How often are you out with the grandparents or on a playdate when a picture-perfect moment happens? Then it lives on your phone forever, or maybe on social media. Imagine if you could instead bring those images to life, instantly. Instant portable photo printers can do just that.
All you need is your smartphone and a Bluetooth connection. Tuck a mini phone printer into your backpack and you’ll be the life of the party, school field trip or volunteer gathering. Get a great group photo and give it to everyone right then and there. Or how about goodie bags with a fun photo tucked inside? Sign the back and there’s no need to mail thank you notes after the next birthday party! Instant gratification is what portable photo printers are all about. Here’s a snapshot of the best photo printers on the market.
1. Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3
Taking cute party pics is a snap with Fujifilm’s sleek, modern-looking Instax Share SP-3. It essentially lets you turn your smartphone into an instant camera. Completely wireless, it gets up to about 160 prints on a charge. Lights on the front tell you how many prints you have left. The square photos have a white paper border, giving them that retro Polaroid-style instant camera print look. Photo pops out and develops in front of you in a couple of minutes, just like back in the 70’s with old-school Polaroid camera prints. Add text to your photos to make images with special messages. Imagine guests leaving with a keepsake that says “Grandpa Turns 80” or “Jim & Sue Celebrate 25 Years Together.” You get the picture!
2. HP Sprocket
About the size of a cell phone, this pocket-size portable printer weighs only 6 ounces. It comes with its own travel case, making it perfect for throwing into your jacket, purse or diaper bag. Despite its small size, it prints a surprisingly high quality photo. The HP Sprocket portable photo printer prints 2-inch by 3-inch photos from your favorite phone pics, using Bluetooth technology via the free Sprocket App (where you can also add bright borders, emojis, and photo captions to pictures). The photo paper doubles as a sticker, too.
3. Polaroid Zip
About the same size as the HP Sprocket, Polaroid Zip’s another perfect choice to bring along if you’re traveling. Connect via Bluetooth to Polaroid’s Snaptouch App, which lets you instantly edit and customize photos with stickers and fun frames before printing. It prints on Zinc paper, which you can get in sticker or plain. Zink stands for “zero ink,” meaning there’s no need for ink or toner cartridge; it’s easier for you and the environment, as there’s less waste going into landfills. It can print up to 25 photos before it needs to be recharged with the enclosed charging cable.
4. Canon Ivy Mini
This cute, compact phone printer can be taken anywhere to print fun 2-inch by 3-inch photos with a peel-and-stick back—perfect for decorating notebooks, journals, electronics, etc. Like most mini phone printers, it’s not designed to work with desktop or laptop computers and won’t have the detail and color accuracy of a traditional photo printer. But it’s tiny and easy to use, making it one of the best mini phone printers on the market. The Canon Ivy Mini Photo Printer comes in rose gold, mint green and gray, with 10 pieces of Zinc photo paper.
5. Victure Portable Photo Printer
At nearly 4 pounds, this portable photo printer’s a bit bulkier than the rest. Its paper tray makes it look more like a traditional printer, but what it lacks in portability, it makes up for in higher quality 4-inch by 6-inch photos. The only portable photo printer with a five star rating on Amazon, Victure prints from Android or IOS phones or your camera’s memory card. You can also use Victure’s Instant Color App to create cards and collages.
6. Epson PictureMate PM-400
Although this is the largest of the portable photo printers, weighing 6 pounds, it produces photos that are as good as those you’d get from a photo lab. Unlike most of these printers, you can also plug it into your computer (Mac or PC). The Epson PictureMate can also print documents, making it a nice addition to any home office. Plus, it’s portable enough to bring out for special occasions, like a party, where guests would be thrilled to head home with a quality photo. Epson sells 4-inch by 6-inch print packs for about $30. You get 100 sheets of paper along with the ink cartridge. That comes out to about 30 cents per print. This portable photo printer can also pop out 5-inch by 7-inch and 3.5-inch by 5-inch photos. This is the best portable phone printer if you’re looking for photo lab quality photos.
7. Kodak Smile Instant Digital Printer
Although the quality of the printed photos may not be the best, the simplicity of this portable phone printer will bring a smile to your face. The Kodak Smile App lets you crop, correct color and lighting, and add fun filters before printing. It works with iPhone, iPad, Android and other smart devices. It fully charges in two hours via the supplied USB cable, and provides up to 40, 2-inch by 3-inch photos per charge. Kodak Smile photos have peel-off sticky backs so they can be used for scrapbooking and other fun projects.
8. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
The successor to the Instax Share SP-3 photo printer, the lighter Instax Mini Link works via a revamped, user-friendly app. Choose a photo on your phone, then swipe up to print. Just like the Instax SP-3, it prints out classic Polaroid-style pics. However, these are a bit smaller and rectangular, instead of square. One notable new addition is the ability to print a frame from your videos and the option to choose from 30 fun filters or borders. Zoom in by tilting the printer back and forth. It takes only 12 seconds to print; then simply swipe the printer to reprint. It comes in white, navy blue and cotton candy pink, and can be bundle purchased with a rainbow of colorful plastic frames, perfect for gift giving or displaying in your own home.
9. Canon Selphy CP 1300
Just under 2 pounds, this wireless photo printer uses a different printing process called dye sublimation, where four colors are printed one after the other, so printing takes a little longer. Print 4-inch by 6-inch photos via Apple AirPrint, your camera’s SD memory Card, a USB drive or directly from Instagram or Facebook via Canon’s App. Photo booth fans will love the Selphy CP 1300’s layout option to print 2-inch by 6-inch photo strips. Set up a fun backdrop at the next school dance or party, and you’ve got a DIY photo booth! An optional battery pack makes this phone printer perfectly portable.
Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy award-winning freelance journalist, mother of three and Master Gardener. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Daily Herald, Cruise Critic, Midwest Living and more. She enjoys sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet hometown, Chicago. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @AndreaGuthmann, or on her own website, Garden Trippin’.
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