Best smartphones for business travel in 2019 [spec comparison]

Best smartphones for business travel in 2019 [spec comparison]

  • Finding the right smartphone will depend on what type of traveller you are: frequent flyer, happy snapper, storage guru, or global roamer.
  • A business phone plan means better customer support, tax benefits and additional perks.
  • Want to earn points on your phone plan? There are options with both Qantas and Virgin.

With both small and large businesses increasingly looking to penetrate new markets, it’s inevitable that travel will take up a portion of your – or your team’s – time.

But there are so many variables when you’re out on the road: flight delays, roadworks, hotel booking mix-ups, cancellations and even last-minute rescheduling for the actual business meetings.

With so much that could potentially go wrong, it’s important to always be available should you need to change your plan of attack.

That’s why communication is so essential for businesses that operate in this hyper-connected marketplace. While a lightweight laptop is great for finalising that pitch deck on the plane, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you’re contactable 24/7 with a sturdy, long-lasting smartphone should the unexpected occur.

But – I hear you ask – how are you supposed to choose between the hundreds of phones available, all with ridiculous specifications too confusing to understand? And the difficulty of that decision is only compounded if you have different needs for local and international travel.

Well, fear no more. We’ve compiled some of the best new smartphones for business travel. So take a gander and then check out our specs list to find the right device for you.

Difference between personal and business phone contracts

Woman on mobile phone while using laptop

The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you’ll be using this smartphone as your personal device as well as for work needs, or if you’ll invest in a business phone – or even a ‘fleet’ of them if you want to bring your whole team into the mix.

Remember, though, that just like a personal versus business credit card, there’s always the question of liability. While it might take a bit longer to set up a business phone plan, over the long term it could mean you aren’t prone to the same security and financial issues as you would be if your personal device were compromised.

According to some research, if you’re a small business owner then getting on a business plan may not offer enough benefits to make it worthwhile. For larger operations, however, it’s wise to consider the business plans available.

The ‘big three’ in the world of business phone contracts are Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. All their plans are postpaid and, depending on how much data you need, you can expect to pay around the $40–$50/month mark. However, it’s worth looking at all the plans, as Optus’s $30/month plan only includes 3GB of data, but bump it up with an extra $20 to $50/month and you can get up to 80GB of data – all but necessary for most business travellers.

Here are some of the other perks of jumping on a business plan:

  • Customer support: Like any business plan – whether it’s a credit card, frequent-flyer scheme or otherwise – you can usually expect a much higher quality of customer support with a business phone contract. Most providers will fast-track you through call support, meaning shorter queues for when you need to make business decisions fast.
  • Tax: Incorporated businesses have to go on a business phone plan in order to make work-related claims on mobile use for tax purposes.
  • Extras: Depending on when you sign up, providers will offer a range of different perks to get you over the line. For example, Telstra recently had a deal going that offered a free subscription to Microsoft Office 365 with every business phone plan.

Communication is so essential for businesses that operate in this hyper-connected marketplace

Finding the right smartphone for your needs

Once you’ve decided on a plan, it’s time to make the big choice: which smartphone is right for you, your business and your unique circumstances? For instance, if you’re constantly on the go and taking calls without a charger in sight, you want a phone that will use as little juice as possible while active.

On the other hand, if your job requires you to snap photos and take videos while you’re travelling for business, you’ll want some modern hardware and plenty of storage to get the job done right.

We’ve broken things down into four different traveller types, and offer some recommendations according to those particular needs.

1. Frequent travellers

Businessman travelling while using mobile phone

Whether it’s on long-haul journeys in the car, interstate train travel or overseas flights, you want a smartphone that can keep up with you. You also don’t want to waste precious luggage weight on extra battery packs because your phone can’t handle half a day of activity without needing a recharge.

When comparing smartphones, focus on the battery. Anything over 3,500mAh is solid, but when you’re not sure how long you’ll have to go without a power outlet, something at 5,000mAh like the G7 Power is your best bet.

Recommendations: Motorola Moto G7 Power; BLU VIVO XL4.

2. For capturing lots of photos and videos

Taking photos of sunset on mobile phone

The need to take high-quality photos and videos isn’t restricted to Instagram celebrities. And while you may not need the very best camera on the market – arguably the Galaxy S10 Plus – you’ll still want enough megapixels to make the job professional.

Absolutely take the megapixels into account, but focus more on the rear camera than the front. Also, if you’re going to take hundreds (or thousands) of photos over the course of a trip and don’t want to spend every few hours uploading them to the cloud, make sure the smartphone has enough storage space.

Recommendations: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus; OnePlus 6T; Nokia 6.1.

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3. Heavy storage needs

Cloud storage on laptop

Speaking of heavy storage needs, nothing clutters a phone more than an overload of PDF files and image-heavy documents – not to mention how apps like Dropbox can inexplicably start downloading your old files onto your phone.

You’ll likely have to shell out a bit more for a phone with plenty of storage and heaps of RAM, but if the job calls for it then you might as well invest in the best.

Recommendations: Google Pixel 3 (128GB model); OnePlus 6T.

4. International roamers

Man using international roaming on phone

Those who trek abroad and don’t particularly have any specific needs may decide their smartphone preference doesn’t really have much bearing on their activities. That being said, if you’re overseas you can sometimes pick up a high-quality phone (for cheap) that’s not yet available in Australia.

Case in point: the OnePlus 6T. This beast of a smartphone is super-cheap – compared to phones with comparable specs and converted from US to AU dollars – but likely won’t get a release in Australia.

Alternatively, having a common phone like an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel means even if you have issues while overseas, you can find plenty of places that will know how to fix it. Consider the higher entry cost as a blessing for international roamers – those who choose the smaller-name brands and low-budget phones might run into trouble if their smartphones start acting up in a non-English-speaking country.

Recommendations: iPhone XR; Samsung Galaxy S9+; Google Pixel 3; OnePlus 6T.

Check the specs

Google Pixel 3iPhone XROnePlus 6TMotorola Z3 PlayMotorola Moto G7 PowerBLU VIVO XL4Samsung Galaxy S9+Nokia 6.1
Release18 Oct 201826 Oct 186 Nov 201816 Aug 201822 Mar 20196 Dec 201816 Mar 20186 Apr 2018
Dimensions68.2mm x 145.6mm75.7mm x 150.9 mm74.8mm x 157.5mm76.5mm x 156.5mm76mm x 159.4mm76.2mm x 157.2mm73.8mm x 158.1mm75.8mm x 148.8mm
OSAndroid 9iOS 12Android 9Android 8Android 9Android 8.1 Android 8Android 8
Resolution2160 x 10801792 x 8282280 x 10802160 x 10801520 x 7201920 x 10802960 x 14401920 x 1080
CPUSnapdragon 845A12 BionicSnapdragon 845Snapdragon 636Snapdragon 632Octa-coreExynos 9810Snapdragon 630
Camera12.2MP (rear)
8MP (front)
12MP (rear)
7MP (front)
16MP (rear)
16MP (front)
12MP (rear)
8MP (front)
12MP (rear)
8MP (front)
13MP (rear)
2MP (front)
12MP (rear)
8MP (front)
16MP (rear)
8MP (front)
ProsSolid battery, camera and powerCheap by Apple's standardsSuper-fast and heaps of storageMoto mods for extra featuresExceptional battery lifeCheapFantastic resolutionGreat longevity
ConsLow RAM means memory issuesNo dual lenses in rear cameraNo launch plans in Aus (yet)Battery life not up to snuffPoor-resolution screenLow pixel density screenOnly minor improvements over S8Small screen size

Take your points further with the right smartphone

But it shouldn’t just be about the hardware. You should also get rewarded for choosing the right phone plan. Luckily, both Virgin and Qantas have linked up with phone providers to offer customers a system that rewards them for regular phone use and bill payments.

For a few years now Qantas has partnered with Vodafone to offer sign-up points across the phone provider’s range of Red Plus plans – including Red Global Business plans.

Similarly, you can earn Virgin Velocity Points on – you guessed it – Virgin Mobile plans. You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on Virgin Mobile post-paid accounts.

Whether you’re an infrequent business traveller, or always on the road, or a regular overseas flyer for major international events, having the right smartphone by your side can mean you’re always within reach should business plans change.