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There’s nothing like a long travel day to turn your fancy smartphone into an expensive brick. As processors get faster and phones get thinner, finding a phone that even lasts a full day of exploring remains a challenge.
Fortunately, if you’re sick of seeing the battery icon turn red by mid-afternoon, you do have a few options. Whether you’re on a budget, need something that can handle bad weather and hard pavements, or are after a premium phone that doesn’t compromise on longevity, we’ve got you covered.
Here are six of the best smartphones with great battery life, all of which will get you through even the lengthiest long-haul flight without breaking a sweat.
Best Overall: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom
If you’re looking for exceptional battery life in a phone that doesn’t cost a fortune, it’s hard to go past the Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom. The 5000mAh battery is one of the largest you’ll find in any smartphone, and means you can often go two to three days before needing to find a charger.
In another bonus for travelers, the Zoom comes with a dual-camera setup that gives up to 2.3x optical zoom. That’s quite a bit for a phone camera, although as with most low to mid-range smartphones, shots are better in well-lit outdoor scenes than cloudy or low-light situations.
While the CPU isn’t the fastest on the market, there’s little unnecessary software bloat, and enough memory to get good performance. The standard model has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (there’s also a 4GB/64GB version), with a crisp, bright 5.5″ screen.
With a USB-C charger and micro-SD slot for adding extra storage, the phone is relatively future-proof. There’s also a headphone jack, which is one of those things that oddly seems harder to find the more you pay for your device. The metal design is quite attractive, or at least not ugly, although we’d have liked to see some sort of water resistance.
Overall, there’s plenty to like about the Zenfone 3 Zoom, and it’s easy to recommend as our top overall choice for travelers looking for a phone with great battery life.
Best From a Flagship Phone: Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Want exceptional battery life, but don’t want to compromise anything else to get it? Buy the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
This device has all the hardware you’d expect from a premium smartphone in 2018, including a powerful Kirin 970 chipset, vibrant 6″ display, and one of the best dual-camera setups out there. It comes in two varieties, with either 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, or 6GB/128GB. The phone is water and dust-resistant, with a stylish metal and glass design.
That Kirin 970 chipset is quite efficient, and when coupled with the large 4000mAh battery and smart AI features that tweak apps based on your usage, you end up with a device that lasts a long time between charges.
You’ll easily get two days of normal usage out of it, and it’ll get back up to nearly 60% after just half an hour on the included charger. That’s impressive for a powerful, feature-packed flagship phone like this.
Pricing is on par with other high-end Android devices, so if you’re in the market for a premium smartphone that’ll get you through the day no matter what, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro should be at the top of your list.
Best for Handling Whatever You Throw at It: Cat S41
If you want a phone that can deal with all the rigours of travel, and doesn’t need charging every night after doing so, check out the Cat S41. It’s not slim or lightweight, and it won’t be winning fashion awards any time soon either. Instead, it’s a seriously rugged smartphone that’ll handle anything from drops to drowning, and come back for more.
With 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (plus a micro-SD slot for adding more,) and a bright 5″ display, the basic specs are about what you’d expect. The IP68 rating, though, means it can handle being submerged under six feet of water for an hour, or a drop from head height onto concrete.
Thanks to the 5000mAh battery, coupled with that relatively small screen and mid-range processor, the phone lasts nearly 16 hours on rundown tests, and two days in the real world. It has fast charging built in, and you can even use it to power up other devices, with a threshold to ensure it still has enough juice left for itself.
The downside of this phone is its camera. Unless you’ll only be shooting in bright, sunny conditions, you’ll want to take most of your photos with something else. For the money, Cat really should have done better with this.
Still, if you’re not bothered by the poor photos, and know you’ll be heading to places where conditions are rough and charging sockets are few, you could do a lot worse than the Cat S41.
Best for Keyboard Lovers: Blackberry KeyOne
While Blackberry will never dominate the corporate market like it did a decade ago, the once-iconic brand hasn’t disappeared completely. If you’re after a business-focused device with a useful keyboard, strong security, and great battery life, check out the KeyOne.
The phone has a premium feel, with an anodised aluminium body and grippy, textured back. The 4.5″ screen is bright and colourful, and its size is deceptive — with no on-screen keyboard, there’s as much useful space as most larger phones, at least when you’re typing.
It’s the time between charges we’re here to talk about though, and the 3505mAh battery doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It should easily last through a long-haul flight or rushing around the city for hours, and with light to moderate use, you’ll often get well into the next day before reaching for the charger.
The keyboard doubles as a touchpad, which is the perfect way to keep fingerprints off the screen, and the camera is fine, albeit not best of class. 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage are enough for all but the most demanding of users. There’s also a 3GB/32GB model, if you’re looking to save a bit of money.
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Best for Durable Security: Blackberry Motion
If you’ve got fond memories of your old Blackberry, but don’t feel the need to go back to a physical keyboard, check out the Motion.
The water and dust-resistant metal body is strong and solid, with an anti-scratch screen coating and rubberised back that won’t easily slip out of your hand. The fingerprint sensor works well, and while the 5.5″ 1080p display doesn’t stand out, the brightness and colours are perfectly adequate.
The battery life, however, is the phone’s best feature. The company rates the 4000mAh cell to last 32+ hours, and in the real world, it’s not uncommon to get two days of use out of it. When you do need to juice it back up again, the supplied Quick Charge 3.0 USB-C fast charger soon gets you back to 100%, and there’s a Boost mode for even faster charging.
Other aspects of the phone aren’t quite so exciting, though, with a midrange chipset and average camera. If you’re hoping for blistering performance and great photos, you’re best looking elsewhere. For those who want great battery life in a durable device, coupled with Blackberry’s focus on security, however, the Motion is well worth a look.
Best Under $200: Asus Zenfone 4 Max
On paper, the Asus Zenfone 4 Max isn’t an exciting phone. Chipset, memory, and storage specifications are all lower than the other devices on this list, and performance and usability suffer as a result.
So why are we including it? Three simple reasons: it’s cheap, the camera isn’t bad, and it lasts forever on a single charge. The 5000mAh battery, coupled with a low-resolution 5.5″ screen, means the phone lasts over 15 hours on benchmark tests. In the real world, that translates to two days of regular use before you need to find a charger.
While the dual-camera setup is nowhere near as good as the current crop of premium phones, it’s not terrible for the money. Somewhat unusually, the second camera is a wide-angle one, so you get a bit more versatility than normal. Coupled with a range of shooting and enhancement options, you’ll usually get usable photos, at least in good lighting.
The Zenfone 4 Max does have a couple of final tricks up its sleeve. It’s one of the few dual-SIM phones you’ll find in the US, and there’s also a micro-SD slot, which you’ll undoubtedly want to use to make up for the meager onboard storage.
If low cost, long battery life, and a non-awful camera are your main criteria for buying a phone, you’ve found it here.
Images via rawpixel (main image), Asus (Zenfone 3 Zoom and Zenfone 4 Max), Huawei (Mate 10 Pro), Caterpillar (Cat S41), Blackberry (KeyOne and Motion).