The British company surprised the smartphone market in 2015, releasing two phones which boasted impressive specs and performance at a very affordable price. In many ways, the two first Wileyfox phones were essentially the Britain's answer to the OnePlus One.
In 2016 it added a couple of new phones to its lineup, but didn't enthral us. Can the Wileyfox Swift 2 X swing things back in the manufacturer's favour? The Wileyfox Swift 2 X is available to pre-order on Amazon.co.uk for £219.
Wileyfox Swift 2 X preview: Design
Credit where credit is due, the Swift X 2 feels great in the hand. That’s mostly thanks to the shaping of the metal back panel which, while mostly flat, has gentle curves towards the edges to give it a more ergonomic quality. This metal panel doesn't extend to the very top and bottom edge though. Like many Huawei phones, the back is capped off with plastic panels.
The edges themselves are flat, but angle away from the front, making the back of the phone slightly wider and longer than the front. A power button joins a long volume rocker switch on the right edge, and both have a textured finish. The left edge plays home to the dual SIM tray which has a slot for a micro SIM and a secondary slot for either a nano SIM or microSD card.
On the bottom edge there’s a Type C port flanked by two grilles, both made up of a series of six small pill-shaped holes. The top edge has the usual 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise cancelling microphone.
As for the front panel, that features a completely round earpiece on the top, somewhat reminiscent of the LG-made Nexus 5. Despite not having any physical or capacitive buttons of any kind, the chin, or bottom part of the phone’s face is large and features only a Wileyfox logo.
On the back, there’s another Wileyfox logo in the centre, with a shiny-trimmed fingerprint sensor and camera near the top, joined by a single tone dual LED flash.
Because its bezel isn’t the slimmest, the phone isn’t especially compact for a 5.2-inch screened phone. Width-wise, it’s comparable to the skinny-framed OnePlus 3T, but it feels solid and well made overall.
Wileyfox Swift 2 X preview: Full HD goodness
Full HD 1080 x 1920 resolution may not be the most pixel-packed a phone screen can get nowadays, but in a 5.2-inch panel, it’s plenty to ensure all content looks sharp. With a pixel density of 424ppi you need to be incredibly close to the display to see any individual pixels.
The screen seems bright and the colours are nice and natural, without being overly faded or washed out. It’s definitely not unpleasant to watch, and if the colour temperature isn’t right for your preferences, there’s a screen calibration tool within the settings menu for adjusting it to suit your needs.
Because it’s not AMOLED based screen technology, the contrast isn’t super high and colours aren’t overly vivid or saturated, but still, for an affordable Android phone, it’s pretty impressive.
Wileyfox Swift 2 X preview: Not so snappy dragon
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are some of the best out there, as long as you go with one of the more high-end 8-series chips. Sadly, the Wileyfox 2 X doesn’t have an 8-series, or even a 6-series processor commonly found in more budget-friendly phones. Instead, it’s a Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor which the company claims “allows you to multitask through fluid interfaces and stunning graphics without consuming too much power.”
Despite its eight cores and plentiful 3GB RAM, our initial experiences haven’t been quite so brilliant. There have been a few noticeable instances of stuttering on screen, when scrolling through lists or even trying to browse the web.
In fact, if you scroll fast with your thumb and let go, instead of carrying on scrolling, the content on screen stutters suddenly to a stop, making scrolling through anything a drawn out process. If you’re hoping for a fast, fluid phone that doesn't cost the earth, this doesn’t seem to be it.
As far as storage goes, the 32GB built in to the Swift 2 X is the bare minimum expected for any smartphone these days, and the inclusion of a memory card slot in the dual SIM tray will alleviate any fears of being constrained.
While speed and performance is less than optimal, the Swift 2 X does have its plus points on the hardware side. Firstly, the 3,010 mAh battery should easily be enough to get you through a full day’s use, especially with it being a 1080p resolution screen drawing the power on the front, rather than Quad HD.
What’s more, the phone is equipped with Quick Charge 3.0 compatibility, so if you have a QC3.0 charger lying around, you can top the battery up again very quickly. On the downside, it doesn’t ship with a charger of any kind, just a USB Type-A to Type-C cable. That means it’s down to you to provide the Quick Charge 3.0 adapter.
Wileyfox Swift 2 X preview: Cyanogen’s last laugh
Wileyfox has been a partner of Cyanogen for the past couple of years, releasing phones running the custom version of software which got one of its first official retail launches on the OnePlus One. That means the Swift 2 X launches running the latest version of Cyanogen’s software based on Android Marshmallow, but sadly, it’s also the last version.
Cyanogen recently announced its decision to end its consumer software program, citing financial struggles as the primary reason to disband. That means while the Swift 2 X currently runs the Cyanogen-made software, it will be updated to a more pure version of Android in the future.
As it stands currently, the Cyanogen software provides a lot of customisation choices you might not get on a regular Android phone. That includes fine-tuning the icons you see in your status bar, choosing the colours for the notification LED based on the alert, or even adding extra buttons to the main navigation bar.
You can also choose how many rows and columns of apps you want on the home screen, choose between large or small app icons, as well as download and install custom themes to change the software’s appearance.
Wileyfox Swift 2 X preview: Pixel power
We haven’t tested the camera fully yet, but once more Wileyfox isn’t holding back from boasting about its cameras’ capabilities.
Both the 16-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera use a Samsung sensor, with the primary camera boasting f/2.0 aperture, large pixel size and ISOCELL technology to improve low light performance and focus speeds.
The main camera also includes PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) to try and ensure no shots are overly blurry, even with lighting conditions aren’t great.
In early testing, the front camera seems to take surprisingly good photographs, without any of that heavy softening you get from so many other Android phones. Likewise, the rear camera is decent enough, but we need to test those more thoroughly to see what they’re really like.
On the whole, despite the concerns over the phone’s tendency to stutter and stall, the Swift 2 X seems a decent package. It has a nice design and build, the screen is bright and sharp, and the battery should be capable of getting the heaviest users through a work day.
Hopefully with the upcoming Android Nougat update, the company manages to fix its performance issues, and leave us with a phone that’s very easy to recommend to anyone looking to spend around £200 on a smartphone.