We never thought that the consumers would be so happy about the advent of the Cyanogen in India. Well the geeks had to be elated for all the tweaking and customization they will get to play with. But the surprising factor was the joy for regular smartphone users and the reason was the device that came with CyanogenMod in India – YU Yureka (Micromax-Cyanogen branded devices).
Even though it’s not the first Cyanogen based device to launch in India (One Plus One was the first). But, it has garnered a lot of attention due to its killer specs and unbelievable pricing. Interestingly, these phones will only be available online as the company plans to develop and sell these smartphones for the youth market. This will be the first time that the users in India will get an “ecosystem of connected devices” and a “differentiated user experience”.
Till now, Xolo has been the only exceptional Indian smartphone maker to have offered noticeable different and productive software experience with its HIVE UI. But with Yu devices, Micromax is going to change that thanks to Cyanogen making these devices stand out. We will discuss more of it in the review.
But before we start with the review, let’s have a look at the specs of the device:
|Release date||December 2014|
|Dimensions (mm)||154.80 x 78.00 x 8.80|
|Battery capacity (mAh)||2500|
|Bundled accessories||Charger, cable, headset|
|Screen size (inches)||5.50|
|Pixels per inch (PPI)||267|
|Processor make||Qualcomm Snapdragon 615|
|Expandable storage type||microSD|
|Expandable storage up to (GB)||32|
|Operating System||Cyanogen OS 11|
|Browser supports Flash||Yes|
|Wi-Fi standards supported||802.11 b/ g/ n|
|Bluetooth||Yes, v 4.00|
|Charging via Micro-USB||Yes|
|Proprietary charging connector||No|
|Proprietary data connector||No|
|Number of SIMs||2|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes|
Now that you have got an idea on how the smartphone fares with its specs, let’s have a look at the photo gallery and head to the review part:
YU Yureka comes in a flat brown cardboard box with minimalistic branding on the front and sides. And all the details, specifications, pricing etc on the back. Inside the box you will find the device, a charger, in-ear headset, USB data cable, 2500 mAh battery and the usual documents all tucked in together under the device.
Design and Display
Before we start with the design and build of the device, I’d like to clarify that this device is not competing with slim and sexy out there. First look at the device and you know its solid, neat and well crafted. The front of the device has no branding and no marking except the capacitive touch home button a the bottom of the screen on the bezel. Don’t worry there are ‘Back and Menu’ buttons too on the device but they only light up when the screen is active. The front of the device is all about the 720p 5.5-inch display as it covers the most of the front. Event though the screen Corning Gorilla Glass 3, the edges are cleverly raised to help prevent scratching.
Moving on the back of the device, and you will be surprised with the ‘Moonstone Grey’ back finish. At first glance, it somewhat looks like the rough ‘Sandpaper’ finish of the OnePlus One which people are raving about but this one is smoother and easy to hold. Next thing you will notice on the back is the bold YU logo in blue colour, which is a pleasant compilation of light grey (‘Moonstone Grey’) and sky blue. Right above the logo there is a noise cancellation mic and next to it is the 13 megapixel camera with an LED flash below it. The only other thing you will see on the back is a small speaker grille at the bottom. For me that’s one of the only annoying thing in the YU Yureka’s form factor, and the reason for that is, when the phone is kept on a table, bed or any flat surface the speaker grill gets covered and the notifications are barely audible because of that.
All the corners of the phone either have a port or button. On the right is the power or sleep/wake button, the top has 3.5 mm audio jack, the left has the volume rocker and the base has the microUSB port.
As the back cover is removable, on removing it. You’ll find the 2500 mAh removable battery, two Micro-SIM card slots and a microSD slot. Out of the 3 slots only one of the SIMs is hot swappable, rest two slots can only be used by removing the battery.
What makes YU Yureka such a delectable package is the fact that it has a brilliant hardware under INR 10K. Starting with the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, an octa-core SoC with 64-bit support, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage expandable up to 32GB using a microSD card.
The phone stands at 154.8 mm in length, 78 mm in width, and weighs around 155 grammes. It comes with all connectivity options from Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n to LTE.
There is no doubt that YU Yureka is a large device but thanks to the Cyanogen OS, you can use the device with a single hand for most of the tasks. Let’s read about it in detail in Software (UI/UX) review of the device.
You have read the specifications, learnt about the Hardware/Built and seen some pictures. Now let’s visit the software (UI & UX) part of the device. Apart from the killer hardware at this price, the Cyanogen 11 OS is the strength of the YU Yureka. On booting the device you will see the YU and Android branding, followed by the Cyanogen OS boot screen animation. The first screen you will see after the boot animation, is the screen to create a Cyanogen account or log in to your existing one.
If you haven’t used a Cyanogen device in the past, then let me tell you that it’s the most customizable smartphone OS experience. In fact we have made a whole list of things you can customize on the Yureka-Cyanogen device:
- Themes – Though only 5 at the moment, we see a lot more coming in
- Appearance of the elements in Status Bar:
- power level/network/wifi indicator/NFC/Alarms
- Icons – Flat or Skeumorphic depends on what you prefer
- Switches for Brightness Levels, switching the WiFi/Bluetooth/Network on/off
- Navigation Bar – If you choose to keep the on-screen navigation bar then how it would look like
- Wallpapers – Different themes, navigation bars, icons to match your fav wallpaper
- Fonts – You can mix and match fonts to the one you like the most
- Boot Animations – Oh yeah, you decide what your phone shows when it switches on!
- Sound Packs – Yes sounds as you like it for each action
- You can decide how long the capacitive button backlight should stay on
- What each of the device’s buttons should do:
- Power Button for Reboot Menu; Taking a Screenshot; Profile Switching; Sound Panel
- Home Button to Answer Call; Launch an app by single tap or double tap
- Volume Button for playback control; keyboard cursor control
- Profiles – Bringing back the charm back of the good old Nokia phones, you can set profiles such as Home, Work, Night and Silent
- Status Bar:
- You can decide where the clock should display or switch it off
- Customise the battery status style – Icon (portrait or landscape, Circle, Text) or hide it
- Control brightness by sliding a finger along it to adjust brightness
- Double-tapping the status bar to lock the phone
- Audio FX app to set:
- custom or Rock/Pop/Electronic etc equalizer
- Activate Bass Boost and Surround Sound
- Set Reverb level – Small Room/Hall etc
- And it changes according to Headset/Speaker/USB/Bluetooth/Wireless speakers
Now isn’t that a huge list? Coming back to the UI/UX of the YU Yureka device, its great to see that the bloatware has been kept to bare minimum.Other than the common Google apps, there’s a browser called Yuniverse (which is nothing more than Opera with a skin and custom icon), the audio customization app called AudioFX that we mentioned, cyanogenmod calculator, and a called Baton that didn’t work at all – it forced us to download an update from the Play store, which threw up an error stating no such app exists. And of course the surprise for Indian users might like is the presence of FM Radio.
Other nuances that I noticed and would like to point out is the lockscreen of the YU Yureka. As all other elements of the Cyanogen 11, the lockscreen is highly customisable and slick. Specially when the Music is playing, as most of the lockscreen becomes an Active Equalizer Display (even the notification panel :o). And for music aficionado like me it was a real treat to the eyes.
The price of the YU Yureka is surely in budget but that doesnt deter the performance at all. In fact, you can feel the swiftness of the device thanks to the 64 bit hardware and 64 bit Cyanogen OS 11 on it. Here is how it fared it in benchmark tests:
With a 5.5′ screen and 2500 mAh battery, we weren’t expecting a full day back up but Yureka gave us 10 hours+ battery back up without a fail each day. And that’s with 4 email account on 5 mins sync interval; 2 twitter accounts with notifications turned on; Facebook always on sync; Music, video and game streaming to chromecast; lot of app downloading and of course calls and messaging.
Camera nowadays is an important factor for consumers buying a smartphone. Primarily because it has replaced the compact cameras and also the fact that we share a lot of photos (selfies) and videos now. And the good news is that YU Yureka has an impressive camera. Be it the camera UI/features or the pictures it clicks. The 13MP secondary camera clicked great pictures in day light, low light and HDR. But in low light the user would have to keep a very steady hand due to lack of OIS. Same for videos, Video quality is also good but again the videos get bit shaky in low light. Coming to the 5MP front camera, its a selfie cam that won’t disappoint you. Check out the samples below:
Update 1 (11/01/15):
A sincere thanks to all the readers for the overwhelming response and feedback. As requested by you guys, we are adding the points that you wanted us to cover in detail.
- Gaming – We tested Real Racing 3 for 15 mins with battery at 9% and no other apps open (background apps like Twitter, Google Fit and other services were running). The temperature of the device was at 20′ C before the game started. After closing the game (15 mins), the battery was down to 1% (-8%) and the temperature of the device at 33.8′ C. We did the same test when the battery was 100% and a lot of background apps running (Chrome, Google Maps, Facebook, etc) and the battery dropped to 96% (-4%) and the temperature went to 34.5′ C
- Heating – Even though we covered about the heating of the device in the above point. We would still like to discuss it in detail. Device Temperature:
- Boot time – 20.2’C
- Playing HD Videos on YouTube (3G Connection) – 26.7’c
- Playing HD Videos on YouTube (WiFi Connection) – 25.8’c
- With 10 Apps (Social Media and Google Apps) open – 26.5’C
- Google Maps Navigation (5 mins)- 28.5’C
- Bugs – We have already reported about the Baton app not working, butwehavegota confirmation from Cyanogen/YU team that the app will work after thedeviceis launched on the 13th of January. Apart from that we found a bug:
- In the Themes app of YU Yureka – No matter how many times you update the Merzee and Blue Matte theme, you will keep getting a notification to update it
- If you are not connected to the internet, the Themes app won’t open most of the time and if it opens it won’t let you select anything, not even the apps you have downloaded and installed on the device
- Benchmarks – We have already shared the benchmark results in the detailed review above but here is more – Antutu Score is 31,495; Quadrant Standard Score 18303; Geekbench Score: 660 Single-Core Score| 2396 Multi-Core Score; Battery Benchmark Test 4424 and Nenamark Score is 55 fps
- Wifi Direct and Miracast – Yes the device is WiFi direct enabled and you can use apps like Xender or SENDit to use this feature. Similarly the device includes screen mirroring, we had the device mirrored to our Chromecast most of the time. If you don’t have a Chromecast and want to use the YU Yureka on a smart tv that has (DLNA or Miracast) then you can install apps like EzCast or Streamcast
- OTG Support – USB OTG is supported
- Apps on SD Card – Users can move app data and some apps from internal storage to SD card. Media and application data can be stored on SD card
- Screen/Display – Yes the screen is very reflective and a fingerprint magnet but once the display is on it really does make up for it. With brightness set to ‘Auto’ or ‘Max’ there won’t be any problem even under direct sunlight
- FM Radio – FM radio worked flawlessly for us. From unlimited recording to regional band, it has everything
- Call Quality (Earpiece/Loudspeaker/Handsfree) – Call quality is decent on both ear piece and handsfree but we wish the loudspeaker could go a bit louder
- Native Battery Management – There is no native battery management that comes pre-installed on the device
We hope that we were able to answer most of your queries but if there is anything else you would want us to cover or share our feedback on then please feel free to comment below or tweet to us @theunbiasedblog
The Unbiased Verdict
Micromax has made the right move by launching a youth centric brand and marketing it like style statement for the Gen X. And making it available only on online channels is also a move that would keep the target audience happy. YU as a brand and Yureka as a device is very, very attractive package. For those who don’t know, YU Yureka is a device supplied by the Chinese giant Yulong Comp. Telecommunication Scientific (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd. the makers of Coolpad devices. Here is the same model sans the YU branding and Cyanogen OS.
The device has everything going for it – Hardware, Software and the steal deal price. Of course, Cyanogen will be the force to make or break the YU devices. We really hope that Micromax’s new venture can maintain the after sales support and provide timely updates to the devices. We look forward to the Android Lollipop update on our YU Yureka device and also newer models in this year.