Wileyfox Swift 2 review

Wileyfox does it again with this feature-rich budget blower

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Interface and software

  • Runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat
  • Comes with some extra apps and features

In its early days Wileyfox was known as one of the big supporters of the CyanogenMod software. However, the Swift 2 now runs Wileyfox’s own software on top of Android 7.1.2.

This doesn’t mess around too much with the basic layout of Android, but does look significantly different. Check out the big alphabet markers on the vertical apps menu, for instance, and the apps menu button has been replaced with the Wileyfox logo.

Look a little deeper and you’ll find other bits and bobs Wileyfox has altered. Flick to the right from the Swift 2’s home screen and you’ll reach Zen. This is a news feed populated by articles from sources you’ve selected, including TechRadar if you like.

Like other feeds of this kind, you’ll see the odd sponsored link, but Zen seems to be less packed with them than some. It’s a decent way to kill a few bored minutes.

The Swift 2 also uses Truecaller rather than the standard Android dialler, letting you block numbers very easily.

Wileyfox has incorporated most of the features of Android 7.1.2 as seen in Google’s Pixel phones. For example, long-press on certain app icons and you can zip straight to certain parts of an app, like Recent Episodes in Podcast Addict or Add Contact in the Contacts phone book.

It's also possible to run two applications at the same time via the split-screen mode, but in all honesty the usefulness of this feature is questionable on a device with a 5-inch display.

Fingerprint scanners are no longer the preserve of expensive handsets and the one which comes with the Wileyfox Swift 2 is pretty decent. You can use it to wake the phone from its slumber and we didn't notice any issues with it recognising our digits.

However, while some Android 7.1.2 Nexus phones got fingerprint scanner gestures with the update, the Swift 2 didn’t. The Nexus 6P gained one letting you bring down the notifications with a downward swipe on the scanner, but the Swift 2 still only has basic gestures.

You can fire-up the camera from anywhere with two quick taps of the power button or double tap the status bar at the top of the screen to put the phone to sleep.

Fresh out of the box the Wileyfox Swift 2 runs very well. However, after a few weeks of use, and our usual army of apps, we did notice some quite jarring slow-downs. The phone doesn’t seem to be among the best at juggling system resources. Regular pruning of your app collection and the odd full restart will help, but we’ve had better results from the Moto G5 Plus.

In the phone’s favour, the Swift 2 has received more updates than many budget phones we’ve used, though.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Comes with Google’s media apps
  • Solid gaming performance
  • 720p display isn’t ideal for movies

Wileyfox has wisely used Google's own apps when it comes to fulfilling your media consumption needs, rather than needlessly duplicating functionality by introducing apps of its own.

There's a bespoke Gallery app which pulls together your photos and recorded videos, but outside of that it's all about Google Play Music, Play Movies, Play Books and Google Photos, the latter of which is arguably the best photo storage option available on any smartphone, full stop.

Not only does it allow you to organise, edit and share your images, it also offers unlimited cloud storage, so you can periodically free up valuable memory by backing up images from your handset. With only 16GB of memory included on the Swift 2, this is something you'll definitely want to take advantage of.

Google Play Music may not quite possess the same fame as iTunes, but it offers a massive selection of music tracks and also allows you to upload your own library to the cloud via a computer, which can then be accessed by any device running the service that you're signed into.

Purchasing music is a breeze, too – again, this is one of the best music options available in the Android ecosystem, and Wileyfox has been very wise in making it the Swift 2's default audio app.

Google's Movies app is the same story; the company has secured a wide range of films both for rental and purchase, and it's possible to stream them directly to your phone rather than download and soak up precious storage space.

The 720p display naturally doesn't do full HD films full justice, but the viewing experience is still pleasant enough; it's hard to be too picky when digesting a Hollywood blockbuster on a device small enough to be stored in your pocket.

You might assume that a sub-£200 phone is going to make a pretty dire gaming platform, but the Swift 2 defies that expectation dramatically.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset is capable enough, but the fact that it's only pushing a 720p screen really helps performance – fewer pixels means less effort, after all. Every title we ran on the phone performed without any serious hiccups.

There’s just a single speaker on the Swift 2, sitting on the bottom, so for any serious gaming or video-watching you’ll want to plug in some headphones. However, it’ll do the trick for the odd podcast or YouTube video as while the sound is a little hard-edged it projects reasonably well.

Specs and benchmark performance

  • Decent specs and performance for the money
  • Higher Geekbench 4 score than the Moto G5

The spec sheet for the Wileyfox Swift 2 is actually quite impressive. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 may not be a cutting-edge chipset, but it's more than up to the task of pushing pixels around a 720p screen and is aided by 2GB of RAM. It has eight Cortex-A53 cores and a respectable Adreno 505 graphics chipset.

There's 16GB of memory included, with a microSD card slot which allows you to add 128GB more. There's also NFC support, which means you can use Android Pay to make contactless purchases in many retail outlets – the phone even comes pre-loaded with the Android Pay app, to which you can link your credit or debit card.

When you add up all of these features it's actually quite staggering how much phone you're getting for just over £150 – but it's also worth pointing out that the goalposts have shifted considerably since the Swift 2 launched, as many other budget blowers are now packing the same kind of specifications.

In Geekbench 4, the Swift 2 returns a single-core score of 667 and a multi-core score of 2,545. That certainly doesn't place it at the vanguard of the smartphone revolution, but the handset is more than powerful enough for a lower mid-range user, coming out slightly ahead of the 2,377-scoring Moto G5.