Two-way translation devices for travel

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At some point during every adventure, you’ll need to communicate with a local—whether it’s giving directions to a taxi driver, asking for recommendations, or (worst-case scenario) explaining symptoms to a doctor. The best way to prepare? Get one of the best pocket translators.

In short: the best pocket translators

Pocket translators are compact devices that quickly translate between two languages ​​in real time (though they usually work with multiple languages). This means you can speak into the device and it will quickly speak a phrase in the intended language. Because pocket translators are designed specifically for translation, these devices are much faster and more advanced than your regular smartphone translator app. For example, if you’re fluent in two languages, you know that Google Translate often makes odd choices or mistakes (especially if you’re using slang, working with accents, or trying to speak casually).

With the best pocket translators, you’ll get smooth, natural communication in both directions – regardless of the speaker’s voice. If you’re looking for a more satisfying, safer travel experience, check out the best pocket translators below.

Best Pocket Translators to Buy Online

Whether you’re traveling or just learning a new language at home, the best pocket translators below provide an easy and effective communication tool for two-way translation and conversation. We created this list by testing pocket translators in several scenarios, using both voice-to-text and text-to-text translation. We also compared our experiences with reviews from other experts and customers before recommending the translators below. All are available from trusted retailers with an average customer rating of at least 3.7/5 stars.

Best Pocket Translators 2024: Two-Way Translation Devices for Travel

Editor’s Choice

Pocketalk is one of the biggest brands of pocket translators, and their S model is the best pocket translator we’ve tested. Here are the language specs for the Pocketalk S, taken from their site: “61 voice two-way, 21 voice to text two-way, and up to 37 lesser-known voice to text languages ​​one-way. The camera will recognize and translate 55 languages.” In short, most of the languages ​​loaded on the Pocketalk S work for voice-to-speaker translation both ways, which is a huge plus, while the rest may require reading from one or more participants. In our tests, the built-in LTE data connection was fast and the interface was seamless. Plus, the Pocketalk S is smaller than an iPhone, making it very easy to carry around.

Best Pocket Translators 2024: Two-Way Translation Devices for Travel


Another highly recommended pocket translator is the Vasco V4. The smartphone-style device has a very simple interface, making it easy to let strangers get their bearings if necessary. It supports 108 languages ​​(76 are voice-enabled), so you’ll probably have every conversation covered. This one also uses a built-in SIM card for data connectivity, which you’ll never have to pay for. It’s very similar to the Pocketalk S, but the Pocketalk’s slightly smaller size was the deciding factor for us; our pockets tend to fill up quickly when we’re travelling.

Best Pocket Translators 2024: Two-Way Translation Devices for Travel

Headphone translator

In-ear translators are another type of pocket translator. They’re usually smaller (about the size of AirPods) and great for discreet audio translation at any time. However, you’re giving up the ability to translate photos and text. If you’re going to go with in-ear headphones, opt for the Timekettle M3s. You can share them with someone and have a quick, natural conversation without a device inside. 40 languages ​​are loaded into the app, and a 25-hour battery life with the charging case (7.5 hours of continuous use) gives the M3s more power than the above options.

Pocket Translator Buying Guide

Since they are a relatively new invention, it can be difficult to tell the good pocket translators from the bad ones. Below are some of the features we looked for when shopping for the best pocket translators.

Languages: Of course, the more languages ​​the better, which is why we’ve selected translators with dozens of languages ​​(up to 104 in the most advanced). However, you want to make sure your pocket translator is fluent in all of the languages ​​it supports. For example, some translators may support fewer languages ​​than others, but they may also offer faster, more accurate translations. If you don’t plan on using too many languages, simply look for a high-quality translator that can capture the intended language.

Communication:Most pocket translators have built-in data connections for translation without any other device or WiFi connection. Some also work by connecting to a smartphone and using the phone’s data or WiFi connection. The former (translators with built-in data) have the advantage of being able to use them anywhere and anytime without a WiFi or smartphone connection.

Battery life: Keeping your devices charged is always a challenge when you’re on the go, and it’s also a disaster when your device runs out of juice (like when you’re miles away from your hotel and completely lost). Battery life on pocket translators varies wildly (even among the higher-end models), so keep that in mind when shopping.

Data: As mentioned, most of the best pocket translators use built-in data connections to function. Fortunately, all of our data-connected picks include a free two-year data plan. You’ll still want to check two things about data, though: coverage, and the cost of paying for data after the two free years.

How We Picked the Best Pocket Translators

We spent a lot of time testing pocket translators, playing around with dozens of languages. But we also used them in real-life English-Spanish and English-French conversations, and on a multi-day trip to Portugal, having a few conversations and using the camera function to translate texts. After testing, we looked at customer reviews and reviews from other experts to choose the options above.