UK smartphone company Wileyfox has unveiled three new low-cost handsets, all running Cyanogen OS, an open-source version of Android. The company also said it has plans to ship two million phones in the next 12 months.
All three dual-SIM Spark smartphone models run Cyanogen 13, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and feature the same MediaTek 6735 quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz. The entry-level Spark features a 5-inch full-HD display, 8MP cameras front and back, and a 2,200mAh battery, and sells for £89.99.
The Spark + costs £114.99 and offers a 13MP main camera, 16GB rather than 8GB of internal storage, plus 2GB of RAM rather than 1GB. The £129.99 Spark X has the same cameras, storage and RAM as the '+', but a bigger 5.5-inch (still full HD) screen -- and a 3,000mAH battery to go with it, which the company says will offer 600 minutes of talk time or 200 hours on standby.
Wileyfox is making a staggered launch for the devices: the Spark will be available in two weeks, the Spark + in four weeks and the Spark X in five. The company only sells the handsets online, via its own website and retailers such as Amazon, and has just 27 staff.
The company has trimmed the specs to make sure the handsets hit the required price points: for example, despite the arrival of Google Pay the handsets don't have NFC, although the company said it's likely to feature in other models. The Spark is cheaper than the Wileyfox's previous models, the Swift and the Storm, which launched last year.
The smartphone market is in turmoil: many handset makers are struggling to turn a profit and even interest in flagship smartphones is waning as consumers and businesses find that mid-range phones now have enough features and processing power to suit them.
Wileyfox CEO Nick Muir said: "The idea that a handset needs to cost as much as the laptop on your knee seems insane, frankly."
"So far we have built 250,000 of these, we are planning on hitting the two-million mark in the next 12 months with some new ranges we've got coming out. There is this thinking globally that somehow you need to have five to 15 percent market share in order to provide something that's cost effective. You simply don't."