A metal frame, stand-out design and Cyanogen OS. But is the whole package greater than the sum of (silicon) parts?

Micromax spin-off Yu first shook up the mid-range space with the Yureka. This time, they’re targeting budget devices and come armed with a metal frame, distinctive design and, of course, Cyanogen OS. On paper, the Yuphoria sure looks a fantastic budget Android device. But how does it stack up in real life?

Looking good in a retro way

When Yu launched the Yuphoria, they sure made a big fuss about its design, with the stamped metal, the symmetric design and the ‘Rings of Saturn’ that surround the camera all a big part of the presentation. Have they succeeded? Pretty much, with one small caveat.

You see, the phone does stand out, looking like absolutely nothing else on the market, and instead, with a strong resemblance to a retro Walkman from a couple of decades ago, it does look nice. We like that – in terms of character, it’s got oodles. And then some more.

But where things go wrong is in the plastic tabs over the antennae. Now, in most phones, these are very, very thin, almost to the point of being unnoticeable. But in the Yuphoria, they stand out rather prominently – at 12 o’clock and 6 o’ clock. That would still be okay if the plastic used was of a decent enough quality; but nope, these seem to be made from a material that you’d expect on a shoddy toy sold at a traffic light. Which is a shame, because the phone otherwise exudes quality that far exceeds expectations from a device this low-priced.

All things said, the build quality is still excellent for a budget device, and the Yuphoria is reassuringly solid to hold. The metal buttons seem built to last a while, the rounded metal sides make it easy to hold and the soft-touch back cover feels good as well (although, it’s so thin, we have our reservations about how long it’ll last). As for colours, you get two choices – buffed steel and black; and champagne gold with white.

Colour me pink

A 5in, 720p screen is what you get, pretty much standard for a budget device. While we feel that anything above a 4.5in screen ideally needs a 1080p screen to keep text crisp, let’s not lose sight of the Yuphoria’s price. Outdoor visibility is also good enough, and while the IPS Panel isn’t the brightest, it’s usable even with Delhi’s horrible summer sun blasting away like a runaway reactor. But what’s surprising is the slightly pink cast to the screen, a complete turnaround from the Yureka, which had a cold, blue cast instead. Now some of you might appreciate the pinkish hue on the screen, which makes the display easier on the eyes in the dark, and can reduce fatigue for nightbirds who need a fix of Reddit before calling it a day. In daily use, it can be just a little aggravating, though you’ll soon get used to it.

CyanogenOS to the rescue

The cheapest Cyanogen OS device there is. Yes, you don’t get any shoddy, bloatware-packed OS here, just the nice, clean, lightweight Cyanogen OS 12 – built atop Android Lollipop 5.0.2. Sure, you might miss out on some of the fancier features custom skins usually provide, but when it comes to speed, this is where the action is. This lightweight Android system does give you enough in the way of customisation, with performance still staying sharp and er, ‘zingy’. In fact, we’d rate the OS as one of the reasons to get this phone.

Dependable lil’ chap

Overall performance is pretty decent for this device, with the 64-bit Snapdragon 410 providing enough oomph for daily tasks and all but the most demanding games. Apps start up surprisingly quick, and while Chrome might take its time loading up webpages, we still found this to be a lot snappier than the erstwhile king of the budget segment – the Moto G.

The 2GB RAM also goes some way in making multitasking decently seamless, and the Yuphoria makes for a pretty good daily driver of a phone for anyone who’s just looking for a affordable-yet-snappy device and doesn’t care about the latest games.

In fact, the only real complaint we have about the Yuphoria‘s performance is the way it heats up – a few minutes of processor-intensive usage is enough to make you worry. Still, we hope this is something that can be handled on the software front, and isn’t another of the heating issues faced by Qualcomm’s new 64-bit processors.

Bass lovers will be pleased with Yu’s decision to fit in a Wolfson amp, resulting in sound with a good low end. The treble can be a bit high though, and mid-range a bit lacking. Still, we guess that’s what people usually prefer.

Fear of the dark

This is where our main beef with the Yuphoria is. While the 8MP, f/2.2rear camera would normally be passable, it sometimes gets bogged down, becoming slow not just to focus, but also to start up. HDR images can also make it pause and go ‘hmmmm’. Even otherwise, the camera’s emphasis on reducing noise and keeping brightness high leads to slow shutter times when in indoor lighting, forcing you to yell at your subjects not to move.

Outdoors, in sunlight, the camera works okay apart from its propensity to overexpose images, and as for macro and close-up shots, you’ll be happy as long as there’s enough light. As for selfies, the wide-angle 5MP, f/2.0 front camera takes pretty decent snaps of your duckface or pout (or whatever’s in these days), but lacks colour tone.

Videos are surprisingly good – and better than what we’d expected looking at the still performance, although the same old tendency to slow down the shutter shows up here.

But again, as we’ve probably reminded you about eleventy-billion times, it wouldn’t be fair to compare this too far outside its price range.

Don't stray too far from a plug point

The Yuphoria’s 2230 mAh battery packs in Quick Charge 1.0 support, which is good as it’s not going to make it till the end of the day with heavy usage. In fact, we found ourselves constantly worried about whether it would die before we’d get to a charging point. Still, charge it midway during the day once, and you’ll avoid the panicky ‘oh my god, my phone’s dying’ feeling that’s an all-too-sad fact of the smartphone era. And that’s what we’ll do, as with a dual SIM, 4G LTE and expandable storage, this phone is surprisingly versatile for something that costs as much as a pair of basketball shoes.

Yu Yuphoria verdict

It looks good, and works rather well for a device this affordable. Then there’s the 64-bit chip and Cyanogen OS combo, which means you can expect Android updates for a while. And there’s 2GB RAM, which is fast becoming the minimum. Even the camera, with its uneven performance, is miles ahead of the former budget king, the Moto G, and we expect a lot of the issues could be minimised, if not eliminated, through software updates. The battery life is something you’ll just have to learn to live with, but for light users, it shouldn’t be an issue.

So there you are: For a budget device that’ll cost you just 6,999, the Yuphoria does pretty well to exceed our expectations, and with its retro-ish looks, is easily the best-looking budget Android you can get. But we still have to wonder how well it’ll hold up against the latest crop of budget devices that are fitting in even more impressive specs with a price that’s not too far off...

Stuff says... 

Yu Yuphoria review

A pretty decent budget phone that looks good and is well priced, let down only by poor low-light camera performance and battery life.
Good Stuff 
Stands out in a crowd of look-alike devices
CyanogenOS is fast and responsive
2GB RAM makes for decent multitasking
Comfy to hold thanks to rounded edges
Offers great value overall
Bad Stuff 
Camera has poor low-light performance
Plastic bits look cheap
Poor battery life
Chunky bezels waste a lot of space
Overheats with prolonged usage
Screen picks up scratches despite Gorilla Glass