Wileyfox Spark – Camera
The Wileyfox Spark is an entry-level phone, and as such, the camera is unlikely to be amazing. There’s an 8-megapixel sensor on the back and an unexpectedly high-res 8-megapixel camera on the front.
There are positives and negatives when it comes to the camera here, but while the Wileyfox Spark’s camera isn’t capable of producing shots anywhere near as good as those of the third-gen Moto G or Moto G4, it is fun to use.
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What this camera nails better than most phones at the price is speed. There’s almost zero shutter lag even in lesser conditions, and this is one of the most important factors in making a phone camera enjoyable to shoot with.
Although not great, low-light performance is surprisingly adept for a camera with fairly low ambitions. The sensor is reportedly an OmniVision OV8865, a 1/3.2-inch sensor whose size results in sensor pixels of a very respectable 1.4 microns.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail maintained in lower lighting, given the so-so starting point that an entry-level sensor offers.
There are plenty of complaints too, however, with poor processing largely to blame. Photos taken outdoors tend to end up with a fairly obvious blue cast that makes your pics look glum and depressing. To compound that, metering tends towards the conservative, resulting in frequent dark-looking images.
Even daylight shots have a fine grain to them. The results aren’t ugly, but they do highlight how little the Spark actually uses processing to improve the quality of its images.
On first taking some shots off the phone, I was pretty disappointed. However, if you’re willing to tweak images yourself then it is possible to end up with some usable shots.
Not everything can be edited out, though. On occasion, the Wileyfox Spark struggles with green tones – convincing reds are usually the Achilles heel of budget handsets – and there’s a lack of contrast in high light contrast scenes.
Here are some shots I took with the camera:
This shot has a blue cast, making it look pretty dull. The cut-out shows the level of detail to expect, and the slight granularity of photos
There’s a lack of punch and liveliness (particularly to the colour) here, but otherwise no major issues
Images can be made to look a lot more vital and realistic with some rudimentary editing
Shots can often end up looking dim, which can be fixed to bring out plenty more detail
Here we see how fixing the brightness issue has actually revealed light bleed where building meets sky
Night shots are not quite as bad as you might expect
There’s not much help for super-dark scenes, which end-up looking near-black, even though there’s actually a decent amount of recoverable detail in this photo
The front camera lags behind the slightly more expensive competition much less obviously. While not quite as good as the rear camera in technical terms, the 8-megapixel 1/4-inch sensor produces detailed, if not always flattering, selfies. Unlike some other phones, there’s no easy-access Beauty mode to smooth out your crinkles.
The front camera has less of an issue with colour skew, basing its colour temperature and exposure solely on the faces in the scene. It’s capable of producing some of the best selfies around at the price.
One snag that affects both cameras is the app. It’s the standard CyanogenMod one – which, frankly, uses an annoying mode selection mechanic where you have to flick up and down the screen to switch modes. I find it slow, clunky, and too likely to lead to you changing modes accidentally.
Wileyfox Spark – Sound Quality
The Spark also has a pretty dismal speaker – a single driver that sits on the back and fires out of a grille just under the Wileyfox logo. It’s a real “bee in a jam jar” speaker, sounding thin, tinny and not very loud.
Wileyfox Spark – Battery Life
I was expecting poor performance from the 2,200mAh battery, but it is actually passable. You can get a full day’s use between charges without using any restrictive battery-saving modes.
However, half an hour of Asphalt 8 took 18% off the battery, which suggests you’d be lucky to get three hours of gaming from the phone.
Should you buy the Wileyfox Spark?
The Wileyfox Spark reaffirms that there’s much more to acceptable modern-day phone performance than what a decent CPU can provide. A lack of RAM and very slow internal storage make this phone crawl along when it tries to do anything remotely complicated.
These issues alone turn the Spark from a great buy into a phone that requires patience, a phone that at times you’ll at best tolerate.
It’s a shame, because in many other areas the Wileyfox Spark is decent for the price. Until the more capable Spark Plus arrives, though, we’d recommend checking out the Wileyfox Swift or looking for a good deal on a Moto G – even if it isn’t a current-gen one. Spending the extra £30 is worth it.
The Spark has plenty of promise, but it fizzles out due to poor performance.
Score in detail
Battery Life 7
Calls & Sound 5
Screen Quality 7