r11svxa2100758512orig Oppo, Sony

Smartphone Showdown: Oppo R11s v Sony Xperia XA2

Introductions

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.

You can read our full review of the Oppo R11s here.

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.

You can read our full review of the Xperia XA2 here.

Which is the better buy?

Hardware

r11s v. xperia xa2 IDG

A side-by-side comparison shows the hardware specs for the Oppo R11 and Sony's Xperia XA2.

Software

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.

Read more: Smartphone Showdown: Sony Xperia XA2 v HTC U11 Life

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.

Performance

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

futuremark r11s v. xperia xa2 IDG

Futuremark benchmark tests showing the Oppo R11s running against Sony's Xperia XA2.

GeekBench

geekbench r11s v xperi xa2 IDG

Geekbench results showing Oppo's R11s compared to Sony's Xperia XA2.

Read more: OPPO opens first Australian Customer Service Centre

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.

Camera

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

sony xperia xa2 image IDG

An image taken with the Sony Xperia XA2.

Read more: Smartphone Smackdown: Oppo R11s v HTC U11 Life

Oppo R11s

oppo r11s image IDG

An image shot with the Oppo R11s.

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.

IDG Insider

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