While the shelf life of the smartphones has shrunk quite a bit in the past few years, it still is one of big buying decisions for most consumers. It used to be an even bigger decision for the consumers planning to get a smartphone in a tight budget, but the budget smartphone market has changed a lot in past 12-15 months. We suddenly have a host of devices to choose from, each of which is quite capable, but there is still the fear of unknowingly buying a wannabe smartphone instead of the real deal.
The smartphone consumers are facing the same dilemma with Micromax-backed Yu Televentures’s new Yureka smartphone. Is it really what it seems to be on paper, or is a shallow copy of other popular budget smartphones? I intend to find out in this review.
Designing a budget smartphone is not an easy task, after all you don’t want it to be a poor imitation of the high-end smartphones with visible cheapness. So, while the Yu Yureka might not be design marvel, the designers of the phone have been able to build a decent-looking smartphone.
It sports the usual blocky look, but thanks to the rubberised back panel, which also covers the sides, the phone feels nice in hand. The construction of the phone is solid and I didn’t find it to be creaking or making any other weird sounds.
Measuring 154.5 x 78 x 6.3-8.6mm, the phone is certainly on the bigger side and is not meant for the consumers looking to get an averaged sized smartphone.
Yu has included a 5.5-inch 1280x720p HD IPS display on the phone and while the resolution might not be ideal, we can’t expect too much with INR 8,999 prcie-tag. In my usage, I found the resolution to be okay and the images and text did not look bad. The viewing angles were good and the under-sun visibility is average.
The smartphone also packs Gorilla Glass 3, which will help in avoiding the occasional scratches and nicks.
Comparing Yu Yureka to more expensive phones isn’t exactly fair, having said that the phone is no slouch. The presence of Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and 2GB of RAM makes sure that the Yureka is able to handle everything that you throw at it with ease.
During my weeklong testing of the phone, I hardly noticed any lags or jitters and the phone always came out on the top. Be it playing games like Nova 3, Dead Trigger 2 or Riptide GP2 or watching 720p or 1080p videos or simply browsing the web, Yu Yureka doesn’t disappoint. The smartphone also gets the basics right – calling, texting, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth support – everything works as it is supposed to.
The on-board speaker is okay and is not very loud, which is slightly disappointing because of its location, which is on the back. This placement dampens the overall sound a bit when the phone is lying on its back. It is however not a deal-breaker.
The 3G and dual-SIM performance is good, but I was not able to test the 4G chops of the phone as there is still no 4G network in New Delhi (like most places in India).
Indian smartphone vendors might have released hundreds of budget Android devices, but they don’t really shine on the software front. Apart from XOLO with its Hive UI, nobody is actually making real effort to pay attention to the software they pre-load on their Android devices. By partnering with Cyanogen, Yu Televentures has solved the software issue for the near future. In the form of Cyanogen OS, the Yureka gets a refined and clean version of Android, which includes just the right amount of bells and whistles.
Yu is especially highlighting the customisation opportunities with Cyanogen OS in Yureka. The consumers will able to govern every aspect of their phone if they want to. Like I prefer on-screen Android navigation keys, so during the first time set-up, I had selected the option and the capacitive buttons became inactive and I was able to use on-screen without any problem. The consumers can expect similar experience with other customisation options.
With Yureka, Cyanogen is also introducing two key features, which will be a big part of its OS experience going forward – themes and Baton. During our testing, while the themes worked perfectly, Baton didn’t. This cloud-based sync feature still seems to be getting ready for primetime and whenever I tried to login, the app threw errors like “Nextbit server is unavailable at this moment.”
Yureka currently runs on Android 4.4.4, but we can expect to see Lollipop in the coming weeks and going forward, Cyanogen Inc team should be able to pass on quicker updates than one would expect from any Indian smartphone vendor.
One of the areas where most budget Android smartphones disappoint in their imaging capabilities and Yu Yureka is an exception. The 13MP auto-focus camera on-board the smartphone offers excellent images for a smartphone under INR 10K price-bracket. The camera might not have high-end features like optical image stabilisation or a fancy sensor, it is still able to produce sharp and vibrant images in good lighting conditions and decent photos in low-light conditions.
The 5MP front shooter is average and will do for your selfie and video chat needs. Nothing to brag here.
Being a Cyanogen OS phone, Yureka comes pre-loaded with CM camera app, which is quite good and offers plenty of options to tweak and set according to your choice. The app also supports filters, which can be applied right at the time of taking the photographs.
Yureka comes with CM Gallery application, which is more comprehensive than the AOSP Gallery app and allows you to see images from your phone storage as well as services like Google+, Flickr, Facebook and Dropbox.
The UI of the app is also decent and while the basic editing tools are bundled with the app, more comprehensive editing suite can be downloaded from within the Gallery.
Yu has included a 2500 mAh battery in the Yureka, which although doesn’t seem like much for a smartphone with a large 5.5-inch display, but offers good performance. The consumers will be able to get through the day with medium usage, however heavy users will not be so lucky. During the video test, the Yu Yureka went on for almost eight hours with 60 percent brightness and Wi-Fi connectivity the entire time and in Wi-Fi browsing test, it lasted around five hours with full brighness.
Is it (Yu Yureka) really what it seems to be on paper, or is a shallow copy of other popular budget smartphones?
I had posed the above question at the start of this review and I can now confidently say that Yu Yureka is indeed the smartphone, which you see on paper. While it might not be perfect and include its own set of issues, the phone still offers excellent performance, good imaging capabilities, decent battery life and a nice display. The presence of Cyanogen OS with useful enhancements & customisation options is another advantage of the phone.
If you are in the market for a sub-INR 10,000 Android smartphone and don’t shy away from home-grown smartphone vendors, Yu Yureka is a great option for you.
Yu is selling the Yureka via Amazon India using the Xiaomi-like flash sales. The first sale is scheduled for January 13 and registrations for the same have already closed. If you haven’t registered for the first sale, details about the next sale will most likely be revealed on Jan 13.