What would you get if you cross an iPhone 5c and the iPad mini? Probably something very much like Xiaomi's new Mi Pad, which shares design elements with Apple's mobile products yet still manages to carve out a niche of its own.
Xiaomi has used the same five colours Apple that chose for its plastic-backed iPhone 5c (Android-style green, light blue, yellow, apricot pink and white) for its tablet and added one more: the Mi Pad is also available in black. In a sea of black and white tablets from Apple, Samsung, Asus, LG, and others, the 7.9-inch Mi Pad is looking to stand out.
Available in 16GB and 64GB variants, the Mi Pad comes with an Nvidia Tegra K1 quad-core 2.2Ghz ARM processor, 2GB of RAM and an eight-megapixel rear camera. With a 4:3 aspect ratio display at 2048x1536, Xiaomi says it offers the same resolution as the iPad mini.
The device also includes a microSD slot that supports up to 128GB and comes with a 6,700 mAh battery that Xiaomi says will provide 86 hours of music playback or 11 hours of video streaming. It's running on Xiaomi's own version of Android called Miui.
At $240, the 16GB Mi Pad is about half the cost of the iPad mini Retina ($399) and $100 less than the standard iPad mini. Perhaps more importantly in China, the Mi Pad also undercuts Samsung's 16GB eight-inch Galaxy Tab 4.
The $270 64GB Mi Pad is an interesting tactical move by Xiaomi and makes it a fairly unique choice among Android tablets which, at the eight-inch range, tend to have 8GB or 16GB storage and rely on expandable storage to offer more space.
One thing the devices lack, though, is support for 3G or LTE.
As ZDNet's sister site CNET notes, the Mi Pad will be available in China in June as an "open beta" — something like Google's Glass Explorer program, where some users are invited to try out pre-production devices.
According to Bloomberg, Xiaomi's founder and CEO Lei says the company has prepped 100 apps and 400 games for its tablets and plans to have a 1,000 available by the year's end. The device will first go on sale in China and then availability will expand to South East Asia, India, and Latin America later this year.
Ex-Googler and now head of Xiaomi's international operations Hugo Barra said the company does not plan to launch in the US this year.