“The Yureka Plus is more than just an upgraded variant of YU’s debut offering“
It’s not MI, it’s YU.
In a way, this word play indicates the kind of mind share Micromax’s sub-brand YU has been able to achieve among consumers with its offerings in a short span of time. Its debut smartphone, the Yureka (review | FAQs) achieved huge success and ranks as the second most-searched mobile in the first six months of 2015. Its sibling, the Yuphoria (review) also followed its footsteps and is extremely popular in its price band. However, since the launch of Yureka, many new devices have been launched in the sub-Rs 10,000 segment and challenged the value offered by it. To combat the competition, YU has recently introduced an upgraded variant of the Yureka, aptly called the Yureka Plus.
The latest phone from the brand keeps most things the same as its predecessor, but brings some added muscle to help it reclaim its spot as the best phone to buy under Rs 10,000. Is the YU Yureka Plus successful in achieving that? Let’s find out in this review.
The YU Yureka might not have won any accolades for its looks, but it did have a utilitarian design with some interesting elements. The Yureka Plus carries the same design language, but with a slightly robust mould. In fact, the brand is so confident of its build quality that to tease the device, it made a video where the phone was thrown from table, down a flight of stairs and more. While we can’t vouch for that build quality, the smartphone does seem to have more solid feel attached to it as compared to its predecessor. However, it isn’t noticeable because the outer body is exactly the same, which suggests that YU has reinforced the internal frame holding all the components together for adding sturdiness.
The design elements of the YU Yureka Plus are exactly same as the Yureka, with the display being the central part of the fascia. Above and below it, you’ll find an earpiece, a few sensors, a secondary camera and a circular capacitive navigation key along with two navigation buttons on either side. The power button is placed towards the right, whereas the volume keys are present on the left spine. Up top lies the headphone socket, while the micro-USB port and primary microphone are available at the bottom.
The moondust grey panel at back of the phablet offers good grip and is removable. You can also purchase the YU Yureka Plus in white. At the back, you’ll find the primary camera module along with an LED flash, noise-cancelling microphone, YU logo and a speaker mesh. Prying open the cover will bring up the battery compartment as well as slots for two micro-SIM cards and a microSD card.
Overall, the YU Yureka Plus seems exactly same as its predecessor design-wise, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One of the biggest differences between the YU Yureka Plus and its previous model is the display resolution. Instead of a 720p resolution, the Yureka Plus offers a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display. With a pixel density of 401 ppi, the device reproduces crisp text and there are no sign of pixelation. The viewing angles and brightness levels are also quite impressive. However, colours seem to be slightly dull and not as vibrant as we’d have liked.
To protect the display against scratches and minor wear-and-tear, it’s protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. There’s also an oleophobic coating to fingerprints and oil smudges at bay, though we didn’t find it extremely effective.
While the YU Yureka brought a superb mix of hardware, another high point of the phone was its software. To differentiate its offerings from rivals, the brand had partnered with one of the biggest Android ROM makers, Cyanogen. While the Yureka ran Cyanogen OS 11 based on Android 4.4 KitKat, its successor runs the latest iteration of Android as well as Cyanogen OS, i.e. 5.0 Lollipop and Cyanogen OS 12.
As we’ve mentioned earlier in our reviews of the OnePlus One and YU Yureka, Cyanogen OS gels well with Google’s design language (Material Design, in this case), while offering a gamut of features for power users. As such, you’ll find the interface to be same as the stock interface, with lock screen offering notifications as well as the ability to quickly access dialler, camera or unlock the phone. The notification panel doubles up as a quick toggles bar when you pull it downwards again. You can also change the looks of the phone with the Themes app.
When you go in to the settings menu, then you'll find some interesting options. If you're so inclined, you can enable the on-screen navigation bar instead of using the hardware buttons. You can also configure additional actions with the hardware keys such as opening in-app search, accessing Google Now, etc. The useful options of enabling double-tap-to-wake and double-tap-to-sleep gestures are also available.
If you go to the privacy settings, then you can granularly control what all apps can access with the Privacy Guard feature. You can also blacklist calls or messages, or enable secure messaging with WhisperPush.
In terms of preinstalled apps, then the device is pretty spartan, though you'll find an email app (powered by Boxer) and Screencast for screen video recording. There’s YUniverse as well, which is essentially a rebadged edition of Opera Browser.
At the outset, both the YU Yureka and Yureka Plus seems to share camera specs. Both of them sport 13-megapixel snappers at the back and 5MP fixed focus selfie cameras. An LED flash assists the primary shooting for capturing images in low-light environments. However, as observed in our camera review of the YU Yureka Plus, the image quality offered by the phablet is actually better. The difference arises because of the different imaging sensors used. While the YU Yureka comes equipped with Sony’s IMX135 sensor, the Yureka Plus sports its higher-end variant, the IMX214. The same sensor can also be found in many flagship devices.
Being powered by CyanogenMod, the camera app in the YU Yureka Plus is heavily customised and has a lot of modes and options on offer. It’s minimalist too, with the option to switch between still images, video and panorama at the right, when the phone is held in landscape position. You’ll also find the option to toggle flash, change exposure, switch to the front camera or access settings by swiping from the top. What’s interesting is how you can change different modes by simply swiping from the left. There are a number of modes such as HDR, action, and posterise, and the best part is that you can see their effect real-time.
Talking about the quality offered by the primary camera, you’d find that images offer a great amount of detail and reproduce accurate colours. The camera is also versatile as it can handle all sort of situations, be it landscape imaging or close-up shots. Images taken at night also seem to be pretty good, albeit grainy and we didn’t find the HDR mode to be that effective. However, the good thing is that YU has managed to offer even better imaging experience with the Yureka Plus than its predecessor, as noted during our detailed camera review as well. Here’s a look at some of the camera samples of the YU Yureka Plus.
The primary camera can record videos in 1080p resolution as well as capture slow-mo videos. The 5MP snapper at the front is able to capture selfies quite well and can also shoot videos in 1,280 x 720 pixels.
Powering the show on the YU Yureka Plus is the same combination as its predecessor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The processor offers two quad-core clusters running at 1.5GHz and 1.0GHz respectively, which run depending upon the intensity of the task. The SoC also offers Adreno 405 GPU clocked at 550MHz. Just liked the Yureka, the Yureka Plus offers near-flawless performance. Be it basic apps or heavy games or running multiple apps together, the handset never breaks a sweat. We played Modern Combat 5: Blackout and Riptide GP2 for long periods of time without noticing any lag or frame drops.
While the performance of the YU Yureka Plus is commendable, what’s not is its thermal management. Within just 10 minutes of gameplay, the phone heats up quite considerably at the back. While you will notice this phenomenon mainly while playing games, but there are other instances too such as recording videos when we found it to heat up.
Similar to the Yureka, the YU Yureka Plus comes with 16GB of in-built storage. After accounting for OS and its resources, the mobile has 10.8GB of space for use. A microSD card of up to 32GB can be used to extend the storage further. There’s also an option to plug in flash drives, thanks to the support for USB On-the-Go.
Rounding up the spec sheet are the connectivity options with support for 4G on both its SIM slots as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
To enhance the sound output, the device comes with Audio FX app, which allows the user to use the available presets such as Folk, Jazz, etc. It can be used for both speakers as well as headphones. While it doesn’t work with all the apps, but for the ones it work, you’d definitely notice the difference in sound.
Juicing up the YU Yureka Plus is a 2,500mAh battery, which is also same as its previous iteration. However, the battery life offered by the same capacity on both devices seem like a comparison of apples to oranges. It might be the result of the full HD display as the battery has to power more number of pixels, but the runtime offered by the phablet is extremely poor. With moderate usage of a few calls, 4G connectivity, it hardly lasts the entire working day. If you push the usage with gaming, Wi-Fi hotspot, navigation, etc., then the battery dies down in a matter of hours. Numerically, the YU Yureka Plus was able to run an HD video on loop for less than eight hours, which is just about average.
YU adopted a smart strategy – instead of launching a new device altogether to take on the competition, it upgraded the Yureka for bringing its hardware at par with those offerings. For the most part, the brand succeeds in that respect, as the Yureka Plus is able to offer nice display, the latest version of Android with highly-customisable CyanogenMod and impressive shooters, while keeping the same set of powerful internals. However, battery life is its Achilles' heel.
What's commendable is that the Yureka Plus brings some useful upgrades, yet YU has managed to keep the pricing of the phablet same as its predecessor – Rs 8,999 (the price was axed recently from its original pricing of Rs 9,999). This way, the phone is also able to undercut the devices such as the Lenovo K3 Note (review | FAQs) and MEIZU m2 note (review), which retail at Rs 9,999. We’ve also compared these offerings basis specs in a tabular manner. As the spec comparison suggests, the devices are quite similar and hence it’s not black-or-white choice between any of them. The K3 Note is a solid offering, but misses out on a scratch-proof coating of Gorilla Glass, though we’d pick it over the Yureka Plus because of a superior all-round experience.
To sum it up, the YU Yureka Plus is a compelling buy, but its battery life sours the deal somewhat.
Photos by Raj Rout
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