A British smartphone to rival the iPhone?


Rebecca Burn-Callander Enterprise Editor

August 31, 2015

Start-up WileyFox is taking on Apple and Samsung with its new smartphone – and critics love it

A British start-up is taking on smartphone giants Apple and Samsung with a new handset that promises top performance at a fraction of the price of existing models.

WileyFox, which developed its Swift phone in just three months, is selling it for £129.99. The phone is based on the Android operating system but the company has partnered with West Coast technology firm Cyanogen to “turbo charge” the user experience, said co-founder Nick Muir.

“Everything is customisable to the nth degree,” he said. “If you want to make all your app icons pictures of your family, you can.”

Mr Muir and Victoria Denman, who left Microsoft to found the start-up, are both veterans of the consumer technology industry.

The pair, with the help of Venturespring, the London-based advisory firm, spent “less than a million” devising the new smartphone and continue to keep costs low by doing minimal advertising. “I’m not going to pay a celebrity to use this phone,” said Mr Muir, insisting the company will break even by the end of the year. “I worried we’d have to sell 25 million phones to achieve economies of scale but that has been achieved at component level.”

WileyFox is targeting consumers keen to try a smartphone with a “European” look and those seeking transparency on issues such as handset privacy and security. The business is going head to head with incumbents such as Apple, who create “walled garden” technologies, according to Mr Muir. He added: “We’ll have been noticed [by Apple]. Are we big enough to warrant a competitive response? I don’t know.”

The Swift will be available to buy online from tomorrow through retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

A second handset called Storm, larger and with higher specifications, will be launched within the coming months, with Mr Muir saying: “A two-handset launch is essential for credibility.”

Thereafter, the company will aim to bring out four or five handsets a year.

The first Swift handsets were sent out for review earlier this week, and technology website The Register posted : “Wileyfox smartphones: SD card, no bloatware, Cyanogen, big battery – yes to all! Sign us up.”

Reviewers complained about the lack of a fingerprint reader but this was not achievable at the low price point.

WileyFox is headquartered in London, the phones are designed in Europe and manufactured in Shenzhen, China.

This article was written by Rebecca Burn-Callander Enterprise Editor from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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