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The best portable phone photo printers help bring the digital world into the physical realm. They’re the perfect bridge between the Polaroids of the 20th Century and the Portrait Mode of the 21st.
Back in the year 2000, Kodak announced a surprising statistic to the world — an estimated 80 billion photos were taken that year. That seemed like a lot of photos at the time, but now that the average person has traded in DSLRs and pocket cameras for smartphones, consumers now capture more than 1.3 trillion photos annually, per The New York Times. Yet even as the raw number of photos increases thanks to Instagram boyfriends and 4K smartphone cameras, many people no longer use physical pictures at all. And we think that’s a damn shame.
Even though smartphones pack a lot of technology into a tiny package, there are still some elements of the “good old days” that a lot of people miss. One of the biggest is physical pictures. While we love having all of our photos instantly accessible on our phones and in the cloud, we also love things we can hold in our hands, stick to our walls or show relatives. Another benefit to physical photos is that they won’t be lost if you happen to lose your phone or account. And, somewhat impressively, most quality photos can last for up to 100 years before they start disintegrating.
If you love to hold photos in your hands rather than viewing them on a screen, it’s time to start printing your pictures again. With the best phone photo printers, you can print your pictures instantly on the spot. These portable printers are a great way to share special moments with friends and ensure you have a physical reminder for years to come. And, as a bonus, most printed pictures are also stickers, which means you can cover your walls, computer and office with your favorite snapshots — all taken from your phone.
In this post, we’re going to review the best portable photo printers for sale in 2021. Brands like Kodak, Polaroid, HP and Fujifilm all make excellent printers, most of which can fit right in your pocket or purse.
What to Consider Before Buying a Portable Phone Photo Printer
When it comes to choosing the right portable photo printer, there are a number of factors you need to take into account as different printers offer various benefits. Each one has features that you may or may not find useful. If you want to print pictures from social media or your phone, here are some of the things you’ll need to decide on before you make a purchase:
- Size: One of the biggest questions you need to answer is what size printer you want to carry around with you. Some devices really are pocket-sized, while others are a little too big to comfortably keep with you at all times. Finally, there are models that are by definition portable but are more like small desk printers.
- Photo Prints: If you’re interested in colorful, clear and vibrant photos, then look for ZINC photo printers, which produce higher quality prints. Otherwise, you can expect the grainy, retro-style pictures made famous by Polaroid. Finally, some photo prints come with sticky backs for creating photo walls.
- Connectivity: The best portable photo printers offer connectivity via Bluetooth, WiFi, USB and Lightning connections for both Android and iOS devices. That being said, some of the printers below feature WiFi but not Bluetooth, or vice versa. Make sure you understand what kind of connection options are available and what you need to connect to the printer.
- Extra Features: Nowadays, pictures aren’t just pictures. Some printers include new technology making it possible to attach augmented video to your printed pictures. This video becomes active when viewed using accompanying apps. Other printers let you easily edit photos, apply filters, and insert emojis or text.
- Price: In general, you can buy most portable photo printers for $100-$150. But, this initial investment isn’t the only financial consideration. It’s often worth checking out the price of the paper for your printer and working out a price per image cost, especially if you love remembering every moment with a printed picture.
So no matter whether you’re searching for a portable printer for yourself or a unique gift idea for a tween, we’ve got every angle covered in this comprehensive list. Read on to discover the best portable photo printer, with options starting at just $80.
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer
As the successor to the hugely popular INSTAX Share SP-2, it should come as little surprise the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer is again setting the standard for portable smartphone printing. This device sports a more rounded design for a more comfortable in-hand feel and comes in three different colors, namely dark denim, ash white and dusky pink. Like its predecessor, it still offers reliable, on-the-go color prints. However, instead of requiring a WiFi connection, this printer now uses Bluetooth connectivity for an easier and more reliable way to transfer your files. It’s also accompanied by the Mini Link app which allows you to choose between the general print mode and the “fun” mode, which lets you connect multiple smartphones to your printer at once. The latter is great for when you’re hanging out with friends or colleagues.
Additionally, to celebrate the success of the Nintendo Switch, Fujifilm has created a special edition of the portable printing device in the form of the Instax Mini Link SE. Not only does it sport hints of red and blue, inspired by the original Switch’s appearance, but it also has an accompanying customizable app that lets you print from a Nintendo Switch or smartphone. You can also add themed frames, print portraits of your favorite and generally have a Nintendo fun-filled time.
2. Polaroid Hi-Print Portable Photo Printer
We love the new Bluetooth photo printer from Polaroid, and we named it one of the best Christmas gifts of 2021. Polaroid is the company that popularized instant-print photos in the first place, and even though their latest instant cameras are no longer the gold standard (the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the best instant print camera we tested in 2021), Polaroid’s newest portable photo printer is one of our favorite gadgets right now.
Polaroid actually has a few mini printers, but we love the color vibrancy, portability and easy connectivity that you get with the Polaroid Hi-Print. This printer uses dye-sublimation technology to help the colors of your photo leap off the print, and the device itself comes with an eye-catching design. Each 2″ x 3″ printed photo sports a sticky back, which is ideal for applying to your walls, computer or fridge, and the pictures are also treated with a protective layer, which makes them particularly resistant to tears, smudges and water damage.
The Polaroid Hi-Print easily connects to your phone or laptop via Bluetooth, and the included app makes it easy to edit your images and make sure they look just right before printing. Despite all these great features, the Hi-Print is cheaper than the Fujifilm option featured above (the paper packs are cheaper, too). For all these reasons, if you’re looking for the best phone photo printer to give as a gift, the Polaroid Hi-Print is the perfect choice.
3. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
The HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer is available in a range of colors, including red, black and gold, and features a fun speckled design. These high-quality phone photo printers also sport a built-in loop for attaching a wrist strap to make carrying your device easy. This feature is particularly ideal for parties, days out with friends and any moments when you want a print straight away. Whether the photo is on your smartphone or tablet, the HP Sprocket App and Bluetooth connectivity make the printing process simple. You can also take your photos to the next level by adding filters, borders and emojis to the image.
With a recent price drop, we believe the HP Sprocket is the best phone photo printer for most people. It offers great picture quality on 2″ x 3″photo paper and is really user-friendly. (The photo paper is also cheaper than most other brands.) Plus, the new edition of the HP Sprocket allows multiple users and devices to connect easily to the printer, which means everyone can get in on the fun.
4. Polaroid Lab Instant Printer
BEST FOR CREATIVES
The Polaroid Lab Instant Printer is a great way to turn your favorite smartphone images into physical prints you can give to friends or hang on your walls. While not the smallest option on the list, this printer is portable or works as an at-home way to transfer photos to paper. It uses a three-lens system to create analog, paper-based results using your smartphone and the accompanying smartphone app. The app allows you to choose your image, adjust its exposure and even break it down into multiple images (up to nine) for that one-image-multi-picture look. Once you’re happy with your choices, place your phone on top of the printer, press the print button, grab the printed image and then leave it for five to 15 minutes, depending on your paper choice.
This isn’t the fastest or the easiest-to-use portable photo printer, but it is one of the most fun. For creatively-inclined folks who want to tinker around with settings and create unique photo collages, the Polaroid Lab is a great choice.
5. Canon IVY Mobile Mini Photo Printer
There’s no need for any wired connections with the Canon IVY Mobile Mini Photo Printer in your pocket. This ultra-portable device connects to smartphones via Bluetooth for wireless printing wherever you find yourself. It can also print your favorite Facebook and Instagram pics in moments. The high-quality, 2″ x 3″ ZINC prints are brighter and more colorful than most photo prints and have a peel-and-stick backing that lets users stick their pictures to books, computers and more. (Regular photo prints are also available from Canon’s online store) These phone photo printers come in a range of attractive colors, including mint green and slate grey.
Finally, the Canon IVY is an affordable pick, and it’s one of the best portable photo printers under $100. The printer itself is easy to find at retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, but we recommend buying the photo paper from Canon itself.
6. Fujifilm Instax Link Wide Printer
Building on the success of the ever-popular Fujifilm Instax Mini Link, the Fujifilm Instax Link Wide Printer lets fans of the Instax series take things a little wider. Released in fall 2021, this printer supersizes the original device’s 2.4″ by 1.8″ images, giving users mammoth 3″ x 5″ pictures on Instax WIDE film. These super-wide format images are ideal for fitting more in every frame, whether that’s more people or more of the place you’re in. It’s also available in either ash white or mocha gray and comes with a handy shoe if you want to mount your printer upright on a desk or counter surface. One important thing worth being aware of is that this portable phone printer pairs with its own Instax Link WIDE app, not the original Instax mini link app.
7. Canon Selphy Square QX10 Portable Photo Printer
The Canon Selphy Square is another Bluetooth-enabled printer that’s ideal for creating high-quality, sticky-backed photos of your favorite moments. Most portable photo printers are designed for 3″ x 2″ photos; however, the Canon Selphy Square creates vibrantly colored 2.7″ x 2.7″ prints.
It’s a little more expensive than most options, the picture quality and size are unmatched by any other portable photo printer for sale in 2021. That’s because the Canon Selphy Square uses advanced dye-sublimation technology, which delivers impressive, full-quality prints more vibrant than what you usually see from a printer using ZINK technology. Canon has been a leader in the imaging space for years, and the Selphy Square QX10 is another great product from this trusted brand. It’s a great choice if you need to replace an older pocket printer so you can keep printing your favorite Instagram pictures.
8. Kodak Dock Plus
BEST FOR LARGE PRINTS
The new Kodak Dock Plus is an instant photo printer that’s much more user-friendly than previous generations of Kodak photo printers, which used the clunky PictBridge feature. This new Kodak Dock Plus uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to your devices and prints on 4″ x 6″ color photo paper. If you’re looking for regular-sized photos (as opposed to smaller 2″ x 3″ photos), then this is a great option. Better yet, Amazon offers the Kodak Dock Plus in a bundle that includes 80 photo sheets.
In addition to Bluetooth, the Kodak Dock Plus features both USB-C and Lightning connectors, giving you even more ways to print photos. Easy to use with both Android and iOS devices, the Dock Plus makes it easy to print large, colorful photos right from your phone or tablet. A free app also lets you edit and touch up your photos before printing.
9. Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wireless Photo Printer
If you like the idea of a printer that looks like any run-of-the-mill printer but in miniature, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer is for you. The device’s smart design means it incorporates all the aspects you’d expect from any home printer, but it can fit in the palm of your hand. The high-quality prints it produces are water-resistant and can last years. Plus, the smart device lets you choose how to connect, with physical and wireless options built-in.
Please keep in mind that this particular printer only connects via USB and WiFi and does not offer Bluetooth connectivity like most of the options on this list. For users who aren’t comfortable with Bluetooth connectivity anyway, this could be a feature, not a bug. In addition, it features a pop-up 3.2″ LCD display that lets you see and choose the right images before you print, so you’re never surprised by what comes out. For older users or technologically challenged grandparents, this is one of the best portable photo printers for sale in 2021.
10. Kodak Mini 3 Retro Instant Photo Printer
The Kodak Mini line of photo printers got a serious upgrade thanks to the Kodak Mini 3 Retro instant photo printer. If you prefer larger, Polaroid-style photos, then this printer is your best bet. Unlike most photo printers, which print 2″ x 3″ or 2.4″ x 2.4″ photos, Kodak’s new printer creates borderless images on 3″ x 3″ glossy photo paper. Because this photo size is closer to the dimensions of Instagram images, you can print your favorite Instagram posts without any awkward cropping. The Kodak Mini 3 Retro can connect to your devices via Bluetooth or USB and the Kodak app works well on Android and Apple devices. With all these features, the Kodak Mini 3 Retro is a versatile and convenient option, although it does cost a little more than the alternatives.
11. Kodak Smile Instant Digital Printer
The Kodak Smile Instant Digital Printer is the perfect tool for creating photo wall collages for your dorm room (or any room, really). Whether you’re a new student moving into a dorm room or a family looking for a way to capture and print fun-filled moments, this colorful and highly portable printer could be the answer you’re searching for. This palm-sized printer comes in five color options and uses Bluetooth to instantly connect to your smartphone for a reliable and local connection. You can use the Kodak Smile app for quick and easy photo editing. The result is sticky-backed photos that are photo wall or diary-ready. Additionally, this smart device offers AR functionality which lets you embed video into your images. These videos are only revealed when the app passes over the photo.
Unfortunately, like many Kodak digital printers, the Kodak Smile has been discontinued. While you can still find it for sale on Amazon, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find.
12. Phomemo M02 Pocket Printer
BEST BLACK AND WHITE
The Phomemo M02 Portable Printer is a mini Bluetooth printer that offers one-click printing for black-and-white photos. This pocket printer also lets you print fun frames and sticky notes. While some won’t get it, anyone who loves that monochrome look will jump at the chance to use this printer. The device uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to your smartphone and an accompanying app to print the images. This app offers a range of handy options, including image printing, scanning and template printing. All of these features provide for creativity and fun. Furthermore, this palm-sized printer comes in several exterior colors as well as a unique, piano-style design.
Also Consider: Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
BEST INSTANT CAMERA
If you love the classic Polaroid picture, why not just cut out the portable printing middleman and get yourself an instant camera? We tested a lot of instant cameras this year, and the classic Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 was the best camera — and it wasn’t even close. Despite having a much lower price tag, we found that the Instax Mini 11 printed brighter, more vibrant photos in less time than the competition. The photo paper is also widely available. With the colorful Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera, you’ll get everything you need to create retro-looking instant pictures on the spot. The versatile, 60mm lens is ideal for portraits and wider shots, and the built-in selfie mirror ensures you’re framed just right for your close-ups.
Portable Phone Photo Printer FAQs
If you're still on the fence about whether one of the best phone photo printers is something you would enjoy or have a use for, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions to help you make up your mind.
This question is best answered by the person thinking about buying one. For some people, their portable photo printer becomes one of their favorite tech pieces as it allows them to print images right on the spot. This is particularly handy at parties, get-togethers and other social meetings where you want to hand a physical memory to family or friends to go home with, meaning you won't forget to do it later. Others love the nostalgia/fun of having polaroid-style pictures to pin on boards or fridges.
On the other hand, if you're not motivated to print pictures on the go or really feel any desire to hold them in your hands, especially over the top of seeing them on a smartphone screen, investing in a portable photo printer may not be the right answer and is definitely worth a second thought.
As you can see from our top picks, we think the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer is the standout device in this category. It's compact, tried-and-tested and comes backed by over 11,000 five-star ratings from Amazon users who love it. However, it's important to remember that there are a range of different styles when it comes to portable photo printers. Some devices are less portable but produce higher quality images while others are more compact and better suited to lower budgets. It's always worth checking out a few different devices to see which you think is better suited to your individual wants and needs.
For the most part, no. The majority of portable phone photo printers use some form of ink-less technology. For example, zero-ink printing technology uses special paper with advanced heat reactive molecules inside which change color when heat is applied. In this way, it's actually the paper which plays the biggest part in the printing process in many modern devices. This is also why the printing paper often costs more than people expect. However, it is also worth noting that there are exceptions which still use some form of ink cartridge to print images. Make sure to check which kind of printer you are buying so there aren't any mistakes or surprises along the way.
Given their compact size, it should come as little surprise that compared to much larger, more expensive printers, you will notice a difference in quality. But the reality is that most people are actually pleasantly surprised by the high-quality printing you can get from one of the best portable phone photo printers. If picture quality is your top priority, we suggest searching for a printer which utilizes dye-sublimation, such as the Polaroid Hi-Print Portable Photo Printer, instead of a zero-ink device.