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The Season’s Best Laptops, Tablets and Phones for Travel

Wi-Fi is widely accessible and there are many options for free or inexpensive roaming data abroad so, what device are you bringing?

Traveler / Photo: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

With the summer travel season upon us, it’s worth considering something beyond just where to go. The right laptops, tablets and phones can let you check email, post to social media, book hotels and flights and more. The best phones even have cameras that rival “real” ones. The best laptops have thin designs and big batteries, and for something highly functional in between those sizes, some tablets have near-laptop levels of processing power. Since Wi-Fi is widely accessible and there are many options for free or inexpensive roaming data abroad, the question becomes: What device are you bringing? Here are some great phones, tablets and laptops that are exceptional for travel.

Samsung Galaxy S23

If you’re in the market for the latest and greatest, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is its newest series of phones. The S23 and S23+ each have three rear-facing cameras including a wide angle, telephoto and main camera with a 50-megapixel sensor for highly detailed images. The larger S23 Ultra has an even higher-capacity 200MP camera and a second telephoto with a 10x optical zoom for close-ups. The fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processors ensure you’re never waiting for a sluggish phone to open apps or games. Each screen is 120Hz-refresh OLED, which offers deep blacks, great contrast, vibrant colors and smooth motion.

HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360 / Photo: Courtesy of HP

If you need a lightweight laptop that runs Windows and has power for video editing or other processor-intensive activity, the HP Spectre x360 line combines a thin design with lots of features. Depending on your needs and budget, there are models with fast Intel i7 processors, dedicated graphics chips and high-resolution touch screens. The latter might not seem essential, but it comes in handy. All models have great battery life and most have lots of RAM. Two even have built-in 5G capability so you can connect to the Internet just about anywhere.

iPad 10th generation

iPad 10th generation / Photo: Courtesy of Apple

The most recent iPad is powerful and highly functional. It’s pricey, for sure, but it can just about do it all. Add in an optional keyboard and it’s almost a laptop. And in some ways it’s better than a laptop, especially for travel, since you can download videos from many streaming apps to watch when you don’t have Internet, like on a plane. Few apps offer that capability on Windows. If you want something a little faster, the older iPad Air is slightly more expensive, but more powerful.

Pixel 7

Pixel 7 / Photo: Courtesy of Google

While all the headlines go to Samsung Galaxys and iPhones, Google makes its own line of high-performing phones for less money. I’ve had several iterations of the Pixel, including the 2, 4, 5 and now the 7. They all had excellent cameras, beautiful OLED screens and more. They feature a bloat-free version of the Android operating system, and regularly receive unique features before any other Android phone. The cameras are really the best aspect, using impressive Google processing tech to get images that rival those of more expensive phones and even some cameras, especially in low light. Most likely the 7a will be available by the time you read this, which will have most of the features of the 7 for even less money.

Microsoft Surface Go 3

Microsoft Surface Go 3 / Photo: Courtesy of Microsoft

I traveled with earlier versions of this for years and they were fantastic. Roughly the size of a tablet, it’s actually a PC that runs Windows. Basically, it can do just about anything a full-size laptop can do except video editing or gaming. For work on the go it offers an amazing combination of size, battery life and functionality. Best of all, it recharges via USB-C, like a portable USB battery pack, similar to the charge you get on your phone. You’ll be able to work and surf the Internet without an outlet. It’s a little expensive compared to what you can get with a full-size laptop, but its convenience is worth it.