Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Best iPhone for travel
The main reason to recommend the 8 Plus over the 8 is the better dual lens camera with its depth effect aka cool artsy photos usually reserved for expensive cameras.
While the 7 Plus can also do these special photos, the 8 Plus is still a worthwhile upgrade for travelers:
- The camera has been upgraded to be clearer and faster
- It supports a new GPS system that's more accurate
- It has more LTE bands so it works across more of the world
- The base storage is now 64GB vs. 32GB, which we think is enough for most people now while also being cheaper
How about compared to the X? Outside of the bigger screen and slightly better front facing camera, there aren't any huge benefits to the X for traveling. The backside camera is just as good and it supports the same amount of LTE bands while being a few hundred more expensive.
The most convenient way to get an unlocked version is directly from Apple. If you need to, it's easy to sell your current iPhone that's locked to a specific carrier like AT&T on sites like eBay or Craigslist.
Google Pixel 2 XL
Best Android phone for travel
The Pixel 2 XL is the best Android option for traveling. Although the original Pixel was a great phone, the new Pixel 2 is better by every measure:
- At its release, it had the most highly reviewed camera for a smartphone ever
- Uses the new eSIM standard meaning no more easily lost physical sim cards (still has a nano SIM tray if the network doesn't support eSIM)
- Even more resistant to dust and water (IP67 vs. IP53)
- Supports an additional 7 LTE bands so it'll work across more of the world
Why do we recommend the XL over the regular? It's not the camera. They're the same for each Pixel 2 (unlike for iPhones). The main differences are the bigger screen and bigger battery, which are big benefits for traveling. It's better for entertainment on the go and you don't have to charge it as much.
- Spend the extra $100 for the 128GB version to ensure you have enough space
- Another plus: You can get it with Google Fi, a great data option for travelers
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Great Android value option
Despite the S8 coming out, the S7 is still a good option because it's now cheaper, has a camera that's just as good (the S8 didn't update the camera), and works across the world.
- Easily expand its base 32GB memory with a micro SD card yourself.
- Article: Five things I learned traveling with the Galaxy S7 edge