Micromax phones have a reputation: they are low cost devices running sluggish software on middling hardware. And the biggest problem of late on Micromax phones has been bloatware -- pre-installed software that you sure as heck didn’t ask for that slows down your phone -- and unnecessary changes to the user interface.
Which is why, the company’s newest brand, YU, is the best decision it has made in a long time. YU is a spin-off brand aimed at power users of Android who like to extensively tinker with their devices. It’s a clear shift away from everything Micromax: the hardware is significantly better than most Micromax devices; the inexpensive processors -- a Micromax staple -- have been replaced by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips; and the operating system, the highly customisable Cyanogenmod, a fork of Android is a high point.
The Yureka is a rather simplistic phone. There is absolutely no Micromax branding. Instead, we get a large YU logo on the back of the phone. It’s not the slimmest phone around, but it’s surprisingly light, and you’ll barely notice it once you slide it inside your pocket.
That said, this is a large phone. The display comes in at 5.5-inches with a 1280x720 resolution. Pictures and videos look fairly sharp, but I’ve seen better. Colours appear slightly oversaturated but I’ll take oversaturated over washed-out any day.
The front has capacitive touch buttons, but if you want to turn them off and substitute on-screen buttons instead, you can. In my experience, the on-screen buttons worked better than the capacitive buttons, which didn’t register my response at times.
The back is grippy and has a rubbery texture, which looks nice out of the box but unfortunately is a fingerprint magnet that makes your phone look tacky mere hours after you start using it. There is a microSD card slot -- yes! – and dual SIM support.
The phone insides feature a brand new Qualcomm octacore 64-bit processor, the Snapdragon 615, and 2GB of RAM which means it does multitasking and casual gaming with relative ease.
The 13 megapixel camera sounds impressive but low-light photography is terrible and will result in grainy pictures. This is a shooter that’s best suited for taking pictures outdoors in natural light. There’s also a front-facing selfie camera that’s…OK.
The Yureka comes with Cyanogenmod pre-installed, the only device in India which does so after the courts banned the OnePlus One from doing so. Cyanogenmod, a fork of Android, is the most customisable mainstream phone OS out there. Everything from the user interface to hardware clockspeeds are under your control if you have Cyanogenmod. For instance: if you aren't happy with Yu's rather vanilla lockscreen, it can be disabled in the settings and the default lockscreen with shortcuts and widgets can replace it. You can even mix and match different interfaces like Holo and Material Design to create something that suits your taste.
The most exciting thing about the Yureka, at least from a power user perspective, however, is that Yu allows you to root the device without giving up your precious warranty. This will encourage users to tinker with the software on the phone.
The Yu Yureka is the new sub-Rs. 10,000 king. There is nothing available in this price bracket from competitors that will even come close to beating this device when it comes specs or software. Yu’s target audience – budget-conscious techies -- will be lining up to buy this phone in droves.