YU Yunicorn Review

by Vishal Toshiwal 1

YU Televentures, the brainchild of Rahul Sharma, the Micromax Chairman launched the Yunicorn handset last week, which is being touted as it redefines the word flagship in industry. India has seen a lot of growth in terms of affordable flagship devices, as the market for handsets with strong performance is on the rise. Some brands these days are more focused on user experience rather than specification war. It is all about identifying the consumers demand, and YU seems to be doing a great job on that end.

We have had the device for quite a while now as you might have read our first impressions of the device, where we shared five things we like and dislike about the handset. Now in this article, we would be giving an opinion on the basis of the usage we did since we got hands-on with the device. Get ready to read our review of the YU Yunicorn.

Design

These days devices come with conventional design aesthetics, and many users are quite fine with it, although, there are a lot of users out there who would prefer a well-designed handset over a highly functional ugly handset. The most important aspect for me on a smartphone is the design language as how does it look and feels is intrinsic. The Yunicorn handset has an impressive design; it’s not colorful but quite elegant with its combination of the white front, and gold finished back. It feels comfortable to hold despite its 8.5mm thickness. Though, it does feel little heavier than any other average metal build phablet. Sporting a fingerprint sensor on the front, its physical button has two operations. Overall, the device feels sturdy than most of its competition such as Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Lenovo Vibe K4 Note.

Display

The display on this handset is of 1080p resolution, which has become a standard on this price range. The device packs a real estate of 5.5-inch and has a 2.5D curved glass protecting the display. Talking about the viewing angles the display is decently visible from almost any angle. The color reproduction on this screen is quite brilliant, even though, it isn’t AMOLED display, the colors look rich.

YU Yunicorn - Display

It’s not a vibrant display, but the colors are quite true to the nature of the object. With such a large screen and thin bezels, it is quite a good handset to watch the movies and casual YouTube videos. The screen isn’t a fingerprint magnet, but it does tend to leave a mark after a lot of usages, which may interfere the experience. Overall, we felt like it offers decent viewing experience, nothing very impressive, but is on par with the handsets in this range.

Interface, Apps

Android on Steroids, AOS, a strange name for an operating system, but it does signify the meaning. The custom interface by YU is nothing but a stock Android with software enhancement. You might know that brand has parted its way with Cyanogen Inc. and is ready to move on to its project highway, which is the company’s open-source project. If anyone loves to use a stock Android UI, well, they shouldn’t hesitate, buy such handset. I may not be a true fan of Nexus products, but the idea of using a stock UI with special software enhancement is something I would like.

YU Yunicorn - Android Lollipop OS

Yunicorn offers quite a swift user experience, but unfortunately, it’s on the older Android version, i.e. Lollipop 5.1.1. When Marshmallow 6.0 is being given as out-of-the-box OS these days, it seems a bad idea to offer anything less than that. We are hoping to see this major update on Yunicorn handset, but there are no promises done by the brand yet. Though, the highlight here is the service like Around YU, through which you can book a cab, order the food, recharge your mobile and do a lot of other stuff as well. It is quite an interesting service.

Hardware & Performance

Many people believe that offering a MediaTek handset isn’t the right choice if they want to market any handset as a flagship device. But this perception needs to be changed. The MediaTek Helios P10 on the Yunicorn handset is not a powerhouse, but with a combination of 4GB of RAM and a Mali-T860 GPU, it is quite a performer for the daily tasks at hand. Nothing like a multitasking between three heavy games, but switch between one heavy game and couple of apps is seamless. The device doesn’t heat up a lot; it heats up to a considerable amount after continuously playing games for more than 20-25 minutes. The benchmark scores for the device aren’t impressive, but that is just an estimated performance number. Talking about the fingerprint sensor, the company touts that it stores data on chip level and even if a hacker wants to crack it; it would be hard since there is no software level data stored; it is as per the company. It is not a hardcore performing handset, but you can easily rely on it for carrying out the daily tasks easily without any lag at all.

Camera

Yu Yunicorn - Camera App

The camera package on this handset is on par with other some of the handset in this range. I can say that it’s better than Lenovo Vibe K4 Note and even LeEco Le 1S Eco. But when compared to Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Meizu M3 Note, it isn’t that good. The focusing is quite fast on the rear module thanks to PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), but you can see noise and a lot of distraction in the images captured below from the 13-megapixel OminiVision (OV 13853) PureCel Image sensor. Regarding the modes, the app offers a lot of modes and features such as Gesture Shots, HDR, Panorama and Picture in Picture. While on the video recording part it can capture only 1080p video recording, while many phones in the same range offer 4K video recording. There is no OIS; instead, you can see on EIS for image stabilization, which is at the software level and doesn’t help a lot when it comes to removing the shakes.

The front-facing module is of 5-megapixel resolution; it is wide angle lens with an 86-degree field of view. The sensor in question here is OV5693; you can see it is capable of taking gesture shots, just like a rear module. I won’t recommend this module to take a selfie, all the images we took were blurry, had a lot of noise and not much details. We expected more out of this 5MP module, but it failed to impress us in any way.

Battery & Connectivity

Smartphone manufacturers are making their handsets larger, slimmer as they add the latest hardware to their phones, to run those parts, the company has to keep focus to the battery capacity as well. With high capacity batteries being available today, a phone doesn’t necessarily have to be bulky. But it is admirable that even with a unibody design; the brands are now able to design their handset in such way that a large capacity battery can be easily fitted on the back side. On that principle, Yunicorn sports a large 4000mAh capacity battery. Now we love that about it as it offers pretty great battery life, but there are some concerns about it; such as it takes a hell lot of time to charge, more than the company stated 3.5 hours for zero to full. Otherwise, it’s all fine in terms of battery life. Talking about the connectivity, it has all the conventional set of features such as 4G LTE network, Wi-Fi, Dual Nano SIM, GPS and microUSB port.

Verdict

Yunicorn set out to redefine the flagship smartphone in India by offering incredible specifications at an affordable pricing. But if you ask me, it fails to amaze us as an overall package. Sure, if you’re more inclined towards design and software experience on a smartphone, then it is one of the best in class. Whereas if that is not what you’re specifically looking for in a handset, then there are much better alternatives such as Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Meizu M3 Note, which are much better handset in terms of camera, display and battery experience.

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Vishal Toshiwal

Born in West India, raised in the North and currently chasing dreams in the southern part of India- Vishal is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tech enthusiast and a writer by profession, who is busy taking pictures when he is not writing. He would love to talk to you about the latest movies, TV shows and DC/Marvel comics. As a personal rule, he doesn't let a day get by without at least one dessert. Because, why not?

  • PRATHEESH PS

    I am pretty skeptical about the Yu’s service