back to article Wileyfox Swift: Brit startup budget 'droid is the mutt's nuts

If someone asked me what my ideal smartphone would be I’d say one that costs no more than £120, has 16GB of storage, at least 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch IPS screen, a removable battery, two SIM slots, space for a microSD card, the best iteration of Android available (that’s the Cyanogen OS Android fork, in my opinion) and is …

  1. Jay 2
    Happy

    Looks pretty impressive

    I'm not in the market for a 'droid phone, but this does look very nice indeed. In fact my only quibble would be that the microSD slot only supports cards upto 32GB (my musical needs would probably insist on a 128GB).

  2. WonkoTheSane

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    I read elsewhere that the more expensive "Storm" model WILL take a 128GB MicroSD.

  3. Novex

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    The 'Storm' is a better spec generally, but unfortunately doesn't have the removable battery. Also it appears neither have NFC, which would have been useful.

  4. thomas k

    Re: ... cards up to 32GB

    Indeed, that's barely 21 Ring cycles.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    > In fact my only quibble would be that the microSD slot only supports cards upto 32GB

    Generally speaking the quoted maximums are tested with rather than limited to.

    My N900 supported only 16gb cards but ran happily with 32gb. My Moto G 4G supported only 32gb but ran happily with 64gb.

    You would be rolling the dice of course; but if you format in FAT32 (rather than VFAT) and use a branded card then you have a better than even chance of it working fine.

  6. YARR

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    ... except that above 32Gb is SDXC rather than SDHC. Compatibility usually depends on the standard supported rather than capacity.

  7. AIBailey

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    I'd read recently that this is partly down to the filesystem. I took a gamble based on that and bought a 64GB card for my phone (that's only meant to take 32GB).

    I've allowed the phone to format the card itself (to FAT32) and it's fine. There will be a size limit per file (4GB?), however as I'm mainly interested in storing MP3's and MAME roms, this isn't a concern.

  8. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    Indeed my old SGS2 wasnt supposed to work with >32gb but sandisk worked just fine. Still for the price looks a damn good phone. impressive even.

  9. jzl

    Re: Looks pretty impressive

    I'm increasingly of the opinion that people who think their music requirements are >32 Gb are unaware of just how good modern music streaming services have become. Seriously.

  10. KenBW2

    Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Why can't we have a phone that has all these decent specs, but still small enough to hold in one hand?

    The original Moto G was exactly this. The only decent sub-5" phone out now is the Moto E, but that's decidedly lacking.

    It's a real shame, could've been perfect =/

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Hear hear !

    5" phones like this used to be mocked as ridiculously oversized phablets, but now every manufacturer only makes decent phones in that size ( and stupidly thin ) and the review drones act as if that is that is what everyone now wants.

    Well millions of us Don't.

    We want a quality, small ( but as thick as necessary ) high-spec phone.

  12. Corin

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I've a Sony Z3 Compact for exactly the reasons you outline. I'm still looking for the same form factor as my HTC Desire - except with updated innards.

  13. Busby

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I had the same thought about the size being wrong but in the other direction. After going from a Note 2 to the Nexus 6 I couldn't go back to anything smaller. Why can't they offer two display options with the same spec one small for those who prefer that a 3.5 inch screen could be popular with many and the full man sized option for those that prefer more heft,

    Then again I also have a 13' tablet and work from home so portability is not my main concern and I love oversized devices.

    When I do go out and am worried about pocket space I picked up an old 8850 from ebay, micro sim into sim adapter and I've got a tiny phone that if I lose it's easily replaced without a mortgage.

  14. badger31

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    +1

    The Z3 Compact is a great wee phone. It's entirely possible to build a top-spec phone in a pocket-sized form factor.

  15. Paul Shirley

    Re: "Why can't we have a phone that has all these decent specs"

    ...perhaps because those 'decent specs' require a bigger battery and battery size is constrained by screen size? There's a reason all the 'S' versions of flagships have lower specs, not just a smaller screen. How much battery time do you want to sacrifice and/or how much fatter do you want the case for a thicker battery (in a world that overwhelmingly wants thin phones).

    Or maybe you don't need a flagship and the problem is imaginary.

  16. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

    Re: 'decent specs' require a bigger battery

    'decent specs' are not necessarily measured in CPU, resolution or battery life.

    To me the decent specs are the features of this phone (dual SIM, removable battery, SD Slot, Cyanogen), I don't care if it runs at 4.6GHz or has a 3200x1800 resolution, and those features I mentioned could very well be available in a 4-incher. If the smaller size means smaller battery, means lower performance, I can live with that. I can also live with a thicker phone, I've had a N95 for years.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Out of curiosity how accurate do you find punching in numbers to dial? My phone with a 4 inch screen is a PITA, so much so that I had to find a stylus with a fairly small point.

  18. paul481

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I was tempted when the 1st Moto G dual-sim came out - liked its feel in my hand; its screen, FM radio makers so love to disable, but was put off mainly by its lack of TV-out, to lesser extent by lack of WiFi-AC, & poor camera. So I went for a Nexus 5 even though 5" is TOO BIG for my jeans and Google don't like FM-RDSradio (because not their ads) or memory expansion (means less need for downloads, i.e less ads again). I only discovered later, its ringtone & volume are way too low, so I cannot use the Alarm feature, and often miss incoming calls unless in quiet room.

    This 'Swift' improves on 2 of the above deficiencies (Camera & FMradio) but will not easily fit into my jeans or shorts pocket, and so is an encumberance. My ideal phone screen is 720p in 4.5 to 4.8". (where have all the complainers about huge phones gone?) It surely is not that hard to incorporate TV-out (MHL or the Google Slimport version). Also, surely the difference in cost between a WiFi-AC radio chip and the previous N standard isnt so big 3 years down the line ? All my other WiFi devices are AC, so rather not hobble their speed with 1 slow device.

    I like your subjective review style but it makes no mention of ringtone or call volume - important specs for a phone. I appreciate, unlike El Reg, gmsarena specialises in mobile phones, so like their reviews for their comprehensive measurement of all audio parameters. However, we may have to wait some time before they might consider reviewing a British phone.

    I was intrigued by your reference to the improvements in privacy confered by cyanogen. Can anyone point me to a review of the security situation of say vanilla Android 5, to Cyanogen ?

  19. Kingston Black
    Facepalm

    Busby - "I also have a 13' tablet"

    At 13 foot, I'm not surprised portability is not your main concern!

  20. Oldfogey
    Coat

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I imagine that you are not at all interested in portability, with a 13 foot screen size.

    I don't expect to find that in my pocket!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Why can't we have a phone that has all these decent specs"

    I do NOT want a thin phone.

    I pick it up and look at the front of it. Not the sides.

  22. Busby
    FAIL

    Re: Busby - "I also have a 13' tablet"

    Yep that one was a typo and should have read 13". The point I was trying to make is that I tend to go for the biggest devices possible, mainly because I wear glasses and hate squinting so while 5" is too big for some it's too small for me.

  23. Steve Evans

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Don't worry, these things go in cycles... I'm sure the race to the tea tray size phone will soon stop, and we'll begin the race to the USB stick size again...

    I for one am not looking forward to the Nokia 8210 scale devices, my sausage fingers are way to big for such toys...

    /me lovingly strokes Nexus 6...

    Re the Swift - I can see a big market for this phone, not bad at all!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I had no problems with my 3.5" Palm Pre.

    There are other form factors.

    They used to work fine.

    They would still work fine, if the manufacturers only bloody made them.

  25. jason 7

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Its funny I could manage perfectly with my Pre 2 and the slide out keyboard but I really struggled last week having to type in three email accounts details into a customer iPhone 5.

    Goodness that was tedious and frustrating.

    Man I miss my Pre 2.

  26. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Try the bq phones which are available 4.5", 5", and 5.5" and have more-or-less the same spec (only with true dual SIM + micro SD).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Still using my lovely old Nokia Lumia 620 3.7". Fits perfectly in the hand/pocket/back. Has great display - ClearBlack or something - removable back for Battery, SD Card etc. Has NFC as well. Only really let down by Windows 8.1.1 OS lack of Apps - the OS itself is OK in a basic sort of way. Only real issue is no FM Radio chip but hey who cares?

  28. pakman

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    I still have an HP Veer tucked away somewhere, which is even smaller. I still find it amazing how accurate a tiny physical keyboard with nicely-raised buttons can be. It doesn't get much use now for a variety of reasons, but I still get a feeling of nostalgia over it from time to time.

  29. fruitoftheloon
    Thumb Up

    @Pakman: Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    Pakman,

    on a related note I just replaced my Note 2 with a Blackberry Passport, one of the major reasons is that it seems I am increasingly having physical coordination issues, which on a touchscreen are a friggin nightmare...

    Have tried various touchy-alternatives, all drove me crazy, it has been a long time since I have had a qwerty phone (N900), the Passport is a fabby bit of kit.

    Cheers,

    jay

  30. jzl

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    The iPhone 6 is a *very* decent sub-5" phone.

  31. jason 7

    Re: Absolutely brilliant, except the screen size

    But its boring and everyone has one.

    No one is impressed by an iPhone.

  32. gbru2606

    Re: Nexus 5 audio

    Have you tried rooting it to adjust volume control? The Faux sound app, with the right supporting kernel, means I can double the loudest volume on my Nexus 4. Made a huge difference for me. I never miss a call and can listen to the radio while riding my moped into a 70 mile an hour gale. Its my number one reason for rooting the device.

  33. Ned (the original)

    Hisense

    Looks a lot like the hisense phone I bought one time when my nexus 5 broke. It only had 8gb ram and an old android but it was cheaper and worked well.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Finally....

    ...an Android phone worth considering.

    I tried Cyanogen on a Sony and pretty much ruined it (I couldn't even power it off (it kept powering back on!), but as this is designed to use it, it's got a good chance of working well.

    Good luck to them.

  35. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: Finally....

    I had similar issues too when I tried it for the first time on a Mini Pro. It was refusing to power down when connected to a charger, the charger was doing weird things too. I think that is sorted in newer builds (and for newer phones).

    My biggest gripe with Cyanogen is Bluetooth, followed by GPS. Bluetooth was just not usable neither on my Arc, nor on my Nexus 7. Dropping connections, interrupted audio, etc.

    GPS was working. Sometimes. Other times it was showing a systemic error of 200m west from where it should have been which could be resolved by one or more soft restarts - not something you want to do while driving and getting directions.

    I still run the Arc with Cyanogen as it is the only way of keeping it up to date (it will run out of app space with its factory build + updates), but I had to give up on it as a primary phone as you could not use it for navigation.

    So, may I suggest an addition to El Reg battery of tests (especially for Cyanogen): GPS (multiple application starts), Bluetooth (including battery life with bluetooth on).

  36. dotdavid

    Re: Finally....

    The stability of the GPS and bluetooth subsystems in CyanogenMod depends heavily on the binary blobs that the third party manufacturers provide (or don't provide) and whether or not the open source alternatives are compatible with the quirks of the device.

    On a CyanogenOS device like this I would expect the binary blobs to work fine, considering the manufacturer supports it as the device's default or at least supported OS.

  37. MonsieurTM

    Shame about the screen.

    Looks very nice apart from the huge screen, I'd much rather have a smaller screen, similar or smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Some like the larger screens, I prefer the smaller screens.

    I also like the idea of the dual-screen Yota: in fact I could be tempted by a 4-G capable phone without any cameras, an e-Ink screen, wifi, loads of RAM & micro-SDcard capability, good processor. (I want a quality phone to last ages & I'm prepared to sacrifice the screen.)

  38. sad_loser
    Black Helicopters

    more to this than meets the eye

    While I would like to believe this is a straightforward 'plucky brits give johnny foreigner a bloody nose' story, I wonder if there is something more.

    It looks like a great phone and well put together at a knockout price, that manages to undercut some big boys.

    It is running cyanogen.

    Now let me think, who owns a chunk of cyanogen, has failed completely at mobile, has lots of money, and wants to piss through Google's letterbox?

    Would be interesting to look through WileyFox's accounts and see just how much they are being subisidised.

  39. Thomas Whipp

    Re: more to this than meets the eye

    it looks like a phone that's been put together using the cheapest good commodity parts (including OS) and the given a decent brand design. Everything about this phone screams thats its been taken from a parts bucket.

    While some people might think the above is a criticism its absolutely not meant that way, putting together a good usable system from cheap reliable parts is a skill.

    More to the point, Cyanogen is essentially Android plus some features; the vast majority of people are still going to use it with gmail, google play, etc... I seriously doubt that Google cares how many people use this particular fork as from their perspective its really just the same as any hardware or network based skin.

  40. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    Re: more to this than meets the eye

    Are Bacofoil sponsoring you?!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wileyfox’s handsets were designed and developed here in the UK

    prove it.

    oh, they're headquartered in the UK, well, that's proof enough, lol.

  42. Al Taylor

    Re: Wileyfox’s handsets were designed and developed here in the UK

    Bloody hard to prove that any consumer item was designed and developed where the maker says it was.

  43. Yugguy

    In built call blocker

    Certainly more than my bloody expensive Xperia Z3 can do. I have to stick Mcafee on to block calls and even then it sometimes doesnt quite manage it.

  44. Daniel Hall
    Joke

    Re: In built call blocker

    I hope the Mcafee reference was a joke

  45. dotdavid
    Joke

    Re: In built call blocker

    "I have to stick Mcafee on to block calls"

    "I hope the Mcafee reference was a joke"

    Perhaps the OP meant "all the calls as it slows down my handset so much"? :-P

  46. Lionel Baden

    Re: In built call blocker

    Have a look at "should I answer".

    Absolutely Brilliant imo

  47. Yugguy

    Re: In built call blocker

    No - I have Mcafee LiveSafe on and it causes no issues that I can see.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, but is not an iPhone.

  49. Amorous Cowherder

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

  50. jzl

    It is a bad thing, in a sense. Until Google realise that non-techie ease of use is a worthy goal, Apple will rule the profitability roost.

    Let's face it, most Android buyers (not the tech-savvy Reg-reading bunch) are buying an Android because they can't afford an iPhone. Like it or not, that's the truth of the situation as it is now.

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