Yu Yunicorn, the latest smartphone from Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma’s alternate smartphone brand is officially available now. After trying to build a top-end smartphone with flagship specs, Yu seems to be focusing on the mid-range where all the volume is in the Indian market.
Yu has moved a great deal since its inception. Once seen as a Cyanogen brand, Yu has moved to building its own custom Android OS. Yunicorn is the first step in the direction of delivering a smartphone that is conceived
Yu Yunicorn is all about going back to basics – building a decent mid-range smartphone rather than a flagship that didn’t really work. Yu Yunicorn comes with metal unibody design and relocates the fingerprint scanner from back to the front.
Yunicorn is also the first Yu smartphone to feature a beefy 4000mAh battery, enough to qualify it as a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Meizu m3 note competitor. When the competition is huge, the device better be good, right? Let’s break down how good Yunicorn is in real life.
Specs: 5.5-inch (1080x1920p, ~401 ppi) LCD display | Octa-core 1.8 GHz Mediatek MT6755 processor | 4GB RAM | 32GB storage (expandable up to 128GB) | 13MP rear camera + 5MP front | Li-Ion 4000 mAh battery | Android Lollipop OS
Price: Rs 12,999
A look at Yu Yunicorn makes it clear that this is not a new design. Yunicorn looks like an amalgamation of several smartphones that we have seen before. Its front is akin to Oppo F1 Plus while the back seems like a fusion of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 and HTC’s One series. Is that bad? Well, I feel Yunicorn is a far better smartphone in terms of design than YU’s previous offerings.
As one can expect from a smartphone in this price range, Yunicorn features a metal back and feels extremely solid in your hands. Our review unit came in Rush Gold colour (which looks just like regular gold colour) and it reflects light like nothing else out there. It does look luxurious thanks to use of magnesium and aluminium alloy.
Yu Yunicorn’s front is home to large 5.5-inch display, home button that also doubles up as fingerprint sensor, plus the front camera and earpiece. Yu has opted for on-screen button which is pretty cool.
Yu Yunicorn doesn’t feature a removable back and offers quick access to SIM card from the left hand side. The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6755 processor clocked at 1.8GHz paired with 4GB RAM. The top houses the 3.5 mm headphone jack, while the bottom hosts the micro-USB slot and CNC drilled speaker grills (more on that later).
The back of Yu Yunicorn is home to a 13MP camera placed in the centre, very similar to first HTC One smartphone. Below it is the dual LED flash and Yu logo and other regulatory details.
Yu Yunicorn is undoubtedly the best designed Yu smartphone till date.
Yu Yunicorn features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, which is one of the best among smartphones in this price range.
If you are somebody who enjoys watching videos on smartphones, this one will surely delight. Sharp and punchy colours are the characteristics of Yunicorn’s display. On a sidenote, it is necessary to push the display brightness to around 50 per cent to really see things under the harsh Delhi sunlight.
Yu Yunicorn runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with a custom UI, absurdly named “Android on Steroids”. The OS is extremely responsive and everything flows on this one.
In comparison with previous Yu devices, this one is way faster and intuitive to use. YU has changed the icons like other smartphone vendors, and uses alphabetical layout for the app tray. The recently used apps sit on top, which makes jumping to recent apps really easy.
There is a prominent search bar on top to quickly jump onto apps.Yunicorn’s OS is not as stock as Moto, but it is not bad at all.
Yu Yunicorn also has few duplicate apps, which the company could have dropped for a more stock look. For example, there are three browser options to access one web link. I can’t imagine why somebody would need three browsers to open a single URL.
Yu Yunicorn also has the company’s ‘Around Yu 2.0’ service built-in. It gives quick access to cabs, hotels, flights, train, et cetera. I did manage to book a flight with the service, but it wasn’t as smooth as it is with Makemytrip app. The service needs to mature a lot to be really useful.
YU has partnered with Lybrate for a new app called Health which gives access to doctor with just a tap.
Yu Yunicorn has one of the worst camera’s I have seen in this price range. The shutter mechanism is ridiculously slow, and you are sure to miss the subject, every time.
The painpoint is not just the shutter, but also the autofocus. Yunicorn’s autofocus lags peers by miles and I could only manage out of focus images. Yu should have added a mode called refocusing, which would have fixed the issues to some extent.
Yunicorn’s camera supports HDR mode, but it takes forever to get the snap. I don’t have that much patience.
Yu, which brags itself as a software-first company, has failed to build a great camera software on this phone. Companies like LG have shown how a easy and quick to use software can fix the problems with image sensor. Yu Yunicorn runs a stock version of camera UI available with most MediaTek smartphones. I feel Yu has missed an opportunity to build a great camera UI that would have resounded well with camera enthusiasts.
Performance and Battery Life
Yu Yunicorn performs just like any other MediaTek Helio P10 powered smartphone. From gaming to basic word processing – everything works smoothly on this phone.
Since Yunicorn runs a near stock version of Android, the multitasking card layout is fast and resumes activity real quick. If performance is a key indicator, then Yunicorn wins without any issue.
However, Yunicorn’s USP is its 4000mAh battery. I got a little over 36 hours of use on this one. With a screen-on time of more than 7 hours, Yunicorn should easily last over two full days for any moderate user.
There is very little to complain about the battery life. Our review unit didn’t come with a charger, but I was easily available to quick charge it using another one.
There is just one downside to it. I observed Yunicorn’s battery dropped from 30 per cent to 5 per cent way quicker than it declined from 100 per cent to 30.
If you are a backpacker and want a smartphone with great battery life, this one is just another option in the ever growing crowd of big battery smartphones.
Wrap-Up: Should you buy?
Yu Yunicorn, is the best designed Yu smartphone till date. There is just no doubt about it, but it fails to redefine the market.
Yu Yunicorn gets the display right, has an excellent battery (so does Redmi Note 3 and Meizu m3 note), and an UI that is definitely the best among smartphones in this price category. However, Yunicorn has missed out on delivering a camera that is half good. In my opinion, Meizu m3 note does a far better job when it comes to clicking decent images.
If your priority is a smartphone with good design and great battery with the camera being a secondary feature, the Yu Yunicorn would be an apt choice. But just don’t fall for the marketing buzz, this phone doesn’t redefine the smartphone category.