The retail box of the Xiaomi Mi 4s contains the usual set of accessories: a USB Type-C cable and a fast-charging-enabled A/C adapter. The SIM ejection pin is also inside a small envelope.
The Mi 4s has pretty much identical specs to the Mi 4c, including the 5" screen diagonal, but received a redesign that's geared towards premium. Its new dimensions are 139.3 x 70.8 x 7.8mm - just 1mm taller and 1mm wider than the 4c. It has put on a measly 1g of weight, which is impressive considering the bigger battery and fingerprint sensor.
Xiaomi has insisted on glass exteriors since the original Mi 4 flagship back in 2014, as part of a global trend in phone design. Sony has been using it abundantly, Samsung switched to glass for its top-shelf Galaxies. Xiaomi is now selling its second generation of glass-clad smartphones - the Mi 4s and the flagship Mi 5.
The Mi 4s employs a rather familiar design - two sheets of glass front and rear, kept together by a beautiful and solid metal frame. Xiaomi's had a special touch on the Mi 4s - its frame has a prominent circular shape and zirconia sand finish. The latter is responsible for the matte effect and the distant leathery feel. Long story short, it's pleasantly grippy and soft to the touch.
We appreciate the brushed pattern on the rear glass, as well as the metal accents around the camera and the fingerprint scanner. The sensor is always-on: at a successful scan, it will immediately wake up the screen and take you straight to the homescreen. If the fingerprint doesn't match, the phone will let you know with a short vibration.
While using the Xiaomi Mi 4s we noticed its protective front glass is rather soft, and it easily sags when pressed at the bottom. We don't know if this was an issue with our unit only, or it's a design flaw, but it's possible to see dark spots on the screen while using it. It won't hurt the LCD panel, but it may be disturbing in brighter pictures or pages.
Handling the Xiaomi Mi 4s is otherwise quite pleasant. The phone is compact, thin and light enough, and looks really beautiful. Its glass panels are prone to fingerprints, but those should be noticeable only on the black version. The phone is not that slippery thanks to the thoughtful matte frame, which should be a must for any glass phone.
Above the Mi 4s screen, we find the earpiece surrounded by a couple of sensors on the left and the 5MP front-facer on the right. There is a status LED near the camera lens.
Below the 5" display is the set of capacitive Task Manager, Home, and Back keys - all with white backlight. A tap and hold of the Apps key will also show advanced contextual menus with across the MIUI.
On the left is the lone SIM tray - it's an ejectable hybrid slot for either two SIM cards (microSIM + nanoSIM), or a microSIM plus a microSD memory card.
The right side of the Xiaomi Mi 4s houses the volume rocker and the power/lock key - both made of metal.
The Mi 4s has its audio jack, IR blaster, and second mic on top; while the USB Type-C port, the loudspeaker grille, and the primary mic are at the bottom.
Finally, a dual-tone LED flash is next to the 13MP camera lens at the back. The always-on fingerprint scanner is also around, comfortably placed for the tip of your index finger.