Xiaomi Mi 4s Review


The Mi 4s was a surprise inclusion during the Xiaomi Mi 5 launch event a few weeks back. Since Xiaomi planned to make the Mi 5 an international flagship all along, they perhaps wanted to have a China-only device so the home market still felt ‘looked after’. And thus, the Mi 4s is a China-only device that you need to import yourself if you fancy one.

Anyway, I’ve spent a good couple of weeks with the Mi 4s so let’s talk about whether it is worth importing one… in the Xiaomi Mi 4s review!

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Specifications

Model Xiaomi Mi 4s
Sim Card Dual SIM
Color Gold | White
Capacity RAM: 3GB

ROM: 64GB

Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
System Android 5.1
Screen Display Size: 5-inch

Resolution: 1920 x 1080pixels

Multitouch: Yes

Camera Rear Camera: 13MP

Front Camera: 5MP

Radio 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
CDMA 1X BC0/BC1
3G: WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
TD-SCDMA B34/39
CDMA 2000 bands BC0 / BC1
4G: FDD-LTE B1/3/7
TDD-LTE B38/39/40/41
Battery 3260mAh removable
Size 139.2 x 70.7 x 7.8mm
Price ~$315 (check today’s price)

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Design & Build

The Mi 4s has quite a characteristic design. In the sense that it won’t get lost in the array of almost identical-looking phones that are being churned out.

That said, you’re either going to love or hate the Mi 4s… since the design is so characteristic and typical. In my opinion, the Mi 4s was designed to fit the Chinese market and only the Chinese market, which often has unique demands.

The ‘gold’ isn’t quite rose gold (the kind of gold with a pinkish hue) but more like light brown. The metallic edges of the phone don’t feel as ‘metal’ (as say, the Mi 4) and lack the cold metal feel, but they do make the phone really easy and comfortable to grip.

The device follows a very symmetrical design. Even the chin of the phone is completely symmetrical with five holes on either side of the USB Type-C port. The bunch of holes on the right are to let out the speaker’s sound, while the ones on the left hide the mic beneath.

Xiaomi Mi 4s 20

Coming back to the overall design, the Mi 4s feels like a cross between Xiaomi’s Mi and Redmi lines. Very honestly, it does not feel the premium phone Xiaomi want us to believe. Not that it feels flimsy for cheap — far from that — but not flagship material.

Xiaomi Mi 4s 11

Xiaomi stick to the usual recent apps, home and back button (L to R) arrangement. They’re backlit, as expected.

Xiaomi Mi 4s 6

Both sides of the Mi 4s are covered in glass. However, the rear side feels more like soft rubberised industrial plastic than glass. Other things you find on the rear: the Mi logo, the oblivious fingerprint sensor, and camera lens (that doesn’t protrude, thankfully) with the dual tone dual LED flash.

Xiaomi Mi 4s 12

On the top, the 3.5mm earphone jack (on the verge of extinction?) sits next to an IR blaster and a secondary mic. I’m not sure if it’s me, but I’m yet to meet anyone who actually use their phone as a universal remote (beyond just having fun like turning off TVs at the TV store).

While the Mi 4s is extremely comfortable to grip, it does skid off surfaces very easily (and ever so slowly, so you don’t notice).

In a nutshell, the Mi 4s is a phone that is extremely comfortable to hold, easy to operate thanks to the screen size, but doesn’t feel as premium as the makers meant. The thing works exactly like you expect it to, but it doesn’t feel like a flagship phone.

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Hardware

Xiaomi Mi 4s 10

The first thing I noticed about the Mi 4s was the screen (duh), and that it had a bit of a yellow tinge to it. While it felt out of place for the first few minutes, my eyes quickly got used to it.

However, not everyone’s going to like the tinge of yellow on their phone screen. Xiaomi do offer users the control over screen colour temperature, so phone screens should be tuned to be as natural as possible — leave the rest to the user to configure. Unfortunately that isn’t the case with the Mi 4s.

Besides that, the 5-inch 1920 x 1080p IPS display seem to be up there with the Mi 4. Good viewing angles, decent visibility in sunny outdoors.

Audio wise, the phone leaves a bit to be desired. While sound from the 3.5mm port comes out just fine, it’s the built-in loudspeaker that can sometime feel a little dull. No qualms with the quality of audio though.

I’d say battery life is somewhere between good and impressive. It shouldn’t be a problem to achieve the famous ‘all day battery’ on the Mi 4s. The charger that Xiaomi ship also supports Quick Charge 2.0.

In general, you can expect around 5.5-6 hours of screen on time on WiFi. On 3G, expect about 4.5 hours.

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Performance & Benchmarks

I expected a slightly better performance from the Mi 4s and the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 (also seen on the Mi 4c). While I haven’t tested the Mi 4c myself, I have a feeling that it is the MIUI ROM that’s acting as the bottleneck on the Mi 4s. The phone has already had a couple of updates, but I expect it to be more optimised in the coming weeks.

Something that might be a problem for some is the heating issue that the phone faces. It doesn’t get too hot, but the problem is that it gets hot too soon. CPU throttling kicks in then, and makes the phone slow to respond. Another something that should be fixed with future updates.

I’d say that the Snapdragon 808 is quite a capable SoC, and that the Mi 4s doesn’t seem to be making full use of it (yet). It doesn’t feel like a phone with 3GB RAM and a high-mid-range SoC such as the SD808 so far.

Ironic but I’ve had better general performance on the Redmi Note 3, so there the Mi 4s definitely has a distance to go before it starts being considered for buying lists.

Screenshot_2016-04-22-12-20-10_com.android.chrome_resultA nagging bug that the Xiaomi Mi 4s faces has to do with WiFi. If you’re using mobile data and then connect to a WiFi network, the phone will sometimes continue using mobile data. Refer to screenshot above.

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Camera

Xiaomi Mi 4s 7Xiaomi have yet to disappoint with a phone camera. Yet again, the Mi 4s comes with a really nice camera that’s capable of taking some lovely shots… not only in the day but also in the night.

Photos aren’t up to the level of what you saw on the Mi 5 review, but yet I’d rate this camera a couple notches above the Mi 4, which itself is one of my favourite phone cameras so far.

Have a look at some photos.

IMG_20160407_234431_result
A food truck in low lighting

…and a slow-mo video:

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Gallery

Xiaomi Mi 4s Review: Conclusion

I’d say that the Mi 4s is a nice phone with a lovely camera. Retailing at over $300 at the time of writing this review (for international buyers), the market doesn’t really have a spot open for a phone like this one. I’d be wiling to consider this phone myself at $250, that too because it comes with 64GB as default. For now, the plethora of Helio X10 phones in the market will do what you’re looking for.

Anyway, if you’re interested, you can get an Mi 4s for yourself in Gold or White from Banggood.com, which is where we get our sample from.

Previous Ulefone Power on sale at Geekbuying,com for 159.99$
Next Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu version is officially out

67 Comments

  1. Adam Irvine
    April 26, 2016

    Nice review Yash, I like the little slow mo video touch 🙂

    • April 26, 2016

      Cheers 🙂 no idea why it’s showing in SD here, looks way better in HD

      • balcobomber25
        April 27, 2016

        I was very confused why your bat is flat and he is throwing the ball to the ground. That is not how baseball is supposed to be played! 😉

        (I know fully well what Cricket is…)

  2. VMortens
    April 26, 2016

    What I read here is shocking – the perfomance issues, overheating – none of that Andi reported in the Mi4c test …
    Also the loook of the phone is a bit repelling – huge borders around the screen definately don’t make it a $300 range looking one. Looks like th most premium factor in this phone is the presence of 64GB of internal memory …

    @Yash, did you experience any WiFi, radio range problems due to presence of metal border?

    • April 26, 2016

      There is a WiFi issue the phone suffers from (mentioned in the review), but it’s got to do with the ROM than the metal body. Also, like I said in the review, the phone does not overheat; it just heats up too soon (doesn’t get any hotter than other phones though).

      • VMortens
        April 26, 2016

        As per WiFi it’s probably a soft bug only, doesn’t sound as dramatic, as some metal framed phones have.
        CPU overheating – ok, but it kick the throttling in, which is a show stopper for me …
        Also, you don’t say a word about the quality of fingerprint scanner performance. Any remarks here? Maybe add few words to the article…

        • April 26, 2016

          Thanks for that, I’ll add a quick update.

  3. Muhammad Yasir
    April 26, 2016

    thats a good mid-way drive in the slomo :p
    (im more of a football guy so pardon any mistake in the cricket terms)

    i’d have to say tho , rate’s a bit steep for a phone that has an OLDER processor… Xiaomi need to do more to stay afloat and stop lacking..

  4. MaxPower
    April 26, 2016

    A nice phone, just a bit overpriced.

    • VMortens
      April 26, 2016

      Slightly more than ‘just a bit’ IMHO.
      Few guys on a different forum (non-English) managed to get the Mi5 basic model for $285 thanks to promotional cashback action (20% on shoping from selected webshops, sorry guys you have to speak Polish to use it) – this looks like a brilliant deal. Even if this one was avaialble for same $285, I still would be hesitant.
      Mi5 suddenly looks attractive in the light of problems Yash mentioned. What’s wrong with Xiaomi? – Mi4c doesn’t have these problems.

      To be honest, Mi4s looked way better on pictures I previously saw. Now I don’t think it looks better than Mi5 anymore…
      If they fix the bugs (which isn’t sure yet) and if the price drops, this phone can be an interesting choice. Now it’s only curiosity, and a way overpriced one.

      • balcobomber25
        April 27, 2016

        It is way overpriced but it looks 100X better than the Mi5 IMO.

  5. slartiblart
    April 26, 2016

    Those pictures are not very good..Anyway I have the mi4c – and don’t have any of these problems. Infact, the pics on my phone look better.

  6. Adam Irvine
    April 26, 2016

    Nice review Yash, I like the little slow mo video touch 🙂

    • Yash Garg
      April 26, 2016

      Cheers 🙂 no idea why it’s showing in SD here, looks way better in HD

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      I was very confused why your bat is flat and he is throwing the ball to the ground. That is not how baseball is supposed to be played! 😉

      (I know fully well what Cricket is…)

    • Yash Garg
      April 28, 2016

      😀

  7. VMortens
    April 26, 2016

    What I read here is shocking – the perfomance issues, overheating – none of that Andi reported in the Mi4c test …
    Also the loook of the phone is a bit repelling – huge borders around the screen definately don’t make it a $300 range looking one. Looks like the most premium factor in this phone is the presence of 64GB of internal memory …

    @Yash, did you experience any WiFi, radio range problems due to presence of metal border?

    • Yash Garg
      April 26, 2016

      There is a WiFi issue the phone suffers from (mentioned in the review), but it’s got to do with the ROM than the metal body. Also, like I said in the review, the phone does not overheat; it just heats up too soon (doesn’t get any hotter than other phones though).

    • VMortens
      April 26, 2016

      As per WiFi it’s probably a soft bug only, doesn’t sound as dramatic, as some metal framed phones have it.
      CPU overheating – ok, but it kicks the throttling in, which is a show stopper for me …
      Also, you don’t say a word about the quality of fingerprint scanner performance. Any remarks here? Maybe add few words to the article…

    • Yash Garg
      April 26, 2016

      Thanks for that, I’ll add a quick update.

  8. Guest
    April 26, 2016

    thats a good mid-way drive in the slomo :p
    (im more of a football guy so pardon any mistake in the cricket terms)

    i’d have to say tho , rate’s a bit steep for a phone that has an OLDER processor… Xiaomi need to do more to stay afloat and stop lacking..

  9. zupatami
    April 26, 2016

    Not useful firmware? Try MIUI Tweaks xposed module!

  10. MaxPower
    April 26, 2016

    A nice phone, just a bit overpriced.

    • VMortens
      April 26, 2016

      Slightly more than ‘just a bit’ IMHO.
      Few guys on a different forum (non-English) managed to get the Mi5 basic model for $285 thanks to promotional cashback action (20% on shoping from selected webshops, sorry guys you have to speak Polish to use it) – this looks like a brilliant deal. Even if this one was avaialble for same $285, I still would be hesitant.
      Mi5 suddenly looks attractive in the light of problems Yash mentioned. What’s wrong with Xiaomi? – Mi4c doesn’t share these problems with Mi4s.

      To be honest, Mi4s looked way better on pictures I previously saw. Now I don’t think it looks better than Mi5 anymore…
      If they fix the bugs (which isn’t sure yet) and if the price drops, this phone can be an interesting choice. Now it’s only curiosity, and a way overpriced one.

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      It is way overpriced but it looks 100X better than the Mi5 IMO.

  11. slartiblart
    April 26, 2016

    Those pictures are not very good..Anyway I have the mi4c – and don’t have any of these problems. Infact, the pics on my phone look better.

  12. zupatami
    April 26, 2016

    Not useful firmware? Try MIUI Tweaks xposed module!

  13. zeca_BR
    April 26, 2016

    Much expensive!

  14. AtereJr
    April 27, 2016

    Well well well, at last Xiaomi have released their own “Vowney” in the flesh.

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      The difference is Xiaomi will improve most of the problems through software updates.

  15. Guest
    April 27, 2016

    Much expensive!

  16. bojan radovanovic
    April 27, 2016

    well after readin this : “I’d say that the Snapdragon 808 is quite a capable SoC, and that the Mi 4s doesn’t seem to be making full use of it (yet). It doesn’t feel like a phone with 3GB RAM and a high-mid-range SoC such as the SD808 so far.” it totally remindes me on my expirinece with Mi4i. i had a same feal about Redmi 1s comapring it with Mi4i, it was better final product.

    this is yet another half baked product thati Xiaomi is promissing to fix…but when!?
    for it’s price i would say it is good phone, but there are many other better choises, and for Xiaomi fans, how can they justify by giving a premium on price of Redmi 3 or that for “only” 100$ more they could buy real Xiaomi’s flagship?

    • VMortens
      April 27, 2016

      You can get Mi4c even below $200 now, 3/32GB Prime option, without the silly bugs like in here and without the throttling fckup. Community does even offer alternative CM ROM for it. All these after you agree with the lack of SD slot and finger scanner. Does it make any sense to pay 50% extra for the experience this Mi4s privides?
      Also, as you say – Xiaomi is promising – they actually aren’t. All they promise are software upgrades and recently they focus more on adding some completely irrelevant crap in it, than actually fixing known bugs, or really improving it. This company seems to be forgeting what they grew on.

  17. AtereJr
    April 27, 2016

    Well well well, at last Xiaomi have released their own “Vowney” in the flesh.

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      The difference is Xiaomi will improve most of the problems through software updates.

  18. Maurice
    April 27, 2016

    Great reviews Yash! I have seen a user video where he talks about and show the yellow tint of its MI4S screen. For me that’s a huge downside, apparently the user hasn’t been able to fix that annoying issue using the screen parameters defined in MIUI. Some of his friends who bought the MI4S have the same problem. Your review confirms the information gathered on different websites. The MI4S with a screen quality similar to the one used in the MI4C with an upgraded SOC like the SD652 or even SD650 would have been a lot better.

    I am left with the following phones in my purchase list:
    – Redmi 3 Pro (wondering if the 720P will be enough, waiting for feedback regarding the SD616)

    – Redmi Note 3 Pro (which is bigger)
    – Xiaomi MI4C (no SD card slot, battery life is not perfect)

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      720p should be fine on a 5 inch screen if they are using a high quality LCD panel.

    • yalok
      April 28, 2016

      My nexus 5X has had the yellow tint issue, but it was later fixed via software update. One can really calibrate the screen any way one wants (via built-in ROM feature or root).

  19. balcobomber25
    April 27, 2016

    I love the design of it and would have preferred this to be the design of the Mi5. As for IR it is one of the things I miss most about my Mi4, I used mine as a remote everyday.

    • yalok
      April 28, 2016

      Why do you think it’s overpriced?
      Are there better or comparable phones with the same size (5″) and features (metal edge, fingerprint, good software support)?

      • balcobomber25
        April 28, 2016

        It is overpriced compared to other Xiaomi 5” models:

        Redmi 3 Pro: $160
        Redmi 3: $135
        Mi 4: $135
        Mi4c: $200

        And those are reseller prices. This should have been priced at most around $225, given that it is only a marginal upgrade to the much cheaper Mi4c.

        • yalok
          April 29, 2016

          For the features it offers I think the price is ok.
          If someone want to prove that it’s overpriced, please provide a competitor with similar features.

          None of them have 64GB storage build in.
          Mi4c is just plastic and doesn’t have fingerprint scanner.
          By the way, on kimovil the reseller prices are as low as $256.

          • balcobomber25
            April 29, 2016

            If you think a fingerprint scanner is worth an extra $100 than so be it, I don’t. The $256 is for the 2GB/16GB model. The 64GB one is $298-355 from that seller.

            • yalok
              April 29, 2016

              Haha, you notice the 64GB, but not when adding to the $100 price increase. You also ignore the premium build materials.
              Just for fingerprint I wouldn’t pay +$100 either.

            • balcobomber25
              April 29, 2016

              The build materials are mostly cosmetic, Mi4c has excellent build quality perhaps even better than the Mi4s/Mi5. The really only difference between the C and S is the finerprint scanner and extra storage. Neither of those are worth an extra $100 to me. To you maybe they are. For me it is a slight upgrade to the C and that should be reflected in the price. I would have a hard time paying $300 for a Mi4s when I can get a brand new flagship for not much more. If it was around $220 I would buy one.

            • yalok
              April 30, 2016

              Many manufacturers charge $100 just for 32GB to 64GB upgrade.
              Which brand new flagship (you mentioned) would you buy instead?

            • balcobomber25
              April 30, 2016

              Meizu Pro 6, Zuk Z2 Pro and if it came down to it i would buy the Mi5 instead too. I hate the design of the Mi5 but I think it’s a better overall phone.

  20. bojan radovanovic
    April 27, 2016

    well after reading this : “I’d say that the Snapdragon 808 is quite a capable SoC, and that the Mi 4s doesn’t seem to be making full use of it (yet). It doesn’t feel like a phone with 3GB RAM and a high-mid-range SoC such as the SD808 so far.” it totally remindes me on my expirinece with Mi4i. i had a same feal about Redmi 1s comapring it with Mi4i, it was better final product.

    this is yet another half baked product thati Xiaomi is promissing to fix…but when!?
    for it’s price i would say it is good phone, but there are many other better choises, and for Xiaomi fans, how can they justify by giving a premium on price of Redmi 3 or that for “only” 100$ more they could buy real Xiaomi’s flagship?

    but i wouldn’t agree with final though on comparationwith Helio X10…MTK is just not yet there…last year they ware close in MID-segment (because SD 615 was real flop from qualcoom), but now they are losing it again…

    • VMortens
      April 27, 2016

      ‘Half baked’ is a perfect description here 🙂
      You can get Mi4c even below $200 now, 3/32GB Prime option, without the silly bugs like in here and without the throttling fckup. Community does even offer alternative CM ROM for it. All these after you agree with the lack of SD slot and finger scanner. Does it make any sense to pay 50% extra for the experience this Mi4s privides?
      Also, as you say – Xiaomi is promising – they actually aren’t. All they promise are software upgrades and recently they focus more on adding some completely irrelevant crap in it, than actually fixing known bugs, or really improving it. This company seems to be forgeting what they grew on.

  21. Guest
    April 27, 2016

    Great reviews Yash! I have seen a user video where he talks about and show the yellow tint of its MI4S screen. For me that’s a huge downside, apparently the user hasn’t been able to fix that annoying issue using the screen parameters defined in MIUI. Some of his friends who bought the MI4S have the same problem. Your review confirms the information gathered on different websites. The MI4S with a screen quality similar to the one used in the MI4C with an upgraded SOC like the SD652 or even SD650 would have been a lot better.

    I am left with the following phones in my purchase list:
    – Redmi 3 Pro (wondering if the 720P will be enough, waiting for feedback regarding the SD616)

    – Redmi Note 3 Pro (which is bigger)
    – Xiaomi MI4C (no SD card slot, battery life is not perfect)

    • balcobomber25
      April 27, 2016

      720p should be fine on a 5 inch screen if they are using a high quality LCD panel.

    • Guest
      April 27, 2016

      I should ask that to Linus from Gizmochina. Some shops are slowly reducing the prices for the Redmi Note 3, MI4S. Do you believe that Xiaomi will release a 5.2″ budget phone soon?

    • yalok
      April 28, 2016

      My nexus 5X has had the yellow tint issue, but it was later fixed via software update. One can really calibrate the screen any way one wants (via built-in ROM feature or root).

  22. balcobomber25
    April 27, 2016

    I love the design of it and would have preferred this to be the design of the Mi5. As for IR it is one of the things I miss most about my Mi4, I used mine as a remote everyday. The biggest problem with this phone is the price. It should be priced around $220.

    • yalok
      April 28, 2016

      Why do you think it’s overpriced?
      Are there better or comparable phones with the same size (5″) and features (metal edge, fingerprint, good software support)?

    • balcobomber25
      April 28, 2016

      It is overpriced compared to other Xiaomi 5” models:

      Redmi 3 Pro: $160
      Redmi 3: $135
      Mi 4: $135
      Mi4c: $200

      And those are reseller prices. This should have been priced at most around $225, given that it is only a marginal upgrade to the much cheaper Mi4c.

    • yalok
      April 29, 2016

      For the features it offers I think the price is ok.
      If someone want to prove that it’s overpriced, please provide a competitor with similar features.

      None of them have 64GB storage build in.
      Mi4c is just plastic and doesn’t have fingerprint scanner.
      By the way, on kimovil the reseller prices are as low as $256.

    • balcobomber25
      April 29, 2016

      If you think a fingerprint scanner is worth an extra $100 than so be it, I don’t. The $256 is for the 2GB/16GB model. The 64GB one is $298-355 from that seller.

    • yalok
      April 29, 2016

      Haha, you notice the 64GB, but not when adding to the $100 price increase. You also ignore the premium build materials.
      Just for fingerprint I wouldn’t pay +$100 either.

    • balcobomber25
      April 29, 2016

      The build materials are mostly cosmetic, Mi4c has excellent build quality perhaps even better than the Mi4s/Mi5. The really only difference between the C and S is the finerprint scanner and extra storage. Neither of those are worth an extra $100 to me. To you maybe they are. For me it is a slight upgrade to the C and that should be reflected in the price. I would have a hard time paying $300 for a Mi4s when I can get a brand new flagship for not much more. If it was around $220 I would buy one.

    • yalok
      April 30, 2016

      Many manufacturers charge $100 just for 32GB to 64GB upgrade.
      Which brand new flagship (you mentioned) would you buy instead?

    • balcobomber25
      April 30, 2016

      Meizu Pro 6, Zuk Z2 Pro and if it came down to it i would buy the Mi5 instead too. I hate the design of the Mi5 but I think it’s a better overall phone.

  23. trapchan
    April 27, 2016

    The “quality” (or lack of) of this phone seems consistent across reviewers. The metal bezel doesn’t feel quite ‘metal’, yellowish screen, and heating issue. Same impression from me.

  24. MinusPlusDivide
    April 27, 2016

    Could Andi review Mi4s camera again? I mean I would like to see what Andi really think about Mi4s’s camera after reviewed the Mi5.

  25. trapchan
    April 27, 2016

    The “quality” (or lack of) of this phone seems consistent across reviewers. The metal bezel doesn’t feel quite ‘metal’, yellowish screen, and heating issue. Same impression from me.

  26. Guest
    April 27, 2016

    Could Andi review Mi4s camera again? I mean I would like to see what Andi really think about Mi4s’s camera after reviewed the Mi5.