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WileyFox Swift review

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The 3rd Gen Moto G has been out for little over a month, but new British company WileyFox has already got a budget smartphone contender ready to steal Motorola’s limelight. The Swift shares an almost identical specification to the £140 Moto G, including a 5in, 1,280×720 resolution display, 13-megapixel camera and a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, yet costs £129 – arguably making it better value.

Price isn’t the only thing setting the Swift apart, though, as it also uses Cyanogen 12.1 rather than plain Android. Cyanogen looks and feels roughly the same as the vanilla version of Android Lollipop on the Moto G, but gains several handy features that make it a more practical and personal operating system.

Cyanogen & software features

Truecaller is built straight into the dialler, giving you caller ID and a spam filter to prevent pesky nuisance calls. Likewise, Privacy Guard gives you more control over your personal data, as you can select exactly which bits of information can be accessed by your apps rather than having to give permission for everything like you do in plain Android. It also tells you how frequently that app has requested a particular piece of information, which will no doubt be welcome news for those who like to keep their privacy settings under lock and key.

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^ Cyanogen looks very similar to stock Android, but the app tray is ordered alphabetically in a list instead of a grid

Cyanogen is much more customisable than plain Android as well, as you not only have hundreds of different themes to choose from, but you can also personalise every last detail, from boot animations and wallpapers down to fonts and icon designs. Other non-Cyanogen phones, most notably HTC’s Sense 7-equipped handsets, let you to do this as well, but this is the first time this level of customisation has been available on a budget smartphone.

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^ Privacy Guard lets you manage exactly what information can be accessed by your apps, while Cyanogen’s extensive theme store lets you customise your handset right down to the fine details

Design

The Swift is beautifully designed, too, and I particularly like its soft-touch textured rear panel. This makes it feel a touch classier than the plastic Moto G, and its curved back sits very comfortably in the hand. It’s a fraction thinner, too, measuring 9.4mm at its thickest point compared to the Moto G’s 11.6mm.

Of course, its embossed logo and orange WileyFox branding on the rear isn’t nearly as subtle as Motorola’s circular dimple, but it’s certainly more attractive than other phones I’ve tested at this price, including the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6.

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Display

Despite similarities to the Moto G on paper, the Swift falls behind in a number of areas, including overall screen quality. The 5in 1,280×720 resolution display only covered 79.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, which isn’t great even by budget smartphone standards, and is more than 6% behind the 3rd Gen Moto G. The Swift’s weakest areas of coverage were reds, magentas and greens, which left colours looking rather muted and lacking in punch.

Black levels were disappointingly high at 0.57cd/m2 as well, which meant that darker areas of our test images looked a little grey at times. Admittedly, this is to be expected when the phone has such a bright screen, as our colour calibrator measured a peak white level of 551.76cd/m2. This is much brighter than the Moto G’s 339.38cd/m2, and blacks looked much darker when we toned down the Swift’s brightness.

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A brighter screen does have its uses, though, as it means the Swift can be used more effectively under a wider variety of lighting conditions, allowing the screen to shine through clearly even in bright sunshine. The Swift also has very good viewing angles, and its contrast ratio of 961:1 means that images have plenty of detail, despite their rather skewed colour cast.

Battery Life

Of course, setting the phone’s display to maximum brightness will also run down its 2,500mAh battery much faster than leaving it on auto. However, even when we set the screen brightness to 170cd/m2, the Swift showed a severe lack of stamina, only managing 8h 55m in our continuous video playback test. The Moto G’s smaller 2,470mAh battery, on the other hand, lasted 11h 12m under the same conditions, making it a much more reliable handset if you’ve got a long day ahead.

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