Like the Storm at its best, images the Swift spits out have, for the most part, realistic colour saturation. The Swift's aperture isn't quite as wide as the Storm's, but a small amount of bokeh is still achievable if the subject of your snap is up close and personal. Thanks to its more precise autofocus and exposure capabilities, daytime video performance is significantly better on the Swift than the Storm. Audio quality is slightly crisper too, but only marginally so; it still lacks a great deal of depth. Low-light clips are basically just as useless as the ones you get from the higher-end model. They come out a shade brighter, but at about 10 fps.
Low-light stills aren't exactly the Swift's strong suit, either. The photos you can tease out of it in awkward conditions aren't nearly as noisy as those from the Storm's camera. But, the Storm's larger 20-megapixel sensor is able to suck up enough light that you can just make out a scene where the Swift only sees a sea of black. The HDR mode on both Wileyfox devices does exactly what it should, enhancing image contrast and giving colours a slightly unrealistic vibrancy, though they do take a good few seconds to process. The panorama mode, too, takes a while to turn photos around, but it stitches scenes together remarkably well.
Overall, I have to say I much prefer the Swift's camera to the Storm's. Imaging performance on the Swift isn't impeccable by any stretch of the imagination -- it's ease of use I'm siding with here. You can pull the device out of your pocket, jump into the camera app and take a picture, knowing that all the auto settings will serve you adequately enough. Between jittery focus and confused autoexposure, the same can't be said for the Storm.
Performance and battery life
Break open the Wileyfox Storm, and you'll find a 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage (expandable with microSD cards as large as 128GB). The Swift, being the lower-end model, has slightly leaner core specs. It's powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410, paired with two gigs of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage (it, too, has a microSD slot, which supports cards up to 32GB). Though one obviously has a bigger engine humming away inside, there really isn't much that separates the two handsets in terms of everyday performance.
I'm now at the stage where I feel I'm forever covering the same ground when it comes to either writing, or simply thinking about the performance of Android devices whenever I've got my paws on one (or two). That's to say the speed and fluidity of the user experience is as fast and as slick as you'd ever need it to be. Take the Storm, for instance. You can whip through the homescreen carousel, yank down the notification bar, and jump in and out of your everyday apps at lightning speed without forcing so much as a hiccup or a stutter out of the device. Chrome pulls websites from the ether to your display in a second or two (depending on your connection, of course), and really, what more do you need?
It's a simple fact: The Swift's working with less horsepower under the hood. But when compared with the Storm, that fact is of little significance. Everything I said about the Storm applies to the Swift, too. No, it's not as fast, but the difference in app loading times and general responsiveness can be measured in the milliseconds. Most importantly, the user experience is consistent, not fluid one minute and sluggish the next. I have, however, encountered the odd gremlin during my time with both the Storm and the Swift: an app crashing for seemingly no reason, or an unregistered swipe across the touchscreen. Mind you, these events are so infrequent that it doesn't dent my opinion that both devices offer commendable performance. And, whether it's a MacBook, a Kindle or a Now TV box, I find every piece of hardware is capable of having a ghost in the machine from time to time.
To push the Storm and Swift's silicon to its limits, of course I've indulged in a brief gaming session here and there. Results are as expected. Online shooter Shadowgun: Deadzone looks as good as I've seen it, and runs smoothly on the Storm at the "ultra high" graphics setting. The Swift holds its own on ultra high, too, albeit at a slightly lower framerate. As with all these gaming tests, you have to take into account the 1080p and 720p screen resolutions of the Storm and Swift, respectively; the higher the resolution, the more demanding the workload.
One too many races in Asphalt 8: Airborne confirms the 3D racer isn't able to push either handset to its breaking point. The medium graphics setting ensures the best balance between visuals and performance on the Storm and Swift alike. Bump that up to high, however, and you're only looking at a minor decline in framerate on both devices, with the game remaining perfectly playable (the more detailed textures sometimes looked glitchy on the Swift, though it didn't affect performance). Real Racing 3, a less arcadey driving game, runs extremely well on the Swift, but isn't any fun to play on the Storm due to a low framerate.
EA's racer automatically selects what it believes is an appropriate graphics setting for your device, and you can't change this in-game. Therefore, the Storm has obviously been issued a setting one notch up from what it can handle. Regardless of this minor speed bump, the main takeaway is both phones don't just handle lightweight apps and tasks with ease. If you're partial to resource-hungry games, either Wileyfox device is highly likely of being capable enough to fit your needs.
Neither Wileyfox handset has an NFC chip, which isn't ideal if you're hoping to take advantage of Android Pay when it eventually arrives in the UK (or any of the exclusive mobile payment apps available now). You do, however, get the basics: GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Cat 4 LTE and 2.4GHz WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. A dual-band WiFi chip would've been appreciated, but I guess it's not essential, and both devices maintain solid wireless connections at admiral distances (from my home router at least). GPS performance is fast and accurate, too.
In our standard battery rundown test (video looping at 50 percent brightness), neither smartphone notched an amazing result. The Swift had the most stamina of the two, dying after eight hours and four minutes, while the Storm gave up the ghost after only six hours and 39 minutes. Both are equipped with a 2,500mAh battery (only the Swift's is removable), so it makes sense the Storm wouldn't last as long considering its larger, higher-resolution display.
These times aren't astronomically out of the ordinary, though. Sony's Xperia Z5 managed to hold out only 40 minutes longer than the Storm, despite having 2,900mAh of juice to work with. Then again, HTC's similarly specced One A9 lasted eight and three-quarter hours despite its relatively small 2,150mAh battery. The Swift isn't exactly breaking records either, mind. This year's Moto G, which also has a 720p display and Snapdragon 410 chip, kept trucking for over two-and-a-half hours longer than the Swift with 2,470mAh in the bank.
The Storm is the kind of device you're going to want to charge every evening. It can handle a day of light-to-moderate, non-intensive usage -- I'm talking checking train times, reading emails, sending a WhatsApp message or two, thumbing through Twitter occasionally and making a couple of calls -- before that battery indicator hits the terrifying red zone. It's simply not going to live for long tomorrow if you don't refill it in today. A day with the Swift spins a similar tale. As the rundown test suggests, it does have a few more hours to give than the Storm. However, even with extremely light usage, you're not getting through more than 18 hours on a charge.
When you're talking affordable smartphones, it's impossible not to look straight in Motorola's direction. The Moto G, now in its third generation, still sets something of a benchmark for value for money. The £189, 16GB storage/2GB RAM model mirrors the spec sheet of the Swift almost identically. Wileyfox's handset, however, undercuts it in price by £60, which is a significant saving. The Moto G has a stylish, customisable design, waterproofing, better battery life and brand legacy in its favour, but the Swift does measure up as a legitimate, more affordable alternative.
If you're willing to break the £200 barrier, then the Moto X Play is also worth a look. The £219 configuration has 16 gigs of storage and 2GB of RAM, compared with the £199 Storm's 32 gig capacity and 3GB of RAM. Otherwise, the spec sheets trade blow for blow. The Moto X Play, however, has a huge 3,630mAh battery that'll easily keep you going for two full days. It's also full customisable through Moto Maker, and is no slouch in the camera department, which can't be said about the Storm.
Of course, Motorola isn't the only company with devices in this kind of price range. Huawei's P8 Lite is an attractive handset with specs comparable to that of the Swift, and can be bought for £144 on Amazon currently. Then there's the Honor 6, which boasts a lightweight frame, big battery and £210 price tag, though it does fall short of the Storm in some areas, at least on paper. If it's raw power you're after, the £199 OnePlus X is packing a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, but there's not a great deal else to write home about otherwise.
Carphone Warehouse will sell you Sony's Xperia M4 Aqua for £150 unlocked right now, which is nothing short of a bargain. It's thin, light and waterproof, with a 5-inch 720p display, octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor (like the Storm) and a 13-megapixel camera. In short, you get a lot of hardware for your money. Contract-free phones are all about not tying yourself to a carrier, but I can't help but give Vodafone's Smart Ultra 6 an honourable mention. Available for £115 on pay-as-you-go, you're looking at a 5.5-inch, 1080p display, Snapdragon 615 CPU, 13- and 5-megapixel cameras, 16 gigs of storage and a 3,000mAh battery. It might not be the most stylish phone, but it's incredible value nonetheless.
If Wileyfox's first two smartphones were evening meals, the Swift would be a tasty burger from a fast-food joint, and the Storm a sit-down dinner that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Neither handset is so exciting that I'm spraying food 'cause I can't wait to tell you about them, but the Swift offers great value for money. Between its neat and charming design, satisfactory display and more than adequate performance, I'm not left dwelling on the compromises and shortcomings. Instead, I'm nodding cheerfully at the £129 price tag, and thinking that the next time someone asks me to recommend a decent, cheap smartphone, I have more to say than just "go buy a Moto G."
My opinion of the Storm, on the other hand, has been pretty much defined by my experience with its camera. That 20.7-megapixel Sony sensor looks so alluring on the spec sheet of a £199 smartphone, and yet I'd choose the Swift's 13-megapixel camera as my preferred companion every day of the week. For me, it comes down to unfulfilled potential. The Storm is an extremely stylish handset. It's well-built and is arguably as attractive as any flagship crafted from more premium materials. The 1080p display isn't the best around but it's good enough, and I've no issues to raise regarding performance. But then I think back to the camera, and the one-day battery life, and even though £199 isn't asking much, I'd still say save yourself £70 and pick up a Swift instead.