Is the highly competitive smartphone market ready for a new play on the same idea, and should you be designing one too?

As Apple gets ready for its semi-annual conference amid the usual sea of predictions and rumors, a British company has released its answer to the OnePlus, the sexy independent smartphone made more desirable through its members-only scarcity tactics. Wileyfox costs considerably less than an unlocked iPhone: the Storm is £199 (about $312 USD) and the less-hefty Swift is £120 (about $202 USD). 

While it would be difficult to pry an iPhone away from an iOS addict, Wileyfox offers a few compelling reasons to reconsider Android despite recent security scares. Here's an overview of what Wileyfox gets right:

Sound

iPhone users have been used to sub-par music playback for years. Despite upgrades to the iPhone and the recent launch of AppleMusic, not much has been done for the actual musical experience: it just is what it is. Wileyfox has 24-bit high-res lossless audio with bass boost, surround, and reverb. That means audiophiles who prefer FLAC or Wave files can actually listen to them--you won't get that from iTunes. 

Cyanogen OS

With the recent revelation that Android isn't as secure as it leads its users to believe, Cyanogen OS may feel counter-intuitive. Why, for instance, rely on an open-source community for an operating system? Crowd sourcing security improvements may actually be the answer. 

 


A community that has a hive mind for addressing security concerns  would conceivably outwit hackers, or at least quickly resolve any discovered vulnerabilities. The community creates a sense of ownership and responsibility for the software, which are both strong motivators for innovation. 

Price 

Break the screen on your iPhone 6+? You just cost yourself $129-- and no, you can't go to that screen repair place around the corner unless you want a cheap, subpar screen and ESD destroying your phone from the inside out. Wileyfox offers a 3-year warranty for £10 ($16) and screen replacement for the same price. Break your Motorola screen and you're in for a complicated repair process and a wait.

The Rogue Factor

This is where Wileyfox really wins. It's a small company with narrow profit margins, so requesting service or changes to the device is actually possible--trying that with Samsung or Motorola is about as productive as yelling into a volcano. The company aims for a truly enjoyable user experience and values customer input. The phone also comes with the satisfying sense of being a little "off" when everyone else is touting around their Notes and their Galaxies. Yes, the Storm has a large camera (20MP) and expandable memory and a pretty hefty battery, but what designers can learn from Wileyfox is that it's possible to enter a saturated market and bring something new to the table--a more enjoyable user experience.

And the Wileyfox isn't as robust as some of its competitors, but it's still a solid bet for a reasonable price. The true test will be in the years to come: if Wileyfox listens to its customers and implements changes and suggestions while keeping to a lower price point, it will be a true contender.

 

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