What is the best phone for international travel?

These days, it's almost always essential for you to take your phone or other portable devices whenever you take a trip away from your home country so that you keep you in touch with your family. If you love social media, it's going to be a vital part of your packing too when updating your status and sharing photos!

Reading this article will give you an insight into choosing a great camera with exceptional battery life.

The four categories below cover all the essential elements for selecting a great phone.

These days, whenever you take a trip away from your home country, it's nearly always vital that you take a good phone with you, so you can keep in contact with family, friends and relatives easily. 

In general terms, there are two key elements to a good phone; a great camera and exceptional battery life.

To make it simple for you, I have split this article into four categories:

  1. Basic features of the purchase
  2. Comparison of our top choice of the best smartphones
  3. Waterproof phones - tips for the best types
  4. Tablet or Smartphone?

So who will win? Apple and their iPhone with Samsung a close second, or the other way around? Read on to find out... 

You must have a good camera on your trip
Taking a good camera on your trip is essential

Not that long ago, it was impossible for anyone to take their portable device with them while traveling. With the type of devices being produced and the speed with which technology moves on, you can easily take any type of portable device with you, no matter where you go.

The major problem that exists for someone traveling abroad is which is the best phone for international travel? Every smartphone to some extent has advantages and disadvantages, so a holidaymaker needs one with some ultimate features.

1. Basic features of the purchase

The key features that you should consider when buying a new smartphone for your trip are:

  • A good battery life.
  • A high-quality operating system; iOS and Android.
  • Does the phone support WiFi or not?
  • An excellent camera.

Good battery life

Good battery life
Good battery life

Most smartphones have poor batteries - if the phone is used 6-7 hours straight, the battery dies. With that in mind, a phone with a battery which holds its charge is going to be your best option. Inadequate batteries make it almost impossible to use the phone properly, especially if you’re using maps and, will result in complications for the traveler.

Good operating system - iOS or Android?

If you intend to buy a new smartphone today, the chances are that it will run either Google Android or Apple iOS. If you're not tech savvy, an operating system is simple the software that provides the basic functions for the phone.  Both of these smartphone operating systems are excellent. More than 99 percent of smartphone users have Android or iOS,  but others include Windows Phone by Microsoft.

They have more features in common, but some crucial differences must be considered. We're going to compare iOS and Android across several categories. So, read through everything then pick the things that matter to you the most, then add up the advantages in those categories to get the best recommendation for you.

Apple sits at the top when it comes to pricing. The iPhone XS comes with a starting price of $950. The iPhone XS Max is $1300, and I phone XR is $720 (our hot tip).

Due to the high cost of the iPhone, many people avoid buying it. The alternative - Android phones - are cheap and readily available. With their low price tag and accessibility, I think the result speaks for itself.

iPhone X - stunning smartphone with excellent quality a hi-fi technologies
iPhone X - super-slim smartphone with excellent quality for a good price


The latest version of iOS is available right now. These days, over 50 percent of iPhone users have the newest version of iOS (12). While to the other extreme, only around 19 percent of Android users have the latest Android 8.1 Oreo version. At this point, Apple is looking better than Android.

App store vs. Play store

Android's Play store consists of some 2.1 million apps, with the iOS store  a close second with 2.0 million. The major difference between the two is that the best games and apps are typically available in the iOS app store first while developers across the world are targeting Android too. However, in most places around the world, quality beats quantity every time. So, iOS is undoubtedly the front-runner in this area.

Battery issues

As one of the biggest bugbears for smartphone owners, battery life is a huge factor. In this regard, Android displays the total estimated remaining battery life and iOS is optimized to squeeze most out of this rating.

For many years, Android was in the lead providing phones with fast charging and wireless charging. These days, Apple has presented phones like the iPhone XS, iPhone X and XS Max which offer wireless charging. Sadly, you will need to buy the fast charging adapter separately, but Android phones sell this as part of the package.  

A clear-cut review of this section shows that Android phones tend to have longer battery life, so Android takes the win.

Excellent global connectivity

The third thing to consider is, “Does the phone support WiFi or not?” When traveling abroad, if you want to access the internet it is necessary to choose a phone which supports WiFi.

Good data connection with the whole world
Good worldwide data connection

WiFi is the cheapest and most economical way of connecting with people around the world. Sometimes it's not possible to access WiFi, but there is another option of switching to internet Data Mode but, it is expensive in comparison.

If you need a good camera

The Fourth-most vital thing to consider when buying a phone is whether it has a good camera.

As we know, anyone visiting another country likes to take pictures of the places they have visited, so, it is a worthwhile buying a cell phone which has an excellent camera.
For traveling purposes, buying the best smartphone is always a difficult choice to make. Everyone looks for a phone with first-rate facilities and features, to make their trip simpler.

Before buying any phone, battery life, camera, WiFi or data mode are just a few of the characteristics to be considered.


2. Our comparison of the best smartphones

Below are some extraordinary phones you might like to weigh up if you’re thinking about buying a smartphone for traveling purposes. There's a brief comparison between the best phones to make it easier for you to make some informed decisions. Each one has one salient feature or another.

The best smartphone camera

1. Asus ZenFone AR

Excellent review of Asus ZenFone AR from Engadget

Asus ZenFone AR comes equipped with three rear cameras, a motion tracking, depth sensing, and high-resolution 23Mp camera, which enables it to create a 3D image of its surroundings.

Motion sensing cameras allow the phone to track its location as it moves through space. A depth sensing camera helps the phone to measure its distance from real-world objects. High-resolution 23Mp cameras let you view virtual objects in the real environment.

ZenFone is the world’s first smartphone with Tango and Daydream by Google. Tango is an exciting new technology that changes the way you interact with people. Daydream offers the experience of high quality, reality VR with your phone.

ZenFone brings reality experiences for you to enjoy and explore.

2. iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR

These are the smartphone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The generation of iPhone XS is current on its twelfth release which was rolled out to the public in September 2018.

Operating system: Original 12.1, released in October 2018.

iPhone X specs compared with iPhone XS, XS Max and XR

 iPhone XiPhone XRiPhone XSiPhone XS Max
Display size, resolution5.8-inch; 2,436x1,125 pixels6.1-inch LCD Retina Display; 1,792x828 pixels5.8-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,436x1,125 pixels6.5-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,688x1,242 pixels
Pixel density458 ppi326 ppi458 ppi458 ppi
Dimensions (inches)5.7x2.79x0.3 in5.9x3x0.33 in5.7x2.8x0.3 in6.2x3x.3 in
Dimensions (millimeters)143.6x70.9x7.7 mm150.9x75.7x8.3 mm143.6x70.9x7.7 mm157.5x77.4x7.7 mm
Weight (ounces, grams)6.14 oz; 174 g6.8 oz; 194 g6.24 oz; 177 g7.3 oz; 208 g
Mobile softwareiOS 11iOS 12iOS 12iOS 12
CameraDual 12-megapixelSingle 12-megapixelDual 12-megapixelDual 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera7-megapixel7-megapixel with Face ID7-megapixel with Face ID7-megapixel with Face ID
Video capture4K4K4K4K
ProcessorApple A11 BionicApple A12 BionicApple A12 BionicApple A12 Bionic
Storage64GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAMNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosed
Expandable storageNoneNoneNoneNone
BatteryNot disclosed, but lasted 11.45 hours in CNET's looped video playback testNot disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 90 minutes longer than iPhone 8 PlusNot disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 30 minutes longer than iPhone XNot disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 90 minutes longer than iPhone X
Fingerprint sensorNone (Face ID via TrueDepth camera)None (Face ID)None (Face ID)None (Face ID)
Headphone jackNoNoNoNo
Special featuresWater-resistant (IP67), wireless charging, Face ID 3D unlock, MemojiWater-resistant IP67, dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, MemojiWater-resistant (IP68), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, MemojiWater-resistant (IP68), dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, Memoji
Price off-contract (USD)$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB)$749 (64GB), $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB)$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB)$1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB)
Price (GBP)£999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB)£749 (64GB), £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB)£999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB), £1,349 (512GB)$1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB)
Price (AUD)AU$1,579 (64GB), AU$1,829 (256GB)AU$1,229 (64GB), AU$1,299 (128GB), AU$1,479 (256GB)AU$1,629 (64GB), AU$1,879 (256GB), AU$2,199 (512GB)AU$1,799 (64GB), AU$2,049 (256GB), AU$2,369 (512GB)

Source of the table: https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-xs-specs-max-xr-compared-x-whats-new-and-different-all-features-2018-lcd-colors-no-home-button/

3. Samsung S8 and Galaxy S8

The Samsung S8 and Galaxy S8 are Android smartphones produced by Samsung Electronics as part of the Samsung Galaxy S series.

With an Android 7.0 operating system, memory of 4 or 6 GB, and a high-resolution camera of 12Mp and front camera with 8Mp, the S8 and S8+ were in high demand on their release. During the pre-order period, a record one million units were secured in South Korea, and overall sales numbers were 30% higher than the Galaxy S7.

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 consists of a polished aluminum body with gorilla glass 5 at the back and front, IP68 certified to be dust and waterproof.

This smartphone is really very interesting. Look at this nice review video.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBJycsmduvYEL83R_U4JriQ

It has a 6.3 inches amoled display, the largest screen ever in a Note device, but still fits in one hand! It contains a 12Mp rear camera with 1260p/30fps video recording, and 8Mp front camera with 1440p/30fps video recording.

It supports 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage. Likewise, it can take SD cards up to 256GB. With a battery life of approximately 3,300 mAh, the Samsung Note 8 is the among the most versatile smartphones of today.

5. iPhone X

Beautiful preview of the iPhone X from The Verge

iPhone X is still selling smartphones so you won't miss out on the opportunity to grab one in the sales. If not, another excellent value for money deal is the iPhone XR.

The most impressive of these is Face ID which replaces touch ID. The iPhone X has two color options, Silver, and Space Gray. The front and back of the phone are composed of surgical-grade stainless steel to improve durability.

The back has a glass slab over the aluminum to enable wireless charging. The design is intended to be IP67 water and dust resistant.

6. Huawei P10

The Huawei P10. It is an Android smartphone produced by Huawei. It was released in February 2017 and is the successor to the Huawei P9.

The Huawei P10 has a 5.1inc 1080p high definition LCD display while the P10 Plus has a 5.5inc with a camera of 12Mp and 20Mp f/1.8, and a front camera of 8Mp

7. Sony Xperia XZ

The last in our category of 'the best smartphone camera' is the Sony Xperia XZ.

Interesting view on the Sony XZ from TechAltar channel on Youtube.

Sony offers very nice smartphones, and my opinion they also have, after the iPhone, the best phone design. The price is about $400, but be sure to check out the exact price on Amazon.

This phone comes with a high definition HD display of 5.4 inches with 1080×1920p resolution. It contains 3GB RAM and vast storage of 64GB with a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor. Front and back cameras are also standard with this phone at 23Mp 13Mp respectively. It supports Android 6.0 and has a 2900mAh battery life. And, of course, which is typical for Sony products, it comes with high-end waterproof technology as standard.

This would be my second tip after the iPhone.

3. Waterproof smartphones - "the best of"    category

You need a waterproof phone
When you're looking for a waterproof smartphone during your travels

Holidaymakers are always in need of a waterproof smartphone as they travel to places around the world, and sometimes even need them to be able to work underwater too. Below are some inspiring water-resistant options that are most suited for traveling purposes:  Samsung Galaxy 8 and 8 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ premium, LG G6, Galaxy S7 Edge, and S7.

  • The Galaxy S8 is an evolution of the prior year's model, with upgraded hardware, design refinements, and the restoration of features removed from the Galaxy S6, such as IP certification for water and dust resistance, as well as expandable storage.
  • The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge stand up to water better than the iPhone 6s and 6s plus, but not without sustaining permanent damage.
  • The LG G6 is ready to go just about anywhere you like. Thanks to its IP68 rating, it deals with dust and water in its stride — including full immersion.
  • Sony Xperia XZ is also fully waterproof and dust resistance as is evident from its IP68 certification.

4. Tablets or Smartphones

When a smartphone is your favorite

There are plenty of reasons to take a smartphone along with you on your trip. In fact, for travelers who aren’t trying to work on the road, it could be the only device you need. While rarely best at anything, smartphones are fine for many tasks that used to require separate gadgets. When you’re trying to reduce space, weight, and cost, that’s a significant benefit.

Tablet or smartphone?
Tablet or smartphone?


  • They take the place of multiple devices. There’s no longer need to pack a separate flashlight, map, calculator, music player, or alarm clock.
  • It’s easy to get connected when you need to, even if you’re not using cell data. Cafés, airports, and train stations usually have WiFi available, and throughout much of the world, there’s always a McDonald’s or Starbucks nearby if you want bad burgers and coffee with your Facebook.
  • There are hundreds of useful travel apps out there that work offline. Currency converters, translation tools, navigation helpers, guidebooks, itinerary trackers, and more can help make your travels easier.
  • Smartphones are portable and can be taken anywhere. It is the simplest option compared to tablets, and everything can be done on the move.


  • The most significant disadvantage is battery life — it’s rare to find a smartphone that will last more than one day of typical use. Long flights, bus rides, and days of exploring can result in a dead phone before you get to your accommodation.
  • With each new release, cell phones are becoming increasingly bigger. With that said, watching a movie or any other kind of entertainment on a 5″ screen isn’t ideal — books and movies aren’t so great on a small display either.
  • Websites without mobile-friendly versions get annoying very quickly.
  • Typing on phones is fine for updating your Facebook status or sending a quick message, but you’ll end up frustrated if you’re hoping to do much more.
  • When you vote for a tablet.
  • A tablet is an awesome device for leisure travelers because it allows you the conveniences of a laptop without the bulk. If you are not working on the go, then these are the reasons why a tablet might be ideal. Tablets have only been around for a few years, but ever since the iPad came out, they’ve been less popular. They offer a larger screen and better battery life but are more expensive and take up a lot more room.


The tablet may not be as versatile as a laptop in the functionality department, but it is significantly better than a smartphone. Tablets have larger displays that give you more space to get real work done. In fact, with larger tablets the screen is on par with some of the smaller laptops, allowing you to get more done.

Of course, the virtual keyboard uses up half the display, so you have less screen available when you’re actually working. Regardless, though, tablets beat smartphones when it comes to productivity.

A tablet sits somewhere between the smartphone and laptop in most areas, and flexibility is no exception. In many ways, a tablet can fill the role of a laptop and perform most, if not all, of the same functions. However, the tablet has the added benefit of versatility. Most can take photos, or shoot videos in addition to allowing video chats and conferencing.

They also work nicely as an e-reader (or in some cases, the e-reader has evolved into a tablet) for accessing an entire library of books on the go. Some of these things are technically possible, but ridiculous in a practical sense with a notebook.

Battery Life

Most tablets have a battery life that is far better than any laptop. Although steadily improving in the longevity department, most laptops would still struggle to make it through a full working day, and many won’t make it to lunch. Tablets, on the other hand, seem to last forever even when pushed to the limit.

Size is an issue. Even the smaller 7-8″ versions won’t really fit in your pocket unless you’re wearing a large jacket. They’re also heavier than smartphones, especially if you have a full-size tablet.

Taking photos with tablets is, quite frankly, a horrible idea. Their size and bulk make them hard to hold steady, and that’s before the cover starts flapping around!

Screens are hard to see in direct sunlight, and since it’s rare for people to use strong cases with tablets, it’s easy to damage or drown them. Plus, let’s face it, you look pretty silly doing it.