Device Review: YU Yureka
In January of this year, YU, a new brand coming out of the Indian manufacturer Micromax, released their very first device in collaboration with Cyanogen, Inc., the Yureka. In terms of specifications, the Yureka is what I would call mid-range. Here’s a list of the details though, in case you’re not familiar with them:
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 1.5Ghz Octa-core 64-bit
- GPU: Adrena 405 GPU
- Memory: 2GB DDR3
- Storage: 16GB ROM, MicroSD card slot (up to 32Gb)
- Camera: 13MP Rear (1080p video), 5MP Front (720p video), f/2.2 Aperture, Sony IMX135 CMOS Sensor
- Screen: 5.5″ 1280×720 resolution IPS (267 PPI), Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Battery: 2500mAh, removable
- Connectivity: LTE TDD B40 2300MHz LTE FDD B3 1800MHz WCDMA 900/2100MHz GSM
- Wifi: 802.11b/g/n
- Bluetooth: 4.0
- OS: Cyanogen OS 12 / Android Lollipop 5.0.2
Obviously, the one spec there that really jumps out at you is the last one. This is one of the only devices you can purchase at this point running Cyanogen OS out of the box. When it arrived, it had CM11S, but was recently upgraded to Cyanogen OS 12, bringing Lollipop to the device.
The Snapdragon 615 is definitely not as performant as the 800-series chips, and obviously you shouldn’t expect it to be. However, for most of the games and apps I tried, it worked admirably. I did some benchmarking that placed it just below the LG G3, which really isn’t that bad for a somewhat budget-friendly device.
The UI is nice and snappy, as it should be, and because it’s Cyanogen OS, it’s pretty much stock Android with some built-in customizations and a theme engine.
Even though it’s only a 720p display, this is one area that I was sort of surprised. The display on the Yureka gets decently bright, the colors look nice to my relatively untrained eye, and viewing angles are great. If I get very close to the screen and squint, I can see pixels, but I don’t find myself doing that terribly often.
Videos, images, and gameplay all look quite nice on this device.
This is another area where I was pleased with the Yureka. In good lighting, this thing can take some decent shots and video.
Of course that’s to be expected with almost any phone these days. In lower lighting, it still performs adequately.
Nothing mindblowing, but I’ve definitely seen worse. Images with the flash tend to be a bit harsh, so I just avoided using it.
The video quality is what I would consider passable. I probably wouldn’t use it as a primary camera, but it would work as a backup. HDR mode for photos was a bit harsh, but the same could be said of the OnePlus One’s HDR mode, so I’m guessing that’s a software issue.
The Yureka website mentions a lot of great things about the audio on this device. 24-bit onboard audio FX app, bass boost, equalizer, all sounds impressive… but when the only speaker is rear-facing, it really doesn’t matter all that much. That said, the speaker does sound decent, I just wish it was front-facing. Even bottom-facing would be preferable over rear-facing. However, if you cup your hand around the phone in just the right way, you can direct a lot of the sound back toward yourself, and I had a hard time actually blocking out the speaker, like I have with other devices that have bottom-facing speakers, so maybe it’s a better option than bottom-facing.
I haven’t disassembled this device or anything, but I definitely like the way it feels in the hand. Having a removable back is an excellent addition, and the rubberized plastic finish makes it very easy to hold onto. I won’t say it feels like a “premium” device, but I wouldn’t expect it to. One minor complaint about the design though… the USB port is shifted off to the left-hand side of the bottom of the phone. Just a minor complaint, but it makes the device stand up strangely if you put it in a charging dock.
The battery is a reasonable size, and in my case, I had no issues with it lasting through the day, but there’s a caveat, and we’ll get back to that. Additionally, since it’s removable, that means it can be replaced, so if you run it down during the day, you can swap it out if you’ve got a spare and keep right on going. It doesn’t do wireless charging, which is a bit of a bummer, but again, this is a mid-range device, so I wouldn’t expect either of those. However, according to Qualcomm’s site, the 615 is supposed to support Quick Charge 2.0. I’ve tested it with my Quick Charge 2.0 charger, and it doesn’t appear to be charging terribly fast, so again, maybe it’s a software issue.
And here’s our caveat from earlier. If you looked closely at the connectivity section of the specs list at the top of the review, you might already know where I’m going with this. This device only works on 2G/Edge here in the US. The Yureka was never really intended to be used here, though. If you’re in a part of the world with LTE bands that the Yureka supports, I’m sure it will be an amazing device for you. In my case, when I took the device out and actually tried to use it as a daily driver, I was quick to switch back to other devices once I remembered just how slow 2G connectivity was. So just be sure to double-check your carrier’s bands and make sure the Yureka works appropriately with it before purchasing.
To wrap things up, this is a pretty impressive little device. For 8999 Rupees (approximately $140 USD) you get a phone with the footprint of the OnePlus One, the software of the OnePlus One, and the rest of the specs decreased slightly to allow for a lower price. I won’t say I’ve been blown away by it or anything, but if I had paid $140 for it, and lived in an area where it worked with LTE, I’d be extremely happy with it.