Android Headliner: Is Yu Becoming India's Xiaomi?

Micromax Yu AH 05

We often talk about Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi and Meizu who manufacture really solid smartphones, and yet their price points are quite low considering the specifications and build quality of these devices. We’ve been seeing a lot of companies doing something similar lately, and YU is definitely one of them. This India-based company is a bit different though, mainly because of the Cyanogen OS that ships pre-loaded on their devices, we’ll talk more about that later on. YU is actually a Micromax-owned company, even though these two OEMs are technically separate companies and their business is not connected in any way, at least that’s what YU’s CEO said in an interview a while back. YU is a very young company actually, it was founded back in December 2014, so it’s not even a year old at this point. The company has, however, released two smartphones already, named Yureka and Yuphoria.

Speaking of which, the Yuphoria was released quite recently, and it is powered by Cyanogen OS 12, which actually makes this company somewhat unique at the moment. The OnePlus One was well-known for Cyanogen’s software that ships with the device, but the two companies aren’t really partners anymore and OnePlus has developed their very own Oxygen OS, and YU is now Cyanogen’s new partner. Most of you are probably familiar with Cyanogen as a company and their Android-powered software offering which lets you customize Android in a number of ways and it aims to offer great performance in the end. Both Yureka and Yuphoria ship with Cyanogen OS pre-installed, and Yuphoria comes with Android Lollipop-based Cyanogen OS 12 on top of Google’s OS. YU has managed to surprise many people with the launch of this device, not only because it offer a rather solid specs, but because it’s made out of metal and it comes with an insanely low price point.

The YU Yuphoria features a 5-inch 720p (1280 x 720) display along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. This handset is powered by the Snapdragon 410 SoC and it ships with 8 and 5-megapixel cameras on its back and front, respectively. The 2,230mAh battery is also a part of this package, and the device does offer 4G LTE connectivity and is made out of metal. What surprised most people here is the price of this handset, Yuphoria is available in India for only Rs. 6,999 ($109), which is a great deal for such a handset, no matter which way you look at it. As a side note, YU’s previous Yureka handset was priced at Rs. 8,999 ($142) when it launched back in January.

Judging by the information YU’s CEO shared in an interview a while back, YU has no plans of offering their handset worldwide just yet, they just don’t have the capacity to do so, but they might in the future. YU is definitely becoming an important player in India where affordable devices are the most purchased ones, by far. Yuphoria definitely sets the bar high for the competition, and this surely won’t help Android One devices to sell better, that’s for sure. Google’s Android One program hasn’t been doing particularly well in India ever since it launched, and companies like YU and Xiaomi are certainly not making it easy for the Mountain View giant, not to mention that Meizu is going to land in India in a couple of days as well.

YU is taking a similar approach to Xiaomi here, at least judging by their moves thus far. YU does have an edge here though, its software. Some people love Cyanogen’s Android offering, others not so much. One thing is for sure though, Cyanogen does a far better job when it comes to releasing updates than the likes of Xiaomi and a number of other China-based OEMs. Don’t get me wrong, Xiaomi does a great job manufacturing devices and people seem to love the MIUI OS, but this company really does take its sweet time releasing new versions of Android, at least that was the case thus far. Truth be told, Xiaomi did improve in that respect and it will be interesting to see if they can improve even further as far as that is concerned. It will certainly be interesting to see how YU will fare in India and if the company plans any sort of expansions anytime soon, at least to other Asian countries like China. Now, that would certainly make things more interesting in the Chinese market where the competition is already fierce.