The iPad mini’s beautiful 7.9-inch silhouette is matched by few tablets, but Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has replicated Apple’s design with its new Mi Pad. When it debuts in June, the $240 Mi Pad will cost slightly less than the iPad mini (starting at $299 for non-Retina) and will be the first device to carry Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra K1 processor.
Early benchmarks for the K1 chip (on a Lenovo ThinkVision 28) show powerful graphics performance that blew away the competition, including Apple’s A7 (in the iPhone 5s) and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 (in the Google Nexus 5). This means the Mi Pad could give the iPad mini some serious competition instead of being just another cheap clone.
In addition to the promising processor, the Mi Pad also carries a custom version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat called MIUI that CNET noted is reminiscent of Apple’s iOS 7. You may not be able to tell the difference between the two devices’ displays; they both have the same 2048 x 1536 resolution that delivers a stunning 326 pixels per inch.
The Mi Pad’s 16GB (or 64GB) of onboard storage can be expanded by up to 128GB via a microSD card slot, something that Apple doesn’t offer. However, instead of an aluminum chassis like on the iPad, the Mi Pad is made of colorful plastic reminiscent of the iPhone 5c, giving it an altogether cheaper feel.
Xiaomi not the first company to try and mimic Apple’s design, though. Acer also produced an iPad mini twin with its Iconia A1-830, which more closely resembled the Apple device and cost just $179. In our review, however, we found the Iconia’s Clover Trail processor lacking while its display and battery life were also subpar.
No word yet on whether the Mi Pad will make it stateside, with an anticipated release in only China for now.