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What every globetrotter needs to know about mobile devices

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So it’s finally here — your first assignment in a foreign country.

It’s your chance to show your company you not only can “wow” clients domestically but internationally as well. You’ve been confidently telling everyone that your language of success is soon going to be spoken worldwide. But secretly, you’re getting anxious about everything from cultural etiquette to speaking the language to what to pack.

Make sure you bring along a mobile device — it’s more vital than ever for travelers to have instant access to the Internet and also for you keep easy track of your records. But even the “phone or tablet?” question is adding to your pre-trip jitters. Here’s some advice to help.

 

Pro-phone

Right now the key differences between the devices are functionality and size. Both can browse the Internet and store data, but only phones can perform incoming and outgoing calls. If you’re traveling internationally, you likely will need to make phone calls or texts at some point and may not be able to use the one at your hotel or remote office. Amy Gahran, a writer for Entrepreneur, said the pros of smartphones are they generally have longer batteries than tablets and can be easily stored in a purse or pocket rather than carried in the open or a computer bag.

 

Pro-tablet

Techradar said your decision should come down to what you want to accomplish and your price range. Tablets have larger displays than phones, which could be handy for any presentations you’ll need to give while abroad, and even watching movies or reading e-books on those long flights. Their larger size and a keyboard add-on can make it easier to type for those who don’t necessarily like the tiny, unforgiving key characters of a phone. And though it doesn’t dial out, if you have a fast enough Internet connection, you can use a streaming video chat service like Skype.

 

Power

Whether you opt for a smart phone or a tablet, you’ll need some way to keep it charged, especially on the plane. An international flight can potentially be 10-12 hours long, which may exceed the life of even a fully-charged battery. Then when you get to your destination, you’ll have to make sure your plug-in charger has the correct voltage or you’ll need a special adaptor. Your phone carrier may offer some solutions — T-mobile for instance offers a variety of chargers and portable battery packs to offer extra life to your device.

 

Data Charges

To avoid big phone bills, you may also need to modify your phone’s data plan or that of your employer’s if you use a company-owned device. Since most packages focus on domestic use, you may need to contact your carrier to authorize a switch to international use. Likewise, you need to control when it searches for the nearest signal — this process called roaming may also increase your charges, especially in another country. Smartphone users wanting to save money and data can disable wi-fi in the air, or purchase Internet from the airline. When you’re in the other country, try a free app like Open Signal to get a map of nearby cellular coverage and public networks. It also offers details on total and remaining data.