Wileyfox Storm: a stormy start

Hi-spec affordable smartphone from new UK company Wileyfox offers great value for money, but early experience is spoiled by a couple of niggling annoyances.

My recent mobile phone journey has been a bumpy one. I dropped my beloved Nexus 5 while getting into the car, completely shattering the screen, and since paying one of those cowboy high street repair shops £80 to replace it the vibrate function hasn’t worked and the rear cover is open on one corner and won’t snap closed. My phone needs to be fully functional so I found these “wounds” impossible to live with. The Nexus was a personal purchase and on enquiring with my provider I found I was due an upgrade, so I chose the HTC One Mini 2. This was a lovely handset to look at and to hold, with brushed aluminium curved body really sitting well in the hand. The problem? It’s slow. Sooo slow. Facebook would regularly take five seconds or more to load and often the screen would just freeze for no apparent reason. So, I have one phone that performs well but has battle scars and another that looks and feels great but slows to a crawl frequently with no explanation.

The Wileyfox Storm

Then I heard about Wileyfox and its two new budget handsets: the Swift and the Storm. At £195 the Storm is a real bargain: 5.5 inch screen, 20 MP rear camera with the same sensor as the Sony Experia Z2, dual 4G SIM card slots, 3Gb RAM and a host of other neat features. So I ordered one thinking it would be the solution to all my phone woes.

It isn’t.

When it was delivered the other day from Amazon I unboxed it with joy, and initial impressions were great: big, bold, fast, good-looking. But in the three days I’ve been using it I’ve noticed a few things that individually I could live with, but combined add up to a level of frustration that is spoiling the usual new device honeymoon period.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Battery life is very poor. Even with normal usage I’m having to recharge it in the early evening in order to keep it alive til bedtime
  2. Battery indicator behaviour You know that little lightning bolt that appears in the battery icon to show that it’s charging? When I unplug the charger in the morning the lightning bolt stays there and I have to reboot to get the icon back to normal.
  3. Trebuchet Launcher and Google Now this is broken. If you use the Trebuchet launcher that comes built in and then enable Google Now, the Google search bar on the home screen is replaced by a static Now Card display that you can’t remove. To get around this I’ve had to switch to the Google Now Launcher, which is nice but on a screen this size the icons are too big. It looks like a smaller screen zoomed in rather than making the most of the additional real estate available.
  4. TouchscreenThe screen seems a little less sensitive to touch than the Nexus 5, meaning I have to press a little harder than I’m used to. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem in general but there’s one area where it’s a real pain: Minesweeper. I like to try and beat my own personal best on this game, and that means quick tapping to uncover mines. On the Storm’s screen I find this doesn’t work reliably, and my games times are suffering.

Why can no phone deliver the goods in all departments? Why is there always a fly in the ointment like this? My search for the perfect smartphone continues…

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