Welcome to our article about the best portable photo printers of the year.
In 1972, the Polaroid SX-70 was so popular over 5000 of the cameras were produced each day. Clearly, people have a connection with physical photographs, and with the rising popularity of the Fujifilm Instax, that connection is alive and well.
But there’s no denying the convenience of snapping a quick picture with your cell phone. With a portable photo printer, you can get the best of both worlds: the convenience of your cell phone, and the gratification of an instant camera. We’re here to help you pick the best portable photo printer.
What You Need to Know to Choose the Best Portable Photo Printer
When buying a portable photo printer, there are a few things you should know before you take the (picture perfect) plunge. The portable printer business is a competitive market, with a lot of devices that are very similar to one another. The best portable photo printer depends a lot on your own personal preferences.
Also, the picture prints you’ll get are usually quite small – roughly credit card sized. If you’re looking for large prints, you’re better off getting them from your local pharmacy or photo lab.
Most of the portable photo printers on this list use an app, so if you were planning on printing from your laptop, options are a bit more limited.
With these things in mind, let’s look at our options.
10 Best Portable Photo Printers of 2020
Best Bluetooth Mini Photo Printer
The 2nd edition of the HP Sprocket brings a lot to the table for such a tiny device (it’s less than half a pound!) The sprocket uses Zink based printing, so no need to worry about changing ink cartridges.
This printer’s photo paper also has a sticky back so you can turn your memories into stickers. Be sure not to let your kids go wild and stick vacation photos to the TV, though.
HP also has an app for the printer, allowing you to edit and customize the pictures on your phone before you print them.
Keep in mind that a photo printer this size comes with limitations: you’ll only be able to print 2×3 photos. The printer also only connects via Bluetooth, so if you were hoping for Wi-Fi connectivity, you’re out of luck with this particular model.
Best Portable Photo Printer with Mobile App
While the HP Sprocket only has Bluetooth connectivity, the Polaroid Zip adds NFC compatibility to the mix and promises a 60 second print time. The Zip offers the same 2×3 photo size as the HP Sprocket, using Zink printing and paper with a sticky back.
Polaroid also has its own app for the Zip, which offers photo customization and editing. With that said, the Zip has that classic Polaroid rainbow logo (if they lead the instant photo industry, they have to be doing something right!)
With three slick colors to choose from (black, white, and gold), the Kodak Photo Printer Mini is aesthetically one of the best portable photo printers of 2020.
Unlike the other two options we’ve seen so far, the Kodak Photo Printer Mini does not offer Bluetooth connectivity but does offer Wi-Fi and NFC printing. While Wi-Fi printers aren’t as advanced as say, Wi-Fi controlled light switches or a smart thermostat, it is handy.
You also get slightly larger prints from the Kodak Photo Mini: 2.1×3.4 inches. Like the options above, the Photo Mini has a bundled app. This app offers the ability to freeze still pictures from your videos, in addition to customization and editing options.
The Canon IVY’s sleek size, color variety, and features make it one of the best portable mobile photo printer on the market right now
As with most portable photo printers, the Canon IVY uses Zink printing and features 2×3 prints that double as stickers. The Canon IVY also has its own app for photo editing and customization.
When your phone is connected to the IVY, you’ll be able to print from social media. You can turn your Instagram masterpiece into a real-life photo!
Best Portable Photo Printer for Quality
The Fujifilm Instax SP-3 stands out against its competition. For starters, the Fujifilm Instax SP-3 uses the same Fujifilm you would use in their regular Instax cameras.
This means that you get the classic instant photo look, with a thick white border (and room for a hand wrote caption if you’d like). The camera is also stylish, with crisp geographic edges, and is available in white or black.
The Instax SP-3 connects via Wi-Fi, has its own app, and features the ability to print from social media. If you already use Fujifilm instant cameras, this might be the obvious choice for you!
The Canon Selphy is larger than our other options so far, but as far as quality is concerned, it’s one of the best portable photo printers of this year. With its extra size comes high photo quality and the ability to print standard 4×6 photos as well as 2.1×2.1 square prints.
The Canon Selphy prints using dye-sublimation as opposed to Zink printing, giving you crisp photos designed to last a lifetime.
This machine allows you to print via Wi-Fi, SD cards, and even from your computer (via USB). If you don’t want to be limited to the photos on your phone, the Canon Selphy is a great option.
The Pickit M2 Portable Photo Printer is an option in between the Canon Selphy and the other, smaller units. It still maintains the small size of the HP Sprocket and the Canon IVY but uses dye-sublimation instead of Zink printing.
The Pickit M2 also features similar connectivity as other portable photo printers: WiFi, NFC, and customization options via Pickit’s own app. Photos from the Pickit M2 are about credit card sized: 2.1×3.4 inches.
Best Portable Photo Printer for iPhones
The Prynt Pocket might be the most unique portable photo printer on the market today. The Prynt pocket uses augmented reality within its app so you can embed a video inside the physical photo you print, and watch it whenever you’re near the photo with your phone. You’ll finally be able to see your pictures come to life!
While the Prynt Pocket is comparable to other small printers on the market as far as features are concerned, it does have one key disadvantage: it’s only compatible with iPhones. Definitely steer clear if you use an Android phone, or think you might in the future.
The Kodak Photo Printer Dock has less in common with the other Kodak printer on this list, and more in common with the Canon Selphy. It will produce high quality, 4×6 photos when you dock your phone on the printer (it also charges your phone – a nice bonus!).
With that said, quality and size come with a price: the Kodak Photo Printer Dock is small enough to be considered portable, but does need to be plugged in to operate. You’ll have to wait till you get back to your hotel room to print those vacation photos.
In addition to docking your phone, this printer includes a companion app, SD card compatibility, USB printing, and Wi-Fi printing.
IPhone users take note: The dock is designed to be used with Android phones, so you’ll need to either use an adapter or connect via USB or Wi-Fi. While not a deal breaker, it is a bit disappointing.
If you’d like to print photos the old fashioned way – by exposing film – then the KiiPix Smartphone Picture Printer is the portable printer for you.
This printer does not feature any sort of connection whatsoever, you choose the picture you want, place the instant film in your printer, place your phone on top, and wait for your picture to finish exposing.
While this portable photo printer is lacking in options, it does have its advantages: no electricity needed (other than powering your phone), a variety of cool colors, and a very low price. If you like to do things the old fashioned way, the KiiPix deserves a look.
Benefits of Having a Portable Photo Printer
With more and more of our memories being captured on our smartphones instead of traditional cameras, having a portable photo printer can be useful.
Whether it’s for a school trip, work, or vacation, having the ability to print your digital memories on the go and create a physical keepsake that will last a lifetime is a great way preserve a cherished moment.
Portable photo printers also appeal to the artist in all of us, from documenting life to taking quick snapshots of a painting, to even capturing pictures of your 3D printed creations, the ability to create a physical photo is a huge advantage.
There’s also a cool factory involved: There’s no denying that classic Polaroid pictures evoke a fun nostalgic feeling for a lot of people, and they make a great gift!
What to Look for When Shopping for a Portable Printer
While picking any portable photo printer from the list above will be a safe bet, you should still consider a few factors:
- What type of printing does the printer offer? (Zink, dye-sublimation, some other kind of printing?)
- Does the printer connect to my device easily?
- Will it connect to future devices you want to buy?
- Will you need to take the printer with me regularly, or are you okay connecting it to a power outlet?
- Does the printer look nice? Is it something you want to be seen holding or have in my home?
These questions can help you narrow down your list, and find the best portable photo printer for you and your needs.
Benjamin is a gadgeteer and homebody who loves writing about the latest smart home technology. He is particularly interested in covering smart home products that automate (or make more efficient) mundane tasks that every home owner and apartment dweller face on a daily basis.