Following in the footsteps of OnePlus, UK startup Wileyfox has released two low-cost, but decently specced, smartphones running on Cyanogen OS.
The more expensive of the two, Storm, will cost £199 and features a 5.5-inch full HD display, 20-megapixel auto-focus main camera from Sony and an eight-megapixel front shooter. The device runs on Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz Snapdragon 615 processor with integrated LTE, and offers 32GB onboard storage, 3GB RAM, as well as expandable memory up to 128GB.
Meanwhile, Swift, which retails for £129, comes with a five-inch HD display, a 13-megapixel main camera from Samsung and a five-megapixel selfie snapper. It’s running on Qualcomm’s 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with integrated LTE and offers 16GB internal storage and 2GB RAM, with expandable memory up to 32GB.
Cyanogen has hired two new engineering execs to continue its war with Google over control of Android.
Rare for devices in the UK but common in emerging markets, both include dual SIM slots. They also have a 2,500 mAh capacity battery, which is removable in the Swift but non-removable in the Storm. Finally, they’re both available only in black.
Wileyfox launches after a year-long incubation with VentureSpring, which has also backed Kazam, the UK-based maker of the super-slim Tornado 348.
Wileyfox said it launched because people “are tired… of being bound by contracts for phones that are past their best and of paying a premium for brands that spend a fortune on flagship stores and ubiquitous marketing campaigns”.
The Swift and Storm join a growing number of new hardware brands that are exploring ways to undercut traditional OEMs such as Samsung and Apple by offering aggressively-priced and well-specced handsets via online-only sales channels. Wileyfox’s debut also comes as almost every smartphone OEM besides Apple struggles to find profits in the industry.
Xiaomi, the Chinese hardware startup that’s been valued at $45bn, appears to have mastered the art of driving interest in its portfolio of budget and high-end – but still comparatively cheap – handsets through online sales, though Xiaomi phones are yet to reach the US and Europe.
OnePlus, the maker of the popular One and 2 phones, is sticking to its one device per year model, coupled with its invite-only system for purchases. Though the OnePlus One launched with Cyanogen, the company is now developing its own Oxygen OS for future smartphones.
Wileyfox joins a growing number of brands to launch devices with Cyanogen OS 12.1, including the Z1 from the Lenovo-backed ZUK, which arrives in the US and Europe next month, two handsets recently released by Micromax-backed Yu for the Indian market, and the Andromax Q from Smartfren in Indonesia.
Cyanogen, the company behind Cyanogen OS, aims to offer a more open alternative to Google’s Android and, if its executives are to be believed, there will be many more such devices on the way.
Some of the key features the Android Lollipop-based Cyanogen OS brings to the devices include customised lockscreen shortcuts, themes, PrivacyGuard and PIN scramble, a feature that jumbles up the order of keys to prevent attackers figuring out passcodes from smudge marks.
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