The aPad - a knock-off iPadDying for an iPad, but feeling a bit guilty that you’d be supporting a company that drives their employees to suicide? Maybe you just don’t have the better part of a grand to drop on a new toy? Whatever your reasoning, there’s a new shanzhai iPad to the rescue. A Japanese news report announced the other day that a company down in Shenzhen has brought China’s first iPad clone to the market — called, what else, the iPed (aka aPad).

Priced at around 1/5th the cost of its genuine Apple cousin, it’s surely going to raise more than a few iBrows around the offices in Cupertino. Making that price even sweeter is that it’s not even running some craptastic domestic Chinese OS — rather, it’s loaded with none other than Google’s iPhone-killing Android OS.

With curiosity piqued, I had a quick hunt around Taobao for “iPed”, but didn’t come up with anything. On a hunch, I threw in the term “aPad” which is shown on the device’s manual in the Japanese news video (linked above) and sure enough — a number of sellers came up. Prices range from around 900-1400 RMB depending on how much “extra” memory you want. Unlike the “real” iPad, the aPad only features 1GB of built-in storage, but is expandable with its miniSD slot.

The Specifications:

aPad Specs
(click to enlarge)

User using aPadInitial reports of the product have it as running a bit slow, with video playback being mediocre. Still, $150 for a full-featured, expandable, wi-fi enabled tablet ain’t half bad. By comparison, the unit is significantly lighter than the iPad (332g vs. about 700g) likely the result of the smaller 7″ display (the iPad’s is 9.7″).

A-B’ing the two devices is bound to bring up a lot more disparity, but what really makes this so kickass is that it is running on Android and so offering access to the 20K+ apps in the Android market. The hope with Apple’s iPad was that it would revolutionize our relationship with computers, taking them off our desks and laps, and putting them into some unique situations (classrooms, kitchens, travel, etc.). Love ’em or hate ’em, these shanzhai versions are helping that process along.

If anyone’s been to a local electronic market, or happens to have purchased one, please let us know how it runs. I’ve got my finger on the trigger to pick one up and give it a try myself. At this price, questionable performance or not, it’s hard to say no.

Photos from this Taobao seller


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  3. nice write-up, Ryan. I’ve noticed that other posts about this are calling it an iPad-killer, which is lame and lazy of them… This is as much an iPad killer as a Chery QQ is a Lexus killer.

    So, it’s basically an underpowered Android phone without the phone bit; it’s just 1000 RMB because that’s all it’s worth, really. A year-old Android phone (also stuck on an outdated version of Android; usually 1.6) with similar specs is now just 2000 RMB or less. Still, I guess this little aPad will be neat for people who do a lot of browsing or reading in bed, with the wifi on, but I can’t see much else use for it.

    • erm, underpowered? my older 2808 rockchip apad runs effectively at 1.1ghz, faster than ipad, thx. it runs 1.5 android which is something i prefer: nice and light. 1.5 = no 3d games, but those are useless to me anyway. newer apads run 2.1 now, with 2.2 just coming out. the new rockchip 2818 is out very soon with 2.2 android and will be like $200. these fanboys that try to make you think that apple invented the tablet are absolute morons. get yourself an apad (careful which one! do your research) and you will love it. 7″ form factor is best for me, something apple doesn’t even offer.

  4. definitely a good writeup and good work on finding the real machine.. I’m amazed that most of the tech boys managed to just re-write the same story without investigating it properly and refer to it as an iPed.

    that said, it’s running on Android 1.5 or 1.6 as far as i can tell so it definitely won’t be able to run many aps.. I’m slightly underwhelmed by it and would rather go for the D7 with Android 2.1 at the same price point.

  5. The one reviewed here has Win 7, a real processor, 1-2Gb of RAM, a card reader and a 320Gb hard drive. And for less than half the price of the iPad.

  6. Thanks for the review, really tempted, but doubting to perhaps take the “real” win7 version.
    So is there a “best” place where most of these things are on display here in Shanghai you can advise?

  7. i bought this thing a few days ago. Im not sure if im happy with it or not. I guess i am rather satisfied. i bought a seperate 16g micro sd for under 200rmb. so the total cost with shipping was 1200rmb on taobao.

    cons: too small ram 126mb is just too little. many applications force close.

    build quality is not good. frame has some spots were light shines through.

    ac adapter sucks, you have to find a certain spot so the ac plugs keeps on working while you use the tabled or leave it on the desk while charging

    runs a little hot

    battery doesnt last very long. under constant use with everything on (wireless, screen with brightness turned to highest) it lasts a little under 2 hours

    video playback sucks. there are some video clips on the internet showing the apad playing avatar at nice resolution. apad should play 720p. i didnt try that yet. but playing avi and wmv it sucks. picture gets cropped and if you enlarge it pixelation kills you. what is the reason to have such a big screen if the video only uses a fraction of it….??

    sound is incomprehensible, with earphones sound is good

    doesnt play back youtube and therefor flv format

    dont think it supports flash

    pros: ANDROID

    ANDROID, though its only 1.5 but still, one major improvement to previous chinese fakes is that this thing has a proper OS.

    operating speed during normal usage (internet, mail, chat) is good and fluent.

    internet is ok, but not great to use. sometimes pages dont open right. only pages which have a version for mobile browser work fine.

    screen works fine for typing though it doesnt have multitouch.

    the preinstalled hanyu pin yin is great. also the virtual keyboard it uses is in my opinion better than the android keyboard (bigger keys)

    typing is really good due to the big keys offered by the big screen

    email (gmail) without having to go online (though i guess this is thanks to android again)

    music playback is good. sound with headphones is good when equalizer is on (no changeable eq though)

    it has 2 micro usb slots with adapter cables. i couldnt yet plug in a portable harddrive or usb stick. dont know if it works. it should also be recognized as storage medium if u plug it into a pc.

    wireless works fine

    reading books is ok though it gets hot

    comes with “camera”?! 0.3mp???

    all in all:
    considering the price. this thing is ok. but it remains a toy you can browse the internet with and chat and check email. also install a lot of “useful” aps. listening to music is ok. watching videos rather not… maybe better if u convert all your videos into 720p it works better? reading stuff on it works good due to big screen….

    but somehow i feel a htc desire/legend or htc hd2/mini could replace this thing entirely and have a phone and people would actually use it because its small and portable… but then the display is small…. lets see i get my htc hd mini in the next days

    • I spend an enormous amount of time in hotel rooms and for me the one massive drawback of all these tablet type gadgets is that they don’t seem to have an ADSL port. Which if you are in a hotel room, as I often am, you need because almost no hotel room has wifi.

      I’d like to find a cheap, very small plug-in wifi unit that I can plug onto the ADSL cable to use wifi in the room. Does anyone know if such a thing actually exists. It would be very helpful.

      I’m absolutely certain such a thing must exist. Have to keep scouring the Shanzhaiben site.

      Any suggestions, gratefully recieved.

      • If the device has a USB port, you can just buy a USB network adaptor. I used one for a long time with my old laptop due to its installed port failing.

      • I have an old Apple AirPort Express that I take with me for hotel stays. The only problem is you might need a proper computer to configure it to the hotel’s network settings.

    • just got the htc hd mini…. display is way too small to use effectively without a stylus when you browse the web and everything is in chinese. dont know how to switch it to english amd i tried every menu point (i think). anyone know if it is possible to switch the language? operating system windows mobile 6.5 is every unintuitive. apad with android is much better. also the big screen is very nice and comfortable when compared to the tiny one. build quality of the htc is a lot better (as anticipated). usb ports of the apad dont seem to work… they dont read usb drives though they recognize them (usb drives get power), i plugged in both a 500g drive and a 4g stick, neither worked.

      • If you search the net you’ll find plenty of resources to help you use your new aPad. Mine works fine, in english, usb ports work too, you have to switch them to “Host” mode in the settings screen. Here’s a quick tutorial:

        On the home screen press the “Menu” icon in upper right corner. There will be a menu on the bottom of the screen now, tap the right-most option, that’s the “Settings” screen.

        To change your language, select the 7th option down, that’s the Locale and Text Option. Select the first option on the next screen for language, then select English. Hit the “Back Arrow” at the top of the screen, select your keyboard preference, and then tap the HOME (house icon in upper left corner). You’re done. Then go to and do a search for whatever updates you’d like, I updated my firmware, (NOT Android version) and got a better browser, less chinese stuff, all english menus, etc. READ READ READ!!! Lots of good info on that site. I use my aPad more than my laptop now for just general browsing, yes YouTube works too, get the app at the market. Enjoy!!

      • P.S.

        The usb ports work in “Transfer” mode by default, ie aPad to computer, the aPad will show up as two removable drives, one is the memory card, the other is the flash ram built in. Plug in an optical mouse or usb keyboard, they WORK!

        Switch to “Host” mode in the settings menu to read flash drives and such.

  8. Great write up Ryan. Thanks. I was just wondering, there seems to be one with a camera, and one without a camera as per the site below:

    Are the specs any different between the two? Do you know? I ask because if it has a camera built in, I would think that it would need a little bit of extra power to have it running properly (especially for video chats)

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  10. I bought an Apad for a present for my dad this christmas and he loves it the only thing is he has everything in english only there are a few that are still in chinese and he also has the weather on his desktop and it shows up chinese and we can not figure out how to get it to everything being english. this was the one thing i was worried about when purchasing this and other than that it has been great for him so far. can someone please help we’ve been searching and everything all says the same thing we’ve selected the english option it just does not switch everything over to english. any help would be greatly appreciated thank you

  11. ive recieved mine today… far as im concerned it runs excellent…..if anyone is doubting it theyve probably just got a lemon or they hold their expectations to high.

  12. All, i was frustrated at first until i found the “market” on the desktop that takes care of many of the issues. Video was combersome at first until i found firefox as the internet browser. the charger is not tops but i find it to work fine and charge in a resonable amount of time after the very first one. I may have gotten lucky because the hardware looks great and does not run hot at all. From the time i order my device i had it and the keyboard case within 5 days. Within minutes i had the e-mail icon as my corporate e-mail account. My only issue is that i cannot find a way to get data off of a jump/thumb drive and access the data on the device. Other than that I love love love it so far.

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