Micromax launched the YU brand back in December 2014 with the Yureka, which took a lot of industry observers by surprise. At the time, the company had a strong brand identity helped generously by the nationalistic element of being a home-grown Indian smartphone maker. So for Micromax to launch a new smartphone that was utterly devoid of any mention of the Micromax name was odd, to say the least.
Micromax had its reasons for this, including the benefits of having a separate brand to cater to power users and capitalizing on the online-first model of sales. The YU brand generated a lot of attention then, and still does, as seen with the company’s latest launch, the YU Yureka Black. Priced at Rs 8,999, the phone is on sale now exclusively on Flipkart. We’ve reviewed the phone, and here’s what we think.
YU Yureka Black: The Good
Perhaps the biggest pro of the YU Yureka Black is its look and feel. With an all-metal unibody design, the phone certainly feels fantastic to hold, and gains some much-needed durability. It’s also not very large, thanks to its 5-inch full HD screen. Despite the small size, the screen resolution is high enough to keep you from feeling like you’re using a budget phone when you look at it. Our review unit is the glossy black variant, which looks fantastic and is sure to capture attention from on-lookers.
The phone’s layout is fairly standard, but you do get all of the needed bits. The power and volume rocker are on the right, the hybrid SIM tray is on the left, the 3.5mm jack is at the top and the micro-USB port is at the bottom. The sales package includes a 7.5W charger, which does a decent job of topping up the 3,000mAh battery in a little over two hours. Battery life is efficient as well thanks to the frugal Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC under the hood, with the phone easily running a whole day on a single charge.
The phone’s specification sheet is also impressive for a device priced at under Rs 10,000. You get 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a front fingerprint sensor that is embedded into the physical home button. Performance is decent enough with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 under the hood, with most apps and games running smoothly, and loading times on par with other devices that run the same chipset. While you shouldn’t expect the kind of performance you get from the slightly more expensive Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, it’s certainly adequate for a pleasant smartphone experience.
One of the biggest talking points of the Yureka Black is its camera set. The rear camera is a 13-megapixel snapper, while the front has an 8-megapixel sensor. Notably, both sides have flash, which helps when taking low-light selfies. Camera performance isn’t fantastic, but is certainly more than adequate when you consider the price of the phone. The flash considerably brightens up selfies, so if you’re used to taking a lot of pictures in dark places such as restaurants, you might find the Yureka Black to be well suited to your needs.
Of the two significant shortcomings of the phone, the first is one that few might consider serious, but this will affect usage in the long run. The fingerprint sensor of the phone, while accurate and usually straightforward when unlocking the phone, is perhaps a bit too slow and takes a fraction of a second too long to unlock the device when on standby mode. While initially not a bother, this quickly got tiresome for me, and is much slower than the 0.2-second timeframe claimed by YU.
Additionally, the home button is a physical one, but functions even as a capacitive key, therefore making the physical aspect of the button somewhat futile. Long presses do require you to press down on the button, but short presses work even with a simple touch.
Perhaps the more significant of the two shortcomings is the software. While early YU devices had the advantage of Cyanogen OS, the new Yureka Black goes with a custom single-layered user interface on top of Android Marshmallow. Our first grouse here is the use of the now-ancient Android Marshmallow, where more devices are launching with Android Nougat out-of-the-box.
With Android O already in the news and running on some devices, the use of a version of Android that is now two generations old does not reflect well on YU. Additionally, the interface itself feels poorly designed and lacking in the level of customizability that you can expect from Xiaomi’s MIUI. However, Yu already has the beta build for Android Nougat 7.1.2 for the Yureka Black available to load onto the device, and will be pushing the final release soon as well.
The YU Yureka Black is a decent smartphone that checks a lot of boxes for features that are relevant to buyers in the sub-Rs 10,000 price bracket. With reliable budget-grade performance, a decent set of cameras that includes front flash, good battery life, and great looks and build quality, the phone has what it takes to convince buyers of its value. Although it’s available to buy only online, it definitely has enough in it to stand out at its price.
However, there are a couple of noteworthy weaknesses, with the fingerprint sensor and software hampering the overall experience to some extent. The lack of customization options and use of Android Marshmallow is questionable, while the slight delay in unlocking the phone with the fingerprint sensor will quickly annoy you. These two issues aside, the YU Yureka Black comes across as a decent smartphone that is worth the Rs 8,999 price tag. However, competition in this price range is very high, and it remains to be seen how Yureka Black holds up against the popular Chinese smartphones.