Wileyfox Swift – See it coming a mile away

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When I was a kid I spent a lot of time reading all sorts of moral tales which were collected under the title Aesop’s Fables. They were the sorts of stories designed to instil good behaviour and thinking abilities into kids, a set of secular (more or less) parables about animals, people and inanimate object interacting.

There was always the cunning creature in these ancient Greek stories (some of which stem back to around 600BC – or 6000BCE if you’re not a traditionalist), a portrayal of the animal kingdom which exists to this day. The crow was frequently intelligent, the wolf was also smart but in an ‘I’m going to eat you’ way. The fox is also commonly considered to be a bright spark, as evidenced in The Fox and the Crow (though even friend Fox doesn’t always have it all his own way). You might even call him… wily. Or Wiley, because I’m going to twist this comparison until it fits.

The Orange Box

Wileyfox HeaderHaving had the chance to play with the Wileyfox Swift I’d have to say that this unknown budget phone is about as cunning as the childhood fox I remember from the stories. That’s mostly because the Swift is a collection of parts that will set you back around R2,650 and which stack up favourably to the budget-conscious Moto G (which might be the last Motorola you ever buy).

And it’s also quite attractive, if very basic in its presentation. The Wileyfox’s most eye-catching feature has to be its reflective-vest-orange box, adorned with the Wileyfox logo and the Cyanogen emblem. If you’re expecting something quite as searing from the inside of the box you’re going to be disappointed. From the front this 5-inch handset is a standard black slab, with understated plastic controls on the upper right edge. A headphone port lives on top, the charge port is at the base. It’s on the removable backplate where you’ll see some difference, a textured bit of plastic with the Wilefox fox etched into it. And the Wileyfox lettering in a more muted orange, let’s not forget.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Wileyfox RearInside the phone we have a 5-inch 1,280 x 720 display running on a Snapdragon 410 quad clocked at 1.21Ghz. There’s an Adreno 306 GPU renderer in there as well, which really doesn’t perform as well as I’d have liked (see below), but the Swift’s inclusion of LTE, 12GB of storage (it should be 16GB but only 12GB – 10GB available – reflected on the review unit we had), dual SIM capabilities  and a couple of other features kinda make up for it. Besides, you can’t ask the world of a budget smartphone and expect to get it.

The Swift incorporates 2GB of RAM, microSD storage (up to 32GB, only), and a 13MP/5MP camera combination. All of these are going to be considerations for the budget-conscious and the Cyanogen OS (12.1, which shows as Android 5.1.1 in the various benchmark apps) means that it’s going to be very malleable from a software level. The default colour scheme actually brought to mind Firefox’s phones. Though if Mozilla’s attempts had worked out like this, they might have had more success in the market.

Fox Hunt

Wileyfox BaseIn terms of performance the Wileyfox Swift is pretty close to the Xiaomi Redmi 2. In terms of pure numbers, anyway. Geekbench 3 gives the Swift a single-core score of 490, popping up to 1,416 for multi-core. This is hovering around the Redmi’s marks and also is in the region of the Motorola Moto E – though the Moto E posted a slightly better multi-core result.

If we just over the the AnTuTu benchmark then we see something quite different. The end score for the Swift was 26,074, which beats out the Moto E’s 22,000 or so and the Redmi 2’s 20,182 in the same benchmark. The climb isn’t as impressive as it looks on the surface, as the AnTuTu benchmark has changed since the initial tests.

That said, the new 3D performance category in AnTuTu didn’t net the Swift many marks. The onscreen presentation was clear, showing off the screen to its best advantage, so it’s too bad that this part of the test was supposed to be, you know, in motion. Gaming isn’t going to work that well on the Swift, is what I’m trying to say.

The Rest is Cheese

Wileyfox Orange BoxI’ve made mention of the camera arrangement, which is fast becoming the standard for smartphones. You gotta have that 5MP selfie-cam these days. The 13MP main camera… could be better actually. If lighting conditions are great then the camera performs – as well it should – but heading into low-lighting or artificial conditions shows up the camera for what it is. That is, I’ve seen better. It’s disappointing to get a grainy image from a 13MP camera these days.

The 2,500mAh battery is another highlight, keeping the lights on for a respectable amount of time whether you’re running video, music or internet. If you’re attempting to do all three at once then, first, well done you, and, second, it’ll cut down on battery life a tad. Standard use should get you through the day with some charge to spare though. Which is a consideration for the average budget user, really.

Verdict

Wileyfox’s Swift is a speedy enough phone for not a whole lot of cash, though like the fabled fox of Aesop’s time it doesn’t always come across as the most cunning of the bunch. It’s still worth looking into and worth keeping an eye on the brand in general. Wileyfox has a beefier handset called the Storm which we’d also like to get our hands on. In the meantime, you can put this on the shelf next to the Moto G (and Friends) and then pick one of them.

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