YU is one of the newest smartphone brands, barely 18-months-old. Launched as Micromax’s answer to Xiaomi, YU has had its share of hits and misses. Its last flagship smartphone, the Yutopia, was a stunner when it came to hardware and design but was let down by its software. However, the brand has moved on and launched the Yunicorn, which goes on sale today exclusively on Flipkart. I have been using the Yunicorn for the last few days and here are my first impressions. Also Read - Micromax planning to launch 3 new smartphones amid backlash against Chinese brandsAlso Read - Flipkart Budget Days: Offers on Micromax Canvas Infinity, Sony Xperia R1 Dual, YU Ace and more
Priced at Rs 12,999, the Yunicorn is positioned in one of the most competitive price segments where it will take on the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, LeEco Le 1s and the Lenovo ZUK Z1. All these smartphones are pretty solid devices with great emphasis on design, which wasn’t the case in this price segment last year. However, the Yunicorn sets new standards here with its 2.5D curved glass display and a metallic body with brushed metal finish. I have been using the gold version and it looks premium, though some people have pointed out that the phone would have looked better had the front been gold as well instead of white, but I tend to prefer it like this. But then I also use a Rose Gold iPhone 6s Plus and the white bezels look familiar to me. Also Read - YU enters TV market in India with 40-inch Yuphoria Smart LED TV priced at Rs 18,499
The Yunicorn does seem eerily similar to the Meizu m3 Note but that’s unlikely to bother many people. There is a home button with an embedded fingerprint sensor below the display, which is a welcome change as opposed to having the sensor at the rear of the device. The fingerprint sensor works effortlessly, though the pill-shaped home button can take some time to get used to. Overall, the Yunicorn feels like a solid phone to hold, especially given its 172 grams heft.
The front is dominated by the 5.5-inch full HD display that’s super bright and is able to tackle most ambient light conditions effortlessly. The display is on a little colder side of the spectrum, where the whites are too white though the blacks could have been deeper. Having said that, you can fine tune almost every aspect of the display, including the temperature, contrast and saturation from the Miravision settings.
YU has done some interesting permutations and combinations in the specifications front to take on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which has been the most popular smartphone in this price segment. The company has gone with a lower-specced Helio P10 processor against the Redmi Note 3’s Snapdragon 650. However, the Yunicorn comes with 4GB of RAM, which to some extent makes up for the loss in performance.
For a lay person, the Yunicorn comes with an octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM while the Redmi Note 3 features a hexa-core processor with 3GB of RAM. So far I have not faced any problem with multi-tasking on the Yunicorn but I still need to put it through its paces. Both smartphones come with 32GB of internal storage and a hybrid SIM card slot where the second slot can be used for a SIM card or a microSD card.
Rather than going for Cyanogen or some other skin on top of Android, the Yunicorn comes with an almost stock version of Android or Android on steroids as the company likes to call it. The smartphone runs on Android Lollipop 5.1 though a Marshmallow update is in the offing. YU has added some nifty touches like the iOS-style quick settings menu that comes on if you long-press on the display. From here you can change wallpapers, add widgets, access settings, control music playback or activate the monochrome mode, which turns the display to black and white which can either help you save battery or do some reading on the phone. The company says it will keep pushing new functionalities in subsequent software updates.
Swiping the homescreen to the right reveals the company’s Around YU service from where you can summon an Ola cab, call a restaurant to order food or pay your phone, DTH and other bills. A new version of Around YU, which I haven’t seen yet, will also integrate Uber as well as a doctor on demand service powered by Lybrate. It is certainly interesting to see where this is going and Around YU could eventually become the platform that would become the USP for YU and Micromax smartphones.
The Yunicorn comes with a 13-megapixel camera with a f/2.0 aperture. The camera interface is pretty Spartan and could possibly be the weak link. I found the camera to be a little slow, even when the HDR mode was turned off. There is a 5-megapixel front facing camera, which I found to be at par with other smartphones in this price point.
Then there is the 4,000mAh battery, which should ideally do the trick and is something that could make or break the Yunicorn’s fortunes considering the excellent battery performance of the Redmi Note 3. Based on my sporadic usage of the phone so far, I found no reasons to complain about the battery.
The YU Yunicorn looks like a capable smartphone, which could give the Redmi Note 3 some competition. Its almost stock Android interface might appeal to those who find MIUI to be too aggressive for third-party apps and services. Stay tuned for our complete review.
Photos: Manish Sinha