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Featured Review: Yu Yuphoria

July 22, 2015 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Micromax’s Yu spin-off brand has already gotten off to a great start.  Launching with their first device, the Yu Yureka in December of 2014, Yu offered the first CyanogenOS-powered phone for India for an incredible price.  About six months later in May they followed up with the Yuphoria, a phone that sports a metal body and an even cheaper price tag than the Yureka by RS2,000.  What’s best is that it’s still powered by the all-encompassing CyanogenOS, an operating system based on Android 5.0 Lollipop that’s packed to the brim with features including added security, the most robust theme engine on the market and plenty of other tricks up its sleeve too.  Let’s see how Yu has done this time around.

Specs

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The price different between the Yu Yureka and the Yuphoria stands at RS2,000 at the moment, which means there’s going to be a difference between the spec sheet.  Yu has kept some of the most important details in tact including the 720p screen, an improved build quality and a few other goodies here too.  What’s taken the biggest hit is the processor, which is still a 64-bit processor but not nearly as powerful as the Snapdragon 615 found in the Yureka.

  • 5-inch (12.7cm) 720p IPS Display
  • Snapdragon 410 1.2 Quad-Core 64-bit Processor
  • Adreno A306 GPU
  • 2GB of RAM (DDR3)
  • 16GB internal storage, microSD card support
  • 2,230mAh battery
  • Android 5.0.2, Cyanogen OS 12
  • 8MP rear-facing camera, LED flash
    • F/2.2, 5-element lens, 1.4-micron pixels
  • 5MP front-facing camera
    • F/2.0, 4-element 85-degree FOV lens
  • 142.4mm tall x 73.0mm wide x 8.2mm thick
  • 143g
  • Dual-SIM card support (micro SIM)

In the Box

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Yu’s unassuming non-dyed cardboard box follows in the footsteps of companies like Xiaomi and Samsung and offers a size that’s more environmentally friendly than some of the larger, heavier boxes we’ve seen from other OEM’s.  That’s not to say the packaging feels cheap though, just minimal, and that’s probably something to be expected at this price point.  A packet of manuals, a screen protector and microfiber cloth are placed underneath the phone, and next to it under a cardboard flap is a pair of headphones, wall charging outlet and of course a micro USB cable to plug the phone in.  The headphones are above and beyond at this price point and offer a slight value advantage.

Display

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Coming from the Yu Yureka we’re looking at a significantly improved display all while keeping the same size and resolution.  Where the display on the Yureka had some significant light bleed and viewing angle issues the one on the Yuphoria is a much better panel in general.  Colors and black levels remain the same and are above average for this price category when comparing phone this price only a year ago.  Whites are a little off and the overall display remains a little warmer than a more accurately calibrated one would be, but unless you’re comparing one screen right next to another you’re not likely to be bothered by the hue here.  There’s no noticeable lag or ghosting going on with the panel, and motion resolution was preserved quite nicely even on quick panning during videos.  The digitizer is fantastic and kept up with multiple touches no problem, including fast typing while chatting; something that’s not always the case when phones get this cheap.

Hardware and Build

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Unlike the Yureka, which featured an all-plastic build and a soft-touch back, the Yuphoria feels more solid thanks to its metal trim all the way around the edge.  The only breaks in the metal trim are found on the top, where the headset port is housed, and the bottom where the microUSB port is found.  Both of these plastic panels taper the metal trim and almost tuck it in, something that’s difficult to even see in pictures and is even super subtle in person.  The metal trim is smooth and rounded, feels very nice in the hand and features a non-reflective texture that keeps fingerprints away as well as giving the phone a bit more grip.  Likely the most interesting physical feature of the phone is the configuration of the buttons found only on the right side of the device, where the power button is housed between both volume buttons and is slightly recessed into the body when compared to the volume buttons.  These feel made of plastic but still have a nice click and texture and are super easy to find when blindly handling the phone.

Moving on the back additional grip is also supplied thanks to the soft-touch plastic and is completely removable from the frame via plastic clips.  The rather large and pretty ugly camera lens features a single flash within the ring and an interesting texture around the lens.  Underneath the back you’ll find the removable 2,230mAh battery as well as two micro-SIM slots and a microSD card slot.  The front of the phone features no buttons at all but has some fairly sizable bezels on either the left or right side when comparing to some phones on the market.  Thankfully the chin and forehead of the phone is not too big and keeps the screen feeling just the right size for one-handing the device.

Performance and Memory

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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 isn’t exactly the most powerful chipset on the market, but Cyanogen has done a great job of making it feel a lot more powerful than it actually is.  Unlike the Snapdragon 615 powered Yureka there’s no obvious stuttering or slowdown on most of the UI, and really is only felt if there are a large number of notifications in the notification drawer up top.  Web browsing, chatting in the overly difficult to run Google Hangouts, and even fast typing doesn’t hang up at all when compared to some other phones running this chipset.  The only place the phone starts to choke a bit is in more intensive games, so while Angry Birds and Temple Run will be just fine benchmarks showed that things with more intensive console-like graphics are going to run a little slow.  You’ll see this in the suite of benchmarks that we normally run, which you can find below compared to some other phones for reference.

Multi-tasking was a breeze thanks to a combination of 2GB of RAM, a 720p screen and some excellent software.  Having a relatively lower resolution screen keeps RAM usage low and the phone from having to constantly empty itself and reload apps, and Cyanogen’s software tweaking on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop keep apps in RAM when they should be.  On top of this there’s a dedicated overview button that makes bringing up the multi-tasking overview window as quick as possible, which is the optimal configuration for any Android phone out there.  The configuration of the multi-tasking screen is exactly the same as in stock Lollipop with the addition of a clear all button on the top right, which makes emptying the RAM manually an easy task if you so wish to do it.  Simply put multi-tasking is as good as it can get on the Yu Yuphoria.

Battery Life

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When comparing battery sizes to some other phones out there you might be worried about the relatively small battery on the Yu Yuphoria, which comes in at 2,230mAh.  This is around 300-600mAh smaller than the average battery size of modern Android phones but is fairly common in this price range.  That being said the battery life is actually quite good, even relatively considering the battery size.  I got through a normal day’s use with under 20% to spare by the time it was ready to turn in for the night, streaming music, chatting on hangouts, making phone calls and doing whatever else it is that I do during a normal day.  Standby was phenomenal and lasted for several days without use even with full Google syncing and all services turned on.  Futuremark’s PCMark battery test proved that was the norm for the Yuphoria, getting 5 hours of screen-on time during this intensive suite of tests even with such a small battery.

Phone Calls and Network

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Reception and data speeds were fantastic on T-Mobile US’s network, but this phone is built for speed in its home country of India where it supports all the necessary 4G LTE bands to give you the fastest speeds possible.  Those without 4G LTE coverage in their areas can still rely on the GSM 2G and 3G HSPA speeds, as I did here in the US.  3G speeds are just fine for regular tasks even including browsing the web, streaming music and video, although the response time when initially trying to complete these tasks won’t be nearly as fast as it would be on LTE.  Still I had an excellent experience without the fastest connection possible on the phone and have zero complaints.  Reception in general was perfect as was the call quality, which came in loud and clear thanks to the quality speaker used on the Yuphoria.  Those wondering if it’ll work with their country or carrier can look at all the supported bands below, and remember that this phone supports dual micro-SIM cards for two network standby mode, allowing users to choose which networks are best for calls, texts and data.

2G: 850/900/1800/1900MHz

3G: 900/2100MHz

LTE-TDD: B40 2300MHz, B38 2600MHz, B20 800MHz, B3 1800MHz, B7 2600MHz

Software

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Good software can make even a mediocre phone turn into a good one, and CyanogenOS is quite simply some of the best software you’re likely to ever come across on a mobile device.  Built upon Google’s Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, CyanogenOS 12 provides features and visual customizations that users on other phones or ROMs could only dream of.  Everything from customizing the look and feel of the interface to how the phone behaves can be found in the easily marked settings, and powerful tools like being able to add additional shortcuts to the lockscreen and swipe-up-from-home gestures only continue to add value.  Most $100 phones tend to pack in a very minimal list of features, but this one rivals even the most expensive phones out there and ultimately delivers an experience that makes you wonder why you’ve been spending so much more on other phones for all these years.  In addition to this CyanogenOS 12.1 is coming soon, which is built upon Android 5.1 Lollipop and will bring even more features, interface enhancements and more to the Yuphoria.

We’ve got a detailed breakdown of the software and how it looks and works in the video below, so please watch it to see CyanogenOS in action on the Yu Yuphoria!

Sound

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When it comes to good sound output there are few names out there that have the pedigree of Wolfson DAC.  These digital-to-analog processors are one of the key elements in delivering good sound, and while it’s not the end-all-be-all of what gives truly good sound quality in the end it’s certainly a big part of it.  One of the other big elements is of course the software that runs the whole show, and Cyanogen has packed their excellent AudioFX equalizer into the mix here.  Coupled together it’s likely that you won’t find better sound out of a phone in this price range, and maybe not even in the next price bracket up or so either.  Music is crisp, clear, clean and deep, and paired with a great audio system you’ll be enjoying some of the finest output this kind of money can buy.  If the audio doesn’t quite sound right or needs a little boost the built-in AudioFX equalizer and gives users a ton of presets as well 5 customizable sound bars to tweak from 60hz-14khz.  There’a also a bass boost slider, a surround sound slider and reverb options for different room types.

Camera

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When comparing to Yu’s other phone, the Yu Yureka, the camera on the Yuphoria seems like it would be worse on all accounts.  In practice though I found that it’s better in some cases and worse in others, but overall the camera on the Yuphoria seems to be more well rounded.  When looking at the sensors one of the biggest differences is the resolution, as the Yuphoria is 8-megapixels and the Yureka is 13-megapixels.  The size of the pixels count for a lot though, and the Yuphoria’s 1.4-micron pixels are quite a bit larger than the 1.12-micron pixels found in the Yureka’s sensor, theoretically giving it better low light performance out of the box.  In practice that defnitely holds true, as the shots in low light on the Yuphoria are generally more attractive than ones taken on the Yureka, showing more details and less noise overall.  While pictures in bright light will almost always be in the Yureka’s favor, resolution isn’t everything and the Yuphoria is here to prove that.

The software experience is the same between all CyanogenOS powered phones with the exception of a few additional modes on some models.  All the standard modes are included here such as Auto, HDR, Panorama, Night, plenty of scene specific shots such as Fireworks as well as tons of filtering options like Sepia and Black & White.  There’s certainly no shortage of options here or ways to take pictures, and the picture taking experience is generally fast and fluid.  The interface is easy to use but has a bit of a learning curve at first since only icons are used instead of text, sometimes leading one to wonder what a certain button does until it is pressed.  Upon turning on the screen users can swipe from the right side of the device to launch the camera in standard Android fashion, and the camera is ready to take photos in around 2 seconds, something that’s not always the case with phones out there, especially in this price range.

Photo quality was generally excellent and packed some incredibly well balanced elements.  White balance and color balance were spot on, giving very realistic colors and accurate lighting no matter the condition.  Dynamic range proved to be good and in situations where HDR was needed the sensor seems to take instant HDR which prevents the double images that are so prominent on many phones when using this mode.  HDR brought out plenty of details in the darker spots of the photo and did a pretty good job of keeping areas from being overexposed, but it’s not made for every lighting condition out there as some shots end up looking fake because of the lack of shadows.  Picture taking is absolutely instant and there’s no pause between shots, which is good since there’s no automatic burst mode to be found here.  Video quality as a whole was excellent, with crisp clean 1080p quality, great white and color balance and good overall quality.  Slow motion video is supported at the following resolutions:

  • 720p up to 60FPS
  • 480p up to 90FPS
  • VGA up to 120FPS

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Conclusion

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At the end of the day the Yu Yuphoria left me with a truly euphoric feeling every time I used it and honestly had me begin questioning why I still pine after phones 5-6 times the price.  Everything here is more than enough for even picky smartphone users, packing in a great camera, great sound output, amazing and highly customizable software and a good display.  While the performance of the device was more than adequate for everyday tasks, never stuttering while browsing or chatting, it’s probably not enough for more avid mobile gamers out there that might be playing the more graphically intensive games.  Your mileage will vary with that experience, as framerate and details in games are going to matter more to some than others, but most games will run just fine on the Yu Yuphoria.  4G LTE in India and possibly some other countries that might support the LTE-TDD bands is more than what most would expect from an RS6,999 ($100 or so) phone, and the build quality is certainly better than most in this price range.  At the end of the day this is among the very best you can buy for your money regardless of the price, and is going to make just about anyone out there happy for quite a while to come.