Overview
Introduction
Design
Display
Hardware
Software and apps
Camera
Audio and video
Performance
Battery life
Conclusion
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YU YUTOPIA REVIEW

The first Indian flagship that challenges the biggies
By Samir Makwana on 2016-01-13
Key Features
  • 5.2-inch Quad-HD display
  • 21-megapixel rear camera
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Fingerprint scanner
What we like
  • Premium finish and build
  • Sharp display
  • Support for QuickCharge 2.0
  • Records 4K videos
What we don't like
  • Lacklustre software experience 
  • Screen has a warm colour temperature by default
  • Fingerprint sensor is erratic
7.3
Our Score
Introduction

After launching three budget devices, YU Televentures surprised everyone with the launch of a flagship device, the Yutopia YU5050. Rahul Sharma, CEO of YU Televentures, touts the Yutopia to be “the most powerful phone on the planet.” He further claims that the Yutopia is superior to many of the existing breed of flagships such as Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G4 and Apple iPhone 6s. 

YU’s strategy of offering affordable flagship devices has already been tried and tested in India by many Chinese handset manufacturers such as Huawei, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Gionee. So, in order to stand apart, YU has promised an upgrade option to the Yutopia 2 for those of you who would like to exchange their Yutopia phones for the Yutopia 2 (when it is launched), along with a 40% cashback option. Of course, this option comes with its set of terms and conditions which needs to be met in order to be eligible for the upgrade and the cash back policy. 

Introduction

Priced at Rs.24,999, the Yutopia packs flagship-level hardware. It also bundles Little Bird earphones by the House of Marley, which is an unusual feature in its price range since most manufacturers don’t include earphones in their sub-R.20,000 phones. 

On the face of it, YU’s Yutopia YU5050 sounds too good to be true at its price point. We got our hands on a unit of this device to find out if it really matches the expectations that it sets. 

Design
7.5

The YU Yutopia’s design is quite consistent with that of its predecessor - the Yuphoria and the Yunique. The Yutopia measures merely 7.22mm in thickness, and if the primary camera’s protrusion is taken into account, the phone measures 9.07mm thick. The sleek unibody profile, which is constructed using an aluminum-magnesium alloy, feels premium in hand. At the front, the YU logo rests just under the earpiece and an 8-megapixel front camera sits to the left of the logo. There’s an LED notification light located just under the display area. 

Design1

The power button is placed between the volume control buttons on the right edge. We think this kind of placement of the power button, right between the two volume control keys, could prove to be cumbersome for most users, since one is generally accustomed to having a power button slightly away from the volume keys. On the left edge is a SIM slot, concealed by an alloy cap. The primary slot can hold a Micro-SIM card, whereas the second slots acts as a hybrid slot capable of holding either a Nano-SIM or a microSD card at a time. 

Design2

At the back is the primary camera whose protrusion is quite prominent. The camera also has a sort of glass cover on top of it, which makes it look quite premium. The protrusion, however, makes the phone wobble when placed on a smooth surface. Just below the camera is the new fingerprint reader. On the lower side of the rear are machine drilled holes for the speaker output. Two dedicated noise cancellation microphones - one below the camera and the other at the back - are also present. The microUSB 2.0 port is located at the bottom edge, while the standard 3.5mm audio port is present at the top edge. 

Design3

With a sturdy build, the Yutopia is a phone that gives you a solid feel in hand. However, we felt that the device was quite slippery, so you will need to use a case to prevent the phone from taking a fall. We’re hoping that YU releases some good cases for the device. 

Display
7.5

The Yutopia flaunts a 5.2-inch Quad-HD IPS display with Corning’s Concore glass which prevents the device from scratches. The screen has a pixel resolution of 1,440x2,560p, which translates to a pixel density of 565PPI. Text on the display is exceptionally crisp, and the display also produces good colours with decent contrast. Compared to many of the phones currently in the market, the Yutopia has quite thick bezels. There’s a thick bezel below the screen which looks as though it would be used to house capacitive buttons. However, there are none, and the phone uses on-screen buttons instead. The lack of oleophobic coating on the screen leaves a lot of fingerprints and smudges to accumulate. The screen is a bit difficult to use under direct sunlight unless the brightness level is increased to full. 

Display

The colour temperature of our review unit’s display was set to warm by default. But thankfully, Cyanogen has packed a couple of options to customize the display colour and the DPI (Dots Per Inch). The LiveDisplay feature automatically changes the colour temperature of the screen based on the environment (day or night time), thereby improving readability and reducing eye strain. Furthermore, the device also gives you the option to set the color temperature values manually for day and night respectively. The device also offers a Color Calibration setting which lets you play around with colour tones. Other options include Adaptive Brightness, Screen Casting, Gestures, apart from a few more. YU offers you with ample number of options in the Yutopia to customize the display and light settings. 

Hardware
8

The Yutopia comes loaded with a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 mobile chipset clocked at 2.24GHz. This hardware configuration is slightly faster than other Snapdragon 810 bearing phones that are clocked at 2GHz. By default, the chipset integrates the Adreno 430 GPU to handle the system user interface and the graphics. YU has loaded 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM which is good enough to help the powerful chipset handle any heavy task thrown at it. The Yutopia has 32GB of onboard storage and you can always add up to 128GB by using a microSD card.     

hardware

By default, the Yutopia supports both 4G LTE network frequencies for India - Band 3 (1,800MHz) and Band 40 (2,300MHz). Faster mobile web and download experience is promised by dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac support. The Bluetooth 4.1 support allows for faster file transfers and helps in connecting with the latest accessories. YU packs a bunch of sensors - gravity sensor, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and accelerometer. The fingerprint sensor is useful in unlocking the phone and taking selfies. 

hardware1

The 21-megapixel camera comprises of the Sony Exmor RS IMX230 image sensor and a 6 piece lens. This combination is supported by a true tone dual-LED flash. In the front is an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera to capture selfies. Yutopia ticks off all the boxes with its flagship-grade hardware package. 

Software and apps
6.5

The Yutopia boots Cyanogen OS 12.1 which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop and is also likely to receive an upgrade to Cyanogen OS 13 which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow in the near future. YU has added a new feature on this device called AroundYU. This feature aggregates a host of services and contextual information for quick access. For example, if you wish to order a pizza, you can simply search for it in the search box and information about the closest pizza delivery restaurants will show up on the screen. Alternatively, you can click on the Food icon to check out the different restaurants in your vicinity. AroundYU requires an active mobile connection and Location-based services also needs to be enabled. 

Software

Right now, YU has partnered with Zomato to aggregate restaurants, Ola and Uber for cabs and Ixigo for booking flights. AroundYU is useful in the sense that one need not install the numerous apps for booking cabs, ordering food, among other services. Instead, all you can do is just log in once through the AroundYU interface and have the information presented to you. We used this feature to order food, and were provided a list of only select participating restaurants to choose from. Though the number of services that are offered through AroundYU at the moment are very limited, this feature has a strong potential to make e-commerce and online shopping a lot more easier for a huge chunk of population.

Cyanogen OS 12.1 offers a new Themes app which lets you customise the phone on an app level. You will however, need to download themes from the Theme Store. The revamped Launcher classifies apps in an alphabetical order, which provides for easy single-hand operation. The icons look a bit smaller than usual, but are neatly laid out. There are two strips of the alphabet from A-Z - one on the left side and the other below the screen - and tapping or swiping from a particular alphabet allows you to quickly access the apps starting with that alphabet. Cyanogen’s new WebKit-based browser integrates Bing search out of the box. While overall, the customisation options that Cyanogen provides on the Yutopia is quite commendable, we suspect that an average user might not find it as easy to use as on a stock Android device.

Camera
7

The 21-megapixel camera comprising of the powerful Sony Exmor RS IMX230 image sensor does appear powerful on paper. YU has used a 6 element lens and also added Phase Detection Auto Focus which promises a focus lock in mere 0.2 seconds. Surprisingly, the focus was a tad slower than what was promised. Most photos were a bit blurry and the sharpness went for a toss when the zero shutter lag was enabled from the Settings. In the HDR mode, the camera struggled to strike a good white balance ratio, making the resultant images look a bit more hazy than usual. Low light images turned out to be better than on most other devices, but they missed out on detail. In a nutshell, the camera works great in natural light conditions for close shots, portraits, and even landscape shots to some extent. Cyanogen’s Camera app offers a Jelly Bean era interface.

Camera1

With a capability of recording up to 4K resolution videos, the primary camera tries to make the best  use of Optical Image Stabilisation. The downside of this though, was that videos turned out to be slightly choppy when you pan the camera. We recommend shooting 1080p resolution videos at 60fps using the primary camera. 

Camera2

The images taken by the front-facing 8-megapixel camera are decent, but we were disappointed with the output because of the aggressive post-processing - no sharpness and lacking details. The camera is also capable of recording HD videos, which are decent enough to allow you to share them on Instagram or Vine. 

Camera3

Audio and video
7

The Gaana app is preloaded as the default music player for streaming a variety of music. Due to the lack of any other music player we installed the Poweramp music player to play our collection of .flac files. Activating the DTS Sound option in the AudioFX app boosted the volume without any distortion. The sound output through the speaker was fine in an empty room, but didn’t seem as powerful when used outdoors. Due to the lack of a decent native video player, we installed the VLC media player. This allowed us to watch TV shows and movies in 1080p resolution without any issues. In fact, the VLC media player was able to easily pull off playing Ultra HD videos without much of an issue. However, do take note that the phone does get a bit warm when playing these videos.

audio

Performance
7.5

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 faced a lot of brickbats for its heating issues in the past. And these troubles continue even on the Yutopia. The phone turns warm post a session of gaming, streaming videos on YouTube and taking a couple of images. We’re only hoping that YU works closely with Cyanogen to reduce these issues with a software update soon. The audio quality of the earpiece is quite good and the dual-microphones with noise cancellation deliver clear voice. We noticed stutter at times, and the functionality of the fingerprint reader too was quite erratic - we had to tap on the sensor several times to take a selfie.

Performance

Though the Snapdragon 810 has been one of the top-tier chipsets, it hasn’t exactly nailed its position when it comes to benchmarks. In the new AnTuTu benchmark, Yutopia scored 78,422 points and thereby was slotted between the OnePlus 2 and the Sony Xperia Z5. In terms of web browsing, it scored 5,363 points and ranked better than the LG G4 in the Vellamo’s HTML5 benchmark using the Google Chrome for mobile. When we tested the phone’s capacity for 2K resolution gaming, the phone scored merely 601 points in the Sling Shot ES 3.1 benchmark, but earned a respectable score of 13,428 in the 720p resolution Ice Storm Unlimited Benchmark.

To sum it all up, the Yutopia doesn’t exactly blow any flagships out of water, speaking purely from a performance-based perspective. But it does a noteworthy job, good enough for someone to look for an alternative to the OnePlus 2. 

Battery life
7

Packing a non-removable 3,000mAh battery, Yutopia doesn’t exactly have the edge over other flagship smartphones. The QuickCharge 2.0 support rapidly charges the phone with just 4% battery juice to 30% in a matter of 20 minutes, even when we left the location-based services on and connected the device continuously to the Wi-Fi network. With about 30 minutes of voice calls, 20 minutes of streaming YouTube videos, watching a 30 minutes long TV show, an hour of listening to music, and intermittently using social media apps along with browsing the web made the phone run for about 15 hours. Throughout this usage, we had set the power consumption mode to Balanced. The Power Management option provides you with ample options for managing power consumption, but at the end of the day, you are better off keeping a charger at hand for quickly juicing up the battery. 

Conclusion

YU has managed to whip out its first flagship from the Indian turf, and deserves a pat on its back for such an attempt. The Yutopia is the flagship device that almost made to the list of frontrunners. In its price tag of Rs.24,999, you also get a pair of the House of Marley’s Little Bird, which would otherwise cost roughly about Rs.1,300.

The Yutopia has two perfect competitors - the OnePlus 2 and the Huawei Honor 7 - at the same price point. All three devices offer you distinct software experience and a powerful hardware package. If compared purely based on specifications, then the Yutopia has an upper hand. 

The Yutopia as a flagship challenger aims to repeat the same thing that the OnePlus 2 intended, but without the hype or hoopla. Though, the race of introducing a specification heavy smartphone at a low price is slowly turning out to be a drag because the real-world performance of such devices is still a few miles behind the real flagships. However, Yutopia scores brownie points for its premium build, 2K display, and a camera with a great potential. While the fingerprint reader remains a trial and error experiment, the software update might tweak the camera’s post-processing, battery life and make the overall system smoother. Of course, the QuickCharge 2.0 is handy, but one still has to carry a charger around.

All in all, the Yutopia is a great device for those who wish for flagship level hardware in their device and can patiently wait for software updates. With top-tier components inside, the Yutopia is a powerful package. 

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