Wileyfox Spark X review

Wileyfox gets its third strike with the budget Spark range

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After the brilliance of the Wileyfox Swift range, the British company seems to have made three sizeable missteps with its Spark trilogy, culminating in the under-cooked Wileyfox Spark X.

For just a little less than the Wileyfox Swift 2 - not to mention the Moto G5 - you get a sub-optimal 720p display, a plastic design, poor battery life, underwhelming camera and glitchy software. If our experience is anything to go by, you might even get a smartphone that doesn’t do the ‘phone’ bit right.

In this, one of the most competitive areas of the smartphone market, such an unattractive combination simply isn’t good enough any more - if it ever was.

Who's this for?

The Wileyfox Spark X is for those on a strict budget of £120 to £130, and no more. For that money you get a just about competent all-rounder, but you can do much better if you’re willing to spend just a little more.

Should you buy it?

If you’re seriously strapped for cash and want to buy a no-nonsense smartphone, you still probably shouldn’t consider the Wileyfox Spark X.

There are just too many rough edges and areas that seem to have been rushed or poorly thought through - not least its capabilities compared to other similarly priced phones.

There are much better phones available for a similar amount of money, such as the following three handsets.

Wileyfox Swift 2

For just £10 to £20 more you can get yourself a considerable upgrade within the Wileyfox range. The Swift 2 is better built, with an aluminium body, and its 720p display is smaller - thus packing the pixels in more densely.

You’ll also get much better performance from a more mainstream chip, fingerprint authentication, and a faster camera.

You’re still not getting great battery life, and the company’s software situation seems to be a little up in the air right now. But the Wileyfox Swift 2 is simply a more elegant phone that feels like it belongs in a completely different class to the Spark X.

Moto G5

Again, the Moto G5 costs a little more than the Spark X. But a small amount extra gets you a significantly better phone that replaces plastic with metal and lands you with better specs all round.

Those specs include a faster Snapdragon 430 chipset and a superior 1080p display, as well as a fingerprint scanner.

You’ll also get much more solid, reliable software in the form of Motorola’s thoughtfully tweaked take on Android. Again, Wileyfox has shown that it can mix it with the Moto G range, but not with the Spark family and certainly not with the Spark X.

Vodafone Smart N8

We’ve mentioned two phones that vastly improve upon the Spark X for a little more money. How about one that matches or improves upon it for significantly less?

The Vodafone Smart N8 costs just £85, yet it boasts similar performance to the Spark X and a sharper display (it’s 720p but only 5-inches in size). It also comes with a decent fingerprint scanner, which makes it much more convenient to use.

Top that off with a stock version of Android, and the only reason you might justifiably prefer the Spark X is if you’re not on Vodafone - which is admittedly a very real and valid possibility.

First reviewed: August 2017