It was the year which saw high-end phones become more affordable than ever before, so it was in a way entirely appropriate that 2015 ended with three phones slugging it out for supremacy in the value for money flagship segment. It was no less appropriate that all these came from relatively new brands in the Indian market, reflecting the sheer wave of change that hit in the year. All three phones boasted innovative design, high quality hardware comparable with what the best Android flagships could offer, innovative UIs and topped it off with prices that were well below what users would have expected for such spec sheets barely a year and a half ago – the most expensive of the trio costs Rs 24,999, and has specs to match phones that cost twice as much or more.
We are talking of the Affordable Android Flagship Troika – the OnePlus 2, the Qiku Q Terra and the YU Yutopia. Each delivers a performance and comes with spec sheets that most Android flagships would not mind having, and yet each comes with a price that is surprisingly low for what it delivers. And all of them are in the market at around the same time, giving many consumers that most pleasant of all problems – of which one to choose. We have been besieged by queries as to which of the three device is the best for someone looking for a great phone for under Rs 25,000. Well, here is our attempt to answer that really tricky question.
Design and appearance
In a world of increasingly similar looking Android phones, the Yutopia, OnePlus 2 and Q Terra are those rarities that stick out from the crowd. All three have a metal component – the Yutopia is the only one that is all-metal, though. The Q Terra has a metal back but has plastic at its top and lower portion, while the OnePlus 2 rests on a metal frame but has a plastic back. That said, all three have a premium feel to them and are comfortable to hold, although the Q Terra might be a bit too large for comfort for those with smaller hands. Each has features that make it different from the run-of-the-mill Droids – the Yutopia has the distinct Rings-of-Saturn patten around its camera at the back which also protrudes, the Q Terra has an edge to edge display as well as dual 13.0-megapixel camera at the back, while the OnePlus 2 of course has the now iconic Sandstone finished back.
In terms of sheer appearance, however, we think the Yutopia nicks it from the other two – it is at 7.2 mm the slimmest of the three (the Q Terra is 8.6 mm while the OnePlus 2 is 9.9 mm), the lightest at 159 grammes (the OnePlus 2 is 175 grammes and the Q Terra 185 grammes), and most importantly for us, the easiest to handle. Of the three, it has the smallest display at 5.2 inches as against 5.5 inches on the OnePlus 2 and 6.0 inches on the Q Terra, and this results in it having the most compact frame – it is the only one of the three to be under half a foot long and was the easiest to use one-handed or place in one’s trouser or jacket pocket. Round one to the YU flagship.
Winner: YU Yutopia
All three devices can claim to be hardware ‘beasts’ (that’s the term in fashion) in their own right, coming as they do with very good displays, good processors, fingerprint scanners, 4G and cameras and RAM and storage aplenty. Narrow matters down a bit, however, and this turns into a battle between the OnePlus 2 and the Yutopia, as they both come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processors and 4 GB RAM as compared to the Q Terra’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (which is quite superb too but is considered a notch below the 810) and 3 GB RAM.
The OnePlus’ 64 GB onboard storage will attract many but the Yutopia more than compensates by being the only one of the three with a quad HD display and 21.0-megapixel rear and 8.0-megapixel front facing camera. Speaking of cameras, the Q Terra has perhaps the most well-endowed one of the three, with dual 13.0-megapixel shooters on the back (one black and white, and one color), and also has the largest battery (3700 mAh as against 3300 mAh on the OnePlus 2 and 3000 mAh on the Yutopia), but all said and done, we do think that the display (costliest component of any smartphone), expandable memory and cameras win this one for the Yutopia again.
Winner: YU Yutopia
All Android devices work the same? Not in the case of this threesome – the Q Terra comes with its 360 UI which it claims is more efficient even than stock Android, the OnePlus 2 comes with OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS, while the Yutopia comes with Cyanogen OS 12.1, ironically the OS that played its role in the OnePlus One’s success. Now, with all that hardware goodness around, you would think that the software would just run at the rate of knots. Well, yes and no. For in our opinion,the software is perhaps the most distinguishing part of these three devices – all three perform very differently. And surprisingly, it is the Q Terra that comes out on top, simply because it is the most consistent of the three, and because the features it comes with, deliver consistently. The Yutopia and OnePlus 2 on the other hand, are brilliant when running well, but tend ever so often to stumble. We have had to face bugs in the camera UI of the Yutopia, while the OnePlus 2’s updating issues are well-known. Both the Yutopia and OnePlus 2 also tend to heat up more easily than the Q Terra. And then of course, there is the fact that the Terra comes with more added on features (like the Freezer, where you can simply put apps that you don’t want to delete but don’t want running in the background) than the relatively Spartan Oxygen OS and Cyanogen (even though YU has added a Around YU feature on the Yutopia, letting you see shopping, eating, transport and other options in the vicinity), and you can see why we are handing this one to the Q Terra.
Winner: Qiku Q Terra
This is one of the tightest battles out there. On paper, you would have thought that this would be a slugfest between the 21.0-megapixel shooter on the Yutopia and the dual 13.0-megapixel cameras on the Q Terra, but both are actually let down by their penchant for inconsistency. If sheer detail is all that you are seeking, then perhaps the Yutopia’s camera is the one for you, but if color reproduction is just as important, then you might feel frustrated by it. The Q Terra’s dual cameras do a very good job but encounter focusing issues, and are again prone to stumble in the color department. That said, there is no doubt that the Q Terra is the best of the three when it comes to low light photography, capturing some very decent shots even in relatively dark conditions.
However, we are handing the winner’s mantle in this department to the OnePlus 2. Yes, it might seem to have the least spectacular camera of the three in spec terms, but in terms of performance, it was the most consistent by far. If we had time on our hands, we would perhaps go for the Yutopia’s shooter and its ability to capture detail but if it is quintessential spur-of-the-moment point-and-shooting you are seeking, then the OnePlus 2’s camera wins.
Winner: OnePlus 2
Gaming and multi-tasking
What makes this trio of phones really awesome, however, is the fact that no corners have been cut in performance terms. You can pretty much burden them with the sort of tasks you would throw at phones that cost twice or thrice as much as these do and see them handle them with elan. We found all three phones handling the likes of the Asphalt and FIFA series of games without any problems whatsoever, and also run smoothly even with more than a dozen apps running in the background. However, closer inspection revealed the OnePlus 2 handling games with just that slight but more smoothness, followed by the Yutopia and the Q Terra. Interestingly, however, the Q Terra was the only one of the three that did not heat up significantly while playing high-end games – both the OnePlus 2 and Yutopia did heat up more. For sheer consistency, however, we are handing this one to the OnePlus 2 again.
Winner: OnePlus 2
All three of the devices are great for watching films and for playing music. But we do think the larger display of the Q Terra and its near edge-to-edge design makes for a more satisfying viewing experience – you just get to see so much more of the display. And frankly we were not able to see the Yutopia’s quad HD display making too much of a difference in this regard (you get to see more content on a web page on it but if you are watching a full HD film, the difference is barely noticeable). The Terra also scores in loudspeaker terms, with the loudest sound of the three. Where, however, the Yutopia hammers the opposition is in terms of sound on headphones. Of the three, it is the only one which comes with earphones in the box, and not just any earphones, but Little Birds from the House of Marley, which deliver some good sound indeed. It is really going to boil down to a battle between that large display and those very good earbuds, with the OnePlus 2 kind of occupying the middle ground. We are giving this one to the Q Terra with its display-loudspeaker combination but it is a very tight finish once again.
Winner: Qiku Q Terra
The only parameter which is not a battle. The Q Terra’s 3700 mAh battery very comfortably lords it over the OnePlus 2’s 3300 mAh and Yutopia’s 3000 mAh batteries. And we are not talking in terms of benchmarks or tests but in real terms. We found the OnePlus 2 and the Yutopia both seeing us through a day easily, but with the Q Terra, it was closer to a day and a half. The fact that both the Yutopia and the Q Terra also support quick charging makes them better options – the OnePlus 2’s battery can take significantly longer to charge (almost three hours as compared to an hour or so on the Yutopia and about 70–80 minutes on the Terra). The fact that you would need a USB Type-C Cable to charge the OnePlus 2 does not exactly make things easier.
Winner: Qiku Q Terra
General phone performance
In terms of routine day to day performance, the ease of use and form factor edge is firmly with the Yutopia, which is the most compact of the three devices, and is the only one which can be used easily one-handed. However, a number of UI eccentricities – most notably, an erratic fingerprint scanner – trip it up in other departments. The battle then becomes one between the OnePlus 2 and the Q Terra, and while the Terra is the more bulky of the two, we must confess that we found it handling calls and tasks like texts and mails better – all that extra display real estate does help in non-calling activities. This is not to say the OnePlus 2 was bad in these departments, but just that the Q Terra seemed marginally better. We really think it is going to boil down to how big your hands are on this one – we were able to handle the Q Terra without too many problems so we are giving it the edge on this one, but we suspect many with smaller digits will like the OnePlus 2.
Winner: Qiku Q Terra
Value for money: the price-performance factor
In terms non-mathematic, this is just how much the phone delivers for its price. At the time of writing, the Q Terra was available for Rs 21,999 (Rs 19,999 with an invite), while the OnePlus 2 (64 GB) and the Yutopia both cost Rs 24,999. You would think that this would make the Q Terra the winner here – especially given its very strong performance across various parameters – but factor in a level of future proofing and you can see both the OnePlus 2 and the Yutopia coming into contention. For all said and done, both those worthies come with better spec sheets and also come from companies that have a history of updating software regularly, although those updates themselves can sometimes be difficult to install (as exemplified by the OnePlus 2). In sheer spec terms, we think the Yutopia has the Force going with it at the moment, thanks to its cameras and display, although we think it is a software update away from greatness.
Winner: YU Yutopia
As the dust settles on the comparisons, we cannot help but help that the trio provide us with a great example of how good software can offset great hardware. On paper, the Q Terra was actually the weakest of the three phones in hardware terms (Snapdragon 808 against 810, 3GB RAM against 4GB, 16GB onboard storage as against 32GB and 64GB), and yet the phone kept coming to the fore, simply because of the three, it was the most settled in software terms. The Yutopia was the most well-equipped of the three but kept getting tripped up by bugs and the OnePlus 2 for all its brilliance can be a pain to update and also has an occasional penchant for eccentricity (there was this update that suddenly made the phone start heating up). The Q Terra on the other hand sailed through most tasks with nary a quiver. At their very best, the Yutopia and the OnePlus 2 were capable of much better performance in all departments, but day in day out, we had the least problems with the Terra.
So does that make the Q Terra the best phone in the shoot-out?
Well, yes, if consistency is what you seek. But if you are looking for brilliance and a spec sheet that can match the best in the business (and also last a little longer in these rapidly changing times), then we still think you will be torn between the OnePlus 2 and the Yutopia. In the battle between those two, it is really going down to how much you value the display – if quad HD is a massive factor for you, then the Yutopia wins, but if a consistent camera and better battery life are more important, then the OnePlus 2 has the edge (that quad HD display on the Yutopia does drain battery). Both phones are a few software updates away from attaining greatness we suspect, which is what makes the Terra a solid proposition at the moment.
If we had to express them in Batman film terms, we would go thus:
Qiku Q Terra: Batman Begins
Solid, well-crafted and a very good performer with no clear weaknesses. Not mind blowing but extremely well made. And consistent.
OnePlus 2: The Dark Knight
Often brilliant, occasionally frustrating, but with a great cast. Massive gaps in plot (software) overcome by brilliant performance by components.
YU Yutopia: The Dark Knight Rises
Has everything to be a blockbuster, but not held together by the strongest script (software). Spectacular when it works, less so when it doesn’t.