What I have here are high-performing smartphones of this year. One’s a flagship and the other is not. What’s the reason for us doing this? Pricing.

The HTC U11 edges out at PhP 34,500 with the 128GB/6GB RAM variant whilst the Xperia XZs used to sit at PhP 31,500, but is now at 26,500, according to WidgetCity’s website. And not to mention, it is the 64GB variant.

Before getting started, let me remind you that discussion is going to be light and is going to be divided into 8 categories – Accessories, Design, Display, ROM/UX, Performance, Camera, Audio, and Battery. Each category will either have one winner or end with a tie. The one with the highest points at the end will be the winner of this Head-to-Head.

So, let’s get started!

1Accessories

First of all, I have to say, HTC’s commitment to their packaging format has gotten pretty good through the years. With the HTC U11, other than the usual, we get a cleaning cloth, hard plastic casing, a USB Type-C headset, eartip replacements, USB Type-C to 3.5mm female adapter, its 12.5W variable power adapter, and a USB Type-C cable.

As for the Xperia XZs, we get a 3.5mm headset, a 7.5W power adapter, and a Type-C cable.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZs

2Design

While the XZs and the U11 doesn’t share a speck of similarity, I find both to be beautiful in their own languages. While do both have 2.5D glass, the U11’s more prominent chamfered glass edges are better to hold and look at.

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The sides of the U11 present a rather confusing and awkward look, akin to faking to having heard someone and just laughing afterward without any afterthought to what they may have said.

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Flipping both over presents a reflective difference between the two. While I do find myself being amused with reflective backings, smudges and fingerprints are a big no-no. If you do intend to get the U11, put it in the included case or buy something else that covers the liquid glass surface.

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Moving on the handling and grip, the Xperia XZs provides a more secure feeling because of its flat sides and metal backing.

As for SIM and microSD access, the XZs wins it hands down for the lack of need of a pin ejector.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZs

3Display

Even with the stark difference in resolution, the XZs’s TRILUMINOS™ display remains unmatched in vibrance and accuracy without sacrificing dynamic range and temperature. The U11’s Super LCD5 leans into a warmer tint which some may find annoying.

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The difference in detail is hard to point out at this form factor during regular usage, but even with the U11’s 1440p display, I find myself using the XZs more.

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Winner: Sony Xperia XZs

4ROM/UX

With both running ROMs with Android 7.1 as the base, it boils down to what interface is easier to use – HTC Sense UI or Xperia’s still-unnamed ROM?

Because of the 1440p panel, navigation and reading are made easier on the U11. Sense UI’s app drawer made well use of its real estate with a scrolling function, making it easier when searching for a specific app.

Not to mention, HTC Alexa is pretty much useless if your country cannot be serviced by Amazon directly, such as Philippines.

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The drop-down menu lacks in part of the U11. The lack of an NFC hotswitch irked me since I regularly use it to beam files from one phone to another. While the Edge Sense or “Squeeze to Appease” function may seem overboard and unnecessary for others, I actually find it useful, let’s say, for opening the camera in one-go.

Talking about camera UI, the HTC U11’s provides a better range of options while remaining the less cluttered of the two. What the Xperia XZs wins in is the number of features there are. Still, I hope that once they move to Oreo, the 4K video option can be accessed along with the video tab.

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The Xperia ROM may have remained untouched that much for the past few years, but it has proven to be still efficient to some extent at its current iteration. Their Music, Album, and Video app are easier to use than the default multimedia apps that Google provides.

Still, even after spending time with both, the HTC Sense UI wins in my book.

Winner: HTC U11

5Performance

SPECIFICATIONS

SPECS HTC U11 Sony Xperia XZs
Display 5.5″ 1440×2560
Super LCD5 (~534 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
5.2″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD (~424 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass
Dimensions & Features 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm, 169 g
IP67-certified (dust/water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes)
146 x 72 x 8.1 mm, 161 g
IP68-certified (dust/water proof over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
CPU Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo) Quad-core (2×2.15 GHz Kryo & 2×1.6 GHz Kryo)
GPU Adreno 540 Adreno 530
Memory 128 GB, 6GB RAM,
microSD <256GB
64 GB, 4 GB RAM,
microSD <256GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, BT 4.2, A-GPS, NFC, USB 3.1 Type-C 1.0 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, BT 4.2, A-GPS, NFC, USB 2.0 Type-C 1.0, 3.5mm audio jack
Price PhP 34,500 PhP 26,500

Even with the U11’s superiority in the Android domain, do mind that it is 8,000 pesos more expensive than the XZs. Computing their price-to-performance ratio gave me a clear result that the U11 is worth more getting by at least a pt/PhP.

BENCHMARKS

Benchmark HTC U11 Sony Xperia XZs
AnTuTu 180260
(5.22pts/PhP)
117423
(4.43pts/PhP)
Geekbench
(Single Core)
1932  1408
Geekbench
(Multicore)
6495  2797
PCMark Work 2.0 6954  5615
Androbench RR: 92.96MB/s
RW: 82.52MB/s
RR: 26.51MB/s
RW: 10.87MB/s

Both respond at the same pace, but considering earlier results, the U11 wins.

Winner: HTC U11

 

6Camera

Before we get to actual results, here is a quick rundown of each phone’s cameras.

Phone Rear Camera Front Camera
HTC U11 12 MP, f/1.7, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED (dual tone) flash

Video recording: up to 2160p@30fps

16 MP, f/2.0

Video recording: up to 1080p@30fps

Sony Xperia XZs 19 MP, f/2.0, 25mm, EIS (gyro), predictive phase detection and laser autofocus, LED flash

Video recording: 2160p@30fps, 720p@960fps (Super Slow Motion)

13 MP, f/2.0, 22mm, 1/3″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size

Video recording: up to 1080p@30fps

Putting specs aside, let’s move to actual results.

Rear Camera

Under daylight, difference in detail is non-existent until zoomed in. It is only that colors look much more natural on the XZs’s. Be reminded that the XZs can only shoot with HDR on at 8MPx and below because of its Exmor sensors’ lowlight capabilities.

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After dawn, the U11 produced spectacular results, especially in details, due to its f/1.7 aperture but the XZs wins in both color and exposure. Speed-wise though, the U11 wins because of its UltraFocus tech, which is mindblowingly fast even in lowlight.

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Moving on to video recording, with both being 4K capable, what I’d call the three C’s of mobile cinematography (consistency, color, and compensation) is definitely on the XZs’s favor. Noise is too distorted on the U11’s end and details are also oversharpened beyond the point of realism.

And also, just to mention, the XZs has the MotionEye, allowing it to capture Super Slow Motion videos along with Predictive Capture.

Front Camera

While both do a decent job at taking selfies, the U11’s more refined post-processing and more natural colors win it for me.

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Winner: HTC U11

 

7Audio

Using my handy-dandy KZ ZS3’s I put each phone’s audio processing capabilities to test. And yes, in case you missed it, the U11 doens’t have a built-in 3.5mm jack.

Here are the songs that I’ve listened to on both IEM’s and speakers:
– ‘Problem’ by Set It Off
– ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Kid’ by UNVRS
– ‘Rhythm of the Rain’ by yours truly
– ‘Knuckles’ by Moose Blood

Here’s the lowdown: with DSEE HX™, the Sony Xperia XZs wins flat out in terms of clarity. The highs suffer a lot on the U11’s speakers for some reason. What the U11 is better at is providing a larger room volume at max volume.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZs

 

8Battery

Despite not having a lot in difference, HTC has optimized their software better than Sony’s. And also, with its 12.5W variable power adapter, it charges at least 140% faster than the Sony Xperia XZs’s 7.5W power adapter.

Phone ManilaShaker Battery Rating Charging Time (0-100%) Battery Capacity
HTC U11 32h 32m 1h 42m 3000mAh
Sony Xperia XZs 27h 36m 2h 26m 2900mAh

Winner: HTC U11

 

9Tallying the Results…

HTC U11 – 5
Sony Xperia XZs – 3

Against HTC’s current flagship, I do find myself favoring the XZs more not just because of the price, but also because of the numerous advantages it holds over the U11. I’m somewhat glad and disappointed that this ended with a tie. What about you? Are you for the HTC U11 or the Sony Xperia XZs too? Let us know in the comments below!

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