Realme Pad Mini review: A well-rounded tablet for basic usage
Earlier this year, we reviewed the Realme Pad, the company's first Android tablet, and we liked what it had to offer for a reasonable price. The company is now looking to make things more affordable in the segment courtesy of its second offering that we have for review today, the Realme Pad Mini. It is a given that some sacrifices need to be made in order to keep the cost down, and one can only hope that the company hasn't cut too many corners in doing so. A large screen is great to have for online classes and group calls, but it may feel overbearing for some and also affects the portability. That's where a more compact tablet still has a place in the ecosystem. Let's see if the Realme Pad Mini has something new to offer, how it performs and if it offers better value for money than its larger sibling.
The basics are covered but keep your expectations in check
Realme has shifted from a MediaTek Helio G80 SoC to a relatively less powerful Unisoc T616 chip on the Pad Mini, which is reasonable for a budget tablet. You get a choice between 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage or 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. The storage can be expanded further up to 1TB with a micro-SD card, which is a good option to have on a tablet. Along with the memory card slot, the LTE variant has a 4G SIM slot for calling and mobile data. You get Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi with support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. Given the Mini suffix, one expected this tablet to have a smaller screen and it does. The Realme Pad Mini has an 8.7-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1340x800 pixels and support for 16.7 million colors. The peak brightness figures haven't been stated. There are two cameras - a 5MP module located at the front and an 8MP shooter at the back of the tablet. As is the case with most tablets, the rear camera is more of a utility thing than for serious photography. Unlike the Realme Pad, the front camera does not have a broad 105-degree field of vision, but you get a modest 77-degree FOV. You get face unlock as well as the usual pattern and numeric unlock options. This tablet has two speakers, one on either side of the screen, and they are fairly loud.
Stylish design, sturdy build quality but a lackluster display
Though the company has cut a few corners, they have retained the elegant design of its bigger sibling. The Realme Pad Mini is quite stylish and the metallic gray aluminium unibody looks good. Though not under 7mm in thickness this time, 7.6mm is slim enough. Thanks to its smaller size, it is 15% lighter at 372 grams. The weight distribution is good and it doesn't feel too heavy to hold. The bezels are still conspicuous, but acceptable for a budget tablet. Unlike its predecessor, the front camera is placed at the top of the screen at the center of the shorter edge of the tablet. So you are expected to have video calls in a vertical orientation (portrait mode). Since one would turn the tablet horizontally when watching videos, the Dirac certified speakers are placed on either side of the screen when in landscape mode. I feel this is a more practical design. A power button, volume rocker, USB-C port, SIM/micro-SD card tray and a microphone can be found along the edges of the tablet. The display on the Realme Pad Mini has good viewing angles. However the screen is extremely reflective and you need to push its brightness to maximum when outdoors. There is no mention of any scratch resistant glass or an oleophobic coating to protect the display from scratches or smudges. Though there were no scratches on it during the course of testing, it does attract a lot of smudge marks. While there is nothing to complain about the size of the display, the resolution is lower than what I would have liked. The contrast and color reproduction are fine but the display isn't very sharp due to the low pixel density. The text as well as videos feel a touch soft. Given that display is the most important aspect of a tablet, Realme should have stuck to Full-HD resolution here.
Near-stock Android UI, robust battery backup, not-so-fast charging
This tablet runs Android 11 with Realme UI for Pad. This UI is the same as the one you get on Realme Pad, and feels a lot like stock Android. The UI is clean, smooth and almost free of bloatware giving us very little reason to complain. Most of the preinstalled apps are Google services along with some kid-friendly apps like Kids Space and YT Kids. In fact, if this tablet is meant to be used by children primarily, it can be configured accordingly during setup. The only real complaint here is that the UI still feels pretty much like a phone UI and there are no real optimizations for a tablet. So much so that even the OS thinks of the tablet as a phone, and you get messages suggesting that your phone has been configured and ready to use. This is the second Realme product based on the UI and about time the company tweaked it a bit. The Realme Pad Mini is equipped with a 6,400mAh battery that keeps it running for over two days of moderate use with a couple of hours of watching content on OTT platforms, two hours of reading/browsing and half an hour of video calling daily. With a lighter load, it can easily go past three days. Just like its predecessor, it supports 18W charging and the bundled charger takes a little under three hours to charge it fully, which cannot be termed as fast in this age. The tablet supports reverse charging and can be used as a powerbank to charge other devices.
Acceptable performance for basic tasks but stutters under heavier load
The usual day to day operations on the Realme Pad Mini are fairly smooth, unless you open too many apps at the same time. The Unisoc T616 chip and 4GB RAM can handle tasks like browsing, reading, audio-video playback and video calls with ease. You can also play some casual games on it but don't bother with graphics intensive games here as the Mali-G57 GPU is not built for that kind of load. Like most budget tablets, the Realme Pad Mini is not meant for content creation and better suited for content consumption. Browsing the internet or reading e-books is perfectly fine. You also get multiple viewing modes like Reading, Night and Dark for better eye comfort. Reading mode tries to make reading more soothing by simulating the texture of a book's pages (not as good as an actual Kindle though). Night mode can reduce the screen brightness to 2-nits when reading in the dark. The front camera is pretty decent and video calls work well despite the not-so-wide FOV. The rear camera here is not for photography enthusiasts but for basic use where color accuracy and details are not a high priority. The LTE variant of this tablet lets you add a nano SIM and make voice calls. You can either use the built-in microphone and speakers or a Bluetooth headset if you seek privacy or better sound quality. Other than reading and browsing, streaming videos is probably what people will use this tablet for the most. While the video quality is passable, the lower resolution takes the edge off the overall experience. The built-in speakers pair is fairly loud and does a pretty good job. They aren't Dolby Atmos compliant but that hardly matters on tablet speakers. Since this is an Android tablet, it lets you cast content from Chromecast compliant apps to Android TVs or displays with Android TV or Google TV dongles.
You get what you pay for but could've been better
The Realme Pad Mini can be purchased starting at Rs. 10,999 for the Wi-Fi only variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, with the top-end Wi-Fi+LTE variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage selling for Rs. 14,999. While the performance isn't top-notch, the pricing is quite competitive for what it offers. You get an affordable Android tablet that takes care of the basics like audio-video consumption, reading, browsing and video calling. Add to that a clean user interface free of bloatware, an elegant design and a robust battery backup, and you pretty much get your money's worth. If you feel the need for a bigger and higher resolution display for a better visual experience, you should spend a little more and buy the Realme Pad instead which starts from Rs. 13,999 onward.