The innovation champions

    Want a smartphone that pushes the innovation envelope? Jenneth Orantia points to the top three.

    Huawei P20 Pro

    Huawei used to be all about the cheap and cheerful devices that aped the look and feel of the more expensive iPhones and Samsungs, but with build quality and components that were notably inferior to the flagships.

    Huawei isn’t content to play in that sandpit anymore. The newest P20 Pro is proof that it’s capable of not only going toe-to-toe with the big brands, but of also leading the charge with innovation. While other brands are only just cottoning on to dual-camera systems, the P20 Pro has leapfrogged the competition to deliver the first triple-camera system.

    And this isn’t innovation just for sake of it. The triple-whammy combo of a 40-megapixel RGB lens, 20-megapixel monochrome lens and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens produces photos that are simply stunning. Details are incredibly textured, colours pop off the screen and backgrounds can be beautifully blurred for all manner of selfies and portraits.

    But there’s more to a smartphone than its camera, and unfortunately the P20 Pro has several areas where it doesn’t quite measure up to its rivals. The screen, while a sizeable 6.1”, is limited to Full HD resolution, delivering 408 pixels per inch (ppi). By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a 529ppi screen while the iPhone X has 458ppi. This means the P20 Pro can’t fit as much on the screen, so you need to scroll more when web or social media browsing.

    Speaking of scrolling, the P20 Pro’s performance isn’t as smooth as you’d expect with its 6GB of RAM. And while it’s equipped with the latest 8.1 version of Android, Huawei’s EMUI interface is a little pokey as well.

    The P20 Pro isn’t quite a slam dunk, but the rear camera is so impressive that you may be happy to forgive its flaws. We are.

    Apple iPhone X

    There’s a reason iPhone users are loath to move over to Android. It continues to boast the simplicity and intuitiveness that made it a household name in the first place. It just works.

    Of course, the iPhone is no simpleton when it comes to features. Far from it — especially when you consider the newest iPhone X. And that’s perhaps the best thing about Apple’s mobile device: it’s incredibly advanced, but doesn’t rub your face in it.

    Mums and dads who only want the bare minimum can simply pick it up and start using it right away. The same can’t be said for Android. And millennials who want to multitask between apps, track all their health data from their various fitness gadgets and use voice commands to control their smart home gadgets, they can get all this advanced functionality and more.

    The iPhone X celebrates 10 years since the pocket-sized device first took the world by storm, and Apple literally broke the mould with its design. Ditching the home button for the first time and shaving all the dead space off the sides of the screen resulted in the largest iPhone display yet, while still managing to retain the form factor of the regular-sized iPhone.

    New swipe gestures enable smarter multitasking between apps, and the new Face ID technology is surprisingly effective at recognising your face to unlock the device.

    The vivid OLED screen technology, sophisticated dual-camera system, exceptionally loud stereo speakers and gorgeous steel and glass design round out an incredibly compelling package.

    Samsung Galaxy S9+

    Samsung traditionally makes a material change to the design of the Galaxy range of smartphones every year. But this year, the eagerly anticipated S9 — the first of the new Galaxy range to follow the Apple iPhone X — looked exactly like last year’s model. Naturally, Samsung fans around the world were hugely disappointed.

    Despite the same-old look, every device should be viewed on its own merits, and the S9+ has plenty of good ones. With everyone doing more from their mobile devices, having a larger, high-resolution screen makes a big difference, and the gorgeous 6.2” curved display with Quad HD resolution really knocks the S9+ out of the park.

    There’s plenty to tinker with in the souped-up dual camera system between “live focus” photos with adjustable background blur, a super slow-mo video mode and a fun AR Emoji feature that lets you create your own talking cartoon. The exceptional low-light capabilities of the S9+ also let you to take photos with plenty of detail in challenging lighting conditions.

    What’s more, the S9+ is one of the only current flagship devices that continues to offer both a regular headphone jack and expandable storage via a microSD card. The former may not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve already invested in a quality set of wired headphones, this may be enough to sway you over to Samsung.