YU officially unveiled their “redefining flagship” smartphone, named YUNICORN on May 31 at an event in Delhi. Earlier, at the beginning of May, when YU’s Co-Founder and CEO, Rahul Sharma started teasing the device, we thought it is going to be the successor of the flagship YU YUTOPIA, which was launched in December last year, however that wasn’t the case. YUNICORN is a mid-ranger (Rs 13,499) that comes with 4GB of RAM (big deal for specs hungry crowd in India) and also caters to both online and offline market. After spending close to three and half weeks with the device, we bring you the YU YUNICORN review.
First of all, a certain section of the media and bloggers were upset as YU Televentures called YUNICORN a ‘flagship’ device. In that case, we believe if the company coins any product as a ‘flagship’ device, they believe it is the best product or one of the best product in their portfolio, hence the price range doesn’t matter. Thus, a mid-ranger can be a flagship for some, since it’s all about the perspective. Anyway, lets start with our review now.
YU YUNICORN Review: Hardware and Build
Lets check out the specifications of the smartphone quickly, in case you do not remember them. The YUNICORN rocks a 5.5-inch Full HD display, which is powered by a 1.8 GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 chipset and Mali T860 GPU. It comes with 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB. It runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop OS with YU’s own custom ROM named Android on Steroids (AOS) on top. It features a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. We also have a fingerprint sensor embedded into the home button, device is made up of brushed aluminium – 8.5 mm thick body and weighs 172 grams. It supports 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS. It packs in a 4000 mAh battery under the hood.
Starting with the build quality, it is the best smartphone from YU Televentures in terms of design, build quality and in hand feel. The phone certainly feels very premium in hand. The weight of the device might be on the heavier side at 172 grams but it is evenly distributed. The 2.5D curved glass display with ultra-thin bezels makes it a gorgeous device to consume content on. The brushed aluminium look may not differentiate it from the crowd but certainly makes it a looker. Overall, we liked its design, build quality and ergonomics.
Looking at the front, we have the 5 megapixel front-facing camera along with a notification LED, sensors and earpiece at the top, which is followed by a 5.5-inch Full HD display covered by 2.5D curved glass. Below that we find the home button with a fingerprint sensor being embedded into it. At the bottom, we have two speaker grills with four holes on each side and the microUSB port is sitting on the middle. However, the speaker is on the right side only and the one on the left is a primary microphone. Now going to the left side of the phone, we find the Hybrid dual SIM tray, where we can pop in a nano SIM + nano / microSD card. On the right side, we have the volume rocker followed by the power / unlock button. At the top, we have the 3.5 mm audio jack followed by the secondary microphone. Now going to the back, we get the 13 megapixel rear camera followed by the dual-tone LED flash and we also get the YU branding at the rear bottom. The back panel is made up of brushed aluminium and it cannot be opened, however a 4,000 mAh battery sits under the hood.
YU YUNICORN Review: Display
Lets talk about the display now. It comes with a generic 5.5-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It does come with ultra-thin bezels, contrast ratio of 1000:1 and brightness of 450 cd/m2, but the 2.5D curved glass protection gives it a context and makes it a beautiful piece of glass slab to look at or hold on to. The color reproduction is accurate along with good contrast ratio and brightness levels. The outdoor visibility is on point as well. It has a pixel density of 405 PPI, which certainly makes it one of the best displays in this price point. Hence, we loved consuming content on this display and we are sure that you’ll like it too. The touch response is great as well because of the 2.5D curved glass and the lag free UI, more on that later.
YU YUNICORN Review: Performance and Gaming
The YUNICORN is the cheapest smartphone to come with 4GB of RAM in India. It is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor clocked at 1.8 GHz and Mali T860 GPU. It has the specifications and numbers to boast about but the performance is just about par. We certainly did expect a ‘flagship’ level performance from the processor and GPU but it was not there. Well, it did perform general day-to-day tasks smoothly, but stuttered and throttled at heavy multitasking, in spite of packing in 4 gigs of RAM. The experience can certainly get better with the maturity of the software though. It features a fingerprint sensor, which is embedded into the home button. It is very accurate and unlocks the device in less than 0.2 seconds. We also did not have any issues with the call quality and reception. Although it comes with DTS audio, the audio output from the speaker was very average. However, if you plugin your earphones, it does sound well.
Talking about the gaming performance, it was above average. We tried basic games, it handled them very well, although dropped a frame here and there. However, when we played games with high graphics, it stuttered a lot and the gameplay felt very choppy. We would like to believe it can be fixed with future software updates though. Overall, we expected a much better response from the processor and GPU of this smartphone but were left wanting for more.
YU YUNICORN Review: Camera
Now coming to the camera department, the YUNICORN rocks a 13 megapixel rear camera that comes with dual-tone LED flash, f/2.2 aperture, Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and 5P lens. The camera shines in outdoor and well-lit conditions but cannot handle low-light environments. Also, the color profile of the pictures are usually on the over saturated side. However, the stock camera UI is simple with useful onscreen toggles but lags at times. The PDAF technology helps in quick focusing but it could have been even more quicker (maybe possible with OTA updates). In our time with the smartphone, we received three OTA updates and two were related to the camera enhancement. It certainly has improved quite a bit. On the video department, it can shoot Full HD 1080p videos but does an average job, like most other Android smartphones out there.
The 5 megapixel selfie camera comes with f/2.0 aperture and 4P lens and it does a decent job. Hence, clicking occasional selfies will certainly be a lot of fun.
YU YUNICORN Review: Camera Samples
Check out the unedited camera samples taken in various lighting conditions below.
YU YUNICORN Review: Software, Battery Life and Connectivity
After breaking up with Cyanogen Inc., YU Televentures is on the right path, when it comes to the software. It runs on YU’s own custom ROM called Android on Steroids (AOS) based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. It is very similar to stock Android but comes with several new features. We specially love the Around YU implementation, which has now been upgraded to 2.0 version. It is an integrated discovery platform including Food, Shopping, Cab, Travel, Hotel, Train, Recharge and many more, which opens up with one left swipe from the main home screen. The basic idea is that the users will not have to download each and every app for different services. They can simply make one YU account and access these services. YU also plans to bring in many more new services in the near future, including YU Wallet, which will let users pay bills and do more.
In terms of the UI, it does not lag but might drop a frame here and there, depending on how heavy the multitasking is. It does come with some nifty features like a Monochrome mode. However, the UI is very close to stock, which might be both good and bad, depending upon the taste of the user.
The smartphone packs in a 4,000 mAh battery under the hood but does not support fast charging. Hence, it takes around 3 hours to completely charge the device from 0-100%. YU Televentures claimed that the device lasts up to 4 days but that is only possible with light usage. In our testing, we got around 2 days of battery life with moderate to heavy usage, where SoT (Screen on Time) was above 8 hours. One of the worst bug in the UI is that we cannot enable the battery percentage. Hopefully, it will get fixed in the next OTA update.
Now coming to the connectivity options, it supports 4G LTE and that works on both the SIM cards. It supports LTE – Band 3/5/40. It sports a Hybrid SIM slot, hence you cannot put in both SIM cards and a microSD card together, which can be an issue for power users, although it comes with 32GB of internal storage and that is enough for most users. It also supports USB OTG and you can expand memory up to 128 GB via microSD card. It also has the usual WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS connectivity as well.
YU YUNICORN Review: Final Verdict
The ‘redefined flagship’ from YU Televentures has a lot going for it. First of all, it is not limited to online only and is also available via offline retailers across the country. Now coming to the hardware, the 2.5D curved glass 5.5-inch FHD display is gorgeous. The build quality is solid and we like the details. It is the cheapest smartphone in India (if we are not wrong) to sport 4GB of RAM. It has one of the best battery life in its price segment. Also, we like the software implementation with the whole Around YU 2.0 ecosystem. Talking about the down sides, it does not perform like a ‘true flagship’, camera is mediocre as well.
So, if you’re looking for a good smartphone with a great display and awesome battery life below Rs 15,000, we would recommend you to have a look at the YU YUNICORN. It is available for Rs 13,499 on Flipkart (online exclusive) and via offline retailers across India.