Xiaomi released the InkPalm 5 Mini early last year and the company has just released the second generation model in 2022. They are using an all-new design, which makes it visually striking with its gunmetal mirror design on the back. Everything under the hood is more or less the same, except they are using a faster processor. The big selling point is the digital bookstore, where you can not only buy ebooks, manga, apps and courses. Although this model is only in Chinese, the previous generation ADP method to get English on the device, still works.
The InkPalm 5 e-Reader employs an 5.2 inch E INK Carta HD e-paper screen that is flush with the bezel, with a layer of glass. It has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and 284 PPI. It has 24 white and amber LED lights, so you can read during the night or low light environments. It only weighs 115 grams and very convenient to carry and can be easily fit your pocket. This is the smallest e-reader that is on the market and the 1st generation model was very popular with an international audience.
Underneath the hood is a quad-core processor 1.8 GHZ processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There is a USB-C port for transferring data and charging the Mini, it is powered by a 1,400 mAH battery. Other features include support for dual-band WIFI, Bluetooth 5.0, and power and volume buttons on the side, the volume keys can be used as page turn buttons for ebooks.
Right now, this model is Chinese only, but it does have a language menu. So they will likely add in other languages in a future firmware update. The retail packaging has totally been revised and now is silver and has a picture of an Owl on the front. If you hold the case close to a light source, it has a rainbow effect. On the back are some tech specs. When you open the box all of the cardstock is orange. There is a gel-case that comes with purchase, and it is clear, but also provides the same rainbow effect. The InkPalm Mini 2 is black on the front, and the back is this mirrored gunmetal color. There is a power button on the side, along with 2 volume buttons. On the bottom is a USB-C port, a cable comes inside the box.
The InkPalm Mini 2 is running Android 8.1 with a custom launcher. The entire UI and menu system is in Chinese. One of the big advantages over the first generation model is the software. It is much more polished and robust. Everything is quicker, from accessing settings to configuring the luminosity of the front-lit display.
Most people who bought the original InkPalm 5 Mini, were not native Chinese speakers, but their primary language is English. Luckily, there was some enterprising young programmers that allowed you to sideload in English to the first generation and we can confirm it works with the second generation model too. The entire script you need to install is hosted on Github, and some easy to follow instructions are available on the Good e-Reader Knowledgebase. Basically, you need to plugin the Mini to your PC via with the accompanied cable. You want to then install Minimal ADB and Fastboot. Next, on the Github page is a number of screenshots, showing you what to do on your Inkpalm to get English working on it, this is useful because all of the menus are in Chinese, so if you follow along with the pictures, you shouldn’t have any problem. Once all of scripts have been installed and you go through the device and change the UI, there is one last step, this is important.
You will want to install another script that will install Lawnchair Launcher and the Aptiode app store, some other basic apps and any language on the system, this includes English, French, German, Dutch and any other language that traditional Android devices offer. Installing this add-on script is critical and really recommended. You can download it here : MEGA Download. Run the “MiReader_to_tablet 2” after extracting the zip file, make sure your Mini is still connected to your PC, so you can copy over the contents of this zip file to the root folder of the Mini, and then you can use the file manager to locate the directory and install everything on your Mini. f you have any problems with the Mega download, you can also install other launchers, I recommend Inklauncher or E INK launcher. I have also heard that Koreader does a very good job at turning more of the device to English.
Let’s talk about the main UI, I am going to approach the rest of the software experience, as it works out of the box. On the very bottom is the main UI. The first option is your library where all of the ebooks you purchased from the store or housed. You can also sideload in your own ebooks, and they will be accessible with cover art being displayed. The next icon is the GET store. You find find bestselling ebooks, courses, apps and all sorts of digital content for sale, but it primarily caters to a Chinese speaking audience. The next icon is for a QR code that logs you into some sort of service, but it did not work for us, it might be a Chinese only type of thing. The next icon is for your apps, there are a ton of pre-loaded ones, such as an internet browser, email, WeChat, documents, Kindle, a couple of manga apps. You can sideload in your own apps, but it would make the most sense to load in a 3rd party app market, that will keep them all automatically updated. The worst is every couple of weeks you have to find the updated app and manually update it yourself. The last option is the settings menu, where you can establish a WIFI network, login to the GET service, search for firmware updates and more!
If you pull down the top of the screen downwards, you will get a series of functions that are critical to making this device work properly. You can turn on or off the front-lit display, control the brightness, adjust the color temperature system, and there is a slider bar that lets you control global contrast, such as making the black text appear darker and the whites brighter. There is a Bluetooth audio control slider for volume, but you you should be using the hardware buttons on the side of the unit. There is also two different kinds of modes, normal and speed mode. Normal mode is for reading ebooks at 300 PPI and keeping the reading experience excellent. You will want to put it into speed mode if you are using apps with animated page turns or complicated PDF files, it also helps with browsing the internet, when you are doing lots of scrolling.
The stock reader app is passable. It is designed for Chinese ebooks, but works completely great with sideloaded content. It supports EPUB, PDF, TXT, EXCEL, PPT, DOC files. This app makes the most sense if you are buying content from the online bookstore, but I would sideload in your favorite e-reading app to get the most value. This includes Libby, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Moon+ Reader, Manga Rock etc. I am not going to presume what your favorite app is, but since this device is running Android 8.1, it should support anything you throw at it, since most new apps are not exclusively designed for like Android 11, everyone makes it backwards compatible.
The main differences between the first and second generation InkPalm 5 Mini is the design, processor and it is lighter. It has a slightly less powerful battery, but the difference is only 100 mAh, so it is not a big deal. It is nice to see Xiaomi refreshing this design with a new model for 2022, even if the upgrade is very small.
Should you buy this? It is very affordable, it only retails for $189.99 USD, which is a little bit more expensive than the first gen model. I would buy this, if you need a something to read books or listen to audiobooks on the go. The E INK screen will last you about a month, but it depends on how much you read on it. This is the type of device that you carry with you, all the time. Whether it is in your purse, messenger bag, jacket pocket or a briefcase. You can’t really put the new Kindle Paperwhite in your pants pocket, but you can with the InkPalm Mini 2.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.