leading processors then check out my SoC showdown: Snapdragon 810 vs Exynos 7420 vs MediaTek Helio X10 vs Kirin 935.

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I ran my custom written Terrain 4 benchmark and the Vivo X6Plus scored 8.96 frames per second and managed to display a total of 2225 frames during the test run. By comparison the Vivo X6 (with its octa-core Cortex-A53 MediaTek MT6752 and ARM Mali-T760 GPU) managed 10.07 fps and 2355 total frames. A faster, next generation phone like the Huawei Mate 8 manages 20.72 fps and 3348 total frames at the same Full HD resolution.

The fingerprint reader on the X6Plus is first class. It is fast, accurate and is certainly comparable with the lightning fast and reliable fingerprint scanner on the Huawei Mate 8. Like the Mate 8, you can wake and unlock your phone just by putting your finger on the reader.

The X6Plus has a 3000 mAh battery which delivers a great battery experience. Although it has a 5.7 inch 1080p display, the processor is quite conservative in its power usage, the result is that you will get all-day battery life, easily. Unfortunately Funtouch OS doesn’t include a battery usage page of any kind. So instead I did some battery tests. First I ran Goat Simulator to test the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 4.5 hours on the Vivo X6Plus. That is quite an impressive number as some phones fail to give you a lesser screen-on time without doing any 3D (i.e. GPU) work. Turning to simpler tasks like watching YouTube over Wi-Fi or web browsing, I found that you will get at least 15 hours of both from this device. What that translates to is in fact a two day battery life (of course depending on your usage). So a big thumbs up for Vivo for the battery life of the X6Plus.

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When it comes to the fast charging the Vivo X6Plus supports what Vivo calls “dual-engine quick charging.” The charger is rated at 5V/2A and 9V/2A. That means at 9V it can charge the phone at 18 watts. To fully charge the 3000 mAh battery takes two hours, which isn’t that quick, however to get to 50% only takes 23 minutes, which is quite impressive. If you want to charge the battery to 80% then that takes 55 minutes. To go from 80% to 100% takes over an hour. If you are interested to find out why smartphones charge quickly to 50% or 80%, but can take over half of the charge cycle to add the last 20% then I recommend that you read my test: Qualcomm Quick Charge vs Oppo VOOC vs MediaTek PumpExpress+ vs Motorola TurboPower vs the others.

Software

Vivo-X6Plus-FuntouchOS

On the software side, we have Vivo’s Funtouch OS, which although it is based on Android 5.0.2, is really heavily skinned. As with many of the Android variants from Chinese manufacturers, there is no app drawer which means you are left to organize everything into folders on the home screens. Unfortunately Google’s services like Google Play, YouTube and Gmail don’t come pre-installed. I was able to install Amazon’s Appstore without any problem and that got me access to a lot of apps. I then discovered that you can actually install Google Play from the Vivo App Store. That gave me access to a bunch more app and services, however I often came across errors about apps not being compatible with the current device, sadly even Chrome wouldn’t install because Google Play says it isn’t compatible.

Vivo-X6Plus-FuntouchOS2

When you get over the non-standard Android  look-and-feel, learn to speak Chinese for the apps that don’t work in English, and ignore the iOS aesthetic, then you will find that Vivo did manage to add in some cool functionality. You can save screen shots with voice recordings; use smart motion actions (gestures) like draw ‘M’ for music or cover the phone with your hand to mute it when it is ringing; or shrink the screen or keyboard for one handed use. There are also quite a few options for the dual-SIM functions including setting a different ringtone to each SIM and setting which SIM is the default.

Camera

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The camera app that comes with the Vivo X6Plus is excellent. As well as offering a range of automatic modes including Night mode and Child portrait mode, there is also a comprehensive manual mode (which Vivo calls Professional mode). You can change the white balance, ISO, and shutter speed, but most importantly you can do manual focusing. The camera is quite quick and there is a burst mode which allows you to take consecutive pictures. According to my crude timing you can take about 10 shots a second. The only limitation is that it stops after 20 shots, so that it can save the images.

As for the camera itself, I am undecided. The 13MP resolution is good, the noise levels aren’t bad for a mobile phone and the touch to set the exposure functionality works well. However I found that the colors in the photos are lacking in vibrancy. I say I am undecided in that I am prepared to give the camera the benefit of the doubt because it has been very cloudy and dull here while I have been taking my test shots and it could be the lack of clear sunlight that has dulled the images, however maybe I am just being too kind.

Anyway, here are some samples photos so that you can judge for yourself:

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Polaroid cameraSee also: 15 best camera apps for Android89

Just as I was preparing to publish this review, the sun came out, so I went out and took a few more sample photos. Here is an additional gallery of sample shots:

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Specifications

DIsplay 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 1080p
Full HD resolution
Processor 1.6 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Adreno 405 GPU
RAM 4 GB
Storage 64 GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, microUSB 2.0
SIM cards Dual-SIM: 1 x micro SIM, 1 x nano SIM
Networks 2G GSM 900 / 1800
3G HSDPA: 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, TD-SCDMA 1880 / 2010
4G LTE: 1(2100), 3(1800), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
Cameras 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front-facing camera
Battery 3000 mAh
Software Funtouch OS, based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
Dimensions 158.4 x 80 x 6.9 mm, 171 g

Gallery

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Wrapping up

The Vivo X6Plus is certainly an interesting device. The large 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display is very cool, but the overall skew towards mimicking Apple is a big negative and leaves me with a desire for some originality. Having said that if you are able to look past the design aspects then features like the 4GB of RAM and the fingerprint reader are solid positives for this device, the only thing I would want to change on the hardware side is the processor, something better than the Snapdragon 615 would seem appropriate for this device. As for the software, well, for Asia it is probably perfect, however those in the West will likely struggle with it.

The Vivo X6Plus will initially be available in Asia for a price that should be around $550, however that pricing hasn’t yet been confirmed.

27
Feb

Why #StandWithApple misses the point


stand-with-apple-t-shirt.jpg?itok=UFgCoN

Rational arguments — not cheerleading — is what’s going protect the integrity of our pocket-sized computers.

It’s still not just about Apple. And it’s still not just about the iPhone. And it’s infinitely more important than hashtags and T-shirts. Apple’s opposition to the FBI’s demand that it create an alternative operating system that would aid in the unlocking of a smartphone connected to the San Bernardino terrorist attack may well be the most important legal fight since the development of the smartphone.

Because it’s not just about Apple. And it’s not just about the iPhone. It’s about all our phones, and all the operating systems that run them — and all of our data contained therein.

The introduction of Apple’s Motion to Dismiss, signed by seven lawyers on behalf of Apple, shows that Apple understands this pretty clearly.

This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.

“Not a case about one isolated iPhone.” … “The ability to force companies like Apple.” …

It’s about all the companies. And all our phones.

And that’s where reducing precedent-setting cases like this (and there’s virtually no way this doesn’t set some sort of legal precedent) to slogans and battle cries does little good. And #StandWithApple in particular ignores the argument — that the government can not and should not compel a private company to make a product that safeguards our digital lives less safe — and makes it a with-us-or-against-us popularity contest. There’s no place in a courtroom for fanboyism. A judge isn’t going to be swayed by a hashtag or a T-shirt or an online petition. Lawyers aren’t going to admit evidence showing how many times “#StandWithApple” appears online. Or how many “likes” a blog post gets. Or how many T-shirts are sold. A phone giveaway? Please.

If you stand with Apple, you must also stand with us all. Otherwise what’s the point?

That’s not to say that raising awareness about this case isn’t a good thing. Everyone should have a basic understanding of how smartphones and the services we connect with work. That our private information isn’t nearly as private as we like to think it is. And that the FBI — the government, really — is looking to force Apple to play a part in setting a very dangerous precedent, one that could compel other companies to do the same should it lose. Google. Microsoft. BlackBerry. Samsung. LG. Anyone who manufacturers phones and holds the keys to the code on which it runs would be next. Everyone needs to be aware of this case.

Apple and Google take very different directions in their products, of course, and Apple’s led the way in helping users keep their data safe, all but requiring PIN codes in the setup process. (Android still needs to be more forceful about that.) Android devices have been slow to adopt full-disk encryption, but that’s finally starting to get a little better. And all devices should require a code before booting. (That’s still not required or necessarily presented as an option on initial setup, either.)

But one constant in all the differences between Apple and Google — between iOS and Android — is the users, and our data. Our contacts. Our photos. Our private messages of love and hurt and heartache and celebration. A ridiculous amount of our data already is available to law enforcement via other means, including through the iCloud backups of iOS, to say nothing of all the other services used — and of course the network providers themselves. That’s true on iOS, and it’s true on Android.

So stand with Apple if you like. I do, too, in this case. But that’s a woefully myopic position of what may well be this generation’s most important legal case regarding hardware and privacy. If you stand with Apple here, you also must stand with us all.

Put that on T-shirt.

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27
Feb

Recommended Reading: The Super Bowl MVP is a huge nerd


Nerd
Von Miller,
The Players’ Tribune

You may not be able to tell by his on-field dominance, but Super Bowl MVP and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is a huge nerd. Miller, some fellow players and friends discussed his geekiness for The Players’ Tribune recently. The stories are quite entertaining, and yes, he used to wear Rec Specs.

You Already Know ‘Fuller House’ Is Bad. But Are You Adult Enough to Resist It?
Hank Stuever, Washington Post

The reviews are in for Netflix’s Full House reboot, and well, it’s not very good. But will the nostalgia be enough to get you to watch anyway?

Can Lions Gate Sell More Movie Tickets With Video Games?
Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Business

Lions Gate invested in a mobile game developer, making that four similar moves in two years. The latest, Fifth Journey, specializes in making games based on movies.

How ‘Firewatch’ Hearkens Back to Relationships on the Early Internet
Katherine Cross, Gamasutra

Here’s yet another great piece on Campo Santo’s Firewatch. This time, ties between gameplay and the chatrooms of the early internet are the focus.

A Seattle Supergroup of Developers Is Trying to Crack VR’s Trickiest Problems
Ben Kuchera, Polygon

As VR headsets are poised to reach consumers en masse this spring, there’s still a number of issues facing the platform. Developers of Golem for PlayStation VR are looking to solve a few.

27
Feb

Google DeepDream experiment takes you on a trippy VR journey


Google’s latest VR experiment involves feeding footage captured by its 360-degree camera rig through the DeepDream machine. Since the company’s DeepDream program uses a neural network to transform ordinary images into surrealistic, dream-like artwork, the result is a psychedelic virtual reality experience. If you’ll recall, the big G’s 360-degree VR platform is called Jump, and it uses a 16-camera circular rig co-designed by GoPro. Google has been uploading videos taken with the rig on YouTube for a while now, but this particular experiment is something new.

Jessica Brillhart, the tech corp’s Principal Filmmaker for VR, has uploaded the project’s first video on YouTube. As you can see below, it’s a bit headache-inducing when seen with the naked eye. You’ll have to use a VR headset — Google, of course, recommends Cardboard — if you want to be swept away into a world of mind-bending colors and patterns.

Source: Research at Google, Google Research (Twitter)

27
Feb

ICYMI: Rogue wave detection, exo-glove and more


Today on In Case You Missed It: Researchers at Seoul National University developed the Exo-Glove Poly, which can help wearer’s perform difficult tasks like opening doors or grasping delicate objects. MIT built an algorithm to help detect rogue waves and warn sailors about them. And the Leidenfrost effect of a water droplet landing on a hot griddle and hovering above steam had never been captured on video, until now.

We also covered a bunch of news in TL;DR but most urge you to dive into the latest on Apple vs. FBI, or for fun, read about what algae injections can do to vision.

As always, please share any interesting science or tech videos, anytime! Just tweet us with the #ICYMI hashtag to @mskerryd.

27
Feb

New ‘Shenmue 3’ screenshots give you a glimpse of the game


If you need any more proof that Yu Suzuki really is making a new Shenmue game two decades after the last one, look above and below the fold. Yes, these are actual Shenmue 3 screenshots (and even a little video) that Suzuki’s team showed off at the Monaco Anime Game International Conferences. They’re still just a work-in-progress, true, but they’re enough to give you an idea of what the sequel will look like. Suzuki started working on the classic franchise’s third entry after his Kickstarter campaign last year breezed through its $2 million goal. It ended up raising over $6 million, enabling the team to go through with the game’s development for both PS4 and PC. Shenmue 3 won’t be out until December 2017 or later, but the team will likely release more tidbits of info (and more photos!) to tide us over until then.

Breaking: new, early screenshots for Shenmue III revealed. More information and updates: https://t.co/AXOgsiTZwY pic.twitter.com/gtq1uPMmAc

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) February 27, 2016

Fishing spot in video #magicmonaco #Shenmue3 pic.twitter.com/Tm6tSlnHlC

— Shenmue Dojo (@Shenmue_Dojo) February 27, 2016

Source: Kickstarter, PlayStation (Twitter)

27
Feb

New 4″ iPhone With 12MP Camera Said to Cost $400-$500, iPhone 5s to Receive 50% Price Cut


KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a research note to investors, a copy of which was obtained by MacRumors, in which he claims Apple’s next-generation 4-inch iPhone will feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, as opposed to an 8-megapixel sensor as previously rumored.

Kuo also reiterated that the new 4-inch iPhone will have other similar hardware specs as the iPhone 6s, including an A9 chip and NFC for Apple Pay. The device’s form factor is expected to be similar to the iPhone 5s, although the display is said to have slightly curved 2.5D glass like the iPhone 6 and newer.

Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone could also feature 16GB and 64GB storage capacities, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Live Photos support, and a slightly larger 1,642 mAh battery compared to the iPhone 5s. 3D Touch will likely remain exclusive to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus as a differentiating feature.

The well-informed analyst continues to believe the smartphone will cost between $400 and $500 in the United States. The lower price point should help Apple target the mid- to low-price segment and drive iPhone sales in emerging markets such as China and India. Comparatively, the larger iPhone 6s starts at $649.

KGI Securities expects total 4-inch iPhone shipments to grow 131% year-over-year to 37 million units in 2016, on the strength of the new 4-inch iPhone launch and a 50% price cut on the iPhone 5s. Apple currently sells the iPhone 5s for $450 at full retail price, so the smartphone may soon be discounted to $225.

The research firm has lowered its new 4-inch iPhone shipments forecast to 12 million units from 18-20 million units because it believes customers that favor a small-size iPhone may purchase the cheaper iPhone 5s instead. KGI expects iPhone 5s shipments to “surge” following the half-off discount.

Kuo said Apple’s upcoming 4-inch iPhone is “generally dubbed iPhone 5se,” but the much-rumored smartphone may actually be called the “iPhone SE.” The purported iPhone 5s successor has been given many other names in recent months, including “iPhone 6c,” “iPhone 5e,” and “iPhone 5s Mark II” internally.

Apple is expected to announce the new 4-inch iPhone, alongside a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro and minor Apple Watch updates, at its rumored March 15 media event. Barring any last minute changes, the smartphone could reportedly go on sale as early as March 18. Apple is unlikely to offer pre-orders for the device.

The research note also clarified that Apple will offer both single and dual camera versions of the iPhone 7 Plus.

Related Roundups: iPhone 5se, iPhone SE
Tags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

27
Feb

Five for Friday: Apps to keep track of your To-Dos.


Literally everyone on the planet has a list of things to do; whether it’s tucked away mentally, carefully written in a notebook, scribbled on the back of a rogue receipt

27
Feb

Scientists built a book-sized, protein-powered biocomputer


Supercomputers are absurdly impressive in terms of raw power, but it comes at a price: size and energy consumption. A multi-university team of researchers might’ve sidestepped that, though, with protein-powered biocomputers. Lund University notes that where this should really be helpful is with cryptography and “mathematical optimization” because with each task it’s necessary to test multiple solution sets. Unlike a traditional computer, biocomputers don’t work in sequence, they operate in parallel — leading to much faster problem solving.

The biocomputer in action, with proteins finding their way to the solution set at the bottom.

Oh and about that energy efficiency? Lund’s Heiner Linke says that they require less than one percent of the power a traditional transistor does to do one calculation step.

The CBC reports that the model biocomputer used in the experiment is only about the size of a book, rather than, say, IBM’s Watson (pictured above) that’s comprised of some 90 server modules. The ATP-powered biocomputer is admittedly limited for now (it’s only solved 2, 5, 9), but the scientists involved say that scalability is possible and we might not be far off from seeing the tech perform more complex tasks.

“Our approach has the potential to be general and to be developed further to enable the efficient encoding and solving of a wide range of large-scale problems,” the research paper says.

Via: The CBC

Source: PNAS, Lund University

27
Feb

Xiaomi MiPad 2 review – premium look and materials but still a budget tablet


We have on hand now a great new budget friendly tablet, but one that has some of the most curious software around. The Xiaomi MiPad 2, powered by MiUI, is an Android device, but you might have a hard time telling it apart from Apple’s mobile operating system.

With claims like that, we best start off by saying that this is one of the most solid built, premium-feeling tablets you’ll find in the sub-$200 segment. Considering you get full metal construction with an 8-inch display and resolution beyond HD, we’re excited to get started on this review.

Join us for our Xiaomi MiPad 2 review.

Buy now on ebay

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

Further reading:
Xiaomi MiPad 2 announced
Apple iPad mini 4 review
Xiaomi at MWC

Launched in the fall of 2015, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is another in a long line of devices from this Chinese company that do nothing if not wow us on the spec sheet for their price. Luckily, the devices, including this new 8-inch tablet, often carry that wow factor into design, materials and the overall experience. If you can get used to their flavor of Android, Xiaomi devices are well worth your consideration.

Having said all that, Xiaomi is still a budding company that has yet to fully crack the global market. Despite having a U.S. online store, their phones and tablets are still not up for sale. You will have to pull some international strings to get the MiPad 2 in hand, if you are still interested at the end of this review.

Note: In the photos throughout this article you will see many ‘unboxing’ images that still have a protective film on the display, those bubbles you are about to see are not defects. 

Design

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

Let’s not beat around the bush, the look and feel of this Android powered device will be familiar to most iPad mini users. With similar overall measurements, and an OS that rather accurately emulates iOS in many ways, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is, as I say, a curious device that may just be a brilliant take on what users want out of tablets today.

Looking at the device, you’ll see a full metal backing, a full glass front and the basic set of buttons, ports and sensors of the typical tablet on the market today. That is, there is a rear facing camera up in the corner, a front facing camera up top in the center. Power and volume buttons live on the right hand edge of the device, up near the top. Although, you’ll find the power button situated below the volume buttons.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

The bottom edge of the tablet houses a single USB Type-C port, while dual rear facing speaker grills live right at the bottom of the device. There also also a few mic holes and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge.

Warning, it’s sharp!

I am trying to be funny more than anything, but you will absolutely find that the front edge of the metal, along the front edges of the Xiaomi MiPad 2, feel sharp. Funny thing is, it is not sharp. I did try to use the tablet to slice some paper, it didn’t work. However, if you slide your fingers outward off of the display with a bit of pressure, you will feel, and be able to see afterward, how the metal edge scrapes off impurities of your skin. Sounds gross, and sorry to say, it kind of is.

Display

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

Measuring in with a 7.9-inch IPS display, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 offers up 1536 x 2018 pixels of resolution, for 326 ppi. If you were keeping track, that is the same size and pixel count as the iPad Mini 4.

The display on the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is pleasant to look at, providing nice color saturation, great viewing angles and adequate brightness. When I say nice and adequate, I imply that this is not the best panel we’ve seen in our time. It would be unfair to say that you would be displeased with this device, but there is no question, placed side-by-side with most other current-gen LCD or LED display you will see the difference.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

On a positive note, Xiaomi has included some controls to make your display look like you want it to. First, you can choose the color saturation level, between two options. Then you can choose the general color temperature, with three options of normal, warm or cool. Last, there is a Reading mode available, adding that familiar yellow tint to the display that makes it easier to look at in the dark.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

I have to mention one last thing before we move on, there is a spec under the glass. At first I thought that the procedure I go through to test any new device’s display revealed a dead pixel, but, after close scrutiny, I’ve decided that it is simply a spec of dust under the glass. For those that are sensitive to such things, I cannot un-see this spec, it is driving me crazy.

Hardware

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

Before we start talking experience, let’s talk about the actual hardware of the Xiaomi MiPad 2. Picking up from the design aspects, that full metal back includes the adequate holes to support your normal 3.5mm headphone jack and the new USB Type-C charging and data cable. The front glass goes edge to edge and there are capacitive off-screen navigation buttons in the lower bezel area.

Inside the MiPad 2 is an Intel processor, the Atom X5-Z8500, with 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 64GB of internal storage and a 6190mAh battery.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

As far as sensors go, look for a 5MP front shooter complimented by an 8MP rear shooter. We original were told we’d find an LED flash, but that is not present on our 16GB Android version of the tablet. Bluetooth 4.1 and WiFi ac are your main connectivity options. A selection of other typical sensors are on board, with one major exclusion, there is no GPS sensor in this tablet.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

As an opinion, this tablet feels good in the hand, measuring in at 200mm x 133mm at just 6.95mm thick, it is a nice weight at 322g. The power button being placed below the volume buttons takes some getting used to, but both are easily accessed and offer a decent tactile response.

Finally, the rear facing speakers are loud and difficult to muffle by hand, but you may not like the hollow and somewhat distant sound they produce.

Performance

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

With a new Intel Atom X5-Z8500 under the hood, that’s a 64-bit quad-core processor, and 2GB of RAM, I was rather surprised to see an AnTuTu benchmark score of over 70K. As I like to run these benchmarks, but do not rely on them to tell the whole story, I proceeded to install a few of my favorite processor heavy applications.

I don’t know if it is this Intel processor, the heavily skinned MiUI version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, or the Intel HD Graphics for Atom, but everything I do on this tablet feels sluggish and slightly delayed after my touch. Navigating the OS is smooth enough, and the animations are fast, but as I say, there is a bit of a delay in the process. Mostly, it is the off-screen capacitive navigation buttons that cause me grief, often I miss them entirely or hit them twice as I am awaiting a response.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

If this sounds like disapproval already, wait until you hear about my go-to, cross-platform game for testing. If you have not noticed yet, I have now played Asphalt 8 on Android, Windows and iOS devices for testing here on the site. This includes Android tablets with benchmark scores half that of the Xiaomi MiPad 2, but sadly, somehow, the MiPad 2 offers up abysmal game performance, indeed, the worst I’ve experienced on an Android device.

It’s not all bad. Despite a little bit of delay when scrolling a large web page, as an example, the overall OS and app performance is adequate for your day to day needs, the average user will be happy with their experience. However, if you are a gamer, or need to run any processor intensive software, I’d recommend you try before you buy on this one.

Battery

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

Now that I’ve thoroughly bashed the Xiomi MiPad 2 for its processing performance, let’s look at a more impressive part of the device, the battery life. Equipped with a fair sized 6190mAh battery, the MiPad 2 manages to keep the lights on for a respectable amount of time. Our initial run with the device included benchmark test, gaming, watching video and other hard hitting tasks to put the device through its paces, considering all this, we were happy with just over 5 hrs of screen-on time.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 battery

On our normal day to day operations with the device, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 offered up the industry typical 5.5 to 6 hours of screen-on battery life. If that is not enough for you, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 comes with a Battery Saver mode, shutting down various services and tasks to extend battery life.

Camera

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

As the camera on the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is, as with many tablets, more of an addition than a feature to focus on, let’s keep this simple. The 8MP sensor performs well, but without image stabilization we found more than one of our photos had to be discarded because of movement blur. Mostly this was a difficulty in the location of the on-screen trigger button, requiring two hands to take a photo if you plan to do any selective focusing.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 photo samples

I found the camera glass to be sensitive to fogging. At first I thought the sensor just couldn’t handle low light shooting, but frequent quick cleanings of the glass and low light performance is actually pretty good. Daylight shooting is solid as well, but the absolute bottom line, please do not purchase this tablet for photography purposes, in the end, it is just a tablet.

Software

Xiaomi MiPad 2

There is a thing that device manufacturers do with software on mobile devices, they take Android and create what we call skins or ROMs. The result is an Android powered device that has manufacturer specific design, hardware support, features, apps and more. The Xiaomi MiPad 2 uses a base of Android 5.1 Lollipop and converts it into what they call MIUI 7.1. There is an optional Windows 10 model available as well.

Here is the thing, and this is likely one of the main reasons that the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is not available for sale in the U.S. at this time, MIUI is designed to be comfortable and familiar for iPad users. This is a decidedly non-Android approach, but it creates one of the most unique flavors of Android you will ever see, that is, it looks and feels like iOS.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 MIUI

Many will be turned off by MIUI 7.1. After all, if they wanted an iOS powered device, they would have purchased an iPad, but there is so much more to it than this. We’ll talk about the price difference later, but for now, let’s just say that the Xiaomi MiPad 2 costs a lot less than the iPad mini 4.

Price aside, MIUI is still Android at heart. While the difficulties in bouncing between software ecosystems are less these days, there is still a divide. Those familiar with Android apps and features will be at home on the Xiaomi MiPad 2, and at the same time, those familiar with the user interface of iOS will be pleased to not have to learn many new techniques.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

That being said, catering to both sides inevitably means compromises. These shortcomings are only compounded by the fact that Xiaomi is unable to pre-load Google apps and services. That’s right, you will need to follow some Chinese guides and sideload some apps befire you can use the Play Store to download your favorite apps and games.

Loading Google apps and services on your Xiaomi MiPad 2 is not the end of your struggles. You may find, as I have, that the Play Store crashes frequently, and if you cannot read Chinese, there will always be a few pre-installed apps that you may never even know what they are.

Xiaomi MiPad 2

Another quick example is the fact that installing Google Play Service includes the Google Settings app, instead of the MIUI iOS looking alternative. This is great news for Android fans, but aspects of it are still broken, you will need to head back to the MIUI app management as the Apps section in the Google Settings tool crashes every time.

Bottom line, even with a custom launcher to ease the user experience for the average Android fan, the software still feels and acts a little buggy. If I knew how to read Chinese, this might be a different story, I might have even stuck with the default MIUI a little bit longer before installing a new Launcher.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 AnTuTu

Last item in terms of software, we suspect that one of the biggest issues with device performance is the OS on this tablet. With a benchmark score of near triple that of our old Nexus 7, the latency of the software should not feel near equal. Don’t get me wrong, the OS itself navigates fast and smooth, it is just that fact that there is a unexpected delay when hitting the navigation buttons that actually disrupts the flow of the device.

Specifications

Processor Intel Atom X5-Z8500, 1.44GHz quad-core, 64-bit
RAM 2GB DDR3
Display 7.9-inch IPS
2048 x 1536
326ppi
Internal Storage 16GB or 64GB
I/O USB Type-C
Bluetooth 4.1
WiFi ac
Camera 8MP rear with LED flash
5MP front
Battery 6190mAh
Size 200mm x 133mm x 6.95mm
322g
Color Champagne Gold and Dark Gray

Gallery

MiPad 2 Review

Pricing and final thoughts

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

In many aspects of retail there is an absolutely true statement, “you get what you pay for.” The Xiaomi MiPad 2 is a wonderful device in the budget segment, but is not exactly the bang for the buck device you might be hoping for. Please keep in mind we are only speaking of the Android version for now, we do not yet have our hands on the Windows 10 powered option.

For those that like to see a numeric value applied to their reviews, I would give the Xiaomi MiPad 2 a final rating of 6.5 out of 10 stars. That’s 8 stars for the hardware, at least for the look, materials and feel in the hand, but only 5 stars for software and overall performance. Just please keep in mind that this is personal preference more than anything – I am still new to MiUI, and those few performance issues are not always present, it is just that when they do pop up, they ruin the overall experience for me.

We previously highlighted the Xiaomi MiPad and MiPad 2 on our list of best cheap Android tablets. Now that we’ve thoroughly tested the tablet, our opinion of the device is not what it once was. We are not removing the MiPad from the lis, but we certainly do not want to get your hopes up if you ever imagined this budget tablet could compete with the premium flagship devices on the market today.

Xiaomi MiPad 2 unbox

With a starting price of 999 yuan, or about US$155, the Xiaomi MiPad 2 is a fun device for the money. We highly recommend you try before you buy, if possible. There is no mistaking that the MiPad 2 is a curious device, seemingly offering the best of both Android and iOS in one package, or Windows, if you opt for the Windows 10 version. Please note, however, that you should expect to pay a little more than just US$155, it was closer to $200 by the time ours arrived with lengthy shipping times and costs.

16GB 999 yuan (about US$155)
64GB 1299 yuan (about US$200)
64GB
Windows 10
1299 yuan (about US$200)

Once you dive into the world of Mi, it is important to mention that you are joining a large and friendly community of technology enthusiasts. This does not have to matter to you, but the culture around the brand is light-hearted and filled with fun mascots and accessories. Xiaomi pays close attention to its users, if ever you wanted to help influence what the next manufacturer built device or software will include, this is the ecosystem that you want to get involved with.

Further reading:
Best cheap Android tablets
Best Android tablets
Lenovo Tab3 series tablets

While we cannot deny that we’ve rated the Xiaomi MiPad 2 fairly low, it is still a great budget offering in the 8-inch Android tablet space. Is it good enough for you?

MiPad 2 – $258 – ebay

This review originally posted on our sister site TabTimes.

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