When British smartphone manufacturer Wileyfox launched its inaugural Swift handset last year, it gave our then top budget smartphone, the 3rd Gen Moto G, a run for its money. Its specs were nigh on identical and it was also a fraction cheaper, making it a tempting alternative to Motorola’s cut-price champion.
Now, Wileyfox is back with the Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus. Available at £159 and £189 SIM-free respectively, both phones are more expensive than last year’s model, but you can immediately see why: each of these all-metal beauties represent a significant step up in overall build quality and style.
They’re still relatively chunky at 8.6mm from the front glass to the rear of the chassis, but each phone’s curved edges and lightly chamfered sides make them highly attractive, especially now the company’s logo on the rear is less prominent.
Indeed, turn over the phone and you’ll find a handset that’s far more elegant and understated than any of its shouty predecessors. Not only is the fox logo much smaller, but its embossed design means it blends in much more neatly with the rest of the handset. Likewise, the Wileyfox name is no longer resplendent in bright orange, giving the handset a much more sophisticated, mature look overall.
Another new addition is the presence of a rear fingerprint sensor. Together with built-in NFC, this is sure to go down a treat for those eager to start using Android Pay at contactless payment points. It isn’t the fastest sensor in the world, often taking at least a second to unlock the phone from sleep after I pressed it, but it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.
I was sent the Swift 2 Plus for review, but both phones are very similar. They’re the same size with 5in 720p screens, and they both come with the same size battery and internal components. The key difference between them is that the Swift 2 Plus comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera while the Swift 2 has a 13-megapixel sensor, there’s 3GB of RAM rather than 2GB, and 32GB of storage instead of 16GB.
The Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus might look the part of a great budget smartphone but things have moved on a lot since last year, and the fact that Wileyfox has only seen fit to include a quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip comes as something of a disappointment. The similarly-priced Moto G4, on the other hand, has an octa-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, an eminently more powerful chipset that puts it in a much stronger position than either of these Wileyfox handsets.
The phone’s graphics performance wasn’t particularly hot, either. I achieved an average frame rate of 4.4fps in the GFXBench GL onscreen Manhattan 3.0 test. This is fine for simple games, but it will struggle with more complex titles.
The phone’s Cyanogen 13.0 Android-based front-end isn’t sluggish by any means, but Geekbench 4 scores of 629 in the single-core test and 1,967 in the multi-core test put it a long way behind the G4, which shoots ahead with a result of 2,453 in the latter. There’s also the issue of potentially being left behind with future OS updates, with rumours of Cyanogen scaling back its operations recently.
Wileyfox assured me at the Swift 2’s launch that its users will still receive OS and security updates over the coming months, but was vague about how this would be achieved if Cyanogen were to pull out of the OS race altogether.
Another fight Wileyfox has been struggling to win over the past year is battery life. The original Swift really fell short here, with it’s 2,500mAh battery managing only 8hrs 55mins in our continuous video playback test (with the screen brightness set to a brightness level of 170cd/m2). The Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus improve on this thanks to a larger 2,700mAh battery, but only marginally, stretching to just 9hrs 32mins in the same test. This is still below average for a budget smartphone and pales in comparison to the Moto G4’s 13hrs 39mins.
To be fair, there’s some consolation to be found in its fast-charging support. With a USB-C port to hand, Wileyfox says both phones can reach 75% capacity in only 45 minutes. That’s pretty good for topping up your phone mid-afternoon, but the downside is that you’ll need to supply your own fast charge adapter, as Wileyfox has neglected to include one in the box.
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