Top Rated Unlocked Smartphones for World Travel
In today’s modern world, it’s rare to see a traveler without some kind of smartphone device. Smartphones have simultaneously made travel easier and more difficult. Easier because you can use a smartphone for photography, translation, directions, entertainment, and keeping in contact with friends and family. Difficult because of the added layer of stress due to the fact they have to be constantly charged and risk of of being stolen. They also can become a safety blanket and cause travelers to disconnect from their travel experience. It can be easy to seek refuge on a tiny screen, especially in an unfamiliar country; still, they are fantastic travel tools that can enhance our experience and make traveling much easier, just don’t rely on them too much.
When it comes to determining the best smartphone for traveling, there are certain criteria you should look for: ease of use, storage, durability, and the phone’s camera. Make sure the phone is unlocked for international use before you purchase it.
The Cheap Budget Smartphone with the Best Battery Life
If you’re on a budget, but need a phone, there’s a number of options out there. If you have less than $100 to spend, consider an old GSM flip phone for emergencies.
Motorola Moto G4
If you are afraid to take an expensive phone traveling, this is a great backup phone. Smartphones have become much more affordable over the years and it’s easy to find something under $225. Keep in mind that you are forgoing high end specifications to get a decent travel phone that allows international sim cards and won’t have you in tears if it gets lost or stolen.
The Moto G4 boasts a 13 MP camera which is great for the price point. Shots will have good color and accuracy in well lit areas, but this camera struggles with low light. Even with the low light issue, this camera takes sharp, crisp photos quickly. As far as the battery, it should last you a full day and then some with casual use. It also has additional accessories that allow for extremely fast charging.
When it comes to storage, the model comes with 16 GB of storage and 32 GB of storage. Opt for the higher storage because photos and videos take up a ton of room. You can also add up to an additional 128 GB of storage which really makes this phone great. The G4 is extremely durable as long as you don’t plan taking it swimming. A great buy for a budget!
The Best Camera Phone in the World
Having a phone that can take excellent photos has many advantages, the greatest being you don’t need to pack an extra camera. A good camera phone should be easy to carry, allow quick access to the camera function, and have the ability to share photos instantly. They also allow you to back up your photos and video in the cloud.
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Galaxy S8 is the primary competitor to Apple’s wildly popular iPhone 7. This phone is lightning fast and has plenty of storage options. It stores up to 32 GB in North America and can be updated with a micro SD card for more space. It also integrates with Google Drive nicely.
What really makes this smartphone standout is the camera; it excels at low light shots where most cameras falter. The Galaxy also takes crisp, clear, focused images with professional accuracy. The color saturation and white balance is excellent and, even with a 12 MP camera, the f 1.7 lens and large pixels makes photos look better than most other phones on this list. It also takes excellent outdoor shots due to the wider angle lens.
One issue with past Galaxy’s was the bad battery life, however in the new iteration the battery has been boosted 20% and it will last you all day and then some. If it does get low the phone supports fast charging and fully charges in around 30 minutes. The downside to this phone is it can be large and awkward to hold, causing it to fall a lot which could lead to breaking the gorilla glass. It’s also really big and is easily visible in your pocket, which pickpockets will notice. The price of the Galaxy is over $500, and if you lose this phone it would totally suck. It comes down to deciding if the features are worth the risk, and if you aren’t bringing an additional camera they are!
Best Overall Cell Phone for Travel
We’re sure many of you already anticipated that we would call the iPhone as the best travel phone, and that’s because it is.
You knew this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the phone that started it all, the iPhone. With the iPhone SE Apple managed to steal the designer of the ultra popular Nokia 1020 camera phone and integrate his tech into the new iPhone, making it the top camera on the market. The photos are crisp and clean, it works great in all light settings, and shoots awesome video. This is made even better by the plethora of apps and photo editing tools for it. Also this thing is ultra small (4 inches) and is easy to store! It’s also competitively priced at $350!
The processor is extremely fast and the phone is small enough to not stick out in your pocket. Since the iPhone 5, all iPhone’s are unlocked and can easily swap in and out foreign sim cards. They also has the ability to download offline maps, find friends nearby, and translate menus in different languages. The battery life is fine for casual use, and it supports turbo charging. It also can combine with an Apple Watch so you don’t need to take it out of your pocket constantly for GPS, to read texts, or look at train and bus schedules (and grants you secret agent status).
Like the Samsung Galaxy, the iPhone tends to break if dropped wrong, but not as often as the Galaxy. It also has a number of bulletproof cases for it. It’s on the higher end and we recommend this as your main phone. Does it make you a target for theft? Absolutely. Is it worth it when traveling? Absolutely.
Best Smartphones for Travel Summary
Traveling is all about what you make of it. The above phones are great tools for travel, but they are just tools. Don’t let them control your trip or prevent you meeting new people and having awesome experiences. If you are still apprehensive about taking a smartphone with you but want to have an emergency phone, consider a cheap burner flip phone that can swap out sim cards. You can buy them for around $20.