Choosing which pocket translator to buy can be a daunting task. This article is written to help you understand the different features a pocket translator has so you can decide which one is right for you. This article will touch all aspects of a handheld translator, from ease of use to amount of languages covered to translation quality and extra features.

Supported Languages

First things first, a language translator will help you to understand your conversation partner. Therefore, it is important that the device you purchase supports the language(s) you want to translate. Keep in mind that you might not need specific language support right now but who knows where your next travels will take you. Try to look for a pocket translator which supports as many as possible languages, so you never find yourself in a situation where even your pocket translator is at a loss of words. The latest pocket translators support more than 155 languages in one device, like the Travis Touch Go translator.

Two Way Translations

When looking for a portable translator, you will surely have seen these two terms thrown around a lot: two way translator and one way translator. But what does this mean? It’s quite simple, a two-way translator can translate a conversation both from your language to your conversation partner’s language and back. That’s 2 ways. A one-way translator on the other hand can only translate from your language to a limited amount of other languages but can not translate your conversation partner’s language back to you. And let’s be fair, a conversation where only one side understands the other isn’t really a conversation is it? Make sure to choose a 2 way translator by reading our guide on which translator performs the best in 2020.

Translation Quality

Even more important than how many languages your translator translates is the quality of those translations. And it is exactly here where most smart translator’s weak point lies. There are two things to look out for: how many translation engines does the translator use and is it AI assisted?

Translation Engines

Pocket translators use one or more translation engines in order to translate your conversation. A translation engine is the software that runs the translation, like Google Translate for example. The general rule here is the more translation engines used, the better your translations will be as the translator can pull from multiple translation sources to provide the best real time translation possible for your specific language pair.

Artificial Intelligence Assistance

How does the translation device know which translation is accurate and which one isn’t? That’s where artificial intelligence comes in. AI can be trained to identify accurate and less accurate translations and decide which one to use in specific scenarios. Look for a translator which is AI powered for the best translation results. This way, your pocket translator gets smarter every time you use it.

Stand-alone or app assisted?

There are 2 kinds of translation devices available. Stand-alone devices and app assisted devices. While at first sight they might look like they both do the same thing, it’s important to note that while stand-alone devices can translate without the need of using an extra phone + app, app assisted devices always require the presence of a phone with a special app running at the same time.

You will have to pair your app assisted translator over Bluetooth to your phone and control the translator through the app.

These app assisted translators can be cheaper than their stand-alone counterparts but are a whole lot less easy to use and require you to fumble with your phone, an app and the device at the same time. There is also the risk you could end up having your phone stolen when taking it out in less safe places and handing it over to a stranger.
You can easily recognize app-assisted translators as these generally don’t have a screen. Do your research here as some app assisted translation devices try to hide the fact that a phone and an app are needed when using their device.

Microphone & Speaker Quality

Traveling can be noisy. Whether you find yourself in a loud bazaar, negotiating for that nice antique lamp or talking to you cab driver from the back seat, you want your conversation to be picked up effortlessly by the pocket translator’s microphone and you want to make sure the speakers go loud enough so you can hear the translation as well. Look for a pocket translator with dual noise cancelling microphones so every word is picked up clearly and accurately. When it comes to the speaker, a 5W or above speaker will do a great job at providing a crystal clear playback.


When it comes to screens, look for devices with a touch screen. This will make using your digital translator a whole lot easier. Tap on the languages you want to translate and you’re good to go. Size wise, you’re looking for something big enough to read the translations comfortably on while not compromising portability. 2.4 inch is the sweet spot.


Fast translations are key during a conversation. That’s where a good processor comes in. The latest universal translators come equipped with quad core processors. Perfect for near instant translations.

Ease of use

A pocket translator should be easy to use. Look for pocket translators that support your native language as system language so you can have all the menus and settings in your own language. Another nice feature to have are voice commands. With voice commands, you can select the languages you want to translate by stating a command such as “Select English to French”. The translator will then automatically select those both languages.


You don’t want to find yourself out of battery in the middle of a conversation. A big battery will come in handy here. 2500mAh and above will get you a few days worth of autonomy.


Mobile Hotspot

No one likes roaming charges but keeping your devices online while traveling has become a necessity. Some pocket translators can turn into a mobile Hotspot and share their internet connection. This way you can connect multiple devices to one internet Hotspot (created by your translator) and thus only use one SIM card to keep all your devices connected.

4G Connection

Does my translator really need to be connected to the internet in order to translate? To answer that question, we need to look at why a translation device would benefit from and internet connection. When connected to the internet, your pocket translator can harness the power of a whole lot more translation engines (remember we spoke about translation engines earlier one). And this ability to use more translation engines when online results in a whole lot faster and more accurate translations in a much wider variety of languages.
When using your pocket translator offline, a limited amount of languages will be available, and translations will work better with simple words or short phrases.
Luckily, keeping your translator online is less of a daunting task than it sounds. If WiFi is available just connect to the WiFi network. You could also share your phone’s connection through mobile Hotspot.

Want to keep your device connected to the internet at all times? That’s where 4G comes in. Just insert a 4G enabled SIM card in your pocket translator and enjoy the best translation quality and speed wherever you go. There are even affordable SIM cards available which come with pre-loaded data which can be used in many countries without any extra costs. Look for “global SIM card” and you’ll easily find one for less than 30$.

And here we have it, a full guide on what to look for when buying a pocket translator. For more info on what to do after you’ve made your purchase decision, check out our 6 tips to get the best out of your new pocket translator!

Now go out there and explore the world. Language is no longer a barrier!

If you have more questions about purchasing a pocket translator, contact us and we’ll get back to you in no time.

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