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Sony Xperia XA2 vs HTC U11 Life: A battle to rule the mid-range segment

22 January 2018 5

In the last couple of years, the mid-range segment brings solid smartphones that are not only striking in design but also pretty much capable to handle your daily tasks and the best thing is you don't have to spend a hefty amount to grab these smartphones. As expected the new year kicked off with a number of new mid-rangers, initially Samsung announced their Galaxy A8 and A8+ and later on Sony took the stage at CES 2018 to announce a couple of new mid-rangers of Xperia family XA2 and XA2 Ultra. Both XA2 and XA2 Ultra is the company's latest best offering for the mid-range segment.

Like always whenever a new smartphone is announced it has to compete well against the competitors to stay longer on the success track in the market. We already put both XA2 and XA2 Ultra against a number of competitors and also against the predecessors to know all the key differences how well the latest devices are as opposed to predecessors and to answer the question should you upgrade to the latest XA2 series devices or not. Today we will compare the standard XA2 in a head-to-head comparison with the HTC's U11 Life which is HTC's latest best offering in mid-range segment

The best thing about U11 Life is it brings a number of flagship luxuries in a pocket-friendly mid-range device. So if you are amongst those who want to have the HTC U11 but can't afford it, we will recommend considering the U11 Life which not only shares design language with the premium HTC flagships but also has a number of great features. If you are planning to grab a latest mid-range smartphone, for sure you will consider both XA2 and U11 Life. Without any further delay, let's have a detailed look at the key differences amongst the two devices and we are hopeful this comparison will certainly help you decide which smartphone takes lead in what departments.

70 x 142 x 9.7 mm
5.2 inches - 1920x1080 px
72.9 x 149.09 x 8.1 mm
5.2 inches - 1920x1080 px
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Design

Starting with the design as it is the first time buyers consider while purchasing a new smartphone. Sony didn't drastically change the design language from the predecessors, the company retained the OmniBalance design with few refinements. Ahead of Xperia XA2 series announcement we heard that Sony have plans of refreshing their design language, the company brought few refinements still they are not as good as latest bezel-less designs.

This year Sony reduced the bezels from the top and bottom edges but the overall feel remains same as last year devices. The chassis is made up of metal with polycarbonate rear cover. Despite having plastic rear the overall feel of Xperia XA2 is pretty solid. Another prominent change in design is the placement of fingerprint scanner on the rear side. For the first time, Sony ditched their traditional placement of scanner in favor of rear side.

On the other hand, the HTC U11 Life features a plastic body but the good thing is HTC used acrylic material which looks glossy and glamorous pretty much like its flagship sibling U11. Though it has a plastic body it doesn't look cheap at all. Sony XA2 has flat curves around edges whereas in case of U11 Life edges are gently curved so it can fit perfectly in your palm. We have to admit despite its solid body XA2 looks a bit dated in terms of design in front of U11 Life.

Both the devices have single rear snapper with LED flashlight. The U11 Life fingerprint scanner is placed on the front of the physical home button. Both the devices have USB-C port for connectivity and charging. The XA2 features 3.5mm headphone jack but unfortunately, that's not the case with the U11 Life. Another important aspect is the U11 Life comes with IP67 certification which brings water resistance up to 1 meters deep water for 30 minutes.

Display

In terms of display, both the devices are on par with each other. Both the smartphones features 5.2-inches IPS LCD display with Full HD screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display pixels density is 424 pixels-per-inch. This means both the devices are not only clear but also sharp as well. Thanks to smaller display with Full HD resolution, the pixels density of both the device is much better than most of the smartphones in this range.

So if you are a small display, for sure both the device's display will fascinate you with their contrast ratio, awesome brightness level and colors accuracy is also worth appreciating. In this section, both the devices are equally good so both are the winner of this round.

Hardware

One of the key differentiator in the mid-range segment is usually the hardware under the hood, however, that might not be the case here. Being the latest mid-range devices, both the XA2 and U11 Life are powered up by the Qualcomm's Octa-core Snapdragon 630 SoC. Both the devices are solid and steady performers. In almost all scenarios you won't regret the performance of these devices. One of the devices might take lead in few scenarios due to software optimization but overall performance will be similar no matter which device you choose amongst the two.

As far as RAM is a concern both the devices have similar 3GB RAM on board. The built-in native storage is 32GB on both the devices and the good thing is both the devices support memory expansion via MicroSD card. For those who want more storage and RAM on board, they should go for the international variant of U11 Lie with 4GB RAM and 64GB native storage. You have to grab the international variant from third party sources as the 4GB RAM variant is not available for all regions. Also, the international variant is Android One variant with stock Android OS on board instead of HTC's custom Sense UI on board. The amount of extra RAM doesn't necessarily bring better performer so the 4GB RAM variant will attract you only when you need extra native storage.

Both the devices come with single stereo speakers placed on the bottom edge and latest Bluetooth 5.0 for connectivity like most of latest top-tier devices. The base variant of both the devices are similar to each other in performance and we won't consider the international U11 Life with 4GB RAM as it isn't available in most of the regions.

Specs Sony XA2 HTC U11 Life
Display 5.2-inches 5.2-inches
Screen resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels
Chipset Snadpragon 630 Snapdragon 630
RAM 3GB 3GB
Storage 32GB Expandable via MicroSD 32GB Expandable via MicroSD
Rear camera 23MP 16MP
Front camera 8MP 16MP
Battery 3,300mAh 2,700mAh
USB Type-C Type-C
IP-ratings None IP67
OS Android Oreo Android Oreo

Camera

With each new iteration, smartphone cameras are getting better and undoubtedly the companies are trying hard to ensure their devices have solid cameras as it is an essential feature of any smartphone which buyers do consider while grabbing a new device. The best thing is top-tier smartphone cameras are now being shifted to the mid-range segment as well. Everyone is well aware the new XA2 and U11 Life cameras are not meant to challenge the iPhone X, Note 8 or the Mate 10 Pro but they are certainly bringing solid camera hardware on board.

Both the devices come with single rear snappers which clearly indicates both the OEMs are not willing to bring the dual camera lens like most of the smartphones announced in 2017. The U11 Life primary snapper is a 16MP module with f/2.0 aperture but unfortunately, it lacks optical image stabilization which results in blurry images if your hand shakes while capturing photos. We have to admit indeed the cameras on U11 Life is one of its weakest aspect of this device. Not only lack of OIS disturb the picture quality but also its slow-shutter speed makes it worst. So if you want to capture using U11 Life you have to ensure hand is steady while capturing.

On the other hand, the Sony XA2 comes with a 23MP module on the rear with f/2.0 aperture. It also lacks OIS like U11 Life but its shutter speed is significantly better without any lag. Another positive aspect is 12,800 ISO which ensures amazing shots even in low-light conditions. The low-light photography of U11 Life is something which isn't commendable at all.

Up front, the U11 Life features the same sensor which is adorning its rear side. The 16MP sensor performs pretty good in most of the scenarios but it also has similar issues like the rear sensor, it blurs in low-light conditions. The XA2 features an 8MP wide-angle sensor with a 120-degree field-of-view. Thanks to large FOV you can capture wide-angle selfies with the friend's group. In both the scenarios the XA2 takes lead in performance.

Battery

The battery cell on HTC U11 Life is 2,600mAh which easily last one day on normal and medium usage, however, on heavy usage, you might not be able to end the day with a single charge. So if you are an avid gamer or love to stream videos on your smartphone you may have to bring power bank. On heavy usage, the device says goodbye around 7 p.m. It charges pretty quickly, it only requires 100 minutes from O to 100. Though it is fast but not the fastest amongst all.

The battery cell on XA2 is certainly something special which you won't have seen on many smartphones of this range. A monster 3,300mAh battery cell is under the hood to keep its lights on and it one of the few devices which easily last more than one day on a single charge and even easily survive one day on heavy usage. It supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 which means it won't require much time to recharge again. A power saving mode is also available to further enhance the battery life. This section is undoubtedly lead by Sony Xperia XA2.

Software

Last year one of the important enhancements in the software section is the inclusion of AI Assistants on board which facilitate users in a number of aspects. So if you are AI assistants fan, you will love to have U11 Life which comes with three Assistants on board including Amazon Alexa, HTC's Sense companion, and Google Assistant. With the U11, HTC introduced the Edge Sense feature which allows the user to open apps instantly by simply squeezing the body.

You can call Google Assistant by simply saying wake but in case of Alexa, you can't do it due to Snapdragon 630 limitations. The Amazon Alexa fans will need to access it manually. As OS the HTC U11 Life is pre-installed with Android Oreo straight out of the box with HTC's custom Sense UI layer over it. Though it comes with minimal bloatware certainly that's not something you dislike. The overall UI experience is pretty amazing to use.

The XA2 is also running on the Android Oreo 8.0 with quite minimal bloatware, it is pretty close to the stock Android OS with few pre-installed Apps. The UI on both the devices is very slick and fast. However, if you want an OS close to stock Android, the Sony UI will be your choice and if you don't have issues with the bloatware apps then the U11 Life takes lead due to three AI assistants.

Price and Availability

As far as availability is a concern the U11 Life has an advantage of being a couple of months older. In the US, T-Mobile and Amazon are offering the U11 Life at a price tag of $350. The unlocked variant also supports AT&T network. As far XA2 is a concern it is still in the dark which network this device will support in the US but considering the earlier Xperia smartphones most likely the T-Mobile and AT&T networks will be supported by this device.

At the moment it is still in the dark whether it will be offered via carriers or not. The unlocked variant will be available from Best Buy, Amazon. Though the pricing is still in the dark what we know so far suggests pricing will be around $300-$350.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly both the XA2 and HTC U11 Life were amongst the best mid-rangers in the market and both compete well against each other in most of the sections. Both the devices have different design language, the U11 Life gives plasticity feel whereas the XA2 looks more premium but at the same time it looks dated in front of U11 Life ravishing design. The display and pixels density of both the devices is same.

In hardware section both the devices are pretty much same with same Snapdragon 630 SoC, 3GB RAM, and 32GB Expandable storage. The camera and battery section is lead by Sony Xperia XA2. The price range most likely will be same for both the devices customers, the U11 Life takes lead in IP67 design, display, AI Assistants and wide availability whereas the XA2 is better in camera, battery and solid hardware.

At the end, we would like to hear our readers thoughts regarding the Xperia XA2 vs HTC U11 Life. Which smartphone amongst the two would you like to purchase on what aspects? Feel free to share your views with fellow readers in the comments section below.

  • The Sony Xperia XA2 isn't still available online. To be notified when it becomse available click here.
  • The HTC U11 Life isn't still available online. To be notified when it becomse available click here.

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Sony Xperia XA2 vs HTC U11 Life: A battle to rule the mid-range segment
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