There is a new leader in the sub Rs 5,000 budget smartphone category and today we will review it. We are talking about YU Televentures’ latest device – the YUNIQUE that was announced around a month back on September 8 and went on its first pilot flash sale exclusively on Snapdeal on September 15 for Rs 4,999. We have been playing with this device for close to a month now and finally bringing you the review today (sorry for a little delay). So, lets check out the YU YUNIQUE review and find out if it’s really unique or not.
First of all, lets talk about how YU Televentures came into existence and has become an important brand in a short period of time. YU is a sister concern of Micromax. It has been started by Rahul Sharma who is also the co-founder of Micromax Mobile. It was basically founded due to two important factors – i) Rise in e-commerce transactions in India, and ii) Xiaomi entering India. Well, Xiaomi can easily be credited of being the most disruptive ‘outside’ force in the Indian smartphone market in the late 2014. They took the market by storm with their “online-only” and “flash-sale” model. “Out of stock in 3 seconds” and so on became the lingo of the smartphone market. Micromax being able to sniff the changing trend, had to go “online-only” and thus announced its sub-brand under a completely new umbrella and named it YU Televentures. It is an “online-only” brand (as of now) and deals with terms like “flash-sale”, “Out of Stock under x minutes”, etc.
YU partnered with Cyanogen Inc., had an ugly spat with OnePlus India and launched their first device – YUREKA back in December 2014. Then the company announced a more budget friendly YUPHORIA in May 2015. Then came in the revived YUREKA as YUREKA PLUS in July 2015. YU also ventured into fitness band, health care products, power banks and portable printer to make it a complete package and compete with others. We have not used many devices from YU but feel YUNIQUE is their most refined and breakthrough product. It comes with the tag of “World’s Most Affordable 4G HD phone” and we will find out if it justifies it or not.
One more disclaimer is that we will review this smartphone as a Rs 4,999 device and will think from the consumer’s point of view and not from a geek’s POV. It will help us not have great “geeky” expectations and at the same point, better understand the requirement of a consumer who purchases a Rs 5,000 smartphone. So, let’s get started.
YU YUNIQUE Review : Hardware & Build Quality
To recap the specifications, the YUNIQUE features a 4.7-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) HD IPS fully laminated display that is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) 64 bit processor with Adreno 306 GPU. It has 1 GB of RAM and comes with 8 GB of internal memory which is expandable up to 32 GB via microSD card. It runs on Stock Android 5.1 out of the box. It rocks a 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, f/2.0 aperture. On the front, it comes with a 2 megapixel front-facing camera with 83-degree wide-angle lens and f/2.4 aperture for selfies and video calling. It has Dual SIM support. It comes with 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS as connectivity options. It packs in a 2,000 mAh battery under the hood.
Coming to the build quality, let us tell you a funny story. We had a Xiaomi press meet in Kolkata right after this phone’s launch. I had shown the device to a Xiaomi official and asked him, “Will Xiaomi drop the price of Redmi 2 in order to compete with YUNIQUE in pricing?”. The answer was “We will see how it goes” but the biggest takeaway was when that official said, “It has a better build quality than our Redmi 2. How are they even selling it at Rs 4,999?”. So, we can also confirm that it has an amazing build quality in regards to a 5K phone. Yes, it is made out of plastic but does feel solid in hand, specially due to its compact size. It weighs just 128 grams and is 8.3mm thick. The box contains the phone and accessories that includes a charger, USB cable, screen guard, user guide, warranty card and an earphone. Yes, it is amazing to see YU shipping a decent earphone with this device where most companies do not ship it to do some cost cutting.
At the top front, we have the earpiece, below it sits a faint “YU” branding and the front-facing camera is on the top left. The 4.7-inch display sits in the middle followed by some bezel at the bottom and a tiny microphone. We do not get physical keys and instead are provided with three basic on-screen buttons. At the bottom, there is the microUSB port sitting in the middle, nothing on the left side of the phone. Moving to the right, we have the big power on/off button sandwiched between two small volume rockers. The buttons are tactile and clickable but the placement is little irritating and requires getting used to. You will keep on pressing the volume up or down instead of the lock button for a while before getting used to it. Now turning the phone and looking at the back, there is the big saturn ring designed rear primary camera which also houses the LED flash. There is YU branding at the bottom followed by the speaker grill. The back cover has a rubbery texture that provides a good grip but is a fingerprint magnet, literally. The top middle has the 3.5mm audio jack.
YU YUNIQUE Review : Display
Coming to the display, YUNIQUE comes with a 4.7-inch HD IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. It has a pixel density of 312 ppi and is also protected with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The display is a fingerprint magnet as well like the back cover but is a true looker. It has one of the best panels in the sub 5k budget if not the best. We would call it the best. Color production is accurate with great brightness and correct saturation (not over saturated). Consuming rich content on this device is a pleasure to the eyes. The touch screen works very smoothly as well due to the Gorilla Glass. This kind of display could not have been imagined on a Rs 4,999 smartphone 1.5 or 2 years back.
YU YUNIQUE Review : Performance & Gaming
The YUNIQUE is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) 64 bit processor that has four ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.21 GHz. It comes with the Adreno 306 GPU clocked at 400 MHz. This processor is old but gold which has been tried and tested for a long time now. It performs really well for a budget device. Day-to-day usage, navigating through the UI, clicking pictures, viewing media works like a charm without any frame drop or lag. It comes with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and that is a drawback for multitasking. No, we really do not expect YU to pack in 2GB of RAM but it sometimes get sluggish if you have opened more than 5 apps at a time and rotate between them. We have around 300 MB of RAM free. Call quality is loud and clear with no signal drops. It usually depends on your carrier but the phone works well independent of that. The sound output from the speaker is on the lower side and if you want to enjoy multimedia content, you would want to plugin a headphone for sure. Overall, the performance is top-notch considering the price point.
While consumers are not expected to play high-end games on a budget device, still you may find exceptions. The good news is that the phone can play games like Asphalt 8 but not at highest settings, of course. It does pretty well with the casual games like Temple Run, Subway Surfers, etc. YU has given a clever tweak to its software and that is if you’re on full brightness and open a game, the brightness decreases and you cannot increase or decrease it. There is simply no option to do that. It has been done to prevent “heating” issues. Yes, the smartphone does get a little “warm” near the rear camera while gaming or clicking pictures for a longer time but do not get heated. However, not being able to increase the brightness inside the game is a bit disappointing, if you’re playing in a surrounding with less lighting. We believe YU should have given an option to the user and let them decide whether they want to cap the brightness to prevent any heating issue or keep it at their desired level. Overall, a thumbs up in this department as well.
YU YUNIQUE Review : Camera
On the camera front, the YU YUNIQUE rocks a 8 megapixel rear primary camera with LED flash. It has an aperture of f/2.0. Shots taken by the rear camera are above average. The colors are a bit on the over-saturated side. The camera UI is simple that comes with a lot of modes including – Auto, HDR, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Flowers, Backlight, Candlelight, Sunset, Night, Beach and Snow. There is an option to put different types of filters as well. Lets get realistic. A photography enthusiast will not buy this phone for using the camera, thus we tested it out completely in the Auto Mode. Focusing is quite fast but when you focus on a particular area, it does not get locked. Hence, you need to take the picture quickly or else it will get reset automatically. It records Full HD 1080p videos at 30 fps but we wouldn’t recommend recording something important using this camera. Coming to the front camera, it has a 2 megapixel front-facing camera with 83-degree wide-angle lens and f/2.4 aperture. It takes decent selfies but you cannot expect much from a 2 MP shooter.
YU YUNIQUE Camera Samples
Take a look at the camera samples of the YU YUNIQUE taken in various lighting conditions:
YU YUNIQUE Review : Software, Battery Life & Connectivity
YU Televentures came into existence with Cyanogen OS on board. However, off late they have shifted to stock Android for some devices. Well, Cyanogen Inc. has confirmed that they are very much working together with YU and the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update is coming soon, when there were strong rumours of a breakup between them. YUNIQUE runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box that is exactly stock OS except for the couple of pre-installed apps. This makes the phone very smooth and gives it a polished look. The dialer and the camera app can be quickly fired up straight from the lockscreen. Coming to the three on-screen buttons, the left one is used for going back, middle one takes you completely back to the home screen and the right one is for accessing the multitasking window to swap between apps or close them. Overall, the software is stable but a couple of OTA updates can make it more stable.
Users can head to a YU service center and upgrade it to Cyanogen 12.1 OS based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for free or do it themselves as well. The company will also release more flashable ROMs in the future and support them. This is a good gesture from YU Televentures to support the ‘geek’ community using YUNIQUE.
Check out the screenshots of UI, apps, settings and more below:
Coming to the battery life, it has a 2000mAh non-removable Li-Polymer battery under the hood. It promises up to 7 hours of talk time and 270 hours of standby time. With moderate usage, we could get through the day. However, with heavy usage, you need to plugin the device twice a day. On standby mode, it does well and gives around 8-10 days without powering off on its own. It also comes with a Battery saver mode.
It is one of the most affordable smartphones in the market to come with 4G LTE that works on both the SIM slots. It has Cat4 LTE that gives up to 150 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload speeds. It also supports the Indian LTE bands (Band 3 and 40). It comes with the usual connectivity options like WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/a-GPS and GLONASS. Out of 8GB internal storage, only about 4.6GB is available to the user. You can expand it up to 32GB by adding a microSD card and it also supports USB OTG. So, YU has you all covered in the connectivity department and you cannot ask for more, literally.
YU YUNIQUE Review : Final Conclusion
If you want to buy a smartphone strictly at a budget of around Rs 5,000 from the Indian market and do not have any problem in purchasing it online, YUNIQUE is a no brainer. It justifies the tag of “World’s Most Affordable 4G HD phone” literally and we cannot really ask for more. It is a perfect buy for first time consumers looking to pick up a smartphone and shift their world from a feature phone. Nowadays, people have multiple smartphones, so it is also a good buy of being someone’s secondary device. A consumer having a couple of years old flagship phone wants to test out the newly rolled out 4G LTE connectivity and does not want to spend much. For those kind of use case, YUNIQUE is a perfect fit. The smartphone is exclusively sold on Snapdeal via “flash sales” but is going on open sale tomorrow (October 12). Thus, it is best time to pick one up, if you were planning to get a budget smartphone.
YU has also extended its service model offline to about 825+ centres in 600 plus cities along with the ‘Onsite Doorstep Service’ across 283 cities. Through its Onsite Doorstep Service, YU provides replacement for in warranty customers and COD option for out warranty customers. With the offline support centres, across 600 cities, customers can walk in for Software Support, drop their handsets and get replacement handsets at their door step.
Hence, our final conclusion is that YU YUNIQUE has redefined the budget Indian smartphone market and it is to be seen how other manufacturers rise up to the challenge and respond to YU. In the end, it is a win-win for the consumers.