The Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus saw the upstart British phone manufacturer hit its stride, and while it's now two years since its arrival this budget phone still offers great value for money.
Update: The Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus may be getting on a bit, but it's now even cheaper, and it's running the latest version of Android. It's still a cheap phone that's worth considering.
Of course, the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus isn’t alone in pushing the affordable smartphone envelope these days. It may not have been succeeded in the Wileyfox warehouse, but more recent rival devices from the likes of Motorola, Honor and Alcatel offer newer specs for a similarly low price.
That said, the Swift 2 Plus hasn't fallen too far behind, with a now even-lower price tag and a fresh update to Android 8.1 Oreo ensuring it's still worth considering in 2018.
Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus price and availability
- Launch price: £189
- Current price: £151.99
- Launch date: November 2016
The Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus price at launch was a tempting £189, but that's now dropped to just £151.99 SIM free if you buy it direct from the Wileyfox website.
Shop around though and you may be able to find the Swift 2 Plus price closer to £100, making it fantastic value for money.
Doing a lot with a little
Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm
OS: Android 6.0.1
Screen size: 5-inch
Resolution: 1280 x 720
CPU: Snapdragon 430
Rear camera: 16MP
Front camera: 8MP
- Reliable fingerprint scanner
- No obvious rough edges
If you handed the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus to a casual observer, oblivious to the brand and unaware of its specs, we suspect they would consider it to be a phone that’s competing with Apple’s and Samsung’s latest flagship handsets.
What we are saying is that the Swift 2 Plus’s defining feature is a general sense of balance and poise. There’s a distinct lack of rough edges here, and the kind of attention to detail that’s typically missing from affordable phones.
You can see it from the moment you flip open the compact box to find the phone sat in a tightly sculpted recess, its only companion an artfully coiled orange USB Type-C cable.
It’s also in some of what you might call the phone’s ancillary components, such as its rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and its NFC capabilities. Neither are unique at this price point, but neither are they what you’d call default options in cheaper Android phones.
Of course, with cheap fingerprint sensors in particular we often wish the manufacturer simply hadn’t bothered, so unreliable or sluggish is their performance (hello ZTE Blade V7 Lite and Bush Spira E3X).
Again, Wileyfox’s careful consideration is apparent, as the Swift 2 Plus’s sensor is reasonably quick and reliable.
Then there’s the phone’s 32GB of storage, which is generally considered to be the default allotment for a flagship Android phone in 2016.
And though the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus is a triumph of small details, it does the big things pretty well too.
Design and display
- Attractive and solid aluminium body
- Display is bright but doesn’t wow with sharpness
We’ve already mentioned the impact the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus makes as soon as you open the box. Thankfully, that premium feeling continues when you pull it out.
Wileyfox has switched to a mostly aluminium body with this second generation of Swift handset, and it seems to have a natural touch with the material.
Our test model was the ‘Midnight’ one, which amounts to a slightly matt, deep charcoal tone. There are thin plastic sections along the top and bottom of the phone, but these - together with the fingerprint sensor and the Wileyfox logo - actually serve to give a subtle two-tone impression that’s far from unpleasant.
It sits nicely in the hand too, largely thanks to the gently curved rear edges. This is neither a thin phone nor a particularly thick one - at 8.6mm it sits somewhere in between the Moto G4 Plus (9.8mm) and the Honor 5X (8.2mm).
But its ergonomics, combined with a 158g weight, make it feel just hefty enough to seem premium without weighing down your pocket.
The volume and power keys, both located on the upper right-hand edge, have a pleasingly tactile texture that means they’re easy to locate and operate without looking.
There are no controls of any kind on the front of the phone - the Wileyfox logo is just that - so you’ll be relying on Android 6.0.1’s built-in virtual back, home, and menu keys for navigation.
One of the key reasons the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus gets its dimensions spot on is the size of its screen. Running counter to the prevailing 5.5-inch trend, the British manufacturer has stuck with the 5-inch display size of the original Wileyfox Swift.
We have no problem with that whatsoever, as it makes one-handed usage easier (though not quite iPhone-easy) whilst remaining big enough for extended YouTube and gaming sessions.
The screen is appreciably bright, too, which is often an aspect that suffers in affordable phones. We kept the display at around the halfway point for much of our time with the phone, which was more than enough for it to remain legible outside in these darkening UK autumn days.
It’s a fairly warm picture by default, but we’re not talking AMOLED-levels of redness, and we quickly adapted to it. Even if you don’t, the phone’s CyanogenMod UI provides a facility for tweaking the colour calibration to your tastes.
Just about the only complaint we have about the display isn’t really a complaint as much as an observation - it has a 720p resolution.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with 720p in sub–5-inch displays - just ask Apple with the iPhone 7 and Sony with the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, both of which cost considerably more than the Swift 2 Plus.
But this isn’t a sub–5-inch display, it’s a 5-inch display, and we could tell that the picture we were looking at wasn’t quite at the level of sharpness we’ve come to expect from high-quality phones.
Again, the Swift 2 Plus’s display is far from bad. It’s good, in fact. It’s just that the phone as a whole does so well at punching above its weight in general, it stands out a little more when a component accepts its place.