The Wileyfox Swift has a great design and a more secure, customisable OS, but its screen and camera can't match the competition
Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280×720, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (12GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 141x72x9.4mm, Weight: 135g, Operating system: Android (Cyanogen 12.1)
The WileyFox Swift has now been succeeded by the Wileyfox Spark and Spark X, but this 3rd Gen Moto G rival from 2015 is still available to buy for around £120 from Carphone Warehouse, making it a pretty tempting proposition for anyone in the market for a cheap smartphone.
That makes the Swift cheaper than Motorola’s newest Moto G4, but when the G4’s only £40 more, does it still have what it takes to compete with Motorola’s budget champion? It certainly gave the 3rd Gen Moto G a run for its money, as its specs are more or less identical. However, now the Moto G4 has a 5.5in, Full HD display, 13-megapixel camera and a fast octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor, it leaves the Swift’s 5in, 1,280×720 resolution display and quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor looking a little weedy by comparison.
The Swift does have one thing that makes it stand out against the Moto G series, though, as this budget phone comes with Cyanogen 12.1 as its main OS rather than vanilla Android. It still looks and feels roughly the same as Android – it’s still based on that operating system, after all – but it does come with a couple of handy features that give it an edge over traditional Android phones.
Cyanogen & software features
For instance, Truecaller is built straight into the dialler, giving you caller ID and a spam filter to prevent pesky nuisance calls. Likewise, Privacy Guard gives you more control over your personal data, as you can select exactly which bits of information can be accessed by your apps rather than having to give permission for everything like you do in plain Android. It also tells you how frequently that app has requested a particular piece of information, which will no doubt be welcome news for those who like to keep their privacy settings under lock and key.
^ Cyanogen looks very similar to stock Android, but the app tray is ordered alphabetically in a list instead of a grid
Cyanogen is much more customisable than plain Android as well, as you not only have hundreds of different themes to choose from, but you can also personalise every last detail, from boot animations and wallpapers down to fonts and icon designs. Other non-Cyanogen phones, most notably HTC’s Sense 7-equipped handsets, let you to do this as well, but this is the first time this level of customisation has been available on a budget smartphone.
The Swift is beautifully designed, too, and I particularly like its soft-touch textured rear panel. This makes it feel a touch classier than the plastic 3rd Gen Moto G, and its curved back sits very comfortably in the hand. It’s a fraction thinner, too, measuring 9.4mm at its thickest point compared to the 3rd Gen Moto G’s 11.6mm.
Of course, its embossed logo and orange WileyFox branding on the rear isn’t nearly as subtle as Motorola’s circular dimple, but it’s certainly more attractive than other phones I’ve tested at this price, including the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6.
Despite similarities to the 3rd Gen Moto G on paper, the Swift falls behind in a number of areas, including overall screen quality. The 5in 1,280×720 resolution display only covered 79.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, which isn’t great even by budget smartphone standards, and is more than 6% behind the 3rd Gen Moto G. The Swift’s weakest areas of coverage were reds, magentas and greens, which left colours looking rather muted and lacking in punch.
Black levels were disappointingly high at 0.57cd/m2 as well, which meant that darker areas of our test images looked a little grey at times. Admittedly, this is to be expected when the phone has such a bright screen, as our colour calibrator measured a peak white level of 551.76cd/m2. This is much brighter than the Moto G’s 339.38cd/m2, and blacks looked much darker when we toned down the Swift’s brightness.
A brighter screen does have its uses, though, as it means the Swift can be used more effectively under a wider variety of lighting conditions, allowing the screen to shine through clearly even in bright sunshine. The Swift also has very good viewing angles, and its contrast ratio of 961:1 means that images have plenty of detail, despite their rather skewed colour cast.
Of course, setting the phone’s display to maximum brightness will also run down its 2,500mAh battery much faster than leaving it on auto. However, even when we set the screen brightness to 170cd/m2, the Swift showed a severe lack of stamina, only managing 8h 55m in our continuous video playback test. The Moto G’s smaller 2,470mAh battery, on the other hand, lasted 11h 12m under the same conditions, making it a much more reliable handset if you’ve got a long day ahead.
|Processor||Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410|
|Front camera||5 megapixels|
|Rear camera||13 megapixels|
|Storage (free)||16GB (12GB)|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Wireless data||3G, 4G|
|Operating system||Android (Cyanogen 12.1)|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)||£129|