Since its inception in 2015, Wileyfox has released a succession of high-quality yet affordable smartphones. In so doing, it’s won a slew of plaudits and has carved out a real niche for itself in a handset market that’s still dominated by Samsung and Apple.
We caught up with Wileyfox’s Chief Marketing Officer, Naeem Walji, to find out exactly how this very British upstart brand aims to set itself apart from the competition.
Along the way, we talked about how they manage to keep costs low, as well as details on their move from Cyannogen to Android and what the future holds.
uSwitch: Why should consumers choose Wileyfox?
Naeem Walji: Wileyfox offers premium Android smartphones at extraordinary prices. As a new brand to a saturated industry, we set ourselves apart by not compromising on hardware, and by offering the latest version of Android plus enhancements, a full service proposition across Europe, and unique brand that defies the market.
The Wileyfox way of thinking drives consumer value directly to customers so they are not paying over the odds for features that do not benefit them, and the level of investment we put in design means the product look and feel and form factor fits perfectly in the hand, and not just components slapped together.
uSwitch: How have you managed to maintain and build on the Wileyfox brand?
Naeem Walji: Since inception, our brand has grown far beyond a great value premium smartphone company with an iconic logo and funky name into a mission.
Through our unique approach, and obsession with the user experience, we have been able to attract an audience that buy into more than just hardware. They are buying into a rich alternative.
They are not paying over the odds for features that don’t benefit them. Living and breathing consumer demands allow us to create a world where there are no judgments, status is a nonentity, and everyone is invited.
uSwitch: Do you think there’s anything uniquely British about your phones or the way you approach the market?
Naeem Walji: Our HQ is in London. This gives a different view on things. Consider the giants from the West Coast and the Far East: their approach is large scale and global, an oil tanker mentality, if you will. Our view is more focused; a speed boat mentality that is agile, nimble.
Being based in London, the melting pot of Europe, gives more than just a unique perspective. It gives us a unique way of operating, executing, and strategising on our products and consumers in an industry where status quo has been held for too long.
uSwitch: How do you keep the cost so low for consumers?
Naeem Walji: The Swift 2 range, as one example, can perform and do about 80% of what an iPhone can do at a quarter of the price. So how can this be done? We offer value, rather than a good spec at an attractive price; it is in the avoidance of the race to the bottom approach that our end users get to see this value.
We see beyond the quick profit and ensure that consumers achieve real value. Total cost of ownership goes down since we update our portfolio to the latest version of Android consistently and constantly so they do not need to purchase new hardware every year.
Our packaging has been designed to fit through a letterbox, reducing dimensions and weight to ensure cost savings that can be passed on to the user as well as environmental sustainability.
Our detailed component selection includes piggy-backing off tier 1 manufacturers’ hardware so there is no compromise on quality and we can reach economies of scale.
Additionally, we do not operate with heavy overheads like huge glass offices, expensive advertising campaigns or sports team endorsements, and (unfortunately) I do not fly business class!
When you add all of these cost savings to benefit the end user with real consumer value, you can start to see just a few insights into how we keep our costs low. And there are so many more when your consumer is at the forefront of the business and put before anything else.
uSwitch: After Cyanogen, how do you plan to move forward with a different version of Android?
Naeem Walji: We had actually been preparing for a move forward for quite some time now. At the end of last year, we engaged with Android expert Ricardo Cerqueira. His company Convergent Evolution is currently consulting with Wileyfox on the device bring up, service architectures, application design, troubleshooting, programming, and solution design and integration.
As of this month, we have already migrated our Swift, Storm, and Swift 2 Range to the latest version of Android, Nougat 7.1.1, just after the update of the Google Pixel and Nexus devices. This is a huge accomplishment for us, and we’re thrilled to fulfil our promise to provide the latest security and OS updates continually across the ranges.
We have maintained our no-nonsense approach to the user experience and kept the same look and feel, free from bloatware, with an enhanced performance and optimisation. This is our continued commitment to deliver a best-in-class experience to our consumers.
Furthermore, within this update we have integrated two additional enhanced experiences, the Wileyfox Zen and the Truecaller native dialler. The Wileyfox Zen has been developed in partnership with Yandex, and provides state of the art AI and machine learning tech so that in one swipe, users have an intuitive feed of articles, news, videos, images, and other stories matching their particular interest, suited to personal tastes.
The Truecaller dialler integrates smart-dialling capabilities to allow users to identify every caller and block nuisance calls even if the number is not saved in the contacts.
uSwitch: What does the future hold for Wileyfox?
Naeem Walji: There are so many things! We are keeping quite a lot of it quiet for now, but I can tell you that the core values of Wileyfox that drive consumer value and the user experience will be amplified to new levels, and begin to not only cross into new areas but really, and truly, shape the market.
The Wileyfox Swift 2 is currently available for £149.99 from Amazon.