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Yu Yutopia: All Mouth & No Trousers

[fa icon="calendar"] 18-Jan-2016 13:57:35 / by Eddie Vassallo

Eddie Vassallo

It's 2016 and the Entropy Daily Driver Challenge rolls on...

This week we have a unique one for you, folks - this is the Yu Yutopia - the first flagship-level Android handset from India-based Yu Micromax, and on the surface, this is actually a pretty impressive piece of hardware.

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First the obligatory specs, starting with the star of the show - the 5.2-inch Quad HD IPS display, which in a word is absolutely *stunning*. This is easily the best IPS screen we have seen on a sub 5.5-inch display this year (and last for that matter). Guys - this thing will literally burn your corneas out of their sockets with the brightness turned up to past 60%. It's that ridiculous. In lower brightness settings the whites tend to get a bit yellowy for our taste, but really that's nitpicking for the sake of it, as this is a shockingly-good screen.

Not stopping there, Yu packed in a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, and wrapped the entire handset in a lovely 'space grey-ish' aluminium casing. 

So again, on paper, this thing should theoretically stand toe-to-toe with the likes of the Nexus 6P, Samsung S6, and even the iPhone 6S. Right?

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Well - sadly, this handset is a perfect embodiment of the 'specs aren't everything' adage. 

It's really as if Yu threw together all the hardware components that would make the average Android fanboy drool into a nice little package (all-metal build of course as that's also in-vogue).

Trouble is, you can't build a fluid smartphone from components alone.

And really, that's been the problem for Android handset challengers and supposed 'flagship killers' for years now - with the notable exception of OnePlus who have finely tuned the affordable flagship concept into a series of excellent devices. 

So what's the problem? Well in a nutshell, it's the software. First off, Yu has taken the relatively 'lazy' step of pre-installing Cyanogen 12.1 (based on Android Lollipop) onto the Yutopia. Trouble is, in comparison to say the OnePlus 2, the software has not been tuned whatsoever to the hardware. It's buggy, extremely sluggish, and prone to frequent crashes. Not the gentle "launcher" crashes mind you - these are BIG HAIRY crashes forcing you to literally hard reset the phone to get a pulse. 

I honestly haven't seen software issues this painful since the Lumia 950 XL - and no one wants to revisit that nightmare, believe me.

And while we're piling on here, the 21MP rear shooter suffers from painful shutter lag with absolutely no help in low-light conditions. And that fingerprint scanner on the back is just god-awful. Probably the worst fingerprint scanner we've used since the one that came with our Thinkpad notebook back in 2004.

Sure software updates may address many of these issues - but do you really want to shell out OnePlus 2 level money on a handset that has a hard time moving between homescreens? 

And now for the elephant in the room - the marketing. Yu has made the claim that the Yutopia is the 'most powerful phone ever' and in other pieces is touted as 'the most powerful phone on the planet'. 

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Seriously.

You can't make this up - it's even printed across the box itself. 

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What's more - their website URL is actually youplaygod.com. No joke here, folks. This ad campaign makes the ill-fated 'Gallery of Privacy' for the BlackBerry Priv launch look like high art.

Now I'm all in on the theory that 'when you got it, flaunt it', but the Yutopia is none of those things, and at the end of the day is really just a frankenstein-beast of components that do not play nice together. 

Sure it sounds the part - and actually, with an attractive all-metal build, almost looks the part as well. But once you switch it on and put it through a few days of hard graft, the true nature of this little experiment reveals itself. And in essence, that's a half-baked flagship experience that tries SO HARD to pull it off.

As the Yutopia is still only available in India (exclusively from Amazon.in), we are not likely to see much of it in Europe anytime soon. But as a first attempt at a legitimate 'flagship killer' it's not all a failure for the fledgling Yu Micromax. It's actually a rather attractive handset, has decent enough specs to throw around at the pub, and feels really good in the hand - almost making me think a 5.2-inch screen is just about the ideal form factor. 

Alas stock Android, or even a light in-house Marshmallow skin would have gone a long way in correcting the issues we've experienced, as the selection of Cyanogen without any fine-tuning to the device itself is really the death knell for this little guy.

You can't help but feel it's a bit of shame in the end. Especially, as my eyes will never be the same again after using this truly glorious Quad HD display. 

But for now, we're hankering to get back our Nexus 6P - a handset that has the specs (as well as the trousers) to truly pull off flagship-level performance.  

Topics: Android

Eddie Vassallo

Written by Eddie Vassallo

Eddie is Founder & CEO of Entropy, former Head of Mobile for Discovery Channel, regular Guest Contributor on GigaOm and has been featured on Daring Fireball, CNN, and Strategy Eye.