In recent years, the smartphone has developed into a very versatile tool not only in everyday life, but also when traveling. A good smartphone comes in handy in many situations. It is no longer just a device that allows you to store and call all kinds of phone numbers, it is also a device that keeps you in touch with home during your trip, a device that provides entertainment and can be used as a travel guide, compass, dictionary or translation machine. And photos that you take with a good smartphone are no longer inferior to the photos of a compact camera.
The smartphone is the new Swiss army knife for the traveler!
What you should keep in mind before you travel is that the word ‘good’ in the above piece of text is quite important. Since developments in smartphone land continue at a rapid pace, somewhat older phones are sometimes downright slow, while the battery life and photo quality also leave something to be desired. If you have no specific requirements, you can quickly buy a suitable Android phone without too much preliminary research . If you do have requirements, you can learn more about the different choices below.
What is the best phone for travel?
In the list of the best smartphones for traveling you will of course find a lot of flagships from well-known brands such as Samsung, Huawei and iPhone, the different OnePlus 8 variants, the OPPO Find X2 Pro, the Google Pixel 4, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 and Sony Xperia. But the other phones don’t have to be smoothed out either. There are even good budget phones that perform very well. In this case, cheap means a purchase price between 200 and 250 euros. For this you don’t buy a smartphone that has all the bells and whistles of the flagships, but smartphones with commendable specifications and features considering the price. Examples are the mid-range devices from LG, Huawei, Poco and Nokia, and the low-end devices of the brands that specifically target the budget phone market (such as Motorola and the Xiaomi Redmi phones). Affordable phones worth checking out include the LG K61, Poco X3 NFC, OPPO A5 2020, Motorola Moto G8 Power, Huawei P30 Lite, Samsung Galaxy A40, Motorola One Macro, Nokia 5.3, Redmi Note 9, and Nokia 3.4.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Series
The best phone for travel right now has to be the Samsung Galaxy S20 (and the larger Galaxy S20 Plus). The biggest pluses are the great cameras (improved on the already good Galaxy S10) and the fantastic display (which makes the competition pale in comparison). The differences between the Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus are minimal. The battery life of these very best Android smartphones is not optimal, but you will be able to work with them for a full day without any problems. A premium design and packed with features such as reverse wireless charging, 5G (in the Netherlands), an in-screen fingerprint scanner and water resistance.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has the best specifications of the year. It’s the ultimate flagship at a huge price. Samsung’s latest premium smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, an ultra-large smartphone with impressive cameras. The 2019 Galaxy S10 smartphones are no longer the best out there, but their price has come down so they still remain very attractive with their Super AMOLED display and excellent cameras.
iPhone 12 Series
The standard iPhone 12 is the best Apple iPhone in terms of price-quality. The cameras on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini are similar to last year; Actually, the iPhone 12 is in many ways similar to the iPhone 11, but introduces 5G (and is therefore futureproof), in combination with an OLED screen, a more durable build quality and more processing power. This year, the water resistance of the Apple iPhone 12 has been improved to a depth of 6 meters for a duration of 30 minutes. The iPhone 12’s battery life is solid and better than its predecessor, but it still can’t compete with many Android smartphones. You probably charge it every night, but at least you have the option to do so wirelessly.
The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are, of course, even better, but they also cost more and are still remarkably similar. However, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a few extras that make it the best possible choice if money isn’t an issue and you want a large phone. The advantage of that large phone is that the battery also lasts longer. It has more cameras and storage space, along with the same great features as the standard iPhone 12, including 5G and MagSafe tech (wireless charger).
iPhone budget options
The iPhone 11 isn’t the fastest or most versatile smartphone, but in terms of value for money, it’s the best iPhone made to date. The battery life is better than that of its predecessors. The iPhone 11 can enjoy Apple’s camera updates, but has to do without a telephoto lens. However, the combination of the main lens and ultra-wide angle lens gives a lot of possibilities and you also get the improved night mode here. The camera functions are identical to the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. It is therefore also the ideal device for Apple fans who want to watch their money.
The iPhone SE 2020 is the cheapest iPhone of the year. It takes the power and specs of the iPhone 11 series and packs them into the smaller design of the iPhone 7 and 8. The new iPhone SE fits easily in one hand and takes great photos in good light for its price. For a good night mode you need at least the iPhone 11, but for less than 500 euros this is the iPhone for you if you are on a budget.
Not every smartphone is waterproof. Fortunately, the newer smartphones from Samsung and Apple are. Both the Samsung Galaxy S and the Note are waterproof. All devices from the Samsung Galaxy S series from Samsung have an IP68 certification, which means that all these smartphones in theory survive for 30 minutes at a maximum depth of 1.5 meters. Please note that the mutual differences between the degree of watertightness are large. For example, one phone is splash-proof, the other is immersion-proof and a third is water-resistant. You can submerge one device completely under water without any problems, while the other can only withstand a few raindrops.
If you are looking for a good waterproof telephone, it is useful to consider the phenomenon of IP certification, which is used to indicate the degree of water resistance.
For years, Apple refused to release water-resistant phones, but that changed with the arrival of the iPhone 7 in 2016. All newer devices since the iPhone 7 are water resistant. Many models have an IP67 certification, which means that you can immerse such a device for up to half an hour in water of up to one meter deep. However, it is not recommended to take underwater photos or go down the waterslide while traveling, because seawater and chlorine will damage the electronics and Apple will not reimburse water damage. However, you can use these iPhones in the rain without any problems, put them in the damp environment of a bathroom or rinse with water after something has been spilled on them.
The OnePlus 8 Pro is the most complete and most powerful OnePlus ever, but also the most pricey. A formidable competitor for the best smartphones; the OnePlus 8 Pro is on the heels of Samsung and Apple. It’s amazing that the brand has earned a place among the big boys in such a short time. The screen is beautiful with the only drawback that false touches along the screen edges sometimes cause problems. OnePlus has always lagged behind when it comes to cameras, and they still aren’t on par with Apple and Samsung, but the OnePlus 8 Pro is one of the best cameras on an Android in this price range. Another advantage: it can charge super fast wirelessly.
The OnePlus 8 is of course in the shadow of the OnePlus 8 Pro, but it is still a great phone anyway. The OnePlus 8T is cheaper than most high-end devices, but offers more than enough good functions for a competitive price. While the cameras are decent, they are not sophisticated. A nice feature of the 8T is the possibility to blur the background around a person or object while filming and to automatically switch on the night mode in a dark situation.
Budget king Xiaomi
The Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC can call itself the budget king this year. It is the fastest budget smartphone at the moment with a beautiful screen and battery life of two days. The camera’s software and post-processing aren’t great, but the other pluses more than make up for it. Xiaomi may be a fairly unknown player in the Benelux, but since 2010 this fairly large Chinese smartphone manufacturer has been launching devices with an excellent price-quality ratio. Right from the start it was clear that this brand is cheaper (and sometimes better) than Samsung smartphones. Xiaomi releases three series of smartphones: the Mi, Redmi and Poco series. The Mi series contains the flagships, smartphones with a sleek and thin design and always equipped with the latest hardware.
The Redmi series is about budget phones with good performance. They may run slower, feel less smooth and often hit the market a few months later than the Mi series, but are a good choice for those on a lower budget. Thus, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 has a good mix of functions at an attractive price. You rarely find a budget smartphone with such cameras and a modern design. The two-day battery life only makes things better.
Budget toppers: OPPO, Huawei and Nokia
OPPO (sister company of OnePlus) is also not a very well-known name, but sells both budget smartphones and high-end devices that are all worth it. The OPPO A5 2020 is their most recent cheap device. It has a low price, but a spacious, bright and lively screen. There is also a huge 5,000mAh battery, which can easily last two days. The OPPO A5 2020 also has a surprisingly expensive-looking design, and a great camera. Only alternative for battery enthusiasts seems to be the Motorola Moto G8 Power, which also boasts a massive 5,000mAh battery – there’s hardly any other option on the market that can match or exceed the battery life of the Moto G8 Power.
The Huawei P Smart is stylish and cheap. In fact, even the best cheap phone you can buy right now. The smartphone delivers a usable camera, sufficient storage, an excellent battery life, but the screen and design also make the P Smart stand out above other devices. Differences between the Huawei P Smart and Honor 10 Lite (a sub-brand of Huawei) are relatively small, inside it is almost the same devices, but the P Smart wins due to its striking design.
Nokia also has excellent budget smartphones every year, such as the Nokia 3.4 and the Nokia 5.3. Just solid budget models, which lend themselves perfectly to the casual user, who is not too fond of multitasking or playing heavy games. Last and perhaps least: the Motorola One Macro. Without its bad cameras, the Motorola One Macro would be a great budget all-rounder. As it stands, it’s still a very good choice if you don’t care much about photo quality.
Camera samples: OPPO and Xiaomi
The OPPO Find X2 Pro is the manufacturer’s most successful phone to date. Inside the high-end smartphone, you’ll find a top-notch display, processor, one of the very best camera phones you can buy right now, and much more to justify the high price tag. Although wireless charging is not supported, your phone is fully charged within 40 minutes. The battery life isn’t great, but otherwise this is one of the very best phones on the market right now. The OPPO Find X2 Pro is a phone capable of fighting against the big names of Apple, Samsung and OnePlus. One of the spearheads of the Find X2 series is the powerful included 65 Watt charger (new for smartphones). OPPO claims that this plug can fully charge the 4200 mAh battery from 0 to 100 in 38 minutes.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 has an incredible camera for its price. It is one of the best camera smartphones you can find right now. The Mi Note 10 has a beautiful penta-lens camera setup, with a primary 108MP camera that you use most often, an impressive AMOLED screen, support for ultra-fast charging, and a curved design that makes the smartphone comfortable in the hand.
Huawei P40 Pro
If you go for the latest Huawei smartphone, then you have plenty of choice. This Chinese smartphone brand is bigger than Apple and the emerging competitor of Samsung. Huawei smartphones have an excellent price-quality ratio. The brand uses its own Hisilicon processors, which deliver good performance. In addition, the brand is known for its latest technical gadgets. Just think of the Huawei P40 Pro with quadruple camera. Huawei smartphones usually have an above-average battery that charges remarkably quickly. That is no different with the P40 Pro. The phone has a solid 4200 mAh battery and that should be enough for a day and a half of use. It is worth mentioning that the smartphone does not have Google certification, which means that it comes without Google Mobile Services (GMS). no play store,
After a few difficult years with Japan’s Sony, they are now back in the game with the Xperia 1 II, a phone with an amazing display. It is the best smartphone for those who need a large and wide screen (CinemaWide Display). This screen has a 21:9 aspect ratio, according to experts the perfect ratio to show films optimally. With the triple camera, you get lifelike photography from the automatic mode on this camera. If you want to dive into the settings and mess around with elements like white balance, this camera is fantastic. Although this Sony flagship is also water resistant on paper, the company makes the necessary ifs and buts to the water resistance of its flagship.
The Sony Xperia 5 II is smaller and cheaper than the Xperia 1 II, but in terms of power and camera, the device is not short of anything. Its relatively small size makes it easier to hold in your hand.
LG G8 ThinQ
LG smartphones are of excellent quality. The South Koreans make very solid and robust telephones with unique features for an often competitive price. The smartphones come in different series: the G, K, Q and V series. The G series are high-end smartphones. The V-series is also one of the top models. Devices from the Q-series fall in the middle class. Then you have the K-series: these are budget devices. The main differences lie in the technical specifications, including the processor, the battery and the cameras.
The LG G8 ThinQ builds on what we saw earlier with the G7 ThinQ series, but the brand adds a number of new, own functions. Thus, the latest LG G8s ThinQ is able to recognize hand gestures and then perform the associated action. The camera is good, the LG G8 ThinQ’s screen panel is absolutely high-quality. LG has also managed to place its Boombox speakers under its panel to create a stereo effect.
Sturdy smartphones for tough outdoor adventures
Are you looking for adventure during your trip? Then you need a phone that can take a beating and water. And those are usually smartphones that mainly rely on their housing. The Galaxy Xcover 4 is one such, a midrange smartphone that is very suitable for common tasks, but which is not as flashy fast as, for example, the newer Samsung Galaxy’s. Good specs yes, but not great. Most importantly, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover can take a beating. The device is provided with a very robust housing and, thanks to military standards, can easily survive a fall of one and a half meters. In addition, the device is the ideal partner for the beach, swimming pool or while performing extreme sports such as kayaking. Water resistant, dustproof and even when the sun shines full on the screen,
The Xcover manages to win clear advantages thanks to the exchangeable battery. The Galaxy Xcover is by far the cheapest sturdy device. The design will not appeal to everyone, but the Xcover is a device from Samsung that focuses on indestructibility. On the side of the Xcover Pro is a push-to-talk button, so you can also use the smartphone as a walkie-talkie!
If you are looking for a robust smartphone with a larger battery capacity, you can take a look at the RugGear RG850 with its hefty 4000 mAh battery or the RugGear RG650 (4200mAh). Phones with a very solid design that are almost impossible to break. Dustproof, waterproof, as well as shockproof and resistant to most of Mother Nature’s elements such as moisture, dew, fog, mud, sand and extremely high or low temperatures. The screen remains readable in (bright) sunlight. He survives a fall from a height of one and a half meters unscathed. To put it in perspective, that’s well above waist height, a height where most smartphones fail.
The Cat S60 (already a somewhat older model) is called the construction worker phone for traveling. The housing is virtually indestructible and the phone is therefore clearly intended for people who work in construction. Adventurers will also get their money’s worth with the S60. It is dust and waterproof, the screen can be operated with gloves on. A big smack, heavy rainfall or a big sandstorm: it’s all no problem for the robust all-rounder. The specifications of this Caterpillar are not very impressive, but it is by far the most robust (and by far the most expensive). With the S52, Cat is breaking new ground: that of sturdy, slim smartphones for everyday use. The Cat S52 is of course incredibly strong and difficult to break, but it is not as bulky as the average rugged smartphone.
Another device for outdoor enthusiasts is the Land Rover Explore. The phone has a rugged housing, so the device can take a beating. Naturally dust and waterproof. The Explore can also withstand extreme temperatures, useful during a trip to the North Pole or a volcano!
Robust and stylish
The LG Q7 is a somewhat strange duck, because this phone is not only robust, but also stylish. The most accessible sturdy smartphone, especially thanks to its beautiful appearance. The design with the beautiful and sharp display is largely copied from its big brother LG G7 ThinQ. The plastic housing is completely waterproof, dustproof and the phone can withstand even the most atrocious weather conditions. With that you can safely take it to the beach, use it in the rain or even underwater. Furthermore, the LG Q7 has reasonably smooth hardware and a 3000 mAh battery. The camera setup is identical to that of the Galaxy Xcover 4: a 13 megapixel lens on the back and a 5 megapixel camera on the front. This makes the device also suitable for taking holiday photos.