Wileyfox is Europe’s newest mobile brand — here’s how its first smartphone stacks up

Wileyfox Swift

Fledgling European mobile phone brand Wileyfox announced its arrival in the smartphone realm a month ago, and now the London-based company is preparing to launch its first ever product: The Wileyfox Swift.

Initially slated for launch this week, Wileyfox revealed that shipping for the $ 200 Android device has been delayed until September 30. But while you wait, VentureBeat has grabbed some serious hands-on time with the phone, and here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.

Vital stats

Wileyfox Swift: Rear view

Above: Wileyfox Swift: Rear view

The Wileyfox Swift is powered by Cyanogen OS, the commercial, customizable Android-based operating system from Cyanogen Inc. It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor, 5″ Gorilla Glass screen (1,280 x 720 pixels), 13MP rear-facing camera, 5MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage (expandable up to 32GB). It also supports 4G, has two SIM card slots, and it will set you back €179 EUR (£129 GBP / $ 205 USD).

As a slight aside, launching a month after the Swift is the souped-up €279 (£199 GBP / $ 315 USD) Wileyfox Storm, which offers a 5.5″ full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, a whopping 20MP rear-facing camera, 3GB RAM, and 32GB of storage (expandable up to 128GB).

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Available for preorder now through the Wileyfox website, as well as online retailers such as Amazon, Expansys, and E-buyer, the Swift is pitched squarely at the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) market, with localized call center support, a replacement screen service, and an extended three-year warranty offered for the equivalent of around $ 15 for each service.

That said, the phone can be purchased in other territories, including the U.S., but Wileyfox said the “experience will not be full” elsewhere. For example, in the U.S., data streaming would be limited because the phone uses CDMA — voice and SMS should be fine on the Swift, as would Wi-Fi, but 4G / LTE would suffer. And there won’t be dedicated phone support outside EMEA, either.

Look and feel

Perhaps the most immediately striking facet of the Wileyfox Swift is its looks — it doesn’t resemble a cheap phone, despite what its price would have you believe. The rough-ish, sandstone black rear, embossed logo, and colored brand marking gives it a premium feel.

Wileyfox: Back

Above: Wileyfox Swift (Right): Back

The front side sports a clear screen with no physical buttons, and down the right edge you’ll find the volume control and power button. On the bottom edge is the micro-USB port and two speakers.

Wileyfox Front

Above: Wileyfox Front

Image Credit: Paul Sawers / VentureBeat

The Wileyfox Swift is noticeably light in the hand — at 135 grams, it’s 30 percent lighter than my OnePlus 2, though it is also around 0.5″ smaller. While this is good, it does make it feel a little bit cheaper to me — but that’s probably just because I’m used to a heftier handset.

Indeed, many people will like its deftness, and looking at other premium phones on the market, the Swift isn’t actually too light — the marginally larger Samsung Galaxy S6 weighs only 3 grams more, while the slightly smaller iPhone 6 comes in at 129 grams. In other words, the Swift is about the right weight for its size; it’s really just down to what you’re already accustomed to.

Under the hood

With Cyanogen OS on board, Wileyfox brings some useful features to the mainstream market. Cyanogen is already supported by many handsets, but in the West not many actually ship with the OS preinstalled.

Highlights include being able to lock some apps in protected folders on the home screen. Tap on a folder, hit the little padlock icon, enter a code, and voila.

Folder Protection

Above: Folder protection

Other neat little touches include Privacy Guard, which gives users easy access to control what data is shared with which apps. And with Truecaller built in, the Swift can block spam calls and texts from specific numbers — a giant smack in the face to robocallers everywhere.

Truecaller and App Privacy

Above: Truecaller and App Privacy

General performance

One of the downsides of Cyanogen OS is that it is prone to bugs, and at times it’s not the most responsive to touch. For example, occasionally I would attempt to swipe down from the top to access notifications and settings, and literally nothing would happen. This was similar to what I experienced with the OnePlus One, which ran Cyanogenmod 12.

That said, it’s not prevalent enough for it to be a deal-breaker — it just gets a little frustrating at times for those 5 seconds or so I’m desperately trying to swipe the screen.

In terms of juice, the Wileyfox Swift packs a removable (yay!) 2500mAh battery that promises stand-by time of up to 200 hours and talk time of up to 10 hours (2G) or 8 hours (3G).

Of course, nobody really uses their smartphones for calling anymore — they use them for tweeting, WhatsApp-ing, Google Maps-ing, YouTube-ing, and Spotify-ing. I didn’t stress-test the battery; I used it as I would any phone throughout a day (Google Maps, Twitter, BBC News app, and very little media streaming), and it lasted from when I awoke to when I went to bed, at which point there was around 10 percent battery remaining.

Elsewhere, the 13MP camera works pretty well for daylight shots, but I found it lacked somewhat in clarity for low-lighting situations. But at $ 200, this was never promising the best lens on the market. The on-board dual speakers were actually pretty darn good for casual listening at this price point, though you would of course want to use a Bluetooth speaker if you’re hosting a party.

The cherry on the cake, for me, is the display. It may not be full HD, but I found the screen to be clear and crisp. Again, this isn’t going to be for perfectionists who love watching movies on their phone with all the trimmings, but for the price it’s definitely very good.

Wileyfox Display

Above: Wileyfox display

Dual-SIM

This feature gets a special mention. dual-SIM phones are popular in many developing markets, but they’ve never really become much of a “thing” in the West. There’s no real reason why dual-SIM devices shouldn’t be popular in Europe or the U.S. — it was one of the reasons why I upgraded my personal phone to the OnePlus 2.

The use cases for dual-SIM are numerous. You can have one number for all your friends and family, and one for companies that may be inclined to call at inappropriate times. The second SIM slot can basically be your spam line, just like that Yahoo email account you keep for special occasions. You could have one domestic SIM and one business SIM, if you travel abroad often. Or you could have two domestic SIMs — one for calls and SMS, the other for Internet — if you find separate good deals from two companies.

And if you have absolutely no need for two SIMs, you don’t have to use that second slot.

Verdict

In our original assessment, we stated that Wileyfox wants to be the OnePlus of Europe. While the basic sentiment of that still rings true, it doesn’t really tell the whole picture — OnePlus sells premium phones at a knockdown price. The Wileyfox Swift is a decent mid-range device — and excellent value for the money — but it’s definitely not a premium phone.

The Wileyfox Swift should be well received when it finally goes to market. However, it sits in an awkward position for me. The customization options are excellent, but it feels a little like the handset is aimed at a more tech-savvy market, where fine-tuning privacy options are important. It’s a market, perhaps, that would be more inclined to shell out for a proper high-end phone.

That said, the Wileyfox Swift could find a sizable niche in the gift-giving fraternity. It’s the perfect price for someone to buy a family member / significant other for their birthday or Christmas. You probably wouldn’t buy a $ 600 iPhone for your dad, but you’d maybe drop a couple hundred bucks on a Swift.


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GamesBeat 2015’s brings mobile, motion gaming, and performance capture vets into the VR discussion

Richard Marks, director of the PlayStation Magic Lab at Sony, will join GamesBeat 2015's panel on virtual reality in October.

VB EVENT:

We’re excited to confirm the makeup of the upcoming GamesBeat 2015 panel on virtual reality. Richard Marks of Sony PlayStation Magic Lab, Survios’ James Iliff, Digi-Capital’s Tim Merel, and Tommy Palm of Resolution Games will discuss the potential and future of VR at our event, hosted at the Grand Hyatt Union Square on October 12 and October 13 in San Francisco. You can sign up for it now.

Survios' CCO James Iliff will bring his virtual reality expertise expertise to GamesBeat 2015's VR panel.

Above: Survios’ CCO James Iliff will bring his virtual reality expertise to GamesBeat 2015’s VR panel.

Image Credit: Twitter

The four industry veterans will come together on stage to discuss the possibilities for the emerging format and what it has and could become within the larger business of video games. Marks directs the Magic Lab at Sony PlayStation, a technology-led effort to broaden interactive experiences, and has recently been involved with PlayStation VR, formerly Project Morpheus.

Iliff cofounded the virtual reality-focused startup Survios, where he serves as chief creative officer. Digi-Captial founder and managing director Merel is globally recognized as an expert in VR (among other subjects), and is renowned as a “super-connector” in high-level business relationships. And Palm, formerly of King Digital Entertainment and current CEO of Resolution Studios, brings his expertise on mobile development to the panel.

From VentureBeat

Gaming is in its golden age, and big and small players alike are maneuvering like kings and queens in A Game of Thrones. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming.

Gaming has many kingdoms: mobile, console, PC online, geographic, and more. In each of these powerful realms, companies are fighting to grow fast, come out on top, and cross boundaries to rule more than one empire. Playing the competitive game, making alliances, prepping for new platforms like augmented and virtual reality, and surviving the incredibly fast rate of change in gaming right now is more difficult than ever. It’s more complex than the fantasy world of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones. And it’s happening right in front of us all. At GamesBeat 2015, we’ll dissect how these kings and queens are battling for gaming supremacy and growth. We’ll find out who’s leading and how they are winning.

We’re screening our speakers for bold ideas, transparency, global strategies, creativity, and diversity. Our speakers will show that gaming has become a global and diverse business with many intricacies and strategies. This year, we’ll have as many as 80 speakers and many well-known moderators over the course of two days.

Tim Merel of Digi-Capital will speak on the virtual reality panel at the upcoming GamesBeat 2015.

Above: Tim Merel of Digi-Capital will speak on the virtual reality panel at the upcoming GamesBeat 2015.

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

Our previously announced speakers include:

Mark Skaggs, senior vice president and the co-creator of hit social games like FarmVille and Empires & Allies at Zynga. He will be interviewed by Steve Peterson, West Coast editor at Games Industry International and senior editor at the Gamer Network.

Graeme Devine, chief creative officer and vice president of games at Magic Leap. Devine has had a storied career in games spanning decades. At Magic Leap in Florida, he is helping launch new titles that work with the company’s augmented-reality glasses, which can overlay virtual animations on top of what you see in the real world. Devine describes Magic Leap’s technology, Cinematic Reality, as a “rocket ship for the mind.”

Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon. Mahoney became the head of Nexon in March 2014. He joined the company in 2010 and served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer until 2014, responsible for managing finances, global operations, investments, and strategic alliances. Under his leadership, Nexon successfully completed its $ 1.2 billion initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and formed strategic partnerships with high-profile developers and publishers around the world. At Nexon, Mahoney has overseen an expansion to the West and a move into mobile games. Mahoney has signed up famous Western developers such as Brian Reynolds, Tim Train, Cliff Bleszinski, John Schappert, and Mike Borras.

Mahoney will be interviewed on stage at GamesBeat 2015 in a fireside chat by Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors.

Michael Pachter, research analyst at Wedbush Securities. Pachter is a video game, social media, digital media, and electronics analyst with Wedbush Securities. He is also the head of research for the Private Shares Group, a Wedbush division, which focuses on companies that have not yet gone public, such as Facebook (pre-IPO) and Twitter. He is regularly cited by national publications in the United States, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Pachter was the emcee at our GamesBeat 2014 event last year, and he was able to step in as a substitute speaker to talk about the state of the video game business.

Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures. Sanderson is a lifelong gamer, and he has been involved in game finance for 20 years. He focuses on investments in gaming, music technology, e-commerce, search, and advertising technology. Sanderson started his investment career at Goldman Sachs and Robertson Stephens. His team has invested in companies such as Funzio and Telltale Games.

Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners. Dhillon is a game investor who joined the Signia team in 2012 after launching his own location-based mobile startup named Barstool and investing in early-stage technology companies for New World Ventures in Los Angeles and Chicago. He was previously a merger and acquisitions analyst in technology investment banking at Rothschild in London. He serves on the board of Kihon Games and as a board observer with Signia’s investments in Super Evil Megacorp, Phoenix Labs, and Artillery. His focus these days includes investments in virtual reality startups.

Resolution Games CEO Tommy Palm will take the stage with three other industry vets as part of the GamesBeat 2015 VR panel.

Above: Resolution Games CEO Tommy Palm will take the stage with three other industry vets as part of the GamesBeat 2015 VR panel.

Image Credit: Tommy Palm

Jason Rubin, head of Worldwide Studios at the Oculus VR division of Facebook. Rubin has made some legendary titles in his two decades in video games. His credits include the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, and his games have sold more than 35 million copies and have generated more than $ 1 billion in revenue.

He cofounded the Naughty Dog game studio, and in 2001, he sold it to Sony Computer Entertainment America. He left in 2004, creating the startup Morgan Rose to pursue various entertainment ventures. He also started online mashup tool startup Flektor in 2006 and sold it to Fox Interactive Media. He joined THQ as president in May 2012.

Shintaro Asako, CEO of DeNA West. Asako runs the Western business of DeNA, a global developer and publisher of mobile games. He leads the company’s operations and corporate strategy in North America, Europe, and the rest of the West. Headquartered in Tokyo, DeNA has more than 2,000 employees, along with offices and studios in 12 cities across eight countries. Asako joined DeNA West in 2011, serving as chief financial officer before moving to the role of CEO in 2013. Previously, Asako was CFO at MediciNova, Inc., from 2005 to 2011. Prior to MediciNova, Asako worked at KPMG and Arthur Anderson. Michael Metzger of Mesa Global will interview him onstage.

Matt Wolf, head of global gaming at Coca-Cola. Wolf is responsible for the company’s gaming strategy, partnerships, and initiatives across all brands. In this role, Wolf identifies opportunities to authentically integrate the company’s brands into gaming culture, sharing value to the gaming community while driving brand loyalty and building company business.

Wolf has more than two decades of video game industry experience. As a video game industry veteran, entrepreneur, and primetime Emmy Award winner, he has helped shape the way consumers play by contributing through key roles in creative development, marketing, and business/content strategy.

Chris Fralic, partner at First Round Capital. Fralic is an investor in tech and game companies. He joined First Round Capital in 2006 and is based in its New York office. He has focused on a number of First Round’s investments in gaming, including Roblox and Mobcrush. Fralic has more than 25 years of technology industry experience, including significant Internet sales and business development roles since 1996. He’ll be speaking on a panel about investing in games.

Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Glu Mobile. De Masi has been in the spotlight ever since the meteoric success of the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood mobile game. His company is also working on games based on celebrities Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Is this the path to mobile dominance?

Brianna Wu, head of development at Giant Spacekat. Wu’s team created the mobile game Revolution 60 last year, but Wu gained more notoriety as a vocal opponent of Gamergate, the gamer-rage movement that targets women such as Wu with a lot of Internet hatred. (This includes attacking a number of game developers while claiming it was about “ethics in journalism.”) She has since become a major figure in the feminist movement to make gaming more accepting of women and female game characters.

Emily Greer, head of Kongregate. Greer cofounded Kongregate with her brother, Jim, as an online site for indie games. They sold the business to game retail giant GameStop, and Greer is now taking Kongregate into mobile.

Rajesh Rao, CEO of GameTantra and Dhruva InteractiveRao founded Dhruva Interactive as India’s first major game company in 1997. He developed the business over the years with work-for-hire on titles such as Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport. More recently, he started the GameTantra incubator for Indian game companies.

Jessica Rovello, CEO of Arkadium. Rovello cofounded Arkadium as a casual-game company back in 2001. The business became a major online casual-game maker and expanded into Windows mobile. But the Russia-Ukraine crisis caught the studio in Crimea by surprise. Arkadium had to shut down the office and relocate it, and Rovello and her husband, Kenny Rosenblatt, swapped the top job earlier this year, making Rovello one of the few top executives in gaming who’s a woman. And she was responsible for salvaging the company’s fortunes in Eastern Europe.

Ian Sherr, executive editor of Cnet. Sherr has covered games and tech news at places such as Cnet and the Wall Street Journal. We’ll have him ask astute questions of our speakers as a moderator. He previously moderated sessions with Kabam’s Kent Wakeford and the Entertainment Software Association’s Mike Gallagher.

Mike Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. The game industry’s trade association is back at GamesBeat’s big event as well. Gallagher is the spokesman for the game industry, and he always has something to say about its direction and growth.

Kate Edwards, executive director at the International Game Developers Association. Edwards represents the game developers of the world, and she has emerged as a voice of for diversity, creativity, and fairness in what has been a wild and raucous business.

Thanks to the following industry leaders for supporting GamesBeat 2015: Game Insight as Featured Partner; Microsoft as Platinum Partner; RockYouAppLovin, and Samsung as Gold Partners; TrialPay as Silver Partner, and PlayPhone, Fuel Powered, and Bluestacks as Event Partners.

Our GamesBeat 2015 advisory board includes:

  • Ophir Lupu, head of video games at United Talent Agency
  • Jay Eum, managing director at TransLink Capital
  • Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures
  • Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
  • Reinout te Brake, CEO of GetSocial
  • Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors
More information:

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Oracle Envisages ‘Online API Stores’ Based on Mobile Cloud Computing Technologies

Oracle Envisages ‘Online API Stores’ Based on Mobile Cloud Computing Technologies

Oracle Envisages ‘Online API Stores’ Based on Mobile Cloud Computing Technologies

Cloud computing technology is changing the way to use the information technologies – now, developers can just log on to Online API stores to purchase the desired API.

GREATRESPONDER.COM – This was announced by the Oracle Company this weekend that it has decided to embark on a visionary model of mobile app development by initiating a Back-end as a Service BaaS cloud computing platform. According to the statement of the company, the API service will be available through ‘Oracle Mobile Cloud Service’ platform, which an ambitious cloud computing platform of the company. “Initially, this project will focus on the internal IT organizations that will be allowed to set up their BaaS platforms to integrate mobile computing applications with multiple back end systems that run on the Oracle software”, said Suhas Uliyar, the vice president Mobile Strategy Product Management at Oracle Corporation.

It was further elaborated by the Vice President Mr. Suhas that along with this visionary strategy, Oracle will develop its own cloud services that will allow the developers to access Oracle Mobile Cloud Service platform for purchasing the suitable APIs for their mobile application development or can place orders for specific APIs on this innovative cloud computing service. “This mobile platform of Oracle would take the concept of BaaS to new heights in the domain of cloud computing based application development” he added.

While speaking about the technical aspects of this new idea, Mr. Suhas told the audience that the developers would be able to access Oracle SOA services to connect to back-end enterprise application via the API gateway of Oracle. The developers can use both the RESTful APIs and Java Script Object Notation JSON to get access to the Oracle SOA service. The Oracle’s API gateway will manage different aspects of accessing the service and security, such as – authentication, authorization, security and encryption of the data et cetera.

This new idea of selling APIs online would allow the developers to take advantages of Oracle Mobile Application Development Framework ADF to develop mobile applications by using HTML5 and Java. In Suhas words, “Oracle Mobile Cloud Service Platform is the first step towards activating the BYOT (Bring Your Own Toolkit) in the clouds”. And, this new idea will also help to develop a federated service that will run both in the cloud and on the premises in near future.

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