Yu Televentures entered the Indian smartphone market in December 2014 and over the year we have seen around four phones from Micromax’s online only venture. The Yu Yutopia has been teased since the last couple of months and according to Yu, it is touting the Yutopia as the most powerful phone ever built. The launch event and also some previous promotions took a dig at existing flagships from OnePlus, Samsung as well as Apple.
Sporting top end components, this is the first phone from Yu Televentures that has hit the Rs 25,000 price point, whereas so far the most expensive phone from Yu was at Rs 8,999. That is quite a jump and it is a no-brainer that the company will try to fill up this gap in 2016. So let us see if the tagline of the phone really holds.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
The Yu Yutopia comes in an all metal unibody design and according to Yu it has used aircraft grade aluminum in the construction. The phone measures only 7.2mm thick, but that’s excluding the bump caused on the rear side due to the camera section. The phone has rounded corners around the edges and it maintains the Saturn rings feature on the camera, placement of the 3.5mm jack in the center on the top edge, having the speaker grille section at the base on the rear side. The in-hand feel of the phone is good, although it is slippery. Also the finish on the microUSB port on the base is a bit on the sharper side.
On the front you have the three soft keys at the base. The dual SIM card slot is present on left hand side takes in a micro SIM and nano SIM card, it’s a hybrid slot. We found this card slot a bit odd in the sense that you only have one slot attached to the external flap, whereas the other microSIM card or microSD card will need to be inserted separately.
Yutopia also carries on the 3 element buttons on the right hand side from its younger siblings. On the rear side just below the prominent camera section, you have the finger print scanner which is rounded in shape and surrounded by a chrome ring.
Yu Yutopia has been positioned as the most powerful phone around, so let us have a look at its internals. Like all the top end smartphones that we saw last year, the Yu Yutopia also comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset which has an octa-core processor with a 2GHz Cortex A57 quad-core processor and 1.5GHz Cortex A53 quad-core processor. This is paired with 4GB RAM. Yu Yutopia also comes with 32GB of onboard storage of which around 24.6GB is available to the user. You can also expand the storage using a microSD card slot.
On the front you have a 5.2-inch QuadHD display. Yu Yutopia runs Android 5.1.1 with the Cyanogen 12.1 OS atop it. It houses a 21MP rear camera with the Sony IMX230 sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and comes with phase detect auto focus function. On the front you get an 8MP camera with a 5 element lens. It also features optical image stabilisation.
With the connectivity, you have a hybrid dual SIM Card slot, Wi-fi 802.11ac, Wi-fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1 and FM radio. There is no NFC support. It does have a fingerprint scanner just below the camera module on the rear side.
The Yu Yutopia comes with a 5.2inch QuadHD Sharp LCD display which gives a 515ppi pixel density. The phone comes with a Corning Concore Glass protection. Yu has also used one glass solution and comes with what it calls the true black display.
The display can be sufficiently bright and we found that things were relatively sharp. There was barely any noticeable pixillation. The phone comes with modes such as Outdoor (bright sun), auto brightness and night mode - which adds a slight warm tinge to the display. Watching high resolution videos on the display is an enjoyable experience, but the glass covering is reflective in nature. Skin tones are natural, black levels are quite good. All in all a very good display.
Yu Yutopia comes with Android 5.1.1 along with the Cyanogen 12.1 OS atop it. The Cyanogen OS comes with its own bells and whistles such as AudioFX app for tweaking equaliser settings for audio; Themes app to change the look of your phone according to your liking; ScreenCast letting you record your onscreen operations and so on. Yutopia has a new kind of app drawer which divides the apps alphabetically. YUtopia also bundles in the Gaana app which also functions as the default music player.
But the major USP of the Yutopia is this service called AroundYU. Swiping to the left most home page, takes you to the AroundYU service which basically works as an app aggregator. Yu Televentures has invested in a lot of app and services, which have been used for AroundYU along with a lot of established apps. So in a way, you do not necessarily need to download certain apps. For now, AroundYU is divided into segments such as Food, Shopping, Cab, Flight, Hotel, Bus and Train. There are plans to add in more services in the mix in the near future.
This is accompanied with a search bar. So for instance, you want to search for a radio cab, then you can just tap on the cab icon and you will see cabs near you, data which is received from Ola app and additionally you can also call up offline cab services. For Food, you will get a list of restaurants around you, powered by Zomato, with the option to call from the suggestion list only (you cannot read the menu). You do not need to have these apps installed on your phones. In some cases, you can select the hotel, and if you want to hire a cab to get there, you can just select the ‘Ride There’ option, which takes you to the cab services tab.
At the moment for the cab service Around YU has Ola, for the Food section there’s a tie up with Zomato and for flights, buses and trains Yu is using the Ixigo service for travel data. Yu has plans to add more services and partners to this service in the near future. It is a good service as it saves you from downloading certain apps if you dont want to. Also most apps come with promotional offers such as Ola offering the fourth ride free and so on.
The company has been boasting a lot about how the Yu Yutopia is the most powerful phone on the planet. Well, the internal specifications certainly put the phone in a good position to stake that claim, but when it comes to performance, it’s a somewhat different story. For starters, it suffers the same fate that has become a norm with Qualcomm Snadpdragon 810 chipset sporting smartphones. The Yu Yutopia heats up on many occasions, especially while using the camera, watching movies or when using heavy apps. And the heat becomes evident due to the all metal body. However, there wasn’t any instance when the phone shut down any currently operational app. The 4GB RAM paired with Snapdragon 810 is more than enough to take on any task.
Gaming on the phone is quite smooth. We managed to play Asphalt 8: Airborne as well as Modern Combat 5 without any sort of stutter. Sure, the phone will get warm when playing the games, but that is a given. The display looks gorgeous while playing games with vibrant colours and deep blacks. Same goes for when watching high resolution videos.
Call quality on the Yu Yutopia is quite good with loud earpiece speakers. The audio speakers on the phone are a bit underwhelming. But Yu Yutopia comes bundled with House of Marley branded in-ear headphones which provide a wonderful audio experience. Yu Televentures should surely get a pat on the back for considering bundling quality earphones with the phone, a fact which most other phone companies just completely ignore.
The fingerprint scanner on the Yu Yutopia is a hit and miss affair. When it comes to unlocking the phone, it is certainly nowhere close to the Google Nexus 6P or the Apple iPhone 6s or the OnePlus 2 or even the just launched QiKU Q Terra 808. We had to literally place the finger in multiple positions before the phone was unlocked. We ended up using the onscreen pattern unlocking more than the fingerprint scanner. It surely needs improvement.
Yu Yutopia has employed the 21MP Sony IMX230 sensor for the rear camera and an 8MP sensor for the front camera. The phone comes with phase-detect auto focus system and also has optical image stabilisation (OIS). On both the cameras you have an f/2.2 aperture lens. The camera user interface is similar to the Cyanogen OS camera interface we have seen on the Yu Yureka and the OnePlus One, offering a good mix of auto and manual functionalities.
The daylight image quality is quite good with images packed with details. The images are not pin sharp in all cases, specially when you zoom in 100%. Focussing is speedy in most conditions. But we were disappointed with the HDR mode of the Yutopia. On most occasions the camera just tends to give a slightly washed out image instead of a balanced image. We hope this is fixed in the upcoming updates, as there were many occasions where we preferred shooting in Auto mode over HDR mode. The front-facing camera is good although not as sharp as the rear camera. If you are taking a group selfie, then the people on the edge will suffer from barrel distortion.
PS: Image samples have been resized here. To check the full resolution, please click on the images
Low light photography is also handled well by the rear camera, but the focussing speed slows down a notch. You do notice chroma noise on pixel peeping, but it is able to retain details fairly well. We did find the cameras focus struggle with capturing lights, there was a lot of focus hunting there.
In terms of video, the Yutopia is capable of shooting 4K UHD videos, 1080p videos at 60FPS as well as slow motion HD videos at 120FPS. Videos are good enough for casual shooting in daylight. On the whole, the camera performance of the Yu Yutopia is quite good, except for the HDR mode shooting.
Battery Life: 6.5/10
The Yu Yutopia comes with 3000mAh Li-polymer non removable battery. On a regular day of usage involving calling, messaging, surfing the web, streaming video and listening to audio, it gave around 10 hours of usage. On a full charge at 8AM and using it through the work day, we would have to put it back on charge by 6PM. Heavy users will need to carry a powerbank on them. But the phone supports QuickCharge 2.0 so that is helpful.
Verdict and Price in India
So is this really the most powerful phone on the planet? Well, not really. We aren’t saying it is a bad phone. For a company that is just one year old, Yu Televentures have designed a good looking phone with top of the line internal specifications. But there are issues with the phone - most of them on the software side which can be fixed with future software updates. The metal body does heat up when using heavy applications due to the Snapdragon 810 chipset. Among the good points you have the camera performance, the tweaking ability of the Cyanogen OS, a wonderful design, lovely display and good earphones.
AroundYU is the thing that stands out for us. It is a good attempt by a phone maker to give a value addition to the overall user experience. Of course, it is not completely without flaws, but for the time being we need to understand that it’s just the beginning. For starters, it bypasses the need to download some apps which you will only use once in a while. There will be more services added in the near future as Yu has promised. But the execution of some of the current services (barring restaurant and cab booking), need more finesse. Also we wonder if this service will only be limited to the Yu Yutopia or will ultimately trickle down to the more mid-range phones as well.
At an asking price of Rs 24,999, the Yu Yutopia’s main competitor is obviously the OnePlus 2. But one must also take into consideration the price drop that the Google Nexus 5X has got recently pricing it at Rs 22,999, which although comes with a slightly lower powered Snapdragon 808, offers a pure Android 6.0 experience. If your budget is closer to Rs 20,000, then you should be looking at the Moto X Play.
If you are sold on the specs on offer and are impressed with the AroundYU service, you can go for this phone. But we would wait till the software niggles are addressed before recommending it right away. How long that will take, only Yu Televentures can answer that.
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