Wileyfox Storm review: A cheap phone that’s not so cheerful

£200
Price when reviewed

Wileyfox Storm review: CyanogenMod

So far, this phone hasn’t impressed me. One saving grace, though, is its operating system. CyanogenMod is one of the most respected community-backed Android ROMs around, but typically the only way to get it on to your phone is to root it and void the warranty. That’s not a problem for Wileyfox’s phones – you get CyanogenMod right out of the box, and all the benefits that brings.

What are those benefits? The team behind it says it’s highly optimised and free of bloatware. That’s a good start, but another is that it’s as clean, modern and easy to use as the stock Android you get on a Nexus device.

And, as we wrote in our Wileyfox Swift review, CyanogenMod is a genuinely strong selling point, with dozens of neat features ranging from musical tweaks for the audiophile to customisable themes to transform the way Android looks and behaves. For those who want to tinker, CyanogenMod is tough to beat.

Out of the box, though, it’ll be familiar enough for anyone who has used Android before to be well within their comfort zone, with a few nice extra touches. It comes unencumbered with apps you’ll want to delete right away, so for the software, it’s hard to give Wileyfox anything but a full-blooded thumbs up.

Wileyfox Storm review: Camera

While LG is responsible for the screen tech, Wileyfox claims on its website that it sought out Sony for its camera technology, but the 20-megapixel rear camera on the Wileyfox Storm feels a good couple of leagues below the tech you find in Sony’s flagship Z5 range.

There’s a noticeable delay between the camera app starting and the camera focussing – a good couple of seconds – and when you finally take the picture, zooming in reveals a good degree of noise, even in quite well lit settings. In low light, it copes worse, as most mobile cameras do, but from a weaker starting position. The Storm’s snapper is nothing to write home about.

The front-facing selfie camera, on the other hand, works well, if you like that sort of thing. It’s an eight megapixel camera, and as previously mentioned, it’s accompanied by a single LED flash, so selfies are surprisingly decent in any conditions. It’s no substitute for a quality main camera, though.

Wileyfox Storm review: Verdict

The Wileyfox Storm is a great example of why it’s worth approaching manufacturers’ specifications sheets with a little scepticism. On paper, it looks like a real bargain, but one-by-one, the lofty promises tumble, and what originally seemed “too good to be true” for the price, turn out to be merely “fair enough”.

That isn’t to say the Wileyfox Storm is a bad phone. It plainly isn’t, and performance-wise it’s up there with the Motorola X Play, which retails for £50 more. At the same time, however, battery life is disappointing and the camera is poor.

If you want a phone with CyanogenMod without breaking warranty, this is a much stronger proposition than the Wileyfox Swift, and worth the extra £70 premium. The company clearly has a bright future, and if the next handset it releases improves things once more, we might just have a handset to recommend. The Storm, however, isn’t quite there just yet.

See also: Our pick of the best smartphones for 2016

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