Yu Yureka Review: It’s Mi Against Yu

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Micromax is India’s top domestic smartphone vendor and has plenty of popular products on offer. Even so, it has a bit of a reputation for selling low-quality products and it knows that there are people who would simply never consider a Micromax phone over, say, a Samsung or a Sony. There are also dozens of other companies with very similar products, and any of them could easily become as successful.

The company now wants products that will stand out and have strong individual identities – and that means making some bold moves. The result is Yu Televentures, an all-new subsidiary company which will develop and sell smartphones aimed at the youth market. Yu will target tech-savvy but budget-conscious buyers, and is banking on catchy names and slogans with “attitude”. Interestingly, these phones will only be available online. The company also talks up an “ecosystem of connected devices” and a “differentiated user experience”.

Yu’s primary means of achieving this is an exclusive tieup with Cyanogen Inc. to preload Cyanogen 11, a popular Android fork, onto its devices. Few Indian companies have bothered really tweaking the software experience on the phones they sell (Xolo being a notable exception with its Hive UI) and Micromax itself has been known to load devices with useless bloat. Cyanogen is polished and powerful, and will help these devices stand out.

Yu’s first product, the Yureka, is a pretty important phone. Cheesy name aside, Yu seems to be gunning for the slot formerly occupied by the 3G Xiaomi Redmi Note.The Yureka’s size, appearance and specifications are pretty evenly matched with those of Xiaomi’s big-screen offering, which means they’re impressive considering both devices’ low price tags.

Look and feel
There’s no sign of Micromax anywhere on the product or its packaging despite that brand’s popularity, which means Yu really doesn’t want to be associated with its parent company. The box is very plain; just brown cardboard with Yu and Cyanogen logos printed on all sides. It’s almost as minimalist as Xiaomi’s boxes, but nowhere near as slick.

The Yu Yureka itself is not especially slim or light but it does appear better constructed than most Micromax phones we’ve seen before. The front is smooth and free of markings other than an outline of the Home button printed beneath the screen. The Back and Menu buttons don’t have printed icons but all three light up when the screen is active. There isn’t much room around the screen, and the edges are slightly raised to help prevent scratching.

Specifications and software
There’s a lot to like about the Yu Yureka. For starters, there’s the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, an octa-core SoC with 64-bit support. Lower cost octa-core processors from MediaTek have been around for quite a while, but this is a first for Qualcomm. Cyanogen 11 just happens to be 64-bit capable, which makes that feature worthwhile too. There’s 2GB of RAM, which is good for a phone in this price bracket. There’s 16GB of internal storage space and up to 32GB can be added using a microSD card.

Performance
We were eager to see how Qualcomm’s new CPU performs, and the results were quite positive. The Yureka seems to be able to match the Xiaomi Redmi Note in most situations – 3DMark gave the Redmi Note a slight advantage in the 720p Ice Storm test, but the Yureka stole the lead in the high-resolution Ice Storm Extreme test. Quadrant favoured the Yureka, with a score of 17,586 overall compared to the Redmi Note’s 16,083. The Yureka scored 31,014 in AnTuTu 5.5, while the Redmi Note scored 31,969 in AnTuTu 5.0. Keep in mind that these scores apply to the original 3G-only version of the Redmi Note, which uses an octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor and is not available anymore.

Verdict
Micromax appears to have made a smart move. Indian buyers seem to be comfortable enough with online-only sales now, and if this device is available in sufficient quantities without the rigmarole of weekly registrations and flash sales, it will be a very solid alternative to the Xiaomi Redmi Note. The fact that the 4G version of the Redmi Note costs Rs. 1,000 more than the Yureka will also help Micromax win points over its Chinese cousin.

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