YOU PROBABLY ARE WONDERING who on earth Wileyfox is and, until today, so were we.
The UK-based smartphone maker is the latest to enter the increasingly competitive market, and the Wileyfox Swift is the first handset that the firm hopes will tempt buyers away from its big-name competitors.
Wileyfox is hoping to do so by applying a dirt cheap £129 price tag and equipping the smartphone with Cyanogen, an operating system based on Android that offers more control over personal information and the look and feel of the handset.
One of the best things about Wileyfox is the logo, a sort of superhero-esque fox head that stands out on the rear of the handset. The phone is well designed, with a removable rear made from a soft-touch, matte effect plastic and a thin, glossy bezel surrounding the display.
It's by no means the slimmest of smartphones at 9.37mm, but this gives the Swift a reassuring heft, despite its lightweight 136g.
We're fans of the Swift's design, in particular the snazzy fox logo and comfortable soft-touch plastic, but we're already getting a little miffed with its ability to pick up smudges. We're not complaining that Wileyfox supplied us with chocolate at the London launch event, but the back of our Swift is already covered in grubby fingerprints that are proving tricky to get rid of.
The Wileyfox Swift features a 5in 720x1080 display, the same as on the slightly more expensive Moto G (2015).
Brightness levels are sufficient, and viewing angles and outdoor visibility are impressive for a phone of this price. The handset lacks a Full HD resolution screen, but it's by no means the lowest quality on the market and, while some icons look a tad fuzzy around the edges, we have no complaints so far.
Cyanogen equips the Swift with a feature called LiveDisplay that adjusts the screen based on the time of day and ambient colours to improve readability and reduce eyestrain. We've yet to see the full benefits of this feature, but will test it for our full review.
Wileyfox has teamed up with Qualcomm for its first stab at the smartphone market, and the Swift uses a quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 chip.
It took the Wileyfox Swift a while to get going, but performance has been smooth. Apps open without hassle, scrolling through homescreens is plenty quick enough and we blitzed through a game of Crossy Road without the handset showing any signs of struggle.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 410 also equips the Swift with support for 4G LTE, putting it on a par with the Moto G.
Wileyfox is relying on the phone's Cyanogen OS 12.1 custom skin to set the Swift apart from the hordes of other discount Android smartphones lining the shelves, and it might manage to do just that.
The Cyanogen software is based on a clean installation of Android 5.1, which means that the Wileyfox Swift has none of the bloatware you'd expect to find on most Android phones nowadays, and no custom apps provided by Wileyfox. This, the firm claims, means improved performance and battery life compared with its more expensive rivals. We'll reserve judgement until our full review.
Cyanogen OS 12.1 offers more customisation options than those offered by Google, and we've already used the Themes that provide the option to change everything from the handset's fonts to the buttons. You'll need to create a Cyanogen account before you can use this feature, however.
There's also Cyanogen's own browser onboard, which the firm claims is 1.6 times faster than Google Chrome and 1.2 times as power efficient. Our early tests show that the browser is indeed impressively quick, albeit not as nice to look at as Google's offering.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Wileyfox Swift's Cyanogen skin, however, is the extra privacy controls. For example, Cyanogen offers a PIN scramble feature that moves the numbers on the keyboard around to stop prying eyes seeing your code, and a feature called Privacy Guard that offers granular control over which apps get access to your personal data.
TrueCaller, meanwhile, provides smart caller ID and spam blocking, with access to a crowd-sourced directory of 1.7 billion numbers.
The Wileyfox Swift has a 13MP camera on its rear with dual LED flash, accompanied by a 5MP sensor on the front, the exact same set-up you'd find on the similarly priced Moto G.
Our only complaint is that the camera isn't quite as nippy as it is on Motorola's latest budget offering, which has left us with some blurry images and missed moments. Image quality, however, is decent, and the 13MP sensor is capable of capturing plenty of detail and natural colour. We'll test the cameras fully in our Wileyfox Swift review.
Taken using the Wileyfox Swift
It's hard to get excited about new, cut-price Android phones, but the same can't be said for the Wileyfox Swift. The smudge-attracting design is getting on our nerves a bit, but the phone offers a decent set of specs, a £129 price tag and a custom Android experience that perhaps offers more than Google's own efforts.
Check back soon for our full Wileyfox Swift review. µ