WileyFox Spark review

A plausible price tag, but it's less bright spark and more damp squib

WileyFox Spark review

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The WileyFox website says the following about its new entry-level handset:

"Go wild with Spark. A formidable combination of cool, urban design, enviable good looks, kickass experience and the most evolved and advanced version of Android, powered by Cyanogen."

Let's break that down, starting with "cool, urban design" – okay, I'll give it that, along with "enviable good looks" and "the most evolved and advanced version of Android". But "kickass experience"? Really? Has anyone at WileyFox even used the Spark outside of a lab?

At no point during my time with the Spark could the experience be described as "kickass". I'm not calling WileyFox liars, but that's seriously misleading.

We liked

Things start off very promisingly for the WileyFox Spark. The £89 price tag makes it fantastically affordable, and that alone will draw people to this phone.

It's well designed too, which is surprising considering the low price, with the Spark sitting nicely in the palm while feeling solid. The cameras also aren't all that bad, as long as you have the patience to cope with the Spark's awfully sluggish performance.

The screen is another high point for the WileyFox Spark. It's bright and clear, and getting a 720p HD resolution at the bottom end of the market is excellent.

We disliked

The WileyFox Spark is one of the most frustrating smartphones I've used. It's unforgivably slow 90 percent of the time, and apps crash and freeze with alarming frequency.

Even simple tasks, such as sending a message or taking a call, can be extremely painful – and when a phone fails to do the basics it's very difficult to recommend it to anyone.

It's a real shame, as the Spark has some good ingredients – design, display, cameras and price – but it's so hopelessly let down by performance. Battery life is also a disappointment, with poor idle drain and a lack of all-day stamina.

Storage is another issue, and a microSD card is essential if you're planning on picking up the WileyFox Spark. You can only actually use around a quarter of the 8GB of built-in storage, which these days simply isn't enough.


If you read the whole review, or even just this final page, you'll have a pretty good grasp of my thoughts on the WileyFox Spark. It's not really fit for purpose.

You can – just about – use this handset as a smartphone, but every step is a struggle for the Spark as it limps wounded through the Android interface.

As a last resort the Spark will just about suffice, but even as a burner phone at a festival it'll fall short thanks to its flaky battery performance. You're much better off spending another £40 on the year-old WileyFox Swift. It may not be brand new, but its performance is superior in every way.

First reviewed: July 2016

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.