Wileyfox Swift review: The British smartphone hoping for a revolution

Price when reviewed

Wileyfox Swift: Camera

Equipped with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the Swift is more than capable for everyday snaps.

Wileyfox Swift review: The rear camera has a resolution of 13MP and a dual-LED flash

First, and thanks in no small part to Cyanogen 12.1, the process of capturing photos is incredibly simple and quick. Continual autofocus is switched on by default and only occasionally failed to focus on the object I wanted it to. Swiping up and down on the camera screen adds filters to your shot, and there’s an HDR mode if you want to artificially boost the brightness in dark areas of your shot. It’s a real pleasure to use.

The resulting photographs are somewhat less impressive. While they’re passable for dropping on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, they aren’t going to give the Samsung Galaxy S6 or OnePlus 2 a run for their money.

Outdoor shots look crisp, despite some exposure issues when faced with bright sunlight. Low-light indoor shots, however, don’t fare so well. Wileyfox claims its camera is excellent in low light with the flash on, but, with the dual LED flash switched off, pictures come out grainy and blurry.


If you want to record video, it’s a similar situation. It shoots at a resolution of 1080p and footage captured in good light is smooth, while the autofocus and exposure both work reliably. There’s no optical image stabilisation, so video can be a touch shaky and blurry when you’re moving about, but the picture quality holds up well.

Once again, however, filming in a low-light environment delivers disappointing results. Auto exposure changes in visible steps and you can see the phone struggling to capture smoothly with video looking grainy, blurred and smeary.

Wileyfox Swift: Software and features

Just as OnePlus did with its first Android smartphone, Wileyfox has recruited the popular Android distribution, Cyanogen OS, to run on the Swift. This open-source, community developed OS is designed to be lighter, more customisable, and more feature-rich than standard Android.

Alongside the aforementioned improved camera speed and display adjustments, Cyanogen 12.1 comes with a suite of themes to customise your phone beyond the standard wallpaper and lock screen changes. It allows you to add or remove buttons from the navigation bar, customise the appearance of notifications on the lock screen and in the pull-down notifications menu, as well as change behaviour for buttons or individual apps. This is powerful stuff.

Wileyfox Swift review: The onboard Cyanogen 12.1 OS has loads more features than stock Android

While the 16GB of internal storage may not be much for those who like to load their phone with music, there is some solace in the Swift’s impressive audio equaliser. Powered by AudioFX, the Swift allows you to tweak anything you’re listening to, boosting the bass and ramping up a virtualiser to make rubbish headphones sound slightly deeper.

Security conscious users are also catered for, with a host of additional security options. Not only can you encrypt your device to ensure its contents stay safe if stolen, but you can block unknown callers and numbers you don’t like calling you. With Truecaller ID, it’ll automatically identify unknown callers or label calls as spam.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to Cyanogen 12.1 than just these highlights, but I’m not going to go through every feature in this review. Just know that you’ll be getting more of a personalised experience with the Swift than you will with stock Android.


Wileyfox Swift: Verdict

Wileyfox’s ambitions echo those of the hugely successful Chinese startup OnePlus. While OnePlus has aimed to take on the premium flagship market, and Wileyfox is targeting the mid-range and budget bracket, it’s clear that there are more than a couple of similarities between the two. So, it’s a wonder how – for just £100 more – OnePlus has managed to create a phone worthy of facing off against the big boys, while the British startup is only just ahead of the likes of the Honor Holly and Motorola Moto E.

There’s a part of me that desperately wants to like the plucky Wileyfox Swift. It squeezes style out of a rather simplistic design and crams a load of features into a phone that costs very little. On the other hand, Cyanogen OS features aside, there’s nothing here the similarly priced Motorola Moto G 3 doesn’t do better.

2 thoughts on “Wileyfox Swift review: The British smartphone hoping for a revolution”

Colette says:
Bought Wiley Oct 19..could not recommend it. While feels nice to hold. It is embedded with ads. Ads run along the bottom of tact bar, and recently text button doesn’t open automatically a Texting application comes up asking if you want to subscribe. The same with outlook email… Open new message – that’s fine but when you go to reply or revert to inbox up pops full screen adverts that you can not swipe/ escape out of. You have close the app and go back and reopen email ap.
Cannot wait to throw.

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