YU Yunicorn First Impression: Great design, but camera needs work

YU has finally launched its redefined flagship smartphone Yunicorn in India, another device that attempts to make the premium flagships more affordable

Written by Karthekayan Iyer | Updated: June 7, 2016 8:41 am
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YU has finally launched its redefined flagship smartphone Yunicorn in India, another device that attempts to make the premium flagships more affordable. At Rs 12,999, YU Yunicorn offers a premium metal design, 4GB RAM (which the company calls as mammoth), 32GB storage and an octa-core processor.

For YU, Yunicorn is more than just hardware. It runs the company’s very own OS, wierdly named, ‘Android on Steroids’ OS. Designed by the company’s team in Bangalore, the newly announced OS comes with updated Around YU, which aggregates even more services than before.

We got to spend some time with YU Yunicorn and here is our first impression

Design and Display

YU Yunicorn is the best designed smartphone yet from the company. It resembled Oppo F1 Plus and HTC One series in terms of design but deviates a lot from the design language we have seen in the previous Yu devices, which in a way, is a good thing.

Yu Yunicorn features a 5.5-inch Full HD display with Miravision 2.0 support Yu Yunicorn features a 5.5-inch Full HD display with Miravision 2.0 support

YU Yunicorn has a white colour trim up front which looks similar to the iPhone but with an oval fingerprint scanner. Our review unit came in Rush Gold colour option which didn’t really go well with the white frame in the front.

YU has fused aluminium with magnesium for the metal back of the Yunicorn. Magnesium has a tendency to give more rigidness and the colour won’t die down over long periods of use. We can just hope that this device holds true to its claim.

The metal back is home to the rear camera and dual LED flash with YU logo placed at the bottom. The front hosts the 5.5-inch Full HD display which is the best YU has ever packed into its smartphone. Yes, this display, thanks to Miravision 2.0 support, is brighter and accurate when it comes to colour reproduction. It offers good visibility under direct sunlight.

Watch: Yu Yunicorn First Look Video

Since, this is early days with this smartphone, we would like to test auto brightness settings and other display parameters before delivering our final verdict.

Hardware

YU Yunicorn is powered by the same octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor that was used in the Meizu m3 note. The processor is common among mid-budget smartphones and offers really smooth performance. The MediaTek Helio P10 coupled with 4GB RAM easily handles most basic tasks like browsing, socialising and clicking pictures.

In our initial time with the device, even Asphalt 8: Airborne rendered very smoothly. The only noted difference between Meizu m3 note and YU Yunicorn is the smoothness the latter offers. YU Yunicorn comes with 32GB storage which is further expandable to 128GB. YU has taken care of the storage issue here by not offering a 16GB base variant.

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With Yunicorn, Yu has moved the fingerprint scanner from the back to the front and this time around it works. This fingerprint scanner is quick and more than that, it managed to recognise my thumb every time.

To sum up, YU Yunicorn has a vibrant display, responsive fingerprint scanner and will play nice with both basic tasks as well as gaming.

Camera

YU has a long reputation of not delivering a great camera and that story continues here too. In our reviews of previous YU devices, we often noted how slow their cameras are and this 13MP rear camera is equally slow. Every time you click the shutter button, there is a noticeable lag.

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However, YU Yunicorn manages to lock onto a subject relatively fast and reproduces images that don’t look over processed at all. I would have loved the pictures if it had more sharpness.

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YU, which brags a lot about its software prowess has missed an opportunity here with the camera UI. Yunicorn’s camera has the stock UI that we have seen on most MediaTek devices before and it is definitely not the best. YU could have offered more customisation options to enhance the experience.

YU Yunicorn has a 5MP front camera which might appeal to selfie fans, but is definitely not the best we have seen on smartphones.

Software

The Android on Steroids operating system is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The custom ROM has been designed by YU’s team in Bangalore, but is packed with less bloatware than we have seen before on YU devices.

Yu Yunicorn uses an alphabetical order for its app drawer and looks more close to stock Android. It is all about minimal software design and greater usability.

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While it might sound great, there are occasional app crashes. While setting up my Google account, the window crashed and then Google Play stopped working altogether. The services resumed on restart but there is probably updates in the offing.

Yu has also introduced ‘Around Yu 2.0’ which now also gives access to doctors and an integrated wallet. We will use the service over the next few days and stay tuned for our full review to know how useful it is in real life.

Battery

Yu Yunicorn comes with a huge 4000mAh battery which the company claims will get you past two full days of heavy use. It will mostly hold on to that claim.

I started with 52 per cent battery and after setting up the device and downloading all the occasional apps over Wi-Fi (which is quite a lot honestly), Yu Yunicorn had 50 per cent left. If you are looking at a big battery smartphone, this one should definitely be on your list.

Wrap Up

Yu Yunicorn, the so-called flagship redefined smartphone, basically means mid-range flagship and not the top tier ones. The smartphone is definitely a great option considering the price and specifications.

Though slow, it has a decent camera and a battery that will last days and not hours. The smartphone when updated to Android Marshmallow should be a compelling option in the sub-15k range.