The background of Yu Televentures and the Yu Yuphoria, a Redmi 2 competitor
In 2015, Indian buyers are not interested with the launch of flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, LG G Flex 2, HTC One M9+ and the upcoming LG G4. Nor are they interested a lot in last year’s flagships and upper mid-range phones above the price range of INR 25,000.
Why is that? I mean, we’ve always known that this market prefers budget phones, but in the last year or so, this has been magnified. The entry of Motorola with the Moto G, followed by the entry of Xiaomi and the rest of the Chinese OEMs changed the face of the market.
Of course this resulted in a knock-on effect and while the consumers certainly benefited, there were other parties which lost out. As in, the global smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony.
Also indirectly affected were the Indian phone companies like Micromax, Lava, Karbonn, Intex, iBall, etc which hitherto had been benefiting from going to China, selecting a phone from a relatively unknown OEM, branding it and then coming back and selling it in India. It was a nice business strategy…
…which was in the danger of coming to an abrupt end. So, as the Chinese directly entered the Indian market, companies like Micromax reacted to retain their market share. The reaction was to form a new online-only brand which was a subsidiary of Micromax.
In this way Yu Televentures – a subsidiary of Micromax was formed. The key feature of this company is online sales only plus a community driven focus.
As you know, the way Xiaomi, Honor, Lenovo and others have been able to sell phones at such affordable prices has to do with the fact that there’s no middlemen involved. The wholesalers and retailers, the expensive offline marketing strategies… all of them are absent.
You can’t compete with an online sales only strategy by running a full offline presence plus online sales. This is the reality which even companies such as Microsoft and HTC are coming to terms to. And nor can they take their business to online only, as that would lead to tremendous backlash from their core customers.
Micromax faced that same problem (added with a low-tier reputation), and that led them to forming Yu. Genius.
The Yu Yureka competed with the Redmi Note 4G, and later on others such as the Lenovo A7000 and the Honor 4X as well. Despite some issues and the whole Cyanogen-OnePlus-Micromax fiasco, it was a great seller.
And now Yu is back, wanting to have some more success, with a phone designed at a cheaper, INR 7000 price point. This is going head to head with the Xiaomi Redmi 2, the Lenovo A6000 and A6000 Plus, as well as the Moto E LTE 2015, all of them priced between INR 7000 and INR 8500, and all of them having Snapdragon 410.
With the background out of the way, let’s get to the phone itself, the Yu Yuphoria.
The Yu Yuphoria: decent hardware and software, coming at INR 7000
Let’s get this out of the way first. The Yuphoria is priced at INR 7000 with decent hardware and also doesn’t have a weird iOS style UI with no app drawer and heavy transition effects. Through that sentence only, the Moto E is eliminated and so are the Redmi 2 and the Lenovo A6000.
Impressive. But it merits a more detailed look, micro analysis as I like to put it:
Design: It has metal, a first at this price point. That is to say, the frame of the phone is made of metal and the back is soft touch matte plastic. It’s a combination we’ve seen even on more expensive phones like the Nokia Lumia 830.
It’s average in the thin-and-light race at 8.2-9.35mm and 143g, but with metal, it’s only to be expected. Unfortunately it also has huge bezels, resulting in a below-average 66.7% screen-to-body ratio.
The major news here is that the phone comes with “Assembled in India” written on the back – no rebranded Chinese phone this time around – signifying that while the earlier units may be imported from China, later on the phone’s manufacturing will be entirely carried out in India.
There’s a “saturn ring” design for the camera too, which I took to mean in normal words “it’s an over-sized camera ring, so we had to go and make a cool name for it.”
Display: Competitive with the best in this price range, you’ll get a 5-inch HD IPS display, laminated and supposedly having good sunlight legibility. It’s 0.3-inches bigger diagonally than the Redmi 2 and the same size as the Lenovo A6000. Of course it leaves the Moto E in the dust, but they are all tightly matched otherwise.
It’s worth noting that the performance of the display in brightness, contrast, viewing angles and sRGB colour calibration remains to be seen.
Storage and RAM: It’s 16GB/2GB, and it does have a microSD card slot, making it better in this respect than the Xiaomi Mi 4i, which is nearly 60% more expensive than the Yuphoria. Good job, Yu.
It straight away defeats the Redmi 2 (8GB/1GB, limited edition not available yet), the Lenovo A6000 (8GB/1GB) and the Moto E (also 8GB/1GB). Matches the A6000 Plus (16/2GB), but that’s a more expensive smartphone at INR 8000.
Processor: The Snapdragon 410. I’ve given it an in-depth analysis in the Redmi 2 piece, so refer to that. In short: both CPU and especially the GPU are lacking, and for INR 2000 more you can get Snapdragon 615 in Yu’s own Yureka or MediaTek’s MT6752m in other phones, which are both much better. However, those who don’t necessarily need the best performance will do fine.
Cameras: The rear camera is an 8MP sensor with 1.4 micron pixels and f/2.2 lens. The specifications are similar to the ones of the Redmi 2, which had the best camera at this price range. It remains to be seen whether the Yuphoria can beat the Redmi 2, but our expectations are that the two cameras will have similar image quality.
For the front facing camera, we have a 5MP 1/4-inch sensor. Standard for the ongoing trends, better than the competition again.
Sound: It uses a Wolfson DAC for better audio quality. Now, I’m not an audiophile but I’ll take the word of users that this is good. After all, Samsung uses Wolfson DAC in their Exynos SoCs, and I still remember the 2011 Galaxy S II being panned for including an inferior Yamaha solution. Elsewhere, the loud speaker is rated at 85+dB of sound.
Battery: It’s a 2230mAh removable unit. The battery capacity is on the lower side in 2015, but is a bit larger than the Redmi 2. Battery size isn’t everything, but with all things being constant, a battery size increase does mean improvement in battery life. The jury is still out.
Connectivity: Up to 4G LTE on both SIM card slots (this is a dual SIM phone by the way, which is almost given at this price range). Well, after the whole net neutrality saga is over, we’ll be able to enjoy 3G on both SIM slots at least.
Software: Android 5.0 Lollipop is the OS running the show in the Yuphoria, not quite the latest and greatest (that would be Android 5.1.1). The Moto E is superior here with the newly announced 5.1 update, but the others are currently stuck on KitKat. The major interesting thing here is the presence of Cyanogen OS 12, which is not the same as the open-source CyanogenMod 12.
That makes it the cheapest phone ever to officially run Cyanogen OS, a great thing for power users who want a stock-like UX. Unfortunately, it also includes the now official Truecaller integration and the upcoming Microsoft integration, two things that have resulted in an increasing number of pitchforks being raised against Cyanogen these days.
Still, with better memory management and UI smoothness compared to MIUI 6 and Lenovo’s UI, Cyanogen OS is likely to be a plus point for the phone.
The Yu Yuphoria: specifications comparison with Redmi 2, Lenovo A6000 and the Moto E LTE 2015
|Yu Yuphoria||Redmi 2||Lenovo A6000||Moto E LTE|
|SoC||Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410||Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410||Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410||Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410|
|Storage||16GB with microSD card slot||8GB with microSD card slot||8GB with microSD card slot||8GB with microSD card slot|
|Display||5-inch 720p IPS LCD||4.7-inch 720p IPS LCD||5-inch 720p IPS LCD||4.3-inch qHD IPS LCD|
|Dimensions||142.4 x 73 x 8.2-9.35 mm, weight 143g||134 x 67.2 x 9.4 mm, weight 133g||141 x 70 x 8.2 mm, weight 128g||129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3 mm, weight 145g|
|Rear camera||8MP CMOS sensor with 1.4 micron pixels, f/2.2 aperture||8MP CMOS sensor with 1.4 micron pixels, f/2.2 aperture||8MP CMOS sensor with 1.4 micron pixels||5MP CMOS sensor, no flash|
|Front camera||5MP FFC||2MP FFC||2MP FFC||VGA FFC|
|Battery||2230mAh, removable||2200mAh, removable||2300mAh, removable||2390mAh, non-removable|
|OS||Android 5.0 Lollipop with Cyanogen OS 12||Android 4.4 KitKat with MIUI||Android 4.4 KitKat with Lenovo UI||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
As you can see in the specifications table above, on paper the Yu Yuphoria definitely has an edge on the rest of the three.
It’s a combination of little things. Like twice the RAM and storage (even though the A6000 Plus is equivalent in RAM and storage, it’s also more expensive). Like having Lollipop from the get go (matched by Moto E), instead of waiting for an OTA in the future like the others. Like having Cyanogen OS instead of MIUI or Lenovo UI. And like having a metal frame instead of a full plastic smartphone.
Of course, there’s a common catch to all these phones. Snapdragon 410, which has enough CPU performance but barely enough GPU performance. Still, for INR 7000, you can’t ask for more in 2015, which speaks more about the disappointing lack of progress shown by Qualcomm.
Apart from that, the Yuphoria looks like a great smartphone, matching the Moto E in software and beating it in all other fields; and at worst matching the Redmi 2 and Lenovo A6000 in hardware while defeating them at best.
There’s still a lot to be reviewed: display quality, camera quality and battery life, and we’ll be covering them with a more detailed look later on. Stay tuned.