Yu Yutopia review: The new challenger for flagships everywhere?

Yu Yutopia is not a bad effort for a first time flagship and work reasonably well with great specs on paper. But can it challenge other flagships?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Written by Shruti Dhapola | Updated: December 28, 2015 2:02 pm
Micromax Yutopia review, Yutopia services, Yutopia cyanogen, YU Yutopia price, YU Yutopia features, YU Yutopia review, Yutopia review, YU Televentures Yutopia by YU is the new flagship from Micromax’s YU Televentures. Here’s our review of the Yutopia smartphone.

Yu Yutopia is the first mid-range smartphone from Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma’s YU Televentures. YU is marketing its flagship as one of the ‘most powerful phones on the planet’, and hasn’t shied away from taking pot-shots at other players like OnePlus 2, Samsung’s S6 series, and even the Apple iPhone 6s.

Yutopia is also the first phone with YU’s Around YU integrated services platform, where customers can book everything from flights to food on the phone. With this, YU becomes the first Indian smartphone maker to offer such a service that is natively built into the smartphone. We’ll have a more detailed review for Around YU as well.

In Yutopia’s case, the big question is whether specs, a better design will be enough to win over customers? We tried out the phone for a week and here’s our review.

Specs: 5.2-inch WQHD display | Snapdragon 810 processor | 4GB RAM | 32GB storage space (expandable to 64GB) | 21MP rear camera with 4K recording, OIS + 8MP front camera | 3000 mAh battery | CyanogenMod OS 12 on Android 5.1.1 with Around YU series.

Price: Rs 24,999

Watch our video review of Yu Yutopia

Design: This is Yutopia’s first full-metal body smartphone and it looks sleek though at 7.2 mm it’s a bit thick by the standards these days. The camera unit protruding on the back is jarring, but overall I like the way this phone fits into your hand. It’s good that YU didn’t feel the need to slap on a giant screen and has kept the size at a more manageable 5.2 inches.

Micromax Yutopia review, Yutopia services, Yutopia cyanogen, YU Yutopia price, YU Yutopia features, YU Yutopia review, Yutopia review, YU Televentures Yu Yutopia is crafted out of metal and has a fingerprint sensor on the back.

Just like the Yuphoria smartphone, the Yutopia’s power button is in the middle of the two volume rockers. Yu has gone for one giant SIM slot (Micro and Nano-SIM slot) along with the microSD slot. It’s not really well-designed and you keep worrying that the nano-SIM will fall out when trying to put the tray back in. Also the design is such that you can’t run both the nano-SIM and microSD card slot together.

Screen: For a 2K screen, this might seem a bit underwhelming at first sight. However, adding a brighter wallpaper definitely makes a big difference. When watching full HD or even 4K videos on YouTube, the screen really does come alive. It is prone to smudges and in sunlight it is impossible to read anything on the screen, unless you crank up the brightness level to full.

Micromax Yutopia review, Yutopia services, Yutopia cyanogen, YU Yutopia price, YU Yutopia features, YU Yutopia review, Yutopia review, YU Televentures Yutopia smartphone features a 2K, 5.2-inch display.

Performance, Software: For a smartphone with Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB RAM, there’s a lot expected on the performance front. Yutopia does deliver, but not all the time. On Antutu benchmark tests, the phone scores just below the G4 and in our tests came below all the top flagships for this year.

There were times when the notification bar would not respond, or exiting a game would cause the phone to freeze. The Cyanogen UI experience is definitely not in the same league as say a pure Android, and we’re hoping that software updates will fix these glitches.

Yutopia gets heated up pretty fast, and you’re not sure what will cause this. It could be a slightly long gaming session or just a few minutes of usage browsing apps. Hopefully YU can fix this with a software update like it did to some extent for Yuphoria.

The fingerprint scanner is an all out-miss. While it’s easy to set-up, there were several instances when the phone would not read my fingerprint and I had to manually unlock. I suggest sticking with a PIN or pattern to locking this smartphone.

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The one major performance issue I faced with Yutopia was when it shut down at 18 per cent charge and then went into reboot mode. Once the phone restarted, it had lost all the pictures I had taken minutes before it switched off.

Sound quality: This is another area where Yutopia fails to live up to the hype it has created. The Little Bird headphones from House of Marley are nothing exceptional, and the DTS Sound function doesn’t do much for the phone. After a certain volume level, the sound starts cracking.

I would say without the DTS sound option on, the phone works reasonably well, if you just want to put some music on and let it play.

Yu Yutopia comes with 8-megapixel front camera but it doesn't justify that pixel count Yu Yutopia comes with 8-megapixel front camera but it doesn’t justify that pixel count.

Battery: I got a mixed response with Yutopia here. YU has added a number of modes such as efficient, performance, balanced and even though I was mostly only the balanced mode, the phone required constant charging.

There were days when the phone would easily last for hours, even with 40 per cent battery level and constant usage such as music, browsing, calls, notification alerts etc. But then on other days, even with minimum use, the battery level would drop suddenly. I suggest you carry the charger and a battery pack at all times.

Camera: The rear camera’s autofocus is fast and it works great if you’re taking close-up shots. However, for a 21MP camera, I’m not entirely happy about the colour reproduction. With colours like bright orange or yellow, the camera struggles.

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The OIS feature in the camera ensures that the Yutopia manages to capture sharp photos, even when you zoom in from a distance. However, the pictures don’t have the same level of details as I’ve seen on flagships like S6 edge + or even Nexus 6P.

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The front camera in my opinion is really not the best for selfies. I’ve tried other phones with eight megapixel selfie cameras as well and so far Yutopia doesn’t come in the top 5.

Around YU

Around YU is the company’s answer to one giant integrated service platform. At first glance it is a good way to browse through essential services like flights, trains, etc, without opening hundreds of apps. The fact that YU is thinking beyond just the specs game and trying to offer an interesting software service to its users is commendable.

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But the experience is still disjointed. For instance with flight tickets, the price would change when I clicked on book and the service took me to the actual mobile browser page to confirm the reservation. With food orders, it would have been much better if Around YU straight up opened the Zomato Order app which is installed on the phone, instead of taking me to a separate mobile site.

For now, the service is still a work in progress and hopefully YU will add more improvements and features in the next couple of months.

Verdict

For a first-time flagship, Yutopia is not a bad effort at all. It’s got all the specs on paper, has a nice design, and performs reasonably well. The 2K screen is great for those who like watching videos and the rear camera does a decent job too. But does Yutopia make other flagships, which come with their legacy and brand value, seem redundant? For now, I can’t say it does.