Whether it's a short car ride or an 18-hour flight, our phones are now indispensable travel companions. We no longer need a GPS device, maps, cameras, camcorders or even boarding passes. However, not all phones are the same in this regard. Some are more suitable for traveling, regardless of duration.
Traveling has its own complications that a good phone can solve. Being entertained on a long journey is just one example of the issues you are dealing with and not all phones can provide an ideal experience. Some can afford two phones, but two SIM cards are another outstanding feature because you can keep your number and use a temporary number for calls while you're away. We've tested these and many other factors, as you'll see below, and we can confidently recommend the following five phones for people who travel frequently.
Table of Contents
- Starting Price: Recommended retail price of the manufacturer ). While you can purchase these phones cheaper at some retailers, this is the price at which the phone will be sold for a maximum. The indicated prices refer to the basic models of the individual devices.
- GSM Unlocked: A US version is available that supports GSM radios and is not tied to a network operator. GSM is the mobile standard of choice for AT & T, T-Mobile and virtually all mobile operators in the world who are not Sprint or Verizon. When you travel outside the country, GSM phones actually work, unlike CDMA phones, which have limited services in other countries. As far as the "unlocked" part is concerned, this means that as long as you use a compatible SIM card, you should be able to use any network operator, including international network operators.
- Dual SIM: A US variant exists that supports the simultaneous use of two SIMs. These can be either two physical SIM cards or a combination of a physical SIM and an eSIM. With support for two SIM cards, you can keep your trunk active while using the second SIM card for international travel. This will allow you to continue receiving calls at your regular phone number while adding a local phone number in the country you're traveling to. This also applies to your mobile data plan.
- Display Size: The size of the screen of the phone. When traveling, you have to plan some waiting times. A common activity here is watching videos. If you use a large screen, you can enjoy content on your phone. This is also helpful if you plan to use your phone for navigation or as a boarding pass, as the larger screen makes it easier to view this content.
- Maximum Internal Memory: The maximum amount of internal memory that is available on each US variant of the phone. Whether it's movies and music for your travels or pictures and videos from vacation, traveling requires a lot of space. Since our phones are now replacing GPS, camera and portable media players, we need a large amount of memory to avoid deleting memories. While cloud storage can be helpful, depending on where you are, uploading data to the cloud can either be too slow or impossible, so large internal storage is a must.
- Expandable Memory: If the phone supports a memory card Increase the available memory space and, if so, up to how much space. With memory cards like microSD, you can expand your internal storage to create more storage for media such as photos and videos. Only a handful of Android phones support this feature, but recording is a big deal. At the time of writing, the largest microSD card is 1TB, which means for a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S10 +, that this results in the purchase of 2TB of storage space the 1TB model.
- Geolocation standards: The satellite supported location technologies supported by the device. GPS is owned and operated by the American military. Other countries and regions use their own version of "GPS", including Galileo (Europe), GLONASS (Russia), BeiDou (China) and QZSS (Japan). Although GPS works in other countries (after all, it is a global positioning system ), the US government has blocked it in certain regions in the past. In order to be stranded, you need a phone that supports the geolocation standard in the region you are traveling to.
- Water / Dust Resistance: The dust and water resistance of the phone, shown as IP rating. The first number indicates the protection of the phone against dust and solid particles, the second number indicates the resistance of the phone to water. The higher the number, the better, with the highest protection currently being IP68.
- Rear Camera Resolution: The megapixels of each image sensor in the rear camera. Higher resolution means additional details in photos and an improved ability to crop the image later.
- Front camera resolution: The megapixels of each image sensor in the front camera.
- Rear Camera Opening: The aperture (physical aperture size) of each lens in the rear camera. The lower the number, the wider the aperture. The wider the aperture, the better the performance in low light because more light can reach the image sensor.
- Front Camera Iris: The iris of each lens in the front camera.
- Optical image stabilization: The image sensors of the rear camera include optical image stabilization (OIS). With OIS, blurred photos are less of a concern, as they protect against shaky hands. Ideally, each of the camera sensors should have OIS to ensure they are protected regardless of the lens used.
- Optical / Digital Zoom: The optical and digital zoom range provided by the phone's camera. Between the two, the optical zoom is more important, because it offers a closer look at the quality of the photos, in contrast to the digital zoom.
- Max. Video resolution: The maximum resolution video that can be shot on the back of the camera and at what frame rate.
- Front Glass Protection: The technology used to protect the display of the phone. When you travel to an unknown location, our phones are often in our hands. They help us navigate through areas and find things that you can do. This makes them much more susceptible to falls that can be fought with a strong glass protection.
- Back Glass Protection: The type of glass used to protect the glass back of the phone. As most OEMs push for wireless charging, glass covers have become more and more common on smartphones. Unfortunately, glass is not as durable as metal and therefore requires extra protection.
- Battery capacity: The capacity of the lithium-ion battery. A large battery is associated with better battery life, though there are exceptions. Therefore, it is ideal if you need a phone with the largest possible battery.
- Fast Charge Support: The phone-supported fast charging technology. As traveling increases the dependency on your phone, it is even more important to have a fully charged phone. Fast charging takes less than an hour.
- Charge other devices wirelessly: The phone can wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled devices using its own battery and acts as an energy bank for another device. Convenient if you are traveling with a companion whose phone is weak or if you use wireless earphones.
- Headphone Jack: The phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nowadays, it's rare to see that you can use a headphone jack instead of a Bluetooth headset, which not only reduces your phone's power consumption, but also offers a lower charging fee.
- Wi-Fi version: The highest wireless standard is supported. While most phones support Wi-Fi 5 (or 802.11ac), the Galaxy S10 + Wi-Fi 6 supports a faster, safer standard. Since mobile data is usually limited abroad, fast WLAN is almost a necessity.
- Wi-Fi Calling: Indicates whether the phone supports the ability to talk on Wi-Fi. While this feature is also dependent on the network operator, Wi-Fi calls are usually counted for your data plan. This means that with enough data you can avoid high call rates and instead use Wi-Fi to make calls.
- Operating Temperature: The temperature at which your phone can operate safely. Because there are places on Earth that fall on both sides of extremes (cold and hot), knowing if your phone survives these areas can make it easier to decide to visit.
- VPN: How are VPNs managed? On the phone VPNs play a role when traveling because some countries block access to certain websites or even track your Internet usage. There is also the entire problem of content that is locked in the region. Android phones have a feature known as always-on VPN. This forces all Wi-Fi connections to use the VPN. iOS supports the same functionality but requires a lot of work, including the activation of the monitoring mode. Otherwise, you can only use the VPN by switching it on manually or in on-demand mode, so you can forget what can be dangerous on public Wi-Fi.
- Biometrics: The primary biometric authentication method is supported by the smartphone. Biometrics offers the best balance between safety and comfort and makes them the best choice for travelers. Apple's Face ID wins here because it's safer than a fingerprint scanner.
- Translate text: How many languages can the standard virtual assistant translate? This includes typing as well as asking the voice assistant, for example, "How do I say cheese in Spanish?"
- Real-time image translation: If the standard virtual assistant can translate real text with, just point your phone's camera at it, and if so, how many languages can be translated. This feature is useful when trying to read a menu or a character in a foreign country.
- Real-time Vocal Translation: If the default virtual assistant can act as a vocal interpreter, and if so, how many? Languages from which it can translate. This feature is only supported by Google Assistant (available on the Galaxy S10 + and iPhone X S Max, but not the default setting). This feature allows you to talk to someone who speaks in another language. time.
- Phone Tracking: The default app that will find your phone in case you lose it. This software also offers theft protection, including the ability to wipe the device or remotely lock the phone.
- Battery Life: The phone's estimated battery life is based on PhoneArena tests. PhoneArena determined this by running a custom web script to simulate real-world use with the displays set to a brightness of 200 nits.
How We Selected These Phones
Initially, we focused only on US phones. Our audience is mainly based in the US. That's why we've made sure that each of these phones works both domestically and abroad. This requirement eliminated phones like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 8, which support dual-frequency GPS, a feature that enhances accuracy of location.
Secondly, we have only selected mobile phones that have GSM activation. Many phones, z. As the Galaxy S Active line, are available only through network operators. The problem with these devices is that they generally only work on the support on which you purchased them. Even if you have unlocked one of these phones, the primary cell phone frequencies in another country or region are unlikely to be supported. For this reason, mobile phones with a certain brand were excluded in order to maintain the ability to travel.
We also focused on the US variants of the phones. Most cell phones are released in several variants, each of which is for a different market. This even includes unlocked GSM devices that operate on multiple network operators. Such phones are sometimes tailored for the mobile frequencies in the region in which they were sold. To make sure you get the best possible service at home, the GSM models we highlighted here are the variants sold in the US.
Finally, we have only selected phones with final release dates. While many phones were announced at the Mobile World Congress, most could not be taken into account as the release dates were either unannounced or vague (like "in a few weeks"). While cell phones like the LG G8 ThinQ and Sony Xperia 1 could have been competitors, they were eliminated until we know the final day of their release in the US.
Few cell phones offer a more comprehensive package than the Samsung Galaxy S10 +. It is a contender for most "best phones for" categories, and travel is no different. You have the specifications you want in a phone, whether you're on a short trip, a long flight, or anything in between. Watching videos is easier with the large screen, making it easier to navigate through turns. It offers more than enough storage space for all the photos and videos you take on your journey, and absolutely top-notch cameras. And thanks to the huge battery, you do not have to worry about finding a power outlet.
- GSM Frequencies (MHz): 850, 900, 1800
- LTE Bands: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26, 29, 30, 38, 41, 46, 48, 66, 71
Based on DxOMark testing, the Samsung Galaxy has S10 + has the best rear view camera available on all phones sold in the US. It has managed to achieve a total score of 114 points, the highest score, and a video score of 97, which is surpassed only by Google Pixel 3 XL. With features like variable aperture and dual pixel, Samsung gives you all the tools you need to capture the best photos. Even more impressive, however, is the variability of the cameras.
We often have just one shot for a great picture, and this is even truer when traveling. Zooming, flicking, or moving the camera to take a photo is just one way to overlook the photo. With the Galaxy S10 +, however, you have a wide-angle, telephoto and an ultra-wide-angle camera for every image type you want. With a single touch of a button, you can quickly switch to the focal length you need for the best image so you never miss a memory.
As for video, Samsung has expanded its game with the Super Steady feature. As the name implies, the Galaxy S10 + uses digital stabilization technology in addition to the OIS to keep the video fluid and quiet. You no longer need a GoPro camera to record your action adventure. With the Galaxy S10 +'s IP68 rating, Gorilla Glass 6 (with Gorilla Glass 5 on the back) and Super Steady, you can enjoy stunning 4K HDR10 video from your phone.
However, this top-notch performance does not stop with the back on cameras. DxOMark also scored the highest total score for the front camera, managing 101 photo and 88 video points. In connection with the iPhone X S Max scored the same photo test with his TrueDepth camera 81, one of the best selfie cameras on the market. Thanks to the dual-pixel sensor, such good results were achieved. This image sensor allows the Galaxy S10 + to measure the differences between adjacent pixels so that a single lens can perform dual camera effects such as portrait mode. The same technology is available on both the front and rear view camera.
In addition, the front camera is supported by an RGB depth camera. The result is better imaging, whether you shoot a well-lit selfie or an action shot. And for the first time, the front camera on a Samsung device can record 4K video for better clarity.
In addition to the fantastic cameras, the Galaxy S10 + makes the ideal solution for traveling because it can charge other devices wirelessly. As long as the other device supports Qi charging (the standard used by the majority of wireless charging devices, including iPhones), you can use the S10 + as a wireless charger by placing the other device on the back cover of the device , This feature offers you really useful options, especially in situations where a friend's phone is dying or your wireless earphones are low on juice.
Samsung also offers the best phone tracking tool in case you lose your device during a trip , "Find My Mobile" surpasses Android's "Find My Device" standard and Apple's "Find My iPhone" service in key areas such as: For example, the ability to remotely secure your latest data to the cloud, retrieve copies of your call logs and text history, and even expand energy-saving mode your ability to track the device in the event of loss.
The Galaxy S10 + is a flawless device and has set a higher brand for mobile phones in 2019. With a 1 TB storage option (with expandable memory support), IP68 protection, and support Wi-Fi 6 can replace a whole host of other electronic devices when traveling. Although the lack of dual SIM cards in the US model hurts, broad support for LTE bands and GSM frequencies should allow you to use any number of international SIM cards for data plans. The only inconvenience is that you need to remove your USA SIM card first. It's the second most expensive phone on our list, but it's definitely worth it.
Buy Samsung Galaxy S10 +: Amazon | Best Buy | Samsung
Telephone 2: OnePlus 6T
Starting with the OnePlus 5, OnePlus decided not to sell any more country-specific variants of their cell phones. Instead, they focused on a global version with variants based only on memory and internal storage options.
While this has changed again for the OnePlus 6T (which received official support for T-Mobile with a separate variant), the unlocked variant continues to be a global version. Whether in Europe, China, India or the US, they use the same version of the OnePlus 6T, and that brings some advantages. Specifically, US customers now have access to a dual-SIM phone, a feature that is usually omitted here.
- GSM Frequencies (MHz): 850, 900, 1800, 1900
- LTE Bands: 1 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18 , 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 66, 71
Since the OnePlus 6T is a global phone, you can be sure that it has a mobile band working in every country. The 6T supports with 27 the highest number of LTE bands on our list. Wherever you travel, you can use the LTE service as long as your mobile service provider offers it in this region. It also gives you flexibility because you do not have to pay for minutes and text messages, but opt for pure data planning and use VoIP and messaging services to communicate with others abroad.
Then there is the dual-SIM feature. Only a handful of phones in the US support this feature, with most phones reserving this feature for the international variant. The dual SIM card allows you to use a second mobile service provider (with cheaper international fares) for on-board travel without having to remove the SIM card. If you want to use an American SIM card for home calls and another for data services while you're away, you can keep both and control how the phone controls each SIM card. For example, you can have SIM 1 receive calls and text but no data while SIM 2 receives data but no calls or text.
The OnePlus 6T also has one of the fastest charging systems implemented in a phone. With its 20 W fast charge, the 3,700 mAh battery can be recharged from 0 to 100% in less than an hour. However, with such a large battery (and the aggressive RAM management of OnePlus) you can get by on 50% and still have enough juice for the rest of the day, as the OnePlus 6T has the highest battery life tested on our phones
The camera is While not as good as other options, it can more than capture your memories. However, with its dual SIM and high LTE band account, it is not difficult to recommend this phone to those who have made some travel this year. It will last throughout the day, charging quickly at night, and helping you get around in a country that uses a language you're not used to thanks to Google Assistant. Priced at $ 549, this is almost half the cost of some of the other options on our list.
Phone 3: LG V40 ThinQ
By far the least popular phone on our list, the LG V40 ThinQ does a lot for travelers. With full integration with Google Assistant, including a dedicated Google Assistant button, you can easily translate a menu or find out what someone is saying to you. With IP68 protection and MIL-STD 810G certification, it has the highest survivability in any environment. With the focus on videography, you can record professional-quality videos to work on the return journey of the aircraft.
- GSM Frequencies (MHz): 850, 900, 1800, 1900
- LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66, 71
Phone 4: Google Pixel 3 XL
The gap between first and fourth place is minimal compared to the comparisons we made in the past. While other phones on our list offer a better overall package on the go, the Google Pixel 3 XL is not far away. With the Pixel 3 XL you have a first-class camera, a deep integration with Google Assistant and unlimited Google Photos storage. All this is offered for the second best price on our list.
- GSM frequencies (MHz): 850, 900, 1800, 1900
- LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18 , 19, 20, 25, 28, 29, 32, 66, 71