*Decent overall performance
ith more and more Chinese smartphone makers making their way into the Indian market, domestic players seem to have faded out from the picture. While some of them have been slipping out ultra-budget handsets every few months, others have tried to up the ante by launching competitively-priced devices.
However, Micromax subsidiary Yu Televentures, a popular domestic smartphone brand, decided to sit back for a while and rejig its approach to the handset industry. Dormant for quite some time, the company made a comeback by re-launching its first ever smartphone – the Yu Yureka.
Now known as Yu Yureka Black, the smartphone is Yu Televentures’ first major launch in the past months. The handset is nothing like its predecessor, which came out in 2015. The refresh goes through the smartphone’s design, as well as specifications. It is available on sale starting today via Flipkart in both Matte Black and Chrome Black colour variants.
Although it goes on sale today, should you really buy the new Rs 8,999 smartphone? We tested the new Yu Yureka Black for a couple of weeks, and here’s our verdict.
Talking about design, Micromax (Yu) has taken a bold approach and has redesigned the Yureka Black from ground up. The dull-matte finish with rough texture of the original Yu Yureka has now become shiny and glossy, and the rear camera setup has been tweaked as well. The front of the smartphone is now cleaner and has a tactile physical Home button with an embedded fingerprint sensor, a feature that is almost a norm with majority of smartphones these days. This is also the company’s first smartphone in months to have a different design as compared to other Yu handsets, even the most recent Yunique Plus and Yureka S.
What’s surprising is that despite being smaller and more compact, the Yureka Black isn’t light in weight. The reduction in the screen’s size and trimmed screen bezels gives the smartphone a much better in-hand grip. And the chunky build with a compact design gives it a feeling of sturdiness.
Talking about being sturdy, Yu Yureka Black can easily handle casual drops from a few feet. However, a slightest bump will ruin the glossy look of the smartphone. The new pitch Black colour version, on which the smartphone is named, looks stealthy and premium, at least to some extent. There are shining metal rims on top and bottom of the rear panel where the antennas should be, as well as around the rear camera. All of this makes its appearance quite appealing.
For the basics, Yureka Black has a LED flash and a front-facing camera above the display on either side of the speaker grille. The two capacitive buttons and the physical Home button at the centre (with embedded fingerprint sensor) are naturally placed below the screen. While the right side has the power and volume buttons, the left has the hybrid SIM card slot. At the back, you will find a circular camera at the top-centre position, along with a dual-LED flash below it and the company logo at the bottom. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on top, while the microUSB port with two speaker grilles on either side is at the bottom. As expected, only one speaker gives audio output while the other resonates sound from the first.
The Yureka Black’s design is leaps and bounds better than what Yu (and hence, Micromax) has offered in the past, and is definitely a step in the right direction. One caveat however, could be that the smartphone easily attracts fingerprints and smudges.
The change in display of Yu Yureka Black is not as radical as the design, but it’s definitely an upgrade. Unlike its predecessor’s 5.5-inch display, the smartphone now has a smaller 5-inch screen with Full HD (1080×1920 pixels) resolution and 2.5D glass coating. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking here, as the display is just about average, similar to those found in other smartphones from Chinese players.
Being a budget offering, it shouldn’t be surprising that Yu Yureka Black has no software features to enhance color saturation of the display. Sunlight readability is decent and there’s not much colour difference when it’s viewed seen from different angles. But there could be minor scratches on the display because of the 2.5D coating.
Nonetheless, a 5-inch screen with Full-HD resolution makes the content look crisper than a 5.5-inch display with HD resolution.
In terms of performance, the Yureka Black doesn’t sound impressive on paper. The reason is that it’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, which was announced back in September 2015. While this might make users feel that Yureka Black lags behind the competition, but it doesn’t. The processor may be getting old, but it delivers a stutter-free performance with the ample 4GB of RAM. This also makes the Yureka Black one of the few handsets under Rs 10,000 to come with 4GB of RAM.
We didn’t face any issues while testing 3G and 4G networks, along with call reception. Call quality on speaker and in general is clear, and works like it should.
On the software front, Yu Yureka Black runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which came as a disappointment to us given that the OS version is now two years old and Android O is about to come out. This not only limits the new features in the smartphone, but also makes it exposed to certain bugs that have been fixed in later OS versions. Someone who has been already using an Android smartphone for a while will easily get used to the interface.
A bright side of the Yureka Black is that it comes with a near-stock Android experience and has minimal bloatware.
The smartphone has a hybrid-SIM slot, so you’ll have to choose between microSD+nanoSIM or microSIM+nanoSIM combinations. But unlike the original Yu Yureka, this one misses out on a removable back panel (and battery).
The fingerprint sensor on the Yu Yureka Black is quite accurate and has a high success rate. Unlocking the device with slightly wet fingers could become a hassle and you’ll ultimately have to go for the pattern/PIN lock (if any).
Having 32GB of internal storage, Yu Yureka Black offers around 23GB of user accessible storage while the other is rest is taken up by the OS.
The Yureka Black, however, does come with some special features like gesture recognition (e.g. flip to mute, double tap to wake up and turning on of the display when in pocket) and more. You can also find the ‘Smart Action’ feature in the Settings page. There are some nifty ‘Smart Gesture’ features as well, wherein you can draw a letter on the screen when the handset is locked to directly unlock the device and open the app assigned to the letter. It is nothing new as we have seen this feature in several smartphones, but it does come in handy.
Naturally, the budget smartphone is miles away from some decent, well-performing devices on both Antutu and Geekbench. On the former, it scored 44220 while on the latter, single-core and multi-core scores were 655 and 2023 respectively.
In the past Yu smartphones have not been known for its cameras. And this is the case with the Yu Yureka Black as well. Camera, a feature that could be a make or break factor for several customers, doesn’t really break much grounds in the Yu Yureka Black. We have seen smartphones under Rs 10,000 price segment with slightly better cameras, if not the same. Don’t keep your expectations high as you will be greeted with an average image output.
Daylight shots with the 13MP rear shooter were sharp, but colour reproduction at some places was off-balance. For instance, the areas in sunlight have an unusual bright yellow-ish tint to it. Although focussing on a subject results in sharpness with some graininess, the result is satisfying. Greens and Reds are captured as they should be, but Blues don’t look like what we see in real life. Some of the filters included with the camera app are Night mode, HDR, Super pixel, Face beauty, Scene frame, Sports and Panorama.
Low light images captured by the smartphone are, as expected, noisy and slightly-blurred because of slow shutter speeds. However, shooting in Night mode gives decent results. This particular mode makes the resulting images smooth as it blends the noise coming from high ISO levels, while retaining the colour saturation.
The front -facing 8MP camera is pretty decent and should be able to satisfy users’ selfie desires. It also gives them a chance to choose face beauty levels. It has its own filters as well, including Scene frame, Super pixel, Face beauty and Wide selfie (which is nothing but a stitched selfie panorama).
Lastly, we found the battery life on the Yu Yureka Black to be quite up to the mark. A 100% charge gives a battery life of around 12 hours. Yu Televentures claims that the smartphone’s 3000mAh battery can offer up to 28 hours of talktime in 2G and 21 hours with 3G. However, these are in the most ideal situation. Heavy users will have to reach out for the charger or a battery pack before the end of the day. Light users shouldn’t have any issues as such.
Unfortunately, the smartphone doesn’t have quick charging capability. But a battery saver option is available that reduces animations, vibration and location services to extend battery life.
With the Yu Yureka Black, Micromax has silenced speculations that it has given up and is fading away from the smartphone market. The device proves that the firm is still in the game and is all set to gain some market share from other Chinese smartphone brands.
In almost every department, Yu Yureka Black is an upgrade over its predecessor. It has a better camera, faster processor, good display and better battery. The design too has been overhauled and is now much better-looking. Although not all the specifications are best in class, the handset is definitely worthy of its Rs 8,999 price tag. In the particular segment it is set to give a tough competition to handsets coming from Xiaomi, Coolpad, Lenovo and more.
It may take Yu Televentures some time to once again create what was once a powerful and competitive smartphone portfolio. But until that happens, expect the Indian smartphone brand to come with some more budget offerings later this year.