The R11s is Oppo’s refreshed version of last year’s flagship R11. Along with a sharp dual-lens camera and a sub-$700, it’s also brings a bigger FullVision display and facial recognition tech to the table.
Then, the Xperia XA2 is Sony’s swan song for their OmniBalance design language. It’s got a classic blocky design, 5.2-inch display and a 23-megapixel rear camera that comes augmented by Sony’s Exmor RS for mobile image sensor. It also features 4K recording, 120fps slow motion video capture and a 120 degree super wide-angle 8MP camera on the front.
Which is the better buy?
In terms of software, both these devices run Google’s Android OS. However, that’s not to say there aren’t a few differences.
The Oppo R11s puts their own spin on Android 7.1.1 (AKA Nougat) via their own ColorOS skin. In terms of the differences between this and stock Android, ColorOS is designed to imitate or at least evoke Apple’s iOS platform. Everything has a friendly look and feel to it - which can be appealing to certain users. However, partially by design, this approach does remove some of the user controls and extra customizability you usually get out of the Android OS.
Meanwhile, the Sony Xperia XA2 runs on Sony’s Xperia UI skin. In practice this one isn’t too far from stock Android - but it does come loaded with a enough Sony-specific apps - from a movie creator to the Xperia Lounge social app - that is, by definition, a little extraneous. I don’t know if any of this is egregious enough for Sony to be slammed on or called out as bloatware. Still, the majority of what’s here did come across as a bit unnecessary, even if its relatively unobtrusive as Android skins go.
Winner: Oppo R11s
Both the Xperia UI and ColorOS have their pros and cons. It really does come down to whether or not you’re happy to embrace Oppo’s iOS-inspired playbook or live with the more-bloated app library on the Xperia. Still, in terms of what we prefer, we’re going to give the point to Oppo’s R11s. It’s by no means perfect but it comes across as a more-holistic software experience in contrast to tacked-on feel we get from the Xperia.
While your everyday performance with both of these devices is - inevitably - going to vary based on how many apps, what those apps are, how you configure the brightness on the screen and whether or not you make use of the array of battery-saver options - which can affect performance as a side-effect.
The most straightforward way to compare the two smartphones is to use benchmarks.
3D Mark / PC Mark
Winner: Oppo R11s
In terms of performance, the Oppo R11s is a clear winner here. It outpaced the XA2 on every front we checked, courtesy of a beefier processor and an extra gig of RAM.
In terms of specs, the Sony Xperia XA2 is hardly a sloucher. It wins some points for its 4K support and 120fps slow-motion video. However, it also loses points for relying on a simple and single-lens set-up. We found that images taken on the XA2 were noticeable more noisy than those taken on other mid-tier handsets I’ve recently reviewed. That said, there’s a subtle processed quality to the images that sometimes pays off during daytime shots.
Meanwhile, the R11s features a dual 20-and-16-megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture and pairs it up with front-facing one boasting a 20-megapixel sensor and a f/2.0 aperture. This is actually a step down from the R11’s dual 20-megapixel rear-camera kit but otherwise a solid configuration.
Sony Xperia XA2
Winner: Oppo R11s
Like software, this one is pretty hard one to call. Despite being mid-tier devices, both the Oppo R11s and Sony Xperia XA2 are clearly capable when it comes to producing bright, clear and colorful daylight images. The colors are a little richer on the XA2 but the detail isn’t quite as fine as seen in the R11s. Unfortunately, the absence of stuff like a portrait mode here really does hurt the XA2’s camera overall. Bokeh effects are in fashion right not and the XA2 stands out like a sore thumb without them. Using that as a tie-breaker, we’re gonna give this one to the Oppo.
The Bottom Line
Though the Xperia XA2 does have its merits, there’s more than enough advantages offered by the Oppo R11s for it to emerge a clear winner here. On both software and hardware, it trumps its opponent. The performance is better, the camera is better and the software experience feels more cohesively realised through features like FaceID login and a FullVision display.