Wileyfox Pro Windows phone review: A sad reminder of happier times

Believe it or not, there's a Windows Phone still on sale today in 2018. Is it any good? Let's find out.

For most of us, Windows 10 Mobile died in 2017 when Microsoft announced that it was no longer "focused" on its own mobile platform, opting to bring its experiences to iOS and Android instead. Even so, that didn't stop one hardware maker from pursuing its dream of having a Windows 10 Mobile device on the market for people to buy and use. First released late last year, and re-released a month or so ago, the Wileyfox Pro is considered by many to be the last Windows phone.

When the Wileyfox Pro first launched, it went on sale for close to £200 ($260), which was absolute robbery. With its recent re-release, however, it's now on sale for around £80, which, for what the Wileyfox Pro is, is a much better price. So, I recently picked up one to see what it was all about and to try and figure out why Wileyfox has put its Windows 10 Mobile handset back on sale, even though the state of Windows 10 Mobile hasn't improved.

Before we begin, Wileyfox says the Wileyfox Pro is a business phone. It's not designed for consumers, so keep that mind.

What you'll love about the Wileyfox Pro

Honestly, there's really not much you'll love about this device. Everything is, at most, fine. There's not a single thing about this phone that will make you love it unless Windows 10 Mobile itself does that for you.

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Display5-inch HD curved screen, IPS technology, Gorilla Glass 3
Storage16GB (expandable)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 210
Camera8MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 2PM front camera
Battery2100mAh, 7.11Wh

I do like the capacitive buttons below the screen for back, start, and search. Most Windows 10 Mobile device makers opted to have on-screen keys for navigation, but not Wileyfox. Having the buttons below the screen gives a reason for a large "chin" to exist, and it also means more content can be displayed on the five-inch display.

On that subject, I'm really liking the size of this device. I've been using six-inch phones for the better part of 2018, so when I switched to the Wileyfox Pro, it was refreshing to have a phone that I could use with one-hand again. I can do everything from swiping down the notification center to reaching across from one side of the screen to reach a hamburger menu button, all with one hand.

The build quality of the phone is not terrible. It's all plastic with a glass front, but for £80 (around $104) you're getting a well built little device. It also has a removable back cover, which gains you access to the removable battery, microSD card slot, and Micro SIM slot. The back cover is made of soft-textured plastic, which feels pretty nice.

The volume controls and power button on the side are also nice. They're firm and do their job well. They're not the clickiest of buttons, but you can definitely feel them and can tell when they've been successfully pressed.

The front of the device features Gorilla Glass 3, which should keep you safe from light scratches and even some drops. It also comes with two years warranty, which should protect you from many problems your phone may have after you buy it. Again, this phone costs £80, which is pretty much nothing. It's super cheap, making it a great choice as a backup phone.

It's also fully supported by Microsoft, meaning if you're looking for a device that will be supported until Microsoft drops Windows 10 Mobile altogether, this is the device for you. It will continue to receive security updates until late next year.

What you'll hate about the Wileyfox Pro

Micro USB is ancient and bad, and anybody using it in 2018 should feel bad. This is not a fast-charging phone, meaning if you forget to put it on charge overnight, you're going to be in trouble the next morning. The washed out 720p display is also not good, with bad viewing angles unless you're looking at it straight on.

The biggest offender, however, isn't the hardware, but the software. Windows Phone used to be famous for how well it operated on low-end hardware, but the same cannot be said for Windows 10 Mobile in 2018. On the inside, we're rocking a Snapdragon 210, with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. The experience is not great. It took around two hours for me to fully set up the device once I logged in with my Microsoft Account. It needed to download updated apps and update the phone itself to the latest cumulative patch.

During this time, the phone depleted its battery to almost zero. I had to plug it in to keep it alive as it was downloading updates. What's more, when I finally loaded up the phone with all the apps I'd be using on it, I quickly found that the phone was struggling to keep up with my workload.

For example, I wanted to listen to some music using Spotify while browsing Twitter and pasting links into a Word document using the Word Mobile app, all while answering conversations in Slack. This is a typical workload for me on a phone, but the Wileyfox Pro couldn't do it. Or rather, it could but incredibly poorly. The music stuttered and stopped when switching between apps, and the dreaded "Loading..." screen would pop up almost every time.

The Twitter app on Windows 10 Mobile is now a Progressive Web App (PWA), which is pretty heavy on the system thanks to Windows 10 Mobile's incomplete PWA support, and also eats battery life like crazy. Because of this, this phone is not a device that will get you through the day easily.

The camera is awful. Photos in lit environments are passable, but low-light photography basically doesn't (or rather, shouldn't) exist on this thing.

Should you buy the Wileyfox Pro?

No. At least not as a replacement for your primary phone. If you're a Windows 10 Mobile user who refuses to leave the platform, I suggest looking into used higher-end models rather than buying the Wileyfox Pro. It's just not a great phone. It struggles to handle simple workloads, the camera is atrocious, and battery life leaves something to be desired.

Now, if you're buying one as a backup phone for work, with plans on only using it for stuff like SMS, email, Cortana, and other Microsoft services, then sure. For £80, this is probably the cheapest you can go while still getting a new Windows phone to do it. But I worry that anyone trying to use this device as their only phone is going to run into problems very quickly. I guess that's why Wileyfox is selling this device as a business phone, not a consumer one.

If you're a business in need of Windows 10 Mobile devices for your employees, this is probably your only option at this point. Just don't force them to use it as their only phone. Oh, and make sure your employees are using Micro-SIM cards and not nano-SIM cards. I had to buy an adapter to get my nano SIM card to fit in the Wileyfox Pro.

I'd recommend looking around for a used Lumia 650 if you need to stick to a similar price range of the Wileyfox Pro. If you want to spend a bit more, I'd look for a used HP Elite x3 as that's the best Windows Phone you can buy today.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads