Computex 2018 is over – but I think it’s time we share something more than just the coverage of booths of brands that are present there. We should take a look at the phones we used too. Why? Because smartphones for traveling require battery longevity, camera quality, and speedy performance.

This little editorial is our experience during our coverage of Computex 2018. I personally want to travel light and have as little gear as possible. Thus, we omitted big bulky DSLRs or even micro 4/3 cameras. Tripods however, come in various shape and sizes and it’s really up to you if you want to bring one around – and I omitted that as well.

With great hardware comes great bulk and weight… or do they?

For me personally, I took two phones with me. While many people aren’t particularly keen with the idea of bringing two phones for traveling, I have a few arguments on why.

The performer – Samsung Galaxy S9

It’s no surprise that we here at Nasi Lemak Tech love the Samsung Galaxy S9. We’ve expressed that in our review here. I personally love smaller phones since my time with the Honor 8 – and I’ve always loved flagship smartphones with a smaller size since then.

The Galaxy S9+ is a slightly larger version of the Galaxy S9 and comes with 2x optical zoom too. It offers a lot more flexibility in framing up a shot. Learn more about dual-camera smartphones here.

Samsung Galaxy S9

It takes great pictures at a snap – literally. Pictures taken for our Computex 2018 coverage are mostly just pointing and shooting with the Galaxy S9. Compositions and photographer skills aside, the pictures coming out of the Galaxy S9 looks great with impressive level of details, colors, and overall picture quality. It’s a great smartphone for traveling.

ROG Delta RGB Quad-DAC Gaming Headset
Random point and shoot with the Samsung Galaxy S9 without any editing.

We even took some random videos like the giant NovelKeys Big Switch with the Galaxy S9. Again, just point and shoot.

However, the biggest gripe when it comes to Samsung’s flagship smartphone is always the same thing – its battery. With a measly 3,000mAh battery, the Galaxy S9 couldn’t survive the day on a single charge. A power bank is most certainly needed – and that adds weight. Let’s not forget that having a cable dangling isn’t particularly convenient when you need to move the phone around to take pictures.

Samsung Galaxy S9

And let’s be honest – to be able to take pictures underwater is something that the Galaxy S9 is able to do. Perspective of pictures matter, as we’ve stated here before.

To maximize the battery life of the Galaxy S9, I didn’t insert a SIM card to the Galaxy S9 and strictly used it in WiFi mode only.

The heavy-lifter – ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)

This is a really new smartphone in the market. The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) that we reviewed here is a smartphone that everyone here thought is meant for gaming since ASUS themselves market it as a gaming smartphone. Truth be told, I don’t really like to game on a smartphone. Its camera isn’t particularly great either – but why is it my secondary phone?

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)

The reason is simple – the humongous 5,000mAh battery. Heavy-lifting here means one thing – its endurance. I used the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) as WiFi hotspot for the Galaxy S9 and my laptop for the entire week (didn’t even bother to turn it off) at Taipei. Also, I used the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) as my GPS phone during my commute. At the end of the day, I still have about 40% worth of battery! No power bank is needed for the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) – which is why it’s a great smartphone for traveling. It can technically reserve charge other devices – but the amperage is too low and will take forever to charge.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Smartphone For Traveling
After a day of WiFi hotspot.

Getting a secondary phone means getting a cheap phone – like really cheap. The base model variant of the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is actually selling at RM699 retail (RM599 if you managed to get it during the flash sales) and you get quite a lot of great things for what you paid for. The Snapdragon 636 is actually quite the performer and manages to handle everyday tasks just well.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)
Has a “SIM storage” with the SIM2 slot too.

Could’ve been better if it supports LTE-A, but hey – I wouldn’t download large files while traveling anyway.

Alternative all-rounder – ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

What? Another ASUS phone? Yes, another ASUS phone because this is the one and only smartphone that I can personally think of that can perform a decent job at battery longevity, camera quality, and speedy performance. Of course, it’s a dated smartphone by today’s standard.

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom (38)

It has an okay camera that takes decent pictures – better than the Max Pro (M1) for sure. It also has a telephoto secondary camera. I used the ZenFone 3 Zoom as my one and only smartphone during our trip to Taipei last August. The Snapdragon 625 found in the ZenFone 3 Zoom is still used in many new smartphones in the market today, but once again it is a dated chipset that should be obsolete now. It still gets basic tasks done, though.

The most impressive part of the ZenFone 3 Zoom is the 5,000mAh battery too. It lasts the whole day while still able to take decent pictures, perform the usual tasks other than intensive 3D gaming, become an occasional WiFi hotspot, and last the whole day.

Other smartphones to consider?

Yes, there is a sea of smartphones in the market. I’m sure many other smartphones are suitable for travel too. However, we only have a few phones in our inventory – and hence why we chose these smartphones for traveling instead.

Perhaps the P20 Pro, ZenFone 5, OnePlus 6, or the upcoming OPPO Find X would be great alternatives too?  We’d like to take other smartphones to travel with.