Best International Travel Smartphone

Top 3 Things to Know about Smartphones for Travel 2019

In Best Of, Tips & Tricks by Sheena2 Comments

Whether you’re planning a big trip or travel often, it’s important to have the best 4G coverage around the world – find out what to look out for & the top 3 smartphones for travel.

#1. World Phone Networks

If you live in the US and plan to use your smartphone while traveling, then you should stick with a GSM carrier (T-Mobile, AT&T) as the majority of the world utilizes this technology.

Only a handful of countries have providers that use CDMA technology (Verizon, Sprint).

* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years. It’s the best-value provider we’ve found but there are other important things to consider. Check out our post and find out which of our claims were successful or denied.

Best Smartphones for Travel

Choose a GSM carrier for international travel

#2. Unlocked Versus Locked Smartphone

You have two options when purchasing a smartphone – you can buy an unlocked version or direct from a carrier that is optimized for their network.

The second approach may be the better way to go if you have a favorite wireless provider since you can typically save a few hundred dollars. In exchange, you are agreeing to bloatware being installed on your phone.

If you plan to switch carriers, make sure your phone covers the frequency bands that the competing company uses.

Even if you bought your phone from the wireless provider, they have to unlock your phone if you have completely paid for it. Each company has their own requirements, but respective details can be found online. Transferring your number is now easy as, too.

Unlocked smartphones for travel

To lock or not to lock, that is the question…

#3. Smartphone Frequency Bands

Wireless frequency bands are the hidden key to having the best smartphone available for world travel.

Even though your phone may have the latest technology, it may only receive 3G or even 2G speed in other countries!

That is because the built-in antennas may not be capable of receiving certain bandwidths.

Best World Travel Smartphones

Be sure to check the frequency bands when choosing a smartphone for travel

Benefits of Smartphones for Travel

The benefits of traveling with a smartphone are virtually endless.

We at DIY Travel HQ use it for:

  • Taking pictures
  • Social media
  • Getting around with GPS
  • Research
  • Staying in touch
  • Offline travel guides, news and a plethora of other apps that suite your needs!

Check out our post Top 20 Free Travel Apps for Backpackers that help save you data, and make traveling easier.

Free travel apps

Smartphone apps make travelling fun & easier!

Best Smartphones for Travel

Smartphones have become a commodity, and very little differentiates one from another. Lucky for you, there are three standout smartphones that would make the perfect travel companion.

You can choose between the Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each one:

International Travel Smartphone

Apple or Android, which is the best smartphone for travel?

  • Apple iPhone 7

In terms of a travel smartphone, the Apple iPhone 7 wins hands down.

It supports 34 frequency bands, consisting of 23 LTE (4G) bands.

However, I could never purchase an iPhone since Apple has too many proprietary restrictions, hampers changing batteries, and does not allow the use of microSD expandable memory.

Best Travel Smartphones

The iPhone 7 is one of the most popular smartphones for travel

  • Android Smartphones:

    Samsung Galaxy S8, Google Pixel & Pixel XL

Instead, I would choose between two Android phones.

The top two Android smartphones for world travel are Samsung Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel or Google Pixel XL. Both are top tier smartphones that provide a full spectrum of bands.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 supports 31 frequency bands consisting of 20 LTE (4G) bands. Meanwhile, the Google Pixel Phone supports 34 frequency bands, consisting of 19 LTE (4G) bands.

I have the Samsung Galaxy S8 which I purchased from Amazon to use as my everyday & travel phone.

Smartphones for Travel

I travel with a Samsung Galaxy S8

Although the Galaxy S8 is very sleek with a reduced bezel, knowing that Google will update the operating system for at least two years on the Pixel Phone is a great benefit.

All three have great cameras for capturing your travels, so it just comes down to personal preference.

You can check your smartphone’s capability at Frequency Check.

If you want to save your money for traveling, then consider purchasing last year’s model for each brand. The best phones that have similar attributes at a fraction of the cost are:

Regardless, having travel insurance helps protect you against unforeseen issues that may arise.

Google Pixel XL

The Google Pixel XL features an excellent camera to capture all those wonderful travel moments

*** The Final Word – Samsung Galaxy 8 is our current favorite, at least until Google releases a small bezel version of the Pixel. ***

What smartphone fits your travel needs the best?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that we receive a small commission if you click on a link & purchase something that we’ve recommended – at no extra cost to you. This helps us to keep our site running so we can continue to provide free content. Thank you for your support!



  1. Really a good post for the people like me who have just started doing travelling. I thought of buying a dslr but not I think new Galaxy S9 would do my work. Thanks for the post.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the feedback! Erik has a Galaxy S8 but he just bought a DSLR too as he prefers taking photos with a camera & wants to get serious about photography. But if you’ve just started travelling the Galaxy S9 sounds like a really good choice – you don’t have to carry a bulky camera around & it’s always easier to share photos from a smartphone. You can always upgrade from there 🙂

Leave a Comment

nineteen − 18 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.