In terms of software, both these devices run Google’s Android OS. However, that’s not to say there aren’t a few differences.
Unsurprisingly, the Sony Xperia XA2 uses 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 but the majority of what’s here did come across as a bit unnecessary, even if its relatively unobtrusive as Android skins go.
HTC have gone a similar route. The HTC U11 Life is part of the Android One program. This means that, out of the box, it runs pretty much as close to stock Android as you can get. The only real exceptions here relate to the camera app and anything to do with the U11 Life’s Edge Sense feature and their USonic noise-cancelling earbuds.
Winner: HTC U11 Life
This one is a tricky to call but we’re going to go with HTC on this one. Though the U11 Life does incorporate some Sense UI software features, the device’s participation in Google’s Android One program means that it’s a little more nimble and clean than the XA2.
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: HTC U11 Life
This one is super hard to call, given the margin between the two reflected in the benchmarks results. Futuremark tended to favor the U11 Life. Geekbench saw the Xperia XA2 triumph. Given the raw numbers here, we’re tempted to give it to the XA2. However, the U11 Life does come with a little bit of extra RAM, ROM and a nicer display - all of which are reflected in our everyday experience of the performance offered.
Next Page: Camera and The Verdict