Best Phones for International Trips

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Travel Writer


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This is an overview of the best mobile phones for international trips. Read on to learn more.

I’ve tested many phones and spent hours researching the best phones to use when traveling. That research resulted in this guide.

Most Unlocked Phones Will Work

Most unlocked phones will work with international travel, and it doesn’t matter what phone you use. So long as you don’t use pre-paid or burner phones.

Unless the prepaid company supports roaming.


Use frequency check and look for whatever model number you’re interested in buying. You’ll need LTE bands 2, 4, and 12 at the minimum. 12 is a requirement at this point because of VoLTE.

I also don’t recommend using the newest phone unless you’re on a business trip and must impress your peers. Because you’re traveling. You’re more likely to lose your phone. And you don’t want to lose a phone you spent thousands of dollars on.

At the same time, you need a phone with the latest security updates to protect your butt from hackers. You’ll also need a phone with specs good enough to get you decent pictures and to last a long time.

That’s what I’ll cover in this piece. Though there are 2 options, I recommend them as the best for most travelers. Whether you’re an Android or Apple user.

Best Unlocked International Phones

Here are the best unlocked phones for international trips:

  1. iPhone SE 2020: Best iOS phone
  2. Samsung Galaxy S21: Best Android phone

The following sections will cover all the pros and cons of each phone, their specs, and other useful information.

Best Dual SIM Phone for International Travel

1. iPhone SE 2020

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Screen Size4.7 inches
Battery Usage [1]Talk Time: 10.07 hrs
Web Browsing: 13.39 hrs
Video Playback: 8.56 hrs
Rear-facing Camera Megapixels12 mp
Charging TypeLightning
Ingress Protection (IP) RatingIP67
Screen Resolution750 × 1334 pixels


    • Affordable.
    • Great stabilization & video recording.
    • Touch ID sensor.
    • Water-resistant.


    • No USB-C support.
    • Less-than ideal battery life.
    • Includes a slow charger.

The iPhone SE 2020 works best for those obsessed with the Apple ecosystem and want a phone that doesn’t cost too much, yet has many modern features. It’s also great because it’ll get security updates until around September 2025.

This phone offers the most affordability, considering the features it includes. For instance, it has eSIM, which usually results in a phone costing much more. This feature is useful for ordering eSIM services from travel websites and activating it immediately upon landing.

Though eSIM isn’t as reliable—and many providers only offer data with eSIM—it’s a handy alternative to waiting in a line at the airport to pick up a physical SIM card.

The SE doesn’t have the largest screen size, but it’s very compact and will serve as an excellent tool for traveling. I’d imagine you won’t spend the entirety of your trip streaming Disney+ or other streaming services. Thus, the smaller screen should suffice.

If you’re familiar with the iPhone 8 size, that’s what this device’s size is.

I wish I could say the included charger was better. It’s 5 W, meaning it’ll take 2 and a half hours to achieve a full charge. With a 18 W charger, it would take only a couple of hours.

I recommend using a charger with higher wattage to keep your phone fully powered throughout your trip.

Because you’ll need to charge frequently if you use your phone for talking a lot. With 10.07 hours of talk time during a full charge combined with using Apple Maps, a translation app, and your browser, you’ll lose battery fast.

That battery time also doesn’t include background tasks (e.g., synching) that consume battery life.

No iPhones on the market include USB-C charging. But as an Android enjoyer, the lack of USB-C annoys me and is inconvenient since I must buy a separate Lightning cable. Plus, Lightning doesn’t support as many amps as USB-C.

The former supports up to 2.4A; the latter supports up to 5A.

I love the inclusion of Touch ID, which allows you to use biometrics to log into your device, make transactions, or open certain apps. It’s also more reliable than Face ID, which current models use.

It has a high-quality camera that’ll record up to 4K 60 FPS or 1080p 240 FPS. And the stabilization included with the camera is excellent for folks who want to record while walking around. A great vlogging phone camera.

The phone is dual SIM, which means it can support 2 nano SIM cards, 2 eSIM cards, or one of each.

And it has an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 67. The first digit refers to solids protection; the second is liquid. 6 in the first part means it’ll offer total protection against solids (e.g., dust). And the second digit is 1/9.

Since it’s a “7”, it’ll resist water while submerged for up to 3’ 3” for 30 minutes.

Not into Apple phones? Check out the next pick.

Best 5G Phone for International Travel

2. Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

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Screen Size6.2 inches
Battery Usage [2]Talk Time: 10.57 hrs
Web Browsing: 27.30 hrs
Video Playback: 15.10 hrs
Rear-facing Camera MegapixelsWide: 12 mp
Ultrawide: 12 mp
Telephoto: 64 mp
Charging TypeUSB Type-C
Ingress Protection (IP) RatingIP68
Screen Resolution1080 × 2400 pixels


    • Excellent battery life.
    • Adaptive refresh rate.
    • IP68 rating.
    • Triple camera setup.


    • No headphone jack.
    • Box doesn’t include charger.
    • No MicroSD card slot.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is best for travelers looking for a Samsung phone that balances price and features. Meanwhile, they get a device that’ll have security patches until Spring 2026.

This phone’s exceptional battery life will keep your phone alive despite running background tasks, using maps apps, translation apps, and whatever. And you’ll need all the battery life you can get since the phone box doesn’t include a charger.

Adding another expense if you don’t already have a USB-C charger lying around.

It also doesn’t include a headphone jack, which is my biggest gripe. Since it forces users to opt for Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. However, for around an extra $10, you could find a headphone and USB-C adapter.

It transforms your charging port into a headphone or microphone port.

And it doesn’t include a MicroSD card slot, which means you’re forced to rely on cloud memory to add more space on your phone for photos or videos. 

If you’re using the Google Fi Unlimited Plus plan, you’ll get 100 GB of free Google Drive storage. That should give you enough space to store many videos and high-quality images.

And since this phone includes a triple camera setup, you’ll get high-quality videos and photos. I’ve taken some great photos with this device.

The adaptive refresh rate (up to 120 Hz) makes scrolling feel smooth and leads to a great user experience. It won’t help you when traveling, but it’ll make using your phone feel much smoother.

The IP68 rating will help you while traveling, though. Refer to the previous pick as to what the Ingress Protection (IP) rating is. In short, it protects your number from dust and water. The higher the number, the better.

The first digit, being a “6,” means you get maximum dust protection. The second number, an “8,” means your device could stay submerged for 1.5 meters for 30 minutes without breaking down.

This next section has critical information.

If you’re targeting a phone specifically for eSIM, ensure the Samsung Galaxy S21 in your country supports eSIM. I bought mine in Taiwan and didn’t ask whether it helps eSIM. Because I assumed all S21 phones would support it.

And it turns out that I happened to get a model that doesn’t support eSIM. Meaning, I blew a lot of money on a phone to not get a feature I want.

However, I still love its smooth interface, ease of finding cases, and ability to withstand rain and drops.

FAQs for Using Phones Internationally

Keep reading to find commonly asked questions about using phones internationally.

Will Flip Phones Work with International Travel Plans?

Unlocked flip phones will work with international travel cellular plans.

Our Verdict

There aren’t any “best” phones for traveling. However, you’ll want affordable phones that’ll have security updates for years and can support eSIM. All these factors combined will give you the most protection and flexibility when traveling.

Since the world’s divided by Apple and Android users, I chose the best phones both manufacturers offer. Pick whichever one tickles your fancy.

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About Theo

Theodore began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Theo