Wileyfox Storm review
We were impressed by the budget priced Swift but what can Wileyfox offer in a bigger and more expensive smartphone? Here's our Wileyfox Storm review. Wileyfox has burst onto the smartphone scene with the aim of bringing decent phones at affordable prices. Led by a former general manager at Motorola, we've taken a look at the larger and higher spec Wileyfox Storm.
Wileyfox Storm review: Price and competition
With the firm's Swift costing just £129, the Storm is more expensive but still a very affordable £199, sold by Amazon . That's to buy the phone outright SIM-free but a £70 difference does mean we'll be looking at whether it's worth spending extra. In terms of competition, the Wileyfox Storm isn't the only phone out there trying to offer an attractive phone at under £200. A key rival, ironically, is the Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) which is one of the best cheap phones of 2015 at £159. Vodafone's own-brand Smart Ultra 6 is also a spanner in the works with similar spec at just £125. Then there's the gorgeous OnePlus X which is the same price as the Storm, £199. The problem there is that you need an invite to buy one – Wileyfox has no such restrictions with its phones.
Wileyfox Storm review: Design and build quality
The Storm is very much like the Swift in look and feel so the main different is that this model is bigger. It's a similar thickness at 9.2mm so it's the additional weight which is far more apparent – 155g. That's not too bad for a phone with a 5.5in screen so the extra bulk is a reasonable sacrifice if that's what you're looking for. Its design is plain from the front but impressively stylish at the back with the embossed fox-head logo and orange highlights. This time the camera and flash are brought together in a long strip. We like the Sandstone Black rear cover which looks smart; it's similar to the OnePlus 2 but smoother to the touch. This is not removable on the Storm so you use a tray on the side for cards and can't access the battery. Despite this we were able to get under the cover quite easily at one corner which isn't ideal. Overall it's not bad and certainly better than the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, but the OnePlus X eclipses it in this area for the same price with its premium combination of metal and dark bevelled glass.
Wileyfox Storm review: Hardware, specs and performance
As mentioned, a key difference when compared with the Swift is the bigger screen. It's not only half an inch larger at 5.5in but also has a Full HD resolution. This uses an IPS panel which provides good viewing angles and it also has nice colours. The brightness is average and the contrast isn't anything to write home about, though. The larger and higher resolution screen is one of the main reasons to opt for the Storm over the Swift. However, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offers the same screen specs for just £125 so it's something of a spanner in Wileyfox's works. The Smart Ultra 6 is a key rival then and both phones are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor – a mid-range octa-core chip. However, the Storm offers twice the amount of storage at 32GB and an extra 50 percent of memory with 3GB of RAM. It's unsurprising to see very similar benchmark results as the Smart Ultra 6. We found the Storm to be mostly smooth in day-to-day use with even the camera app barely hesitating to open up. Furthermore, it has a MicroSD card slot able to take up to 128GB. The Wileyfox Storm is a dual-SIM phone but not if you want to use a memory card because it takes up one of the two available SIM slots. You don't get much in the way of hardware beyond the mentioned core specs. There's single-band 11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, A-GPS and a radio. This means no NFC but that's not something you get on the OnePlus X or Smart Ultra 6 either. The Storm does support 4G LTE networks though which, these days, is essential. A larger phone means more room for a bigger battery but the Storm has the same capacity battery is its little brother. Just 2500mAh inside isn't ideal and we recorded a result of just four hours and one minute in our Geekbench 3 test with a score of 1663. One of the lowest results we've had this year. You do get cameras, of course, starting with a fairly decent 8Mp one at the front which also has an LED flash to help it out in the dark. Results aren't quite as good as the spec sheet implies and it doesn't cope well with lights in the background of shots but it's not bad. The main attraction here is the 20Mp Sony BSI sensor at the back, though. That's a lot of pixels for your money and there're features such as an LED flash, touch focus, face detection and HDR. It also sounds great but we didn't find it quite lived up to expectations. It can take a while to focus, then the zero shutter lag just isn't true. There is good detail on offer when things do go right but that's not very often. It's bizarre that photos look awful when viewed via the camera app but fine via the gallery.
Wileyfox Storm review: Software and apps
There's sometimes little to say about a phone's software with many Android phones now coming with a stock, or close to stock, OS. Wileyfox, like OnePlus, has gone with Cyanogen OS which is quite alternative. The Storm runs Cyanogen 12.1 which is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop so it's not like a completely different experience – the biggest change is probably a vertically scrolling app menu. It might not sound like it, but it's actually very similar to the normal Android OS with the same layout and stock components such as the notification bar and recent apps. The lockscreen also looks very stock but what Cyanogen offers is a large amount of customisation. For example, you can choose which lockscreen shortcuts you want instead of being stuck with the default. There are also different themes on offer with the ability to choose specific parts like icons. Quick Settings can be rearranged in the notification bar, you can switch of elements like the brightness slider and you can manipulate parts of the status bar such as the clock and battery percentage. Furthermore, there's control over the LED notification light and even a left-handed mode which moves the nav bar to the left when in landscape mode. It's an impressive amount of control. More than just cosmetics, privacy settings include a blocked caller list which will come in handy for most people and the Privacy Guard lets you control permissions for every app on the phone. There are almost no pre-loaded apps which is great to see. Other than the usual set of Google apps is Audio FX, this provides various EQ settings such as folk and dance plus an individual bass control.
Overall the Wileyfox Storm is a decent phone for under £200 and has a upgraded compared to the cheaper Swift model. However, poor battery life and a disappointing camera mean we actually prefer the Swift. If you do want a bigger phone it's hard to recommend buying this over the excellent and similarly spec Vodafone Smart Ultra 6. If you don't specifically want a 5.5in device then we prefer the OnePlus X at the same price or the Moto G (3rd gen) as a cheaper alternative.