Micromax Challenges Mi with Yu

Low-Cost 4G CyanogenMod-Based Smartphone for India

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On 18 December India-based Micromax unveiled Yureka, a value-orientated LTE smartphone running the CyanogenMod operating system. It will be sold under a new Micromax brand, Yu.

The Yureka runs on Qualcomm’s 64-bit Snapdragon 615 octa-core 1.5 GHz processor. It has a 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 in-plane switching display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The phone has a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, a five-megapixel front-facing camera and 16GB of built-in storage plus a microSD slot. Yureka is a dual-SIM device, a particularly important feature for the Indian market.

While the specs are not particularly cutting edge, at 8,999 rupees ($142), Yureka is a good-value device for those looking for a 4G phone in India. Although LTE coverage is spotty in the country, networks are expanding quickly in urban areas. It’s noteworthy that Micromax matched the price of Xiaomi’s Mi Redmi Note, a popular 3G, 5.5-inch device in India. Yureka will be sold exclusively through Amazon’s Indian site, just as Xiaomi’s smartphones are sold exclusively on the site of rival retailer Flipkart.

Micromax and software company Cyanogen entered into an exclusive partnership to bring supported CyanogenMod-based devices into India. CyanogenMod is an open-source operating system based on Android. Although a CyanogenMod device had been expected from Micromax (see CyanogenMod’s New Raison d’Être), the exclusive partnership is a setback for OnePlus, which had been selling a Cyanogen-branded device in India. Sales of Cyanogen versions of the popular OnePlus One phone have been stopped in India and Cyanogen will no longer official updates to OnePlus owners in the country.

Given Xiaomi’s recent problems with intellectual property rights in India (see A Patent Cold Shower), Micromax’s timing is extremely fortuitous. With a home-field advantage and 4G momentum, Yu could challenge Mi and other international brands in the Indian market.