Artist Review: Xiaomi Pad 6 and Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2)

Not a sponsored review

The Xiaomi Pad 6 was announced in April 2023 and is the upgrade to the Xiaomi Pad 5 (2021) which I consider to be the best value tablet in the USD 300 - 400 price range.

This upgraded tablet (global version) with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage is currently USD 350 on AliExpress. There are other RAM and storage options.

The Xiaomi Pad 6 Pro has better cameras and the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 870. The price is upwards of USD 400

And Xiaomi has just announced the 14-inch Xiaomi Pad 6 Max in August 2023 with pricing upwards of USD 500 with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.

The Xiaomi Smart Pen 2 is sold separately for USD 50.

I bought my tablet (8GB RAM and 256GB storage) and pen in Singapore for around USD 400. I don't think there's a need to get the Pro model for the better processor because the Snapdragon 870 from 2021 is still a very capable processor.

Do me a favour: If you have intention to get this tablet, consider using the AliExpress affiliate links to make your purchase. I earn some money at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me create more reviews like the one you're reading now.

Upgrades at a glance

Compared to the previous model, the Xiaomi Pad 6 now has a faster Snapdragon 870 processor (though not the latest chip), higher display resolution, better pen drawing performance and pen tip has more resistance which is good for drawing.

Specs

Here are the specs compared to other Android tablets

Model Xiaomi Pad 6 (2023) OnePlus Pad (2023) Samsung Tab S9 (2023) iPad 10 (2022)
Display 11-inch LCD @ 144Hz 11.61-inch LCD @ 144Hz 11-inch LCD @ 120Hz 10.9-inch LCD @ 60Hz
Resolution 2880 x 1800, 16:10 2800 x 2000, 7:5 2560 x 1600, 16:10 2360 x 1640, 4:3
Chip Qualcomm SM8250-AC Snapdragon 870 5G (7 nm) Mediatek MT6983 Dimensity 9000 (4 nm) Qualcomm SM8550-AB Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (4 nm) Apple A14 Bionic (5 nm)3
RAM 6 - 8GB 8 - 12GB 8 - 12GB 4GB
Storage 128 - 256GBGB 128GB 128 - 256GBGB with microSD card expansion 64 - 256GB
Main camera 13 MP, f/2.2, PDAF 13 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide) 13 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), AF 12 MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF
Speakers 4 way, stereo 4 way, stereo 4 way, stereo 2 way, stereo
Battery 8840mAh 9510mAh 8400mAh 7606mAh
OS Android 13, MUI 14 Android 13, OxygenOS 13.1 Android 13, One UI 5.1 iPadOS 16.1
Dimensions 254 x 165.2 x 6.5 mm (10.0 x 6.50 x 0.26 in) 258 x 189.4 x 6.5 mm (10.16 x 7.46 x 0.26 in) 254.3 x 165.8 x 5.9 mm (10.01 x 6.53 x 0.23 in) 248.6 x 179.5 x 7 mm (9.79 x 7.07 x 0.28 in)
Weight 490g 552g 498g 477g
microSD card slot No No Yes No
Port USB 3.2 type C USB 2 type C USB 3.2 type C USB 2 type C
Stylus support Xiaomi Smart Pen 2 (US $50) OnePlus Stylo (US $99) Samsung S Pen (included) Apple Pencil 1 (US $99)
Price (US$) $350 with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, or US$ 400 with pen $479 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, or US$ 578 with pen $799 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage $449 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage

Bottom line

If you're just comparing specs and pricing, the Xiaomi Pad 6 is a fantastic tablet and clearly provides plenty of value for the money. This is the best value tablet with pen support for the USD 300- 400 price range in 2023.

The Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2) works alright for drawing but there are some issues that affect the drawing experience.

Design


Design of this tablet looks very similar to the 11-inch Samsung Tab S9.

Bezels are thin and uniform on all four sides. Camera is positioned for landscape orientation, and can be used for face unlock. Corners for the body and LCD are rounded off.

The IPS LCD has 2880 x 1800 resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) is higher than the previous model that uses 2560 x 1600px, and it now runs with 144Hz refresh rate. Display brightness up to 550 nits is sufficient for use outdoors but not under direct sunlight. Colours on the display look good out of the box and there is support for 1 billion colours.


The drawing area of an 11-inch display is quite similar to an A5-sized sketchbook. The 16:10 aspect ratio works well with most drawing apps in landscape orientation. There's still space for drawing even with palettes on the left and right, but it would be more productive to hide one column of palette for significantly more drawing space.


Apps that have minimal UI elements will work better on this app.


Portrait orientation works better with drawing apps that have minimal UI elements.


The tablet is thin, compact and weighs 490g without the case.


I highly recommend getting a case for it because the camera module behind is huge and the tablet will wobble without a case on a table.


There's only one 13 MP, f/2.2 camera even though it looks like there are two cameras.


On the bottom you will find a USB 3.2 type-C port for charging and data transfer and video output. There are two speakers with another two on the other side. Audio quality is good with clarity and sufficient bass. Audio does sound slightly hollow when compared to the Samsung Tab S9.

There's only mirror mode with video output since Xiaomi MIUI does not support PC mode.

There's no microSD card slot so I highly recommend getting the model with 256GB storage instead, and you also get 8GB instead of 6GB RAM. After transferring all my files from the Samsung tablet over here, I've already used 128GB storage.


The display is laminated so there's no gap between the glass and LCD. When writing, there's no parallax and no gap between the pen and the line beneath.

The display is high resolution enough at 309 PPI so no pixelation is noticeable.


11-inch is still big enough to read text from comics although I would personally prefer 12-inch or larger tablets if I do a lot of reading.

Performance

I don't have any benchmarks for you.

The overall performance is smooth with the Snapdragon 870 and 8GB RAM. Multi-tasking works fine. Gaming with graphics intensive games is smooth enough at medium graphics settings. I don't think it's necessary to get the Pro model with better processor if you are not going to play games.

Xiaomi MIUI 14

I don't have much to say about Xiaomi MIUI because it works fine. There are the usual multi-tasking features such as split screen, floating windows. This tablet runs on Android 13 and comes with Google Play Store so if you need additional features, I'm pretty sure you can find an app for that.

All portrait format apps (e.g. handphone apps) will rotate automatically even if the app has not been re-designed for landscape orientation.

There is the option to backup the tablet to a computer but I'm not sure if that will backup everything. It's best to find out where your artworks are stored and backup those artworks manually too, just in case.

MIUI does not have PC or desktop mode. Video output from the USB 3.2 type-C port will just go into mirror mode.

Xiaomi said they will provide 2 major Android updates and 3 years of security updates for the Xiaomi Pad 6. So this tablet should be fine for three years, actually many more years until it physically breaks down because not having updates does not mean your apps will stop running.

Xiaomi's File Manager app does not have direct integration with cloud storage services, e.g. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox.

The screen recorder can record maximum 2880 x 1800 resolution at 100Mbps.

Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2)


Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2) is not included with the tablet and cost USD 50. Build quality is good and the matte textured surface makes it comfortable to hold.

This pen support tilt, 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. It's powered by battery and pairing is via Bluetooth.


To charge and pair the pen, you just attach it magnetically by the side of the tablet away from the volume buttons. There's now a battery % indicator that will appear when the pen is attached.


The pen nib has minimal movement and can be considered a firm nib. The two side buttons are only customisable with the Xiaomi Notes app and not with drawing apps I've tested.


The pen nib is replaceable and only one spare is included.


The plastic pen nib actually has some resistance which is good for drawing since it's not that slippery. It's also good for writing and taking notes. This is an improvement over the previous pen which was more slippery.

I don't think a matte screen protector is necessary but you want a non-matte clear one to protect against scratches. Not sure how the pen tip will feel on the clear screen protector though.

The pen has good or low latency but how much latency you'll see will still depend on the app you use. Most drawing apps still have some latency but it's not something I'll think about while drawing. You can still see latency if you look for it but it doesn't really affect drawing experience, at least for me.

Drawing apps


Some popular drawing apps available from the Google Play Store are:

  • Artflow
  • Clip Studio Paint
  • Concepts
  • HeavyPaint
  • Infinite Painter
  • Krita
  • Medibang Paint
  • Sketchbook
  • Tayasui Sketches

There's no shortage of capable drawing apps on Android.

What's lacking are graphic design apps that can handle typography, layout and vector.

Drawing performance

The line tests below were created with Medibang Paint. You can click for a larger view.

1. Initial activation force is low but you will still need to press down ever so slightly to get a line. There's slight wobble or jitter with slow diagonal lines.

2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply. This is an improvement over the previous pen and tablet.

3. Line transition from thin and thick is smooth. Note the slight wobble with diagonal lines.

4. It's easy to draw lines with consistent width by maintaining consistent pressure. This is an improvement over the previous pen and tablet. There's no variance with the line thickness and you can see that with test #6 too.

5. Dots can be drawn easily.

6. Cursor tracking is accurate. I was able to join the lines without overshooting or leaving gaps regardless of how I hold the pen. While you can see slight wobble and jitter with slow diagonal lines during test #1 and #3, you don't actually see the issue while drawing at normal speed.


Tilt works. You can see the transition from thin to thick is quite abrupt in the image above and that's due to the app Concepts. You can get smoother transition with other drawing apps that support tilt brushes.

Line tests may not tell the whole story because it's the user experience that ultimately matters...

Additional tests for tilt


Xiaomi Pad 6. Tilt transition is smoother with Infinite Painter compared to Concepts app. Brush used is Pencil 6B.


OnePlus Pad has issues with tilt. There's a delay when you change the tilt of the pen. In general, the problem OnePlus Stylo pen has is it cannot change the tilt halfway while drawing.


It may not be obvious from the line tests but it's easier to get the tilt variation with the Samsung S Pen, in this case on the Tab S9.


Xiaomi Pad 6. Tilt works but it was easier to get more variation with the Samsung S Pen (see below).


OnePlus Pad has problems with tilt sensitivity again. I could press down to get thicker lines thanks to pressure, but usually I cannot get the broader strokes from tilt because tilt sensitivity doesn't work consistently most of the time. The alternative to get broad strokes is to stop, lift your pen, and tilt the pen. It's not possible to change the tilt halfway to get a smooth thin to thick transition.


Note that I was able to get the extra thin lines, thicker lines (with pressure) and much thicker and textured lines with tilt.

Another issue with the pen


When the Xiaomi Smart Pen 2 is held vertically, the pen would produce thicker lines more easily and is difficult to draw the thinner lines. You can see at a glance from the image above that the thinner lines on the left are still noticeably thicker than the lines on the right, even when it's the same brush is used. The app used was Infinite Painter but this effect can be reproduced with other drawing apps too.

This obviously will affect drawing accuracy. Thankfully, it's the normal angle of holding the pen that will produce the correct line width.


This was drawn on the Xiaomi tablet with Infinite Painter. It looks okay but there are times where the tilt doesn't work so some of the thicker lines you see are actually from pressing down with pressure. For the smudge, they are just dark.


For comparison, I've created the same sketch with Infinite Painter on the Tab S9 Ultra. The Samsung S Pen was able to produce more variation with the lines. Look at the outline of the hair and you can see thin dry lines, thicker solid lines (from pressure), and the broad smudges (from tilt). Note that the smudges can be lighter due to lighter pressure.


This was drawn with the Xiaomi tablet with CSP. There is line variation but it's not as varied compared to the Samsung tablet.


CSP on Tab S9 can produce more line variation, especially thinner lines.


This was drawn with Medibang Paint. At a glance it seems like I was able to create thin and thick lines, and yes that's true. However when I created the same sketch with the Samsung S Pen, I was able to get even more line variation thanks to extra sensitivity of the pen.


This was drawn with Medibang.


This was drawn with Medibang. I did not use any smoothing for the lines and wobble is noticeable when diagonal lines are drawn slowly.


Here's another sketch also drawn with Medibang and this time with smoothing (5/20) applied and the lines are now much straighter, and more accurate. The downside of applying smoothing is more latency is introduced but it's not really a big deal unless you draw really fast.


This was drawn with Concepts with a brush that does not rely on pressure sensitivity.


This was also drawn with Concepts.

Problems with Krita


You can see the wobble or jitter with diagonal lines when drawing with Krita. There's also the little thin tail that appears when the pen lifts off. This thin tail means the pen was not able to detect the minimal pressure just before the pen loses contact with the glass surface.

Handwriting and note taking test


The three tests above were created with Medibang Paint.

  1. With Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2)
  2. With Samsung S Pen with hard tip
  3. With Samsung S Pen with soft tip

Even though the Xiaomi Smart Pen (gen 2) is able to produce tapered strokes with the drawing lines tests, the tapered strokes are not obvious when writing.

The two Samsung S Pens were able to produce tapered strokes more easily. The one with the soft nib has slightly more variation with the line width although the difference is not easy to see, but trust me when you're writing you will see and feel the difference.

Compare the letters "QRTS" and see how the strokes taper for the three tests.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Pad 6 is a fantastic tablet for general use. It's a beautiful tablet with solid build quality. The display looks vibrant, bright and sharp. Overall performance is smooth and lag-free.

The drawing performance could be improved though. It seems like there are issues with tilt sensitivity. The pen could produce thinner lines when held normally but thicker lines when held vertically. The pen is also not as sensitive compared to the Samsung S Pen. I would say the pen is good for casual drawing, but I will recommend the Samsung tablets if you want better accuracy and consistency, but Samsung tablets are significantly more expensive though.

The other issue with the wobble or jitter with slow diagonal lines can be resolved by applying smoothing to the lines at the expense of introducing more latency. Having the smoother and straight lines does help a lot to make this tablet more suitable for drawing, so not make the pen performance a deal breaker.

If you want to buy the tablet for drawing purposes, just note the limitations and downsides I've mentioned.

If you're just buying a tablet for general use, the Xiaomi Pad 6 is an excellent choice at the USD 300 - 400 price range.

Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ Solid build quality
+ 4-way speakers with fantastic audio quality
+ USB-C port with USB 3.2 transfer speed
+ Pen snaps to the side for charging
+ Pen has tilt, pressure sensitivity and palm rejection
+ Drawing performance is alright but there are some issues
+ Vibrant and bright display
+ Sharp visuals with no pixelation (309 PPI)
+ 2880 x 1800 resolution, 16:10 aspect ratio
+ 144Hz refresh rate
+ Laminated display
+ Base model with 6GB RAM, 128GB storage
+ Snapdragon 870 has good performance
+ Xiaomi MIUI runs smooth
+ Portrait apps are automatically rotated in landscape orientation
+ 10-14 hours battery life
+ Extremely competitive pricing for the non-Pro model
- No microSD card slot
- 2 years Android and 3 years security updates shorter than Samsung
- No PC or desktop mode
- Not sure if the backup options will provide 100% backup
- Drawing performance affected by initial activation force and inconsistency issues
- Smoothing can be applied to draw straighter lines at the expense of adding more latency

Availability

You can find the Xiaomi Pad 6 on AliExpress: Seller A | Seller B

If you're in Singapore, you can get it from Lazada SG and Shopee SG (official store) or this reseller

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11 Comments

Thanks for this great review.

Thanks for this great review.

I would like to ask about xiaomi pad 6.
The issues you mentioned about drawing with xiaomi pen 2, like wobbeling and pressure sensitivity, if i tried other stylus with xiaomi pad 6, will this resolve these issues?

Thanks

Hi,

Hi,
I am planning to buy either the Xiaomi Pad 6 or the Oneplus Pad.
Which would you recommend in terms of drawing and note taking?
Sincerely,
Saufi

Do you think there are big

Do you think there are big difference in terms drawing on Mi Pad 6 and Galaxy Tab S6 Lite?
I want to draw on a tablet, but from what I have seen Mi Pad much better overall.
I only started drawing and just wanted to have something to draw on and consume media, but I do not know how reasonable to compromise so much difference in terms of overall quality for some edge in drawing.

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