“The YU Yuphoria manages to stand out from the crowd not just because of its price to spec ratio, but also the design”
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen the smartphone industry in India turn on its head, thanks to the emergence of a new breed of devices which we call the budget performance category. Quite a few brands are to thank for this, but the likes of Motorola, Xiaomi and ASUS come to mind first. Online-only retail, flash sales models, invite-based strategies… we’ve seen it all happen over the past few months. Those who follow Apple would have heard about the long queues that are witnessed outside its stores days before a new iPhone model is due to go on sale, but in the past few months, we’ve seen similar digital queues of interested buyers wanting to participate in online flash sales, and devices going out of stock in mere seconds. It could be a sign of things to come, but the fact is, the smartphone market in India has changed drastically in a very short period of time. YU, a new online-only brand backed by Micromax has also been a part of this revolution in a small way, all thanks to its very first offering, the Yureka (review).
Today, it has launched a new contender in the budget performance space, and the device we’re referring to is the Yuphoria. As a first, this smartphone gets its name from a crowd sourced campaign that saw people suggesting possible monikers and then the final name was selected via a voting process. The YU brand and its naming strategies have already been the subject of quite a few puns on the interwebs, especially considering the fact that its key rival Xiaomi uses the brand name Mi for its products. But coming back to the Yuphoria, it does stand out from the crowd and justifies its existence quite well, slotting a few notches below its sibling both in terms of size and pricing. Join us, as we take a closer look at the retail pack and then take you through the design aspects.
The YU Yuphoria comes in a flat brown cardboard box, very similar to the one the Yureka came in, and also resembling Xiaomi’s own smartphone packaging.
Inside lies the smartphone, resting atop a cardboard tray. A thin vertical compartment on the side holds the two-pin wall charger, a USB cable, and a pair of earphones. Below the tray containing the smartphone, you’ll find a cardboard tray containing a screen protector and some documentation. And at the bottom, a 2,230mAh removable battery.
Now let’s check out the device in some detail. As one of its key highlights, the Yuphoria comes clad in metal. However, the metal can only be seen as a frame on the sides, and the rear panel is made of thin plastic. The smartphone looks quite stylish thanks to the rounded sides, is quite compact and lightweight as well. The device is available in two hues – one with a steel-finished frame and a matte black rear, and another that sports a champagne band and a white rear panel. Put crudely, the design seems like a mix of the Nokia Lumia 925 and the Sony Xperia Z3 (review), but we’re not complaining.
The fascia comprises the 5-inch, 720p display (covered by a layer of 3rd-gen Gorilla Glass) along with Yu branding, the earpiece, sensors and the 5-meg front camera. There are no hardware navigation keys below the screen, as these are available as part of the software. The left spine is barren, while the right holds two separate volume keys with the power key in their middle. The top is home to the audio socket, while the micro-USB port is at the bottom.
Flip to the rear, and you’ll see the large circular camera lens at the top It’s encircled by a ring labelled the ‘Saturn ring’ by the brand, and we’re told that this will form part of YU’s design language for all its upcoming products. The LED flash is placed on the side on the said ring. Lower, you’ll see a YU logo, with a line below that proudly says ‘Designed by YU, Assembled in India’. There’s a speaker grille closer to the bottom. Worth mentioning here that YU has crammed in quite a few audio enhancements inside, including Pure Wolfson Sound by Cirrus Logic.
The rear panel can be pried open via a small groove at the bottom, and opens up to reveal the removable 2,230mAh battery (supporting Quick Charge), a pair of micro-SIM slots, and a microSD card slot.
The software side of the story revolves around Cyanogen OS 12, which uses Android Lollipop as base. Surely, you’d have heard about the Cyanogen saga and the tussle between OnePlus and YU when the latter’s Yureka came out. All that is history by now and water under the bridge, but Cyanogen’s platform coming pre-installed on the Yuphoria is definitely a feather in the cap for this budget device, and one that’ll add to its pull factor. For those unaware, Cyanogen’s take on Android is quite simple – offering a near-stock look and feel, but tons of tweaks and options under the hood for those who like utmost control on their devices. The platform now includes Truecaller integration with the dialer, the email experience powered by Boxer, and audio enhancements in the form of Audio FX. There’s theme support as well, along with numerous other options that allow control over privacy, among other things.
Specs-wise, the Yuphoria is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 410 64-bit processor clocked at 1.2GHz. This works in tandem with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and the latter can be expanded via the aforementioned microSD slot. Almost 11GB is available to use for apps and media. The Yuphoria is a dual-SIM device (as you’d have ascertained already when we mentioned the pair of SIM slots), and includes support for a variety of LTE bands too, covering both Indian bands as well. The other connectivity options are standard.
In our brief usage, the screen seemed nice, and we didn’t encounter any lags. A full, in-depth review, which is coming up soon, will separate the wheat from the chaff and reveal the details on how the Yuphoria works as a daily driver and as a shooter, and how long it can stay alive without mating with a power source. For its asking price of Rs 6,999 however, it does seem very compelling. Its only real competition as of now is the Lenovo A6000 Plus (review), but we’ll reserve our comments about the new YU device till the time we’ve had a chance to put it through its paces. We hope yu understand. (Couldn’t help that one).