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Priview : Micromax Yureka, Xiaomi RedMi Note Killer

Micromax on Thursday launched Yureka smartphone. It is the company's first phone under the Yu brand, which is supposed to be a separate division within Micromax. Yureka, and subsequent Yu phones, will use CyanogenMod, an Android-based operating system created by Cyanogen Inc.

It is clear that with the Yu phone Micromax is not only trying to woo price-conscious buyers but is also hoping to halt the spectacular march of Xiaomi, a Chinese company that has created a lot of buzz in the Indian market with its aggressively priced phones.

At the Yureka launch event we had a chance to try it briefly. It is a phone with relatively potent hardware, at least on paper, and with a price of Rs.8,999 it has been aggressively positioned in the market. But is it enough? We will talk about that in our review. But for now we can share our first impressions of the device.

The Yureka is a phablet with 5.5-inch screen. And considering it is a budget phablet, it packs in a screen with 720p resolution and not the 1080p that we see on more expensive devices. But 720p is plenty if the screen is good enough in other aspects like how well it can show rich colours or how bright it can get. On both colour and brightness aspects, Yureka looks good enough. It is definitely not as good as what you get in more expensive phones but we feel for its price, it looks, to repeat, good enough.

Though if you ask us how it compares to the screen of RedMi Note, which has the same size and same resolution, we have to say that we prefer the Chinese phone on the basis of first impression. The difference does not seem huge but the Note shows slightly punchier colours.

But where the Yu scores is in the ergonomics and design. It is slimmer than the RedMi Note -- 8.8mm vs 9.5mm -- and uses plastic in matte finish, which feels and looks much better than the glossy plastic used in the Note. In fact, the back cover looks like it has the same finish that OnePlus One, another phone powered by CyanogenMod, has. But of course, there are differences. The OnePlus One is a much more expensive phone and has more premium finish. It also has this peculiar sand-paper like feel to the back cover. The back cover on the Yureka is soft to touch.
The Yureka is also quite light relative to its size and fits well in hands despite its phablet tag.

The phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor. It has an octa-core processor with the maximum speed (limited to four cores) of 1.5GHz. There is 2GB RAM in the device, which is quite generous considering its price. The internal storage is 16GB, which again is quite generous. And if that is not enough, you can add more through a microSD card.

The phone runs CyanogenMod 11, an operating system that uses Android KitKat as its base. It has a clean looking interface. It also packs in a number of unique features that some users may find useful. With decent hardware under the hood, we found the user interface on the phone mostly smooth. We say "mostly" because there was odd hint of lag here and there while we scrolled or quickly switched between apps. It could be possible that Micromax and Cyanogen are still fine-tuning the software because the Yureka unit we tried was a pre-sale model and not the retail one, which will be available only in the coming days.

With the Yureka, we feel Micromax is on the right track. Though we need to use it for at least a few days and test its camera, screen, battery life, call quality and performance in detail before we can say more about it. But based on our first impressions, it looks like a worthy competitor to Xiaomi's RedMi Note. And that is saying something.

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