Wileyfox Swift 2 - Camera, Battery Life and Verdict

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Wileyfox Swift 2 – Camera

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen an interesting shift in camera tech away from increasing resolution and towards computational photography and making sensor pixels larger. However, the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus we’re reviewing is a classic high-res, fairly small sensor camera.

It uses the Samsung S5K3P3 sensor, a 16-megapixel 1/3.1-inch model, which isn’t stabilised. Unfortunately, this makes it one of the lowest-spec 16-megapixel phone cameras I’ve seen.

Related: Best Smartphones 2016

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I haven’t had an opportunity to properly test the 13-megapixel camera of the Wileyfox Swift 2 (a Samsung 3L8), so all these observations only apply to the Plus.

As you’d hope of a 16-megapixel sensor, the Wileyfox Swift 2 can render plenty of detail in good lighting. As long as it can keep hold of a low ISO sensitivity setting, it’s pretty strong.

Since shooting in Auto mode is quick too, taking photos on a bright and sunny day is pretty good fun – as long as you’re not shooting closeups; the autofocus can be slow.

However, I’ve found that when shooting outdoors in the daytime, the sensor has to ramp-up sensitivity at times, resulting in a loss of fine detail. Colour performance is a mixed bag, too. It can be perfectly good, but I managed to take a number of undersaturated shots, even outdoors in daylight.

Here are some photos we took with the Swift 2 Plus:

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Close-up your can see each brick of this church. Those megapixels aren’t just for show.

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Even with HDR engaged, the Wileyfox struggles here, overexposing the sky while keeping the foreground fairly muted. There’s also some unwelcome green in the sky gradient.

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Colour reproduction here is quite cold-looking, an example of the Swift’s patchy performance

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This shot looks fine, but close-up there’s a slight fizzy noise due to relatively high daylight sensitivity; plus, a better 16-megapixel camera could offer superior bokeh
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Here’s an example of the Swift 2 Plus failing to read a scene properly. This was a shot of a residential road, but it looks like some dots in a field of black

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With enough light and a very steady hand you can actually get some reasonable night shots (using the detail-boosting Night mode)

Shooting side-by-side with the Moto Z Play and OnePlus 3, two other 16-megapixel phones, the Wileyfox Swift 2 is unmistakably the worst of the three. Shallow depth-of-field shots are pretty pathetic in comparison; dynamic range is far worse, and most images simply look like they’ve come from a much lesser camera.

This isn’t a bad phone camera, but it doesn’t stack up to just about any other 16-megapixel phone of the moment.

Night performance is poor, too. The Wileyfox Swift 2 doesn’t radically alter the brightness of scenes to compensate for very low light, meaning you’ll often end up with an almost-black scene, even if you use the dedicated Night mode.

Delving into the settings that the camera uses, it makes some odd choices at times. I was a little surprised to see the phone slow down the shutter  to 1/10 of a second in very low light, which is bold for a non-stabilised camera.

Sure enough, I’ve taken numerous blurry lower-light shots with the Wileyfox Swift 2. It’s just too long an exposure for carefree handheld shooting.

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Its HDR mode isn’t that useful either, being far too slow .

The Wileyfox Swift 2 uses CyanogenMod’s camera app, which uses an annoying swipe gesture to switch between basic shooting modes. I say “annoying”, but this may be a personal thing given CyanogenMod has used it for years. Someone must like it.

I’d say the Wileyfox Swift 2 has fair camera performance given its price, but the Motorola Moto G4 with its Sony senson is a much more consistent performer.

The front camera in the Wileyfox Swift 2 is an Omnivision 8856, an 8-megapixel sensor that appears to be pretty decent – mostly because we don’t have the same lofty expectations that we do with the 16-megapixel rear camera. It’s a classic small 1/4-inch sensor, although it actually has larger sensor pixels than the front one.

In low or indoor light, fine detail such as eyebrows and beard hair gets a little soft and there’s some chromatic aberration, too – but the selfies are fair for a budget phone.

Wileyfox Swift 2 – Battery Life

Both the standard and Plus versions of the Wileyfox Swift 2 feature 2,700mAh batteries. That may not compare to the 3,000mAh or more cells of other handsets, but remember that this device has only a 5-inch 720p screen.

A conventional-size battery is always going to result in somewhat-conventional performance, but the Swift 2 slides towards the better end of that spectrum. Playing 30 minutes of Real Racing 3 consumed only 10% of the battery, suggesting the device will last for a good five hours if maxed-out.

This is perhaps a sign of the efficiency of the new Adreno 505 chipset, which is made with a 14nm process: better than the last generation.

I’ve not doubt that the Wileyfox Swift 2 will happily see you through a full day, but that’s about it. The phone also supports fast charging; unfortunately, a charger isn’t included in the box, so you’ll have to buy your own.

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Wileyfox Swift 2 – Speaker

All that’s left to cover now is the speaker. Like a lot of phones with two grilles on the bottom, the Wileyfox Swift 2 actually has only a single driver. The other grille is just for show.

It’s moderately loud, but also has quite a harsh tone that becomes grating at top volume. The treble is a little searing, openly welcoming sibilance.

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Should you buy the Wileyfox Swift 2?

The Wileyfox Swift 2 isn’t quite as good as the Motorola Moto G4 in several respects. Its screen isn’t as big or sharp, and the camera is less reliable and often produces significantly worse photos.

However, it’s unusual to see a £160 phone that’s made of metal, looks attractive with it too, and features a fingerprint scanner. This is the gloss lacking from a number of budget phones, plus it doesn’t appear to have the performance issues of the Honor 5X.

It perhaps isn’t the best deal at the price, however, and we’re not convinced by the Plus model’s camera upgrade. However, the Wileyfox Swift 2 is a solid budget phone and worth considering.

Verdict

This isn’t the best budget phone, but it’s one of the best metal budget phones – if that’s what you’re after.

Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Camera 7
  • Design 8
  • Battery Life 8
  • Value 8
  • Software 8
  • Calls & Sound 6
  • Screen Quality 7