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A Yunicorn Is Born

This budget phone (Yunicorn) has a clean interface, works well and has useful services with a swipe feature

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Micromax’s offshoot, Yu Televentures, has a set of amusingly named Yu-something phones of which the newest is Yunicorn. Too much of the startup age, perhaps.
Amusingly named though it is, the device turns out quite nice and good bang for your buck — not too much buck either at an introductory Rs 12,999 and later Rs 13,999.

It has a twin: The Yunicorn looks alarmingly similar to the recently launched Meizu M3 Note, though one can’t say what came first and anyway all of them try to look like an iPhone which some say tried to look like an early HTC phone.

The M3 Note and Yunicorn cannot be told apart if you look at them from the front. The aluminium back panels are also similarly styled. The Yunicorn uses a brushed metal which immediately lifts the way it looks and feels. It’s the usual size, 5.5 inches, but comfortable in the hand despite its angled edges which don’t hurt at all.

It breathes easy: The Yunicorn has a number of things going for it, the most important of which is that it works well. Doing the smart thing, Yu has freed the software interface on the phone from unnecessary customisations and other nonsense, leaving it some breathing space, for heaven’s sake. It’s pretty smooth for a budget phone and close to untampered Android — even if it is Lollipop and not the more recent Marshmallow.

They haven’t removed the app drawer either, which is so much more of an Android thing rather than trying hard to be an iPhone — and failing miserably. That leaves all the Home screen free to be decorated and loaded with widgets, which after all, is half the fun of an Android phone.

Services with a swipe: In lieu of trying to make their offering more distinctive with software tweaks, Yu has put in something more useful: services with a swipe. A right swipe on the Home screen opens up another smart thing Yu is doing with its lineup of phones. It’s called Around Yu. Putting in shortcuts to various services and things to buy. You have food, cabs, flights, hotels, trains, shopping and recharging your phone.

This is interesting because of how quick it is to get to these things without having to download separate apps for each area. Apparently more categories and services will be added soon enough. It’s a refreshing change.

Visual strength: The Yunicorn’s hardware specs are mid-range, but its display does very well for itself and even has a control centre of its own called MiraVision with which adjustments to various parameters like contrast, vividity, etc., can be made for both photos and video. But even without that, it’s a good screen with crisp text and uncompromised viewing angles.

The 13MP camera is average and at least on my review unit, put a slight yellow tinge to images. Indoors, it’s averagely noisy. The 5MP selfie camera is passable.

If you’re interested in this phone, also check out Lenovo’s Zuk Z1, the new Moto G4, the Redmi Note 3 and Asus’ Zenfone Max.

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