YU Televentures has a new smartphone in the market, and it’s not a budget device, unlike their previous handsets; Yureka, Yuphoria, and Yunique. The fourth handset by the Indian mobile vendor is considered as the affordable flagship, and it was recently launched in India after many delays. Past couple of years, we have seen many new brands emerging from the ground and rising to shine. YU has tried its hands-on in the budget market and has tasted mixed reviews and success. Now does its entry to a flagship segment is any good or should you ignore it totally? We find out in the detailed review of the device.
We had quite the time to test the functionality and performance of the device. There’s no doubt that it is a beast on paper, and it is claimed as the “Most Powerful Phone Ever.” Sure, it comes powered by one of the most powerful and also the most controversial processor by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 810. But Rahul Sharma, the Founder of YU Televentures claims that his team has optimized the chipset to work in their favor. You have to admire the technicalities Mr. Sharma has indulged in as it is his brainchild. Not many founding members we have seen had such involvements in the development process of their products. But does that mean it is a good product? We only came to know its pros and cons after using it as our daily driver for almost a week now. Let’s dive into the details.
The first thing that is noticeable on Yutopia, if you’re familiar with YU devices, is that it resembles the design language of the Yuphoria. Sporting the similar Saturn Ring on the back, where it houses the acclaimed camera module, which we will talk in detail later in this review. The device is an all-metal exterior and has a quite an attractive look, company claims that it is using an alloy of Aluminum and Magnesium, which gives it such sturdyness. The Aircraft grade aluminum used allows the handset to be 90% stronger than polycarbonate/sandpaper made smartphones. This feature made us crave for a strength test, such as we did with the UMI Hammer. But unfortunately, I was not allowed to destroy the unit.
There is a smart design integration of antenna bands into the metal body that lets it a standout in the crowd of flagships. You can see the dual bands going through the corners on the back side of the device, which ends at the top and bottom edges. Talking about the ports placements, there is an inherent 3 elements key on the right edge, housing the power button in the middle while the volume rocker keys above and below the power key. The company considers it seamless design aesthetics, but I wouldn’t rate it as a practical design. As sometimes you get confused and end up pressing the undesired button.
There is a micro or nano SIM card slot on the left edge of the device, as well as a second slot for expanding storage space. The tray can be taken out once you use the SIM ejector tool; the slots are hidden as well. While many company claims that there was not space a microSD card slot to add, YU gone ahead and added it smartly. On the top edge, you have an audio jack while on the bottom edge i=houses a microUSB port.
Coming to the front, it does seem that device has minimal bezels on the right and left edges, but the bottom edge is left empty, as there are no capacitive buttons. Instead, you get on-screen buttons that can be customized according to needs, jump to software section to know more about it. Or head to our tips and tricks article about the device. On the back side, there is a Saturn Ring that houses a big camera module. Below that is the Fingerprint sensor that promises a smoother unlocking experience. Further down is the YU logo branding and a loud speaker. There is a dual-microphone present on the top and bottom most corners on the back side.
Overall, the design of the Yutopia is quite marvelous, although, it does seem very bulky and larger than other average devices. We understand the 159 grams size, but it’s quite large for a device with a screen size of 5.2-inch. If you compare it with competition, OnePlus 2 sports much larger display and feels similar in size. For this large size, bottom bezel is at fault, space is unnecessary since there are no capacitive buttons placed. Meanwhile, with camera bump the device can’t lay flat on a desk, it does work in advantage for Fingerprint sensor, but not for the camera itself. In the near future, it might get damaged pretty badly, irrespective of handling it tough or not.
The Yutopia comes with a massive 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution display, the real estate we are talking about is 5.2-inch. With such high resolution on a relatively small screen than a phablet, the pixel density adds up to staggering 565 PPI (Pixel Per Inch). It competes with likes of Samsung Galaxy S6, Note 5 and LG G4 in terms of offering 2K display. But only Galaxy S6 outnumber the Yutopia when we talk about the pixel density by 576 PPI count. It has a Corning Concore Glass setup, which is not the best solution in terms of the protection. Why I say, that is the same OGS display technology was used on the Xiaomi Mi 4i, and it resulted in the easy breaking of the display from a height as high as an average computer desk. The reason maybe as there is no space between screen and protection glass.
The company also claims that it is the widest 2K display available in the market right now, and that’s why they have named it a WQHD (Wide Screen Quad HD) display. We like our displays sharper and clearer, and this display clearly falls in line. The device uses a Pure Black Touch panel, which is manufactured by SHARP and it promises a 91% NTSC in comparison to 72% on the iPhone 6. It’s not the ideal comparison, but that says a lot in numbers if you take pride in. Thanks to high resolution and NTSC, you get brighter color outputs in this display, and we certainly experienced that while play YouTube movies.
The display is claimed to offer 178-degree viewing angles, and I would agree on that to some extent. But that would hardly judge its legibility under sunlight because you’re not always indoors. The interesting part is that it comes with different display modes under LiveDisplay section in the Display settings. Either you keep it off, which I don’t recommend, or use the outdoor mode all the time. The reason for saying it that you would be only able to see the content with different angles only with the outdoor mode, i.e., when the brightness level is highest. Meanwhile, it is quite hard to keep off your fingerprints from the screen, as it is quite a fingerprint magnet. And it’s quite reflective against the claimed reduced reflections. Moreover, the device is not a pretty sight under the sunlight with all the fingerprint marks visible on the display.
With Cyanogen OS installed on the Yutopia, you have various display features like double-tap to wake up and sleep functionalities. You also have options to choose different colors for battery and other LED notifications. This setup makes it more efficient as you don’t always have to see the notification. Although, it would have been nice to see an Ambient Display kind of setup too, where you don’t have to unlock the screen every time a notification arrives. Overall, the display is good for its pricing, but it doesn’t fall in the premium category of the Samsung, LG and HTC devices with a 2K display.
Still a USP of any YU device, the Yutopia is powered by the largest open source Android developer community, the Cyanogen OS. Offering one of the best customizations available for an Android skin, the Yutopia is powered by a Cyanogen OS 12.1, which is based on the Android Lollipop 5.1.1. So, expect the latest features and fixes on this OS. Meanwhile, Cyanogen is a business partner of the YU Televentures; thus, you can expect faster software updates.
The interface is colorful, with customized icon packs unlike you’ve seen before. It depends on your taste whether you like its appearance or not. I would say, the artwork is admirable, you can’t argue with that. Integrating various services like Gaana as the default music player was a good move for the company as well as its consumers. As every Yutopia user would be getting free access to millions of songs for about 6 months or so. And moreover, you can play songs offline with this player, i.e., you can enjoy online and stored music on your device in same music player.
Other interesting pre-installed apps include Audio FX, which would allow you to turn ON the DTS sound technology that has been integrated by the company for audiophiles. It’s like a dedicated equalizer but with technology such as DTS Sound, you get to hear clearer and louder outputs. We liked this feature, but unfortunately, it was for only headphones experience. Moreover, it was not better than what we have experienced on Dolby Atmos in smartphones like Lenovo A7000 and K3 Note.
Coming to the themes, the interface has a dedicated Themes app that houses thousands of Theme Packs, as well as single components like icons, status bar, controls, navigations bar, wallpapers, fonts, boot animations and sound packs. You need to create a YU account in order to enjoy the online Themes. There is premium, and then there are free themes, the choice is yours. All of your purchases and downloads can be accessed from one place, just swipe left and tap on My Stuff.
All the pre-installed apps serve their purpose right and not that complicated to use, unlike many Android skins out with bloatware. And don’t have to worry about the storage space out of the box, out of 32GB storage space you get around 23GB of storage space available to use. Moreover, the device also supports storage expansion via microSD card slot. If that’s not enough, it also has the OTG support, which we tested for positive.
The interface is quite smooth; we didn’t experience any particular lags as such. The multitasking is snappy, and it is familiar as the stock Android. You hit the recent menu on-screen button, and your recently launched apps will appear in a manner of cards. Now you can switch between the running apps just by tapping on the desired one. Overall, the interface is as expected, a mixture of stock Android essence and a big number of customizable features.
Hardware & Performance
In the heart of Yutopia lies the Qualcomm’s most powerful processor, the Snapdragon 810. Powered by a 64-bit Octa-core chipset, which is combined by two Quad-core processors clocking at 1.5GHz and 2.0GHz. LG G Flex 2 was one of the first handsets that were launched with this processor this year. But we all know it miserably failed to manage the heat, and thus it become one of the most controversial 800 series processor from Qualcomm. Since, then the company has been customizing the processor according to the device specifications. But later the chipset manufacturer also introduced a version 2.0 of its SD810 processor. And that is what being used on Yutopia and OnePlus 2 as well.
With 4GB DDR4 RAM and 32GB internal storage accompanying the chipset, the Yu device is pretty much the “Most Powerful Phone”. It might be one of the most powerful phones on paper, but does it perform in real life usage. Moreover, is it an efficient processor? Well, the former part is true, but I wouldn’t agree with the later claims. We played a lot of games on this beast and then only realize its true potential, which is, it has got humongous processing power. With GPU support of Adreno 430, you get to escape the reality with 3D games, moreover, on a 2K Display resolution, it is quite something.
The gaming experience was quite the fun, but what wasn’t fun is to hold a device heated so much that it’s hard to touch any surface of the phone. The screen temperature after 10 minutes of gameplay was going above 46 degrees. Apparently, the heat optimization wasn’t done enough as we noticed a lot of heating not even during gaming but as well as during functions like using camera app for around 10 minutes. Now what is the use of such processing power if you can’t utilize it whenever you want?
Coming to the benchmark tests, we did certain benchmark tests on the Yutopia using the apps like Antutu and Vellamo. The Vellamo score is divided into three aspects; metal, browser, and multi-core. It scored 2303 for metal, 4211 for browser and 1995 for multi-core. While for Antutu it scored around 67163. All these scores are on par with the high-performance handsets. We also did the browsing test on the device and were pretty satisfied with results. The touch screen responsiveness is amazing, it allowed us to easily Zoom-in and zoom-out on the page. The processor is capable of loading the desktop websites without even sweating. Although, the real estate is not quite big, but it’s sufficient to browse desktop websites.
Talking about the fingerprint sensor, this is placed on the rear side of the device, not an ideal position for me. It was quite responsive in terms of unlocking the device, just place your finger correctly on the sensor and it would detect it instantly. The interesting part is that it offered unlocking of the device even when you didn’t wake up the screen. Just lift up your device from desk and tap on the biometric sensor and it would directly open the device. Moreover, it has some additional features like Tap to take a selfie, which we would address in the camera section below.
The camera module on the Yutopia is of 21-megapixel resolution, sporting Sony Exmor RS IMX230 sensor, it is claimed to be one of the best in class. We played out with the rear camera module to find out how good or bad it is in reality. There is supposedly faster autofocus technology at play, called PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus). It is claimed to offer faster focusing, i.e. 0.2 seconds of response time. It might be true during daylight and artificial light capture, but no so true during low light. The rear camera was hardly able to AF, as you can see in one of the camera samples we posted below in the gallery. I had to use manual mode in order to capture in low light. What’s the point of fastest AF if it doesn’t work in all lighting conditions?
Talking about the results in all three lighting conditions; low, artificial and natural, it was able to offer true color reproduction, white balance and saturation in natural and artificial light. While in low light I had to use the ChromaFlash in order to get good detailed results. Yes, ChromeFlash is one of the interesting modes available on camera interface, which quite resembles the one we saw on the OnePlus One. But, of course, with added features like OptiZoom, Steady Photo, Action, and Night Modes.
The rear camera is capable of recording video resolution up to 4K while it has an option of Timelapse and Slow motion inbuilt unlike few flagship phones. You have the option to record slow motion either in 1080p at 60fps pace or 720p at 120fps; unfortunately, you can’t record slow or high-speed motion at 4K resolution. The camera interface is quite intuitive and allows adjusting the controls for left-handed usage. You can also set the brightness levels to the maximum while the camera app is active. Helping the video samples, the camera module gets a support of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), so that accidental shakes don’t affect the quality of the video.
The front facing camera on this handset is of 8-megapixel resolution, and it is made by OmniVision OV8865, which was used by YU on their Yuphoria device as the main camera. We were not the fan of that camera on the budget handset as the rear camera, but fortunately, it yields good outputs on Yutopia. It has an aperture of f/2.2 and a wide angle lens of 86 degrees. The selfie camera offers natural quality captures that you can post on social media without thinking twice about the quality. Moreover, it is an ideal camera for taking selfies at the dinner table as it would fit all the family members.
These days we have seen companies launch smartphones with battery capacity as much as power banks. But what’s important is how efficiently the processor manages to use the power. The Yu Yutopia has a battery capacity of 3000mAh, which is not quite large when you take a 2K Display and a chipset like Snapdragon 810 working at its heart. We definitely would have like to see more capacity battery on this handset.
The battery supports Quick Charge 2.0, which Qualcomm’s fast charging technology. The company claims that it can charge the device from zero to sixty percent in 30 minutes. But when we put it on charging even at 10% it was not able to charge up to 60% in 30 minutes. Although, we did get around 45% charging in around 25-30 minutes, which is good.
Talking about the standby performance, the Yutopia was able to manage good standby time, as we saw 5-8% drop during an idle state in the night, which was about 7 hours. Now if you talk about the screen-on-time (SOT), the device was not able to get more than 3 hours 30 minutes of SOT. It is not on par with other handsets that are powered by Snapdragon 810, such as OnePlus 2. The reason for such battery life is the high-resolution display and a powerful processor. Unfortunately, there are no battery modes (such as extreme/ultra power saving modes) to cope up with emergencies when you want the battery to last longer than usual. You can just turn on the default power save mode from the settings app, which might help it a little bit.
In terms of the connectivity, it has a lot to offer in space of networks like 4G LTE, 3G and Edge support. The Yutopia supports two kinds of LTE bands, FDD, and TDD. We have been using the 4G SIM on the handset until now we have seen good signal strength as well as quality in calls. The data speeds are also on par with other 4G handsets in this segment.
We expected features like NFC and IR Blaster on this handset, as they serve quite the purpose while it would have been future ready when the device receives an update based on Android Marshmallow as it utilizes the NFC capability. But India is yet to see any kind of growth in terms of wireless mobile payment, so hopefully, you won’t miss the NFC functionality.
It has a dual SIM slot where you can use a micro a well a nano SIM card. The dual setup is getting mandatory day-by-day in the countries like India, China, Brazil, etc., as many smartphones are sporting the feature now. It does help you keep personal and business conversations at bay. Other usual sets of connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1v, GPS and microUSB 2.0 supports.
The word in the industry is that YU has launched the “most powerful phone ever”, but is it really the most powerful phone? Well, the short answer is that it keeps all the focus at the processing power, and that might be the reason it’s not a good overall package. It may have been the “most affordable flagship phone” that people would’ve looked forward to buying, but it isn’t. The Yutopia directly competes with the OnePlus 2, which is marketed as the “Flagship Killer of 2016”. We see all these marketing buzz from companies, but eventually, when it comes to the real life usage, some practical issues arise in the handsets. And Yutopia isn’t a perfect device either.
Why would I recommend this handset? For its performance and feature rich Android skin. Other than that there is no consistent part that should be praised on this device. Battery life is not up to the expectancy, the camera is impressive, but its UI lags a lot while the design isn’t really the best in terms of intuitiveness. The fingerprint sensor on the back and 3 element key for volume and power button aren’t ideally placed and designed.