Review by Sunetra Chakravati,8/30/2015 1:37:12 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Great screen | good price point | Brilliant for privacy-focussed
Not the nippiest | feature-free camera | middling battery life
- By Sunetra Chakravarti
The mobile phone manufacturing ecosystem has gotten really small and cramped so when we received an invite to the launch of a new product by a brand new manufacturer, we were obviously thrilled!
Powered by Cyanogen, Wileyfox have two devices to showcase. The more expensive, larger handset, the Wileyfox Storm releases in October whereas the Wileyfox Swift has now been available for a few weeks.
British manufacturer Wileyfox have not let the budget label on the Swift dictate its make. The back is a beautiful matt grey-black 'sandstone black' with their logo etched on it. They have gone for a soft black and orange theme and this is reflected in, not just the physical details like the fox head logo and the company name in orange as well as a metallic orange trim around the camera lens but also the wallpaper on the phone. The 5-inch screen is a high definition one and has surprisingly thin bezels.
Apart from the smoothness of the removable plastic back, there are no other features worth mentioning except the speaker grille on the base.
A heavily skinned version of Android comes with this phone. Cyanogen gets its first outing in Europe and it is very exciting to have a play around with it.
There are obviously a lot of differences you see as soon as you switch on the phone. Tap on the app drawer and all the apps are displayed alphabetically. Themes are available on the Cyanogen store and they clothe all your app icons in the same manner like it is on the HTC One M9.
I find the whole idea of having themes slightly pointless. I downloaded a couple of them and was left baffled by how they were allowed to go on the store- they did almost nothing at all to change the look and feel of the phone.
I don't usually like skins on Android, not only do they make updates incredibly difficult to get on phones but also take up too much space with useless or duplicate apps. However, Cyanogen comes with some very interesting privacy features that I thought would probably be a game-changer for those worried about privacy or the lack of it on mobile phones.
The Swift boasts of a 13-MP primary camera and a 5-MP front facing one and the numbers impress more than the pictures you take on it. Manufacturers are selling phones on the back of their camera capabilities and as a reviewer I have come to expect filters, atleast half a dozen settings and a 'beautify tool' on the selfie camera but no such luck here.
In perfect light conditions, the phone takes very good pictures but it falters immediately if the subject moves, blinks or even yawns. In low-light, pictures come out very fuzzy and the front facing camera is dire.
You will need atleast a couple of other apps to mimic the brilliance of the Honor 7 or even the Motorola Moto G's secondary camera capabilities.
The phone features dual-SIM capability and the battery on the back is removable. And by what we saw during our review, you'd be wise to keep a spare one in your bag. The 2500mAH battery is the same capacity as that on the Doro Liberto 820 Mini and in exactly the same manner as with that phone, the Swift's battery failed to make an impresson on us. The battery was probably one of the weakest links on the Swift.
We ran an AnTuTu test on it and the Swift came away with a benchmark score of 22529 placing it below the HTC One, Xiaomi Mi 2 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note. Even though it failed to score highly on this, flagships usually come away with 60,000 + scores, we didnt notice any lag in its performance.
The 1.2GHz, 64-bit, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 8916 CPU, Adreno 306 GPU and 2GB of RAM do well and help give users an almost seamless performance and that is quite a bargain for £129.
I love to stream music videos off YouTube and the audio capabilities on this phone left me wanting. There are two speaker grilles at the bottom of the phone, on either side of the microUSB slot and the sound came away sounding tinny.
With AudioFX, however, the story was different. I was able to choose the genre of music I was listening to and tweak the bass to make it sound the way I wanted it to. The difference was very perceptible when I was listening to music over my headphones but when blasting it through the speaker, a straw poll in the office suggested my colleagues couldn't tell the difference either.
With the Swift, Wileyfox have shown us they will not be outfoxed on price, but will it make you want to get on the back of a horse and chase for it around a meadow? If you are very worried about your privacy, then yes.
The price point is fantastic and Cyanogen has some really great features but the camera sounds better on paper than in reality and the battery fails to impress.
It is great to have a new manufacturer in the mix but the Swift will need a few more iterations before it matches upto the heavies in the arena.
Size 141.15 x 71 x 9.37 mm
Display 5-inch HD, IPS
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Camera 13-megapixel front camera: 5-megapixel Flash
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack; microSD
Battery 2,500 mAh
Other features 4G, Gorilla Glass 3, Three Year Warranty: £9.99
Operating System Cyanogen OS 12.1
Storage 16GB + microSD