Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma launched Yu Televentures two years ago hoping to create smartphones and accessories that could actually compete with non-Indian OEMs. Sealing a deal with Cyanogen, Yu had a successful debut launch with the Yureka, a budget smartphone running Cyanogenmod based Android, something that still appeals to the developer community. This smartphone was a huge deal since the company had bagged the rights for Cyanogen in India, which became a huge problem for Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus. This was followed by a bunch of smartphones and some accessories that did not gain a lot of attention. Even their ambitious flagship (Yu Yutopia) couldn’t manage attract a lot of consumers, though it had a bit of potential.
Yu Yunicorn is their latest smartphone and entry into the populated and competitive sub-15k price segment dominated by a number of Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Lenovo, LeEco and others. Can it stand against them, or will it be another overly hyped product from Yu?
Design and build: 7.5/10
There is no doubt that the smartphone looks impressive, however it has the exact same design as the Meizu m3 Note. The curved 2.5D glass on the front, the fingerprint scanner and the metal casing at the back, all of them are identical to the m3 Note. The only difference would be the brushed finish on the metal casing which looks great.
At the front there is a 5.5-inch display with the fingerprint scanner below it and the usual sensors, earpiece, notification LED, front camera all placed above. The power and volume rocker keys are placed on the right edge and the SIM card tray on the left edge. The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack with a microphone for video recording and the bottom edge has the speaker grill and the microUSB port. At the back there is a camera with the dual-LED flash below it.
Overall the handset feels sturdy and solid in the hand. It has a thickness of 8.5mm and it feels a bit on the heavy side with a weight of 172g thanks to the metal back. For an affordable phablet, the Yunicorn is a well polished device.
Apart from the design, the handset features very similar hardware as the Meizu m3 Note. The Yunicorn runs on a MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor which has four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and the other A53 clocked at 1GHz. The SoC also includes a Mali-T860MP2 GPU and 4GB of RAM to take care of multitasking. Internal storage is 32GB with an option to expand it further as the smartphone has a hybrid SIM card tray to either house two SIM cards or one SIM card with a microSD card. The rear camera can has a 13MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture lens with phase detection autofocus, while the front camera has a 5MP sensor and an f/2.0 aperture. Other features include a fingerprint scanner, a 4,000mAh battery, Android 5.1 Lollipop and DTS Audio output technology. Connectivity options include microUSB 2.0 with OTG, 4G LTE, GPS, A-GPS, Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi.
The smartphone features a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display which is a very standard looking panel offering decent brightness as well as sunlight visibility. Sharpness and contrast is under control and the colour temperature feels quite balanced. The smartphone comes with MiraVision a feature where you can set a normal profile, a vivid or a custom one to fine tune the colours, contrast and sharpness on the display. The feature is nice to have but then even with the standard setting, we didn’t have any major complaints. Probably the only issue is when you turn on adaptive display which just kills the brightness.
The Yunicorn runs on Android 5.1 with Yu’s new custom UI called Android on Steroids (AOS). The UI is all stock with a few bits taken from Cyanogen including custom icons and vertical app drawer with labels. The UI also comes with AroundYu, a single platform that is an amalgamation of a number of services like hotel and cab booking, restaurant suggestions, cricket scores, PNR search and more, placed as the default first homescreen. This feature was launched with the company’s flagship smartphone, Yutopia. It works fine and does come handy at times as you don’t have to open multiple apps. The UI somehow doesn’t feel that attractive even though it is stock. It tends to stutter when scrolling between homescreens although multitasking was managed quite well as we ended up using a number of apps without any of them crashing.
The smartphone is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor and a Mali-T860MP2 GPU. There is also 4GB of RAM making the first of its kind at its budget. While all of this sounds good, the performance is just about average. In fact we were disappointed considering how good the smartphone sounds on paper. The benchmark tests clearly show that the Yunicorn is an under-powered device and doesn’t stand a chance against handsets like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 or the LeEco Le 2. The only consolation is its multitasking capabilities all thanks to the 4-gigs of RAM.
Gaming experience is just about okay and the device can run less resource hogging games without any major issues. Games like Asphalt 8, Injustice: Gods Among Us and Dead Trigger 2 saw frame drops and random freezing as well. The handset does heat when you are playing games on it for long durations and also when you are charging it. It went quite hot when we used it for navigation while taking pictures under the harsh sun.
Call quality is perfectly fine and even the Wi-Fi radio works flawlessly. The fingerprint scanner is slow and most of the times didn’t recognise the fingerprint. Probably a quick software update can fix this issue.
There is a 13MP camera at the back which features an Omnivision PureCel OV13853 image sensor, with an f/2.2 aperture lens, dual-LED flash and phase detection autofocus. In bright conditions the image quality looks fine with slightly subdued colours. Even in bright conditions, pictures lack details and are soft. In low light there is noise and further softening and loss of details. Images look quite flat and contrast levels are not upto the mark. Even the front camera is a bit of a disappointment as you end up getting soft selfie pictures. The camera app is also ancient reminding us of Android 4.4, although you get pretty standard features like HDR, fine tune controls, filters and more.
The company said that the Yunicorn will offer a battery backup of four days from its 4,000mAh battery unit, although that is a very high claim, it managed to offer a pretty good backup of a full day without any issues. If you are a light user you can probably squeeze out a day and a half. In our tests we charged it to a full 100% and used the device all day. Heavy usage resulted left us with 20% battery at the end of the day, which is not bad at all.
The Yunicorn is great looking smartphone, and offers a good battery life as well, but that is not enough to make it a recommended device. The overall experience of the smartphone is mostly hampered by the software. It’s somehow not very well optimised, as if the company was in a hurry to push out the device. The camera also isn’t very impressive considering that Motorola in the same budget offers a much better camera with the Moto G4 Plus.
Yu launched the handset at Rs 12,999 for the first month but it is currently selling at Rs 13,499 and will be Rs 14,999 starting next month. This kind of pricing makes it a competitor to the Moto G4 Plus, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Lenovo Zuk Z1 and the LeEco Le 2 all of which are way better smartphones than the Yunicorn. For that matter, even the Meizu m3 Note is a better option to go for.
Publish date: July 1, 2016 12:45 pm| Modified date: July 2, 2016 9:31 pm
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Yu Yunicorn Review: Promising design but needs software improvements
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