back to article A British phone you're not embarrassed to carry? You heard that right

Last year a new London phone startup launched to try and tame the Shenzhen tiger. WileyFox aimed to harness the Chinese manufacturing revolution that's brought us low-cost Androids to a decent brand with local support. WileyFox sold a respectable amount – half a million devices – without becoming a household name. But that was a …

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  1. Known Hero

    last step of the journey

    Soon to sell out to a big american firm and disappear from the light as your product gets smothered as it's good competition :(

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: last step of the journey

      Like Sendo?

      I think that for the most part those days have gone. WileyFox aren't big enough to be that much of a threat or an opportunity, the brand is very niche (and loses its "crafty British challenger" appeal as soon as acquired by a bumbling incumbent), and what are WFx doing that the majors could do but choose not to?

      Surely the only people this would make sense for would be Cyanogenmod themselves, since they're making no money from their software at the moment, and they might see WileyFox either as their main route to market, or as their "reference" design in the manner of the Nexus devices. But as a US company I'd have thought there's a range of US-based Shenzen-vetters who are doing the same sort of thing as WFx, and CM would culturally be a better fit with another US business.

      The other thing is that whilst we often bemoan the sale of UK start ups, what those sales actually reflect is the sense of proportion of UK entrepreneurs. Why put the years of extra work in, and take the risks to build a half-a-billion pound corporate business, if you can sell out much earlier for £15m, and either retire somewhere pleasant, or start again in the rule-free world of the start-up? Building a big corporate enterprise (successfully) would make them very rich indeed, but it means moving from anarchic energy and innovation to a world of process, compliance, policies, board meetings, corporate finance, suits and PHBs. And to get the benefits, you've still got to go through a hair-raising trade sale, or worse still an IPO, where you'll initially be a key man, but then be squeezed out of "your own" company by the suits.

      1. John Styles

        AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

        The theory being that in the US after you have made your 'million' (i.e. about 10 million, don't want to be one of the poor 'single digit millionaires') you think 'how can I make my billion' whereas in the UK you buy the Old Rectory in some bucolic village, get a few non-executive directorships, dabble half hardheartedly in another start up etc.

        Frankly I would rather have the old rectory than a company full of nasty whiny people etc. with the danger any day one might be shafted by whatever platform one is build on / have another start up eat our lunch etc. so who can blame them?

        1. Matthew Taylor

          Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

          This is exactly true. We Brits like to play around at corporate sociopathy, but in truth, our hearts aren't really in it. Our dream is just to get out with enough cash to stop worrying, rather than to crush the world beneath our bootheels.

          1. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

            Our dream is just to get out with enough cash to stop worrying, rather than to crush the world beneath our bootheels.

            Far better than being Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, Turdoch or their ilk. Everyday motivated by greed for more, envy of anybody richer than them, angry at each percieved slight, or the inadequacy of the army of wage slaves and sycophants around them. Working all hours of their life to be richer and yet richer. And then, when the funeral's over and the "mourners" have dispersed, their families can tear themselves apart over the loot.

            Unless they find a way to take it all with them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Terminator

              Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

              "Unless they find a way to take it all with them."

              Cryogenics.

            2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

              For them yes, but perhaps not for society.

              If Mr Hewlett and Mr Packard had retired once they had sold enough valves to pay off the garage in Palo Alto or Messers Rolls and Royce had decided to take the money from the first half a dozen cars and go home.

        2. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

          My parents had a stroke of pure luck in the timing of their last move and just about managed to scrape enough for a (genuine) Old Rectory in a rural location, back in the 80s. My Dad, genius bargain hunter that he is, discovered that a survey was optional on buildings over a century old so decided to save himself a few hundred quid... it's not so much a money PIT, as a money mineshaft. You could fill in a pit if you had a lorryload of cash. This... you'd need to pull it down and rebuild it, brick by brick, to get much in the way of practicality out of it. You could start by digging some actual foundations -- the 18" thick masonry walls literally rest on beaten earth. All three floors of them. And cold /damp? Listen, you don't know cold until you've had to clear the ice off of the inside of your bedroom windows in the morning...

          1. John Styles

            Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

            Ha, yes my partner's Dad had a similarly exciting house. The highlight was the insurance loss adjuster coming to look at something for an insurance claim failing to put the car brake on sufficiently so the car rolled down and then off the steep and twisty drive, demolishing a wall.

          2. eionmac

            Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

            Not so rare. In Canada we had 3 to 5 inches (deeper than the finger peephole) of ice (from breath condensation) in a centrally heated house at 80 deg F on inside of windows. Rectories in England as luxury comparied to this.

          3. Medical Cynic

            Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

            Listen, you don't know cold until you've had to clear the ice off of the inside of your bedroom windows in the morning...

            That was normal in the 1950s and even later.

            1. TonyJ Silver badge

              Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

              "...That was normal in the 1950s and even later..."

              Yep normal for me too in the 80's

              We moved into a stone built house with the same 18" thick walls and single glazed windows.

              Mornings were...fresh :)

              Once we eventually got double glazing it was blissfully warm by comparison.

          4. AndyD 8-)&8377;

            Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

            And cold /damp? Listen, you don't know cold until you've had to clear the ice off of the inside of your bedroom windows in the morning...

            Every house in the UK used to have to scrape ice off the inside of windows - that's what hot pennies were for - kids today......

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    WileyFox was aiming for sub-£150 but got hit by the fall in sterling. That should help exports, though, and WileyFox has strong plans for Europe.

    If the price was hit by the fall in the value of the pound then it is obviously dominated by the price of imports. The export price will also be dominated by the price of the inputs and is likely to be unchanged. What will change is the value of exports in GBP.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      re: is likely to be unchanged

      Because it's UK marketing, not really a UK phone, (but then I think Apple phones are barely American, though they do more designing than WileyFox who are really outsourcing the HW/SW design and perhaps only having some input on the cosmetics).

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: re: is likely to be unchanged

        but then I think Apple phones are barely American, though they do more designing than WileyFox

        They (Merkins) do more designing? On the silicon front maybe, but what country are ARM and CSR based in? And on the aesthetics, are you suggesting that Jonny Ive has traded his UK passport for a Yank one?

  3. Richard 81

    Cyanogen OS

    So are they going to be switching to vanilla Android, Cyanogen OS is dying off?

    1. goldcd

      What is this vanilla android

      you speak of?

      Not as if you can just copy AOSP onto it.

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What is this vanilla android

        I tried vanilla Android once.

        It tasted like cheap plastic.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Cyanogen OS

      Cyanogen OS was the commercial version of CyanogenMod. They could flip to the community version which is essentially the same without the QA. I'm sure they could do QA in-house or pay some devs to do the same.

      It is incredible that Cyanogen's commercial efforts flopped so badly. They were a shoe-in for producing firmware, QA and after-market support for phone makers who didn't want to do it themselves.

    3. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Cyanogen OS

      What's to stop them just using CyanogenMod instead of Cyanogen OS?

      First thing I did when I bought the original Swift was replace the latter with the former after discovering a rooted Cyanogen OS won't accept OTA updates.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Cyanogen OS

        It is incredible that Cyanogen's commercial efforts flopped so badly

        Wasn't it suggested here in ElReg a while ago that Google had been tightening the screws on manufacturers - something along the lines of "use 100% or 0% Google - your choice" ?

        And isn't that more or less one of the things Microsoft got hammered for in the past ?

        Getting a few models from some of the big names would have made it a success, I suspect that getting a few smaller niche manufacturers couldn't do it.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Cyanogen OS

        It is incredible that Cyanogen's commercial efforts flopped so badly.

        I suspect this is not so easy as they thought it would be: so many SoCs all slightly different. So they went the way of premium partners only to shoot themselves in the foot with the stupid exclusive contract in India.

        You can see why hardware manufacturers would be keen on porting support but less on maintenance. Maybe the market needs to embrace some kind of maintenance fee? Doesn't have to be much but has to be enough to cover costs (I suspect $ 20 to $ 30 annually after the second year?).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cyanogen OS

        Yup, pretty certain OP is failing to distinguish between Cyanogen OS (the ailing commercial wing of Cyanogen) and Cyanogen Mod (the active core FOSS project)

        AO recently published an uncharacteristically rational opinion piece on the demise, explaining how COS deliberately fragmented their market, making their product and thus their business unworkable.

        Amateur business(wo)men depressingly easily outmanoeuvred.

    4. g00se

      Re: Cyanogen OS

      I spoke to them recently and brought up the issue of Cyanogen's doubtful future

      They: "We have no news on this issue and our phone are not going to be affected as far as i'm aware"

      Rooting their phones?

      They: "i would certainly would advise against it as we don't support it"

  4. TonyJ Silver badge

    Looks decent

    Looks a decent handset.

    I'd be quite interested in one for my eldest lad who burns almost all of his saved pocket money for screens for his current one since he seems so unwilling to buy a screen protector AND is clumsy (grumble).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Looks decent

      "I'd be quite interested in one for my eldest lad who burns almost all of his saved pocket money for screens for his current one"

      Let him burn all of it. But point out that the screen he buys with the last of it has to be taken care of, otherwise he's phoneless until he's saved up for a new phone.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Looks decent

        @Doc. You misunderstand... He uses his own pocket money so he indeed does save or has a broken screen until such a time he has saved it.

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Looks decent

      If he's old enough to have a smartphone he's old enough to get a Saturday job and save up for his own damn screen replacements. (Or buy the part for a tenner and look up how to do it himself on YT, like the rest of us.)

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Looks decent

        @Tom Paine..

        When you're done being a judgmental idiotic, put down your Daily Mail and listen while I explain a few things about him.

        He spends every Saturday, whatever the weather, getting himself up at 6am, volunteering at a retired greyhounds kennels. He does, occasionally, get paid to work some days during school holidays.

        When he isn't doing that, as well as the inordinate amount of studying from homework he gets from school, he does Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. He's pretty damn good at it too, holding several gold medals, a few silver and some bronze. That's from many international, national. local and European championships.

        So tell me, what should I ask him to give up in order to live up to your expectations?

        I already make him save his own money to pay for them.

        I do have many stronger words for you but I won't type them here. You are, though, a cactus. Look up the meme.

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Looks decent

          WTF is this? Has being a grumpy old man gone out of fashion all of a sudden?

          I'm just using the old-fashioned meme that _I_ didn't get given birthday or christmas presents worth £500, and neither did anyone else I knew, and that was only a few decades ago. 18th or 21st birthday, sure, fine. Yes, I'm sure he's a fine upstanding hard working kid who'll go a long way. I just don't understand why people spend such vast sums of money giving their kids presents. Sure, a phone's pretty essential these days, but I've had to make do with ten quid burners myself in the past and it didn't kill me.

          No idea where your DM-reader ad hom comes from. The DM et al are anaethema to me.

          1. TonyJ Silver badge

            Re: Looks decent

            "..No idea where your DM-reader ad hom comes from. The DM et al are anaethema to me..."

            Same place as your assumption my son has a £500 phone (he doesn't - not even close), just like your other assumptions. I pulled it out of my arse.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Looks decent

        >If he's old enough to have a smartphone he's old enough to get a Saturday job and save up for his own damn screen replacements.

        See that's the problem with the British attitude. In America it would be "If he's old enough to have a smartphone he's old enough to create his own startup, become a billionaire, buy the manufacturer of phone and have them all fired."

  5. dajames Silver badge

    Diasappointing

    The original Swift supported dual SIM operation and a micro-SD card, so it's disappointing that with this new model a micro-SD card can only be used in place of a second SIM (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it).

    Still, I'm glad to see that it retains the 3.5mm headphone socket alongside the new USB-C connector.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Diasappointing

      Oh c'mon, who needs both second SIM and micro-SD at the same time.

      1. EuKiwi

        Re: Diasappointing

        Well, then that would be me... I have the S7 Edge dual-sim. I have to have two sims for work and the dual-sim model tops out at 32GB, so I ended up having to do some 'surgery' on the second sim to stick it to the back of the micro-sd to get all three.

      2. EuKiwi

        Re: Diasappointing

        Bugger. Missed the joke alert.

      3. Helldesk Dogsbody

        Re: Diasappointing

        Me for one as I like to keep the work and personal numbers separate but don't like carrying two phones.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Diasappointing

        likewise removable battery (ask the South Korean giants, they'll tell ya! ;)

      5. Phil W
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Diasappointing

        Someone who knows they should have a second number for talking to their mistress, but misunderstands the point of having it and also wants to make "home videos" with said mistress.

        Paris, because she has all the necessary qualities for both being a mistress and misunderstanding things.

      6. eionmac

        Re: Diasappointing

        Teleco at home is not available at work, so TWO SIMs are necessary. micrSD so all stuff recorded can be removed and left at home whne entering USA. (bare phone for customs inspection)

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Diasappointing

      I did spend a few minutes wondering why I couldn't fit an SD card into mine, before realising that I was trying to jam it into the second SIM slot, and that the micro-SD slot was an inch to the right.

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    Nice to see sd card (with ability of dual SIM use if SD card omitted) and an OS that's going to see security patches.

    If it has removeable battery it would tick all the boxes for an ideal everyday use phone at a v.good price for the build quality (as well as battery change an easy way of extending phone lifepsan, key reason I like removeble battery is sometimes the only way to fix some glitches is full power and restart off which is fairly easy & instant when battery is immoveable but with fixed battery is not)

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great phone - but dodgy support

    I was wowed by the Regs Swift review last year, so a Swift was my Chrimbo present from Mrs Page.

    Really cannot fault the phone. The only niggle I might have is the quirk that it doesn't allow it's own number to be set in the OS - apparently a Cyanogen thing. It hasn't stopped me doing anything - that I know of.

    However, the companys support seems to be run by the primary school the Keystone Cops went to. When I got the phone, I tried to register - as advised - which proved impossible due to a clunky website. Eventually, after waiting a couple of weeks (website wasn't fixed and claimed I hadn't entered my email address) I managed to get through to someone who made it plain this was a man+dog operation.

    Fast forward 11 months and (1) I am still being spammed by Wileyfox and (2) I am still waiting for the free screen protector I was supposed to get when I registered.

    All of that said, I do like the look of the plus. If it's as good as the Swift I've had for a year, it deserves great things.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: Great phone - but dodgy support

      Fast forward 11 months and (1) I am still being spammed by Wileyfox and (2) I am still waiting for the free screen protector I was supposed to get when I registered.

      I know this sounds like a silly question, but are you sure you don't already have the screen protector? I bought a Storm and was wondering where it was in the box, then noticed that it was actually pre-fitted!

    2. BongoJoe Silver badge

      Re: Great phone - but dodgy support

      Fast forward 11 months and (1) I am still being spammed by Wileyfox and (2) I am still waiting for the free screen protector I was supposed to get when I registered.

      I am still waiting for the rebate on the phones I bought back way-when. In fact, I am waiting for them to respond to the emails that I have been sending them.

      The chances of me getting new WileyFox handsets for BongoJoe Villas is, excuse pun, swiftly diminishing.

  8. Bassey

    Redmi 3S

    It looks and has VERY similar specs to the Xiaomi Redmi 3S - which is absolutely no bad thing at all. It seems to be about £30-40 more expensive but you're getting local support, a local ROM and that brilliant screen replacement offer. I'm happy to import from China and pocket the difference but for your average Joe this does look good. Other than waterproofing I look at my Redmi 3S and wonder just what it is that a £600 iPhone/Galaxey/Xperia etc. has that I might be missing.

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: Redmi 3S

      Have an upvote from a fellow Xiaomi user; my Hongmi Note gets many admiring looks; then looks of disbelief when I tell them the specs and the price.

      Had a multi-millionaire fawning over it last weekend, he kept asking me to confirm what it was and how much it cost; I thought he was going to try and buy it off of me, especially when I showed him the spare Li-ON battery & charger (cost £2.50 inc p&p)

      I seem to remember a Spanish firm getting panned in here a few weeks ago, for doing almost exactly what WileyFox do.

  9. BigG

    I bought the first Swift in part due to the removable battery - I hope this continues to be the case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Came wondering exactly the same!..

      IS THE TIME-BOMB Lii "BATTERY" REPLACEABLE OR GLUED IN?????

      If it's the former I'll definitely be grabbing a few of them if they'll be out in time for Christmas but the webpage is ominously evasive. So they've glued it in then. ---->

      :(

      The bastards.

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