With the launch of the iPhone 7, it’s easy to think that not much has changed in the cellphone market, except for the rising costs of smartphones. But there’s a new kid on the proverbial block. Boasting the Spark, Swift and the Storm, Wileyfox is a UK-based company that prides itself on making surprisingly well-functioning smartphones for around the €150 mark. A cheeky €700 cheaper than an iPhone.
And like a the little wily fox it is, this seemingly unknown start-up has emerged out of its den with a hard-hitting attitude and philosophy: phones really aren’t changing all that much, and we shouldn’t be throwing away money in the endless pursuit of keeping up with the latest gadget trends.
Wileyfox straddles the line between affordability and functionality, offering the same kind of specs and user experience that you would expect in a phone from the high end of the smartphone spectrum, but for a fraction of the cost. It’s the Sternburg of the smartphone market.
This is particularly good news for those of us who aren’t ready to stitch our souls onto a contract with Media Markt for two years. Even better for those who have the propensity for falling asleep on the U-bahn late in the night and getting their mobiles swiped.
Let’s not call it disposable, €150 is still a month’s worth of coffee at The Barn, but losing something equivalent in price a week and a half’s rent isn’t going to devastate your life. It’s way less expensive than your traditional iPhone. And let’s face it, expensive is to Berliners what garlic is to vampires.
So I took a look at these plucky new phones on your behalf, Berlin!
Upon first impression, it’s easy to see why someone would be fooled into thinking that they would actually need to get a job to afford a Storm. It’s sleek and svelte, sports a 5.5 inch screen with 1080p resolution (the same size as an iPhone 6s Plus), and has a matte finish with a very satisfying grainy feel to the cover.
Perfect for capturing all the graffiti-covered dilapidated Brauereien and factories, the Storm comes equipped with a 20-megapixel camera in the back, while an 8-megapixel front camera ensures that Skyping your friends back home will never be an issue. In terms of processing power, it comes with 3GB RAM, a Snapdragon 615 processor and 32GB of storage, while costing a modest €230.
The little brother to the Storm, with a slightly smaller screen, scaled-back specifications and a 13-megapixel camera, the Swift is the perfect all-rounder. While the Storm can be a little too imposing (and feels, almost, as though Wileyfox were trying to fill a size 10 shoe with a size 7 foot), the Swift seems to be more comfortable in its design, and for that reason all the more remarkable.
It packs enough processing power to handle any sort of standard app, and the battery lasts long enough to still provide some power when you’re crawling back from Kater Blau at 7am. It’s hard to find any criticisms for the price (around €140), but if you’re looking to record sound bites for your latest remix, I’d say Swift isn’t for you. The microphone leaves recordings scratchy and indiscernible, and video clips of concerts and other loud events become scored with grey walls of sound.
If given a choice between the two, I’d have to go for the less powerful Swift. Not only is it cheaper, it just seems to fit better with the climate of Berlin. It’s perfect for everyday use, but sheds the superfluous features that bump the price up on the Storm. That being said, Wileyfox have done something special, bringing powerful phones to the people that need them, and at a price they can afford. While none of the phones will never be quite as good as their €600 counterparts, they are still disproportionately powerful for their price tag, and are uniquely suited to uncertain life of a Berliner.