Ameya DalviDec 29, 2021 08:56:16 IST
Price: Rs 17,999
A couple of years ago, it seemed like tablets were a dying breed. But the pandemic induced work/study/enjoy from home culture seems to have brought about a resurgence in the category. Many consider tablets as an alternative for laptops for attending online lectures. Some find it better for group video calls due to the larger screen real estate. And they have always served as an extra screen at home for personal entertainment.
Popular smartphone brand, Realme has entered the budget tablet segment with their product that promises to offer more than what the incumbents do in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment. The Realme Pad does look impressive on paper. Time to figure out what’s good about it, what’s not and if it indeed is one of the best options in this budget.
Realme Pad: Design
Though this is a budget tablet, the design has more than a hint of style. The champagne gold aluminium frame and back looks elegant, and the tablet is less than 7 mm slim; probably slimmer than all Realme phones if my memory serves me right. You also get a metallic grey colour in this. It weighs about 440 grams but doesn’t feel too heavy in hand. If there is one thing I would change about the design, it would be the bezels; they could have been thinner than they are, and yet let you grip the tablet from the sides comfortably.
The Realme Pad is meant to be used in landscape mode more than portrait. The company hints at the same by placing the front camera at the centre of the longer edge of the tablet. You get a power button, volume rocker, a SIM/microSD card tray, USB-C port and a couple of microphones along the edges in addition to a couple of speakers each on either side of the screen (when in landscape mode). An 8MP camera is located at the back of the tablet.
Realme Pad: Display
The Realme Pad has a 10.4-inch 8-bit WUXGA+ display with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels. Simply put, a screen with a slightly higher resolution than Full HD and capable of displaying 16.7 million colour shades, which is very good for a budget tablet. I believe it uses an IPS panel and the viewing angles are quite good. It has a standard 60 Hz refresh rate, and scrolling feels just a little stuttery, or maybe I am spoiled by 90 Hz and 120 Hz refresh rate displays on phones over the past year or so.
The screen has a rated brightness of 360 nits, and it is bright enough indoors and can get just about sufficiently bright when outdoors. The contrast is impressive and so is the colour reproduction. Though it doesn’t support HDR, the colours feel vibrant without going over the top. It is compliant with Widevine L1, meaning you can watch Full HD content on OTT platforms like Netflix on this tablet. The screen is protected by some kind of scratch resistant glass (brand not specified), but it surely doesn’t have oleophobic coating, and attracts a lot of smudge marks. You need to keep wiping it from time to time.
Realme Pad: Specifications and key features
The Realme Pad is powered by a Mediatek Helio G80 SoC with Mali-G52 MC2 GPU and you get options of either 3 GB RAM with 32 GB internal storage or 4 GB RAM with 64 GB storage. You can expand it further up to 1 TB using a microSD card, which is a good option to have. You get either a WiFi only variant (3 GB/ 32 GB) of this tablet or WiFi + LTE variant with a 4G SIM slot for calling and mobile data. We got the latter for review with 64 GB storage. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band WiFi with support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks.
The tablet has two 8MP cameras, one at the front and the other at the back. The rear camera is just there for basic usage and not for serious photography. The front camera has an ultra-wide lens with a 105 degrees FOV that is handy for video calls. As I mentioned earlier, the quad speakers on the Realme Pad are Dolby Atmos compliant and the output is surprisingly loud and punchy at near peak volume. One thing I missed here is a fingerprint scanner to unlock the screen. I still prefer it over face unlock or passcodes/patterns. I am not sure too many tablets in this segment have it though.
Realme Pad: Software and UI
This tablet runs Android 11 with Realme UI for Pad. The UI here is far closer to stock Android than Realme UI that you get on their phones. Either way, that’s not a bad thing. The UI is clean, smooth and pretty much free of bloatware. In fact, most of the preinstalled apps are Google services barring Facebook maybe. Given the distinct possibility of this tablet being used by children, you also have a couple of kid friendly apps like Kids Space and YT Kids. You can choose who (adults or children) would be using the tablet during setup, and it gets configured accordingly.
Realme Pad: Performance
The general performance of this tablet is perfectly fine. The G80 processor is powerful enough for day to day tasks like browsing, watching videos, video calls or listening to music. Things tend to get slightly sluggish if you open too many apps at the same time, but that has more to do with the limited amount of RAM. Also, do not get carried away with the mention of Helio G80 as a gaming processor on this tablet’s listing page. While it can handle some casual or less graphics intensive games with ease, don’t expect games like Asphalt 9 to run smoothly at high visual settings.
Typing out articles on a tablet is not my thing, and it isn’t very comfortable on the Realme Pad either. There is no keyboard accessory for this tablet that Realme has announced. In fact, I don’t think there are any accessories made available by the company yet. There is no cover bundled along either. This tablet isn’t ideal for content creation or using productivity apps. But when it comes to content consumption, this product is a great option.
Watching content on Netflix or Prime Video on this tablet was an enjoyable experience. While you can always use Bluetooth headphones with it, I often found myself watching videos without the earphones. The four speakers present here do a terrific job most of the time when you push the volume closer to 90 percent or beyond, and Dolby Atmos compliance lends it a broader soundstage than what you expect from built-in speakers on a tablet. Since this is an Android tablet, you have the option of casting the content to larger screens of compatible TVs.
Browsing the internet or reading e-books is also a smooth experience here. The screen offers multiple viewing modes for different lighting and activities. You get reading mode, night mode, dark more and sunlight mode. While it doesn’t transform the screen into a Kindle, the first two modes are a lot easier on the eyes when reading in a dimly lit environment. Video calls are handled well too, and the larger screen gives you a lot more breathing space for group calls with multiple participants.
While the front camera is good enough for video calls, the rear camera is nothing great. It is there only for basic use, if you need to capture something urgently on the tablet, and not as an alternative for your phone camera. The LTE variants of the Realme Pad let you add a 4G SIM and make voice calls. It doesn’t have an earpiece like phones but the built-in microphones and speakers manage calls surprisingly well. You can always use a Bluetooth headset for better call quality or more privacy.
Realme Pad: Battery life
The Realme Pad has a 7100 mAh battery that kept it powered for about two days of moderate use during testing that included a couple of hours of watching content on Netflix, two hours of browsing and reading e-books and 30 minutes of video calling daily. That’s a pretty decent battery backup. It supports 18W fast charging and the bundled charger takes close to 3 hours to charge it fully, which is not so great. The tablet supports reverse charging and can be used as a powerbank to charge other devices.
Realme Pad: Price and verdict
The Realme Pad is available for purchase for Rs 13,999 for the WiFi only variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage, going all the way up to Rs 17,999 for the WiFi + LTE variant with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The pricing is pretty decent given that the competition, mainly from Samsung and Lenovo, has nothing significantly better to offer under Rs 20,000. This may not necessarily be a category defining product, but is a well-rounded tablet that is great for media consumption, reading and video-calling, runs a more recent version of Android, provides decent battery backup and is worth the asking price.