Micromax Mobile, one of India’s leading mobile phone manufacturers, recently launched a new sub-brand called YU in partnership with Cyanogen Inc. The first phone from this brand is the Yureka, which was recently announced and launched exclusively on Amazon India.
Yureka is a budget Android smartphone. It is essentially a Coolpad F2 4G with the YU branding and running Cyanogen OS 11. It is one of the cheapest dual-SIM 4G Android smartphones available in India right now but at the same time has some pretty impressive specifications. So with a low price tag, good specifications, and Cyanogen taking care of the software, the whole thing seems too good to be true. But is it really? Let’s find out.
The Yureka comes in a simple cardboard box that is made out of recycled paper. Inside is the phone, battery, charger, USB cable, headset, and some paperwork.
Design and Build Quality
The Yureka is a big phone thanks to the 5.5-inch display on the front. This means that it is not as easy to use with one hand as it should be and only recommended for those who are comfortable using a big phone.
On the front of the phone is the display, with three capacitive touch keys below. The home button appears as a white circle but the back and menu buttons are hidden until the backlighting turns on. Just like on the OnePlus One, you can disable the physical buttons entirely and switch to on-screen navigation controls. When you do that, you get lose the rather outdated menu button and instead gain the much more useful multitasking key.
Along the sides, there is the power button on the right, the microUSB and microphone on the bottom, the volume buttons on the left and the headphone jack on top.
On the back is the 13 megapixel camera lens near the top left with a single LED flash and the secondary microphone nearby. Near the bottom is the loudspeaker.
Speaking of loudspeaker, the one on the Yureka is terrible. The quality is bad, it’s barely audible and when kept on a surface the speaker goes almost completely quiet. It’s almost as if the people who made the phone never bothered to test the speaker out before shipping it.
Remove the back cover and inside you will find the 2,500mAh replaceable battery, two SIM card slots, and the microSD card slot.
The design of the Yureka is quite ordinary, with nothing in particular that stands out. The build quality, however, is really unimpressive. The back cover creaks a lot around the sides and as a result the phone just feels cheaply made. In comparison, the Canvas A1 by Micromax or the Moto E are significantly better built devices.
The Yureka has a 5.5-inch, 1280×720 pixel resolution IPS LCD. The display quality is pretty good for a phone in this price range. It’s sharp enough despite the relatively low pixel density and the colors are vibrant, with good viewing angles and outdoor visibility. The calibration is a bit off, resulting in overly cold color temperature and slightly oversaturated colors but at this price it’s hard to complain about those things.
Hardware and Software
The Yureka is one of the few phones to run on the new 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC. It’s also Qualcomm’s first 8-core processor, with eight Cortex-A53 cores, four of which are clocked at 1.7GHz and the remaining four at 1.0GHz. The GPU is an Adreno 405. The Yureka also has 2GB of RAM, rare for phones in its price range, and 16GB internal memory with microSD card expansion.
In terms of performance, the Yureka does very well. Not that it matters but the benchmark scores are good and roughly between those of Snapdragon 400 and 800 as you’d expect. But it’s the real world performance that’s important and the phone does well here as well. Launching apps, switching between them and scrolling performance was quite good. Gaming performance was good too, and all the games we tried ran well on the phone.
A major chunk of the credit for the performance goes to the software. Yureka is running Cyanogen OS 11, which is based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat. On surface it looks practically identical to stock Android, provided you are using the Holo theme. But look closer and you will find a lot of additional features. Some of them are useful, others feel quite unnecessary. But if you like to adjust everything to your liking then you won’t be left wanting for options here. The theme support would probably be a major draw for some people, although at the time of writing this there weren’t a lot of themes on the Cyanogen store for this phone.
Overall, the user experience on the Yureka is quite satisfactory and it’s good to finally see such good performance in the low-end of the price spectrum.
The Yureka is a dual SIM phone with 4G LTE support on one SIM and 2G on the other. It has support for the TD-LTE bands available in India. Along with that, you also get Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. There is no NFC on this device.
The call quality wasn’t quite satisfactory. The microphone performance was poor, which meant the person on the other side often had a hard time hearing unless you talked louder than usual. It was also hard to hear the phone ringing sometimes because of how quiet the loudspeaker is. Other than that, the GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance was satisfactory.
The Yureka has a 13 megapixel camera on the back and a 5 megapixel camera on the front. With a 13 megapixel sensor I was expecting some decent quality but unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case. The daylight images were passable, with acceptable level of detail but with noticeable sharpening and noise reduction, not to mention the occasional purple fringing around high contrast areas. There is also an HDR mode, but it wasn’t as effective as one would expect and mostly just increases the saturation levels and purple fringing in the image.
HDR Off • HRD On
In low light, things went sideways faster than cars in Tokyo Drift. The amount of noise in the images was quite unbearable and I almost didn’t want to take any pictures in the dark, knowing full well they’d come out looking awful. Using the flash had its own set of issues, as for some reason beyond comprehension, photos taken with the flash usually came out looking bluer than the YU logo.
Low Light Flash Off: Yureka • Nexus 5
Low Light Flash On: Yureka • Nexus 5
The camera also records 1080p video but as is usual for phones in this price range, the video looks like a 480p video being upscaled to 1080p.
Front camera: Yureka • Nexus 5
The camera on the front was actually pretty awesome. Images from the front camera looked like they may have come out of the rear camera of some phone. Also, the front camera mercifully does not have a wide angle lens, which means there is practically no pincushion distortion to worry about.
The Yureka has a 2,500mAh battery. In daily use, the phone easily lasts for a day on a single charge, even with two SIM cards. This is with nominal use, with a few calls and mostly data usage for IM and other applications on 3G as well as Wi-Fi. Screen on time of around 4-5 hours is standard, unless you are doing something really intensive on the phone, such as extended gaming sessions.
The Yureka is priced at Rs. 8,999 ($146) on Amazon India. For the price, the phone is excellent value for money. You get a good quality display, great overall performance, decent overall camera quality, and good battery life. The hardware specifications are good and should last you for a couple of years at least and the software, courtesy of Cyanogen, is also feature-rich and user friendly.
You are also getting good support for the device. On the hardware side, Micromax has promised on-site warranty in case anything goes wrong with the phone and on the software side, Cyanogen will be providing updates for the next two years.
There are some issues with the device, such as the less than stellar build quality, poor loudspeaker performance, poor lowlight camera performance, and mediocre call quality but at the price considering everything else you are getting it’s easy to overlook the shortcomings.