British smartphone maker Wileyfox barely allowed the dust to settle on its Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus handsets before coming up with yet another addition to the stable, the Swift 2 X. Described as the "A-lister" in the Swift 2 range, the X model has 32GB of storage and a 16-megapixel main camera like the £189 Swift 2 Plus, but adds a better screen and NFC. The smaller entry-level Swift 2, meanwhile, costs £159.
At £219, The Swift 2 X sits in a pretty crowded market and it has to be quite special to stand out. The good news for Wileyfox is that it does this. But there's one elephant in the room that needs to be dealt with before all else, and that's the OS.
The Swift 2 X runs Android 6 Marshmallow in a third-party wrapper called Cyanogen OS. Cyanogen offers a range of tweaks to vanilla Android, many of which focus on allowing the user to customise settings in more depth than standard Android. I find it adds capabilities without being overbearing.
However, Cyanogen has now officially closed down -- the most recent blog post at the Cyanogen website is the announcement of this, dated 23 December 2016. Wileyfox has said it is committed to supporting Cyanogen, and has promised an update to Android 7 Nougat in due course. This wasn't available at the time of writing, so anyone interested in purchasing a Wileyfox handset might want to check on all this before buying.
That noted, the Swift 2 X is a competent smartphone. It has a build somewhat better in terms of both quality and design than its price might suggest, with a sturdy aluminium backplate that's cool to the touch with neatly curved edges. The Swift 2 X comes in two colours -- Midnight, which is deep blue, and Gold. I was sent the latter, and its white front and muted orange-golden back are bright and pleasant.
There are some good usability features, notably a fingerprint sensor on the back that's responsive and efficient, NFC -- which means support for Android Pay -- and a USB-C connector for those keen to move ahead with the latest technology.
The 5.2-inch IPS screen offers FHD resolution (1080 x 1920 pixels) and is pleasingly bright and clear, delivering a high-quality visual experience for a handset at this price. An octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with an Adreno 505 GPU provides the power, with 3GB of RAM in support. It's a fair setup for a mid-range handset and well up to the tasks I wanted to perform, although demanding mobile gamers will want something more powerful.
The speaker grilles on the bottom of the handset deliver decent quality audio at a fair volume -- good enough for some headset-free video consumption, for example.
There are two SIM slots, although one can also accommodate a MicroSD card. So you can boost the handset's 32GB of internal storage, so long as you don't need to use a second SIM.
The main camera is a 16-megapixel unit, while the front-facing one has a resolution of 8 megapixels. I found focussing a little slow at times, and low-light shooting somewhat disappointing -- the small LED flash doesn't help a great deal here. That said, photos are fine for the usual social sharing activities if you stick to the outdoors or well-lit indoor scenes.
Wileyfox has included a 3,010mAh battery which kept the Swift 2 X going for more than a day of general use that included some browsing, YouTube streaming, always-on wi-fi and voice calls. In fact, I found battery performance to be above-average for a handset in this price range.
When power is needed the fast-charging capability of Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 might come in handy -- as long as you're prepared to buy a charger, as Wileyfox doesn't provide one. All you get in the box is a standard USB-C charge cable.
Although the Wileyfox Swift 2 X doesn't have any standout features, it's a well thought-out smartphone for the price. Photography fans might want to steer clear, and anyone concerned about the Cyanogen issue should do their research before buying.
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