Yu Yureka Black first impressions: Yu Televentures returns with a potentially strong budget handset

Yu Televentures has been out of action for sometime now, August 2016 to be precise. That was when the Micromax subsidiary had launched the Yureka S and Yunique Plus. After a long break, the company made a comeback as it launched a new smartphone called the Yureka Black.

The smartphone shares its name with the company's debut smartphone, but it is a completely redesigned handset. The company spoke about how the Yureka Black is an attempt to deliver a good experience while specifications take a back seat. This is something that Micromax co-founder believed in when he launched the Yu brand.

Priced at Rs 8,999 it seems like a solid competitor in the budget segment, so I took a quick look at the smartphone to see its potential.

Build and design

The company says that it has used a metal back with a highly polished finish. To me it feels a lot like glossy plastic, and glossy finish means a lot of fingerprints and smudges. Nonethless, the build and design quality is really good considering this is a budget smartphone. The back is curved offering a decent amount of grip. There are two antenna lines running across the back and you can see the round camera lens bulging slightly. There is also the dual-LED flash and the YU branding at the bottom.

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Moving to the front, the 5-inch display is covered with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 giving it a premium look. Below the display is the fingerprint scanner which doubles up as the home key. While there are no capacitive keys, you get the option of on-screen navigation keys. You can also turn it off and use the fingerprint embedded hardware key for navigation as a single touch/swipe registers as back and a proper press takes you to the homescreen.

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Above the display is the earpiece, light sensors, and LED notification light, the front camera and an LED flash. The edges are rounded and house the headphone jack at the top, the SIM tray on the left, volume and power buttons on the right and the USB port and loudspeaker at the bottom.

The smartphone definitely gets high points for the design, even though I wasn't happy with the glossy finish at the back.

Display

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Like most smartphones at this price, the Yureka Black features a 5-inch display. It is an IPS LCD panel offering a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. This translates to a pixel density of 440 ppi. The panel is nice and sharp and colors looks accurate. It does struggle a bit under direct sunlight, but is still usable. The touch response is good and the glass on top has a nice coating offering a smooth experience.

Chipset, Storage and RAM

While the original Yureka came with a Snapdragon 615 chipset, the new Yureka Black takes over with a Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor which should be more powerful and efficient. Smartphone like the Redmi 3S and Redmi 4 offer similar series of processors. An Adreno 505 GPU takes care of the graphics performance and there is 4 GB of RAM as well.  As for storage, the smartphone gets 32 GB of built-in memory which can be expanded further using a microSD card of up to 128 GB.

OS and software

There is still a major chunk of smartphones that run on Android Marshmallow and the Yureka Black is one of them. The UI is a bit forked as it doesn't has an app drawer, has custom icons and even the quick toggles have circles around them. There is some customisation available and the UI is loaded with some gestures like double tap to wake the screen, flip to silent calls or put alarms to snooze, and you can also draw gestures with your finger to open apps like making an 'O' opens the camera. We've seen similar gestures on a bunch of smartphones in the past.

As for the UI experience, it does seem smooth and was quite happy with the response. Of course I need to further test to see if it is actually usable.

Camera

The primary camera on the Yureka Black offers a 13 MP resolution thanks to a Sony sensor features a dual LED flash. On the front there is an 8 MP resolution camera which also gets a dedicated LED flash.Both the front and back cameras can shoot 1080p videos.

The cmaera app offers a wide range of modes and filters including a beauty filter for the front camera.

For a Rs 9,000 smartphone, the camera performance is not bad at all. It captures good colors and sharp details, but that is only in broad daylight. The camera does struggle when it comes to situations with both bright and dark areas, but in my short time of playing around with the camera, I found the performance right up with the competition. More on the camera performance in the full review.

Battery and connectivity

Like most smartphones, you get a 3,000 mAh battery. The company representatives didn't mention about support for Quick Charge, and it probably doesn't as the bundled wall charger is rated at 1.5 A. However, I was told that the software optimizes the battery performance and offers a charge for full day usage. I think thorough testing is required before I can say anything about the battery life.

Connectivity options include 4G LTE with VoLTE support, dual-SIM card support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM Radio, GPS, 3.5 mm audio jack, and microUSB 2.0.

Verdict and price

Comparing the two Yureka launches, the original and the new, I think the company has been a little dry with the latter. But of course the scenario was different back then. I think the new smartphone has potential and is a good combination of design and hardware. It doesn't feel like a cheap offering, in fact I think it is as good as a Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime or the Redmi 4 or the Lenovo K6 Power, but to actually validate my conclusion I need to spend some more time with the handset.

The Yureka Black is priced at Rs 8,999 which I think is fair price, but even Rs 1,000 less would have hit the sweet spot. If you are interested in buying the Yureka Black, it will be available on Flipkart from 6 June midnight onwards.