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    Should you buy a phone with 8GB storage, even at £79.99?


    PaulOBrien

    WileyFox have now announced their new devices - the £90 Spark, £115 Spark + and £130 Spark X. Seriously cheap devices, no question, and we'll be working on full reviews - but the entry level Spark has only 8GB of storage, 3.6GB of which is available on first boot, less than 2.5GB of which is available after updating just the built in apps. Is this acceptable?

    internalspark.jpg

    Let's have a look at the specs of the 3 models first, to get a feel for the range.

    Spark

    • Android 6.0.1 based Cyanogen OS 13
    • Mediatek MT6735 1.3Ghz quad core CPU with Mali T720 GPU
    • 8GB ROM
    • 1GB RAM
    • 5" 720P IPS screen with dragontrail glass
    • 8 Megapixel rear camera
    • 8 Megapixel front facing camera
    • 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi
    • Bluetooth 4
    • FM Radio
    • Dual micro SIM
    • microSD
    • 2200mAh battery

    Spark + additions over Spark:

    • 16GB ROM
    • 2GB RAM
    • 13 Megapixel rear camera

    Spark X additions over Spark +:

    • 5.5" screen
    • 13 Megapixel rear camera
    • 3000mAh battery

    Let's be clear up front that the Spark isn't the only device in Android-land with 8GB ROM on board. The (recently discontinued) Moto E actually shipped with 4GB. I also appreciate that the Spark is clearly engineered to a very aggressive price point (particularly given recent currency issues)... but does that make it OK? The point I'd like to argue in this post is that for Android manufacturers, perhaps there is a responsibility to uphold a certain level of user experience not just to keep the customer satisfied, but for the good of the platform... and I'm not sure the Spark delivers in that regard.

    spark.jpg

    There's a lot to like about the Spark, from the smart yet simple bright orange packaging, through the soft touch, 'semi sandstone' back to the impressively bright and sharp 720P screen. The phone is impressively light (no doubt thanks to its fairly low capacity 2200mAh battery and largely plastic construction) and on the whole, I have no complaints about the overall hardware feel of the device at the price.

    When you turn the device on and start setting it up, it's pretty clear that you're not using a flagship. Installing, updating and even opening apps feels distinctly lethargic. The first thing I did on turning on my device was launch the Play Store and update all the built in apps. This took a long time and rendered the device often unusable while installs happened in the background. Not ideal. I expected things to improve as background tasks stabilised and while they did somewhat, the experience overall remained sluggish.

    Of course, sub 2.5GB storage space remaining on a device where no additional apps have been installed isn't good (and it's not far off the low storage warning), but one saving grace on the Spark could be adoptable storage. This allows the user to insert a microSD card (I used a 128GB Samsung Evo Pro) and use it for installation of compatible applications. The key here is compatible applications  - only apps with the installLocation attribute set appropriately can be installed to the card. In reality, this means that while adoptable storage improves things on the Spark, it's not a complete answer to the capacity problem.

    So should you buy the Spark? If you're reading this, then it's almost certainly not the device for you. I installed a handful of apps and synced a relatively small amount of data and came perilously close to running out of space.

    Should you recommend the Spark for someone else? Personally, I'd be much more inclined to recommend the 16GB Swift, which is currently £10 more at £100 on Amazon UK.

    Is WileyFox doing Android a disservice with the Spark? This might sound a bit dramatic, but I think perhaps they are (as so many devices have in the past). It's pretty feasible someone will be put off the platform due to the storage (and performance) limitations of the phone. Yes, it's cheap, but I'm not sure if people will make that correlation enough between the experience and the price.

    We'll have our verdict on the Spark + and Spark X over the coming weeks, but until then I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the above. Would you buy a Spark?

     

    Edited by PaulOBrien

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    8GB is certainly disappointing (unworkable for me) even for a budget device. I was starting to struggle with 16GB devices, where you usually have between 10-12GB.  And so just upgraded a few weeks back to the Galaxy S7 and its nice to have a bit of breathing space with the 32GB of storage, I will probably buy a 64GB micro SD card at some point as well.  I dont know whether I prefer having an external sd card option or would rather have a 64GB or higher internal capacity, as I previously had a 64GB Oneplus One and found I didnt worry about storage at all.  Ideally it would be nice to have 64GB internal and a micro sd slot, as its nice to just have that option of expansion.  A phone that did this was the Asus Zenfone 2, its available in (many) different storage variants 16/32/64, but they still added the micro sd slot to each.

    So for me this falls into a backup phone category, but then for a backup phone there are plenty of other cheaper options available and with 16GB of storage too.  So really you have to hope that the adoptable storage feature is actually adopted by more app developers (surely running CM will mean someone can hack a workaround for all apps to use this?), but then again your going to have to stump up for a micro sd card which could add another £20-30 to the cost.

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    8GB is ridiculous in this day an age, especially with current resource requirements for the latest apps and OS. I understand the need for cheap devices for those that either can't afford or don't require a flagship device but at what cost? Bad user experience is the number one complaint people register against Android and it's not the strictly the fault of the OS, it's the fault of the device manufacturers that poorly implement the OS, fail to keep it updated and use sub-par hardware to run it.

    They might as well have put Gingerbread on it.

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    Not in this day and age.  I have discovered that I need something with more storage than the 8GB of my Moto G2.  My next phone will be the Honor 5C.  I don't favour the removable sd card as they are prone to failure without warning - I lost all my photos, but luckily most of them had been copied to my computer.   However, for some people price and looks will be the determining factor especially for those moving to a 'smartphone' from a basic handset.

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    I agree that the Honor 5C is in a different league from the entry level Wileyfox, but when your old skool mobile finally dies, the Wileyfox will seem so advanced.  Ironically, you could have bought an early Nokia (scroll down the page) for the price of the brand new Honor 5C.

     

     

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    Surely adoptable storage on the SD cards renders this irrelevant?

    I'm rocking a 6P as my daily driver ATM so not really used adoptable storage on my phone. But on my Shield TV, and on my Shield Tablet it is marvellous and works brilliantly. 

    I can't really see why internal staorage alone would be a deal breaker on a Marshmallow device with an external SD.

    Love to be educated!

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