The best Unlocked Smartphone for travel

Updated 1 year ago

If you had to constantly find wi-fi so that your ig story will go through, you’ll probably stop doing it (and subsequently die). Social media addictions aside, it's really hard to go back once you've experienced having data while traveling internationally. So. Much. Easier. An unlocked smartphone that lets you pop in local SIM cards helps you avoid paying exorbitant data roaming fees and needing a separate wi-fi hotspot.


Use SIM card wiki to figure out how to get a local SIM cards anywhere. Use Will My Phone Work to see if your existing smartphone will work in another country.

What we look for
  • The more LTE bands supported, the more countries a phone will work in and the better its signal will be
  • A good camera because "the best camera is the one you have with you," which for most people is their smartphone
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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:

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.

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