There’s something undeniably special about having your photo collection in physical form. Suppose you want to go old school with your most memorable moments and don’t want to put up with the inferior photo quality and numerous film-related issues of polaroid cameras. In that case, portable photo printers are the way to go.
Such printers are all that you need to convert your smartphone or professional camera rig into an instant camera. We made sure all the printers featured on our list are built specifically for printing photos, so you’ll notice that many can actually use photo films and special ink to go along with it.
Without any further ado, let’s dive right into our best portable photo printers’ reviews and help you pick just the right model that suits your needs.
|Model||Photo Size||Resolution||Connectivity||Printer Dimensions|
|Fujifilm Instax SP-3||2.4 x 2.4 inches||318 x 318 dpi (dots per inch)||Wi-Fi||6.1 x 6.1 x 3.7 inches|
|Kodak Mini 2 HD||2.1 x 3.4 inches||300 x 300 pixels||Bluetooth, NFC||1 x 3 x 5.2 inches|
|HP Sprocket||2 x 3 inches||318 x 400 dpi||Bluetooth 5.0||3.15 x 4.63 x 0.98|
|Prynt Pocket||2 x 3 inches||NA||Lightning port||3.27 x 2.84 x 1.9 inches|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini Link||2.1 × 3.4 inches||318 x 318 dpi||Bluetooth||5 x 3 x 7.1 inches|
|Canon Selphy CP1300||4 x 6 inches||300 x 300 dpi||Wi-Fi, USB port, and SD memory card slot||7.1 x 5.4 x 2.5 inches|
The 6 Best Portable Photo Printers
Now that we’ve gone over them quickly, let’s take our time with the pros and cons of each option and weigh why someone might or might not want to opt for it.
1. Fujifilm Instax SP-3 – Best Overall
Fujifilm delivers a fun package with its Instax SP-3 photo printer. It can directly connect to your smartphone and let you print photos from all your different social networks. This is all controlled through the Instax SHARE app, adding even more tools to customize your photos before clicking the print button.
Whether you want to add unique filters or stylized text captions to your photos, the user-friendly app serves as one hub where you can modify then print the best version of your photos.
Furthermore, the Instax SP-3 doesn’t use any ink; instead, it depends on special photo films that come with their own pigments integrated underneath the glossy surface. When these films are subjected to light at different wavelengths inside the printer, a set of chemical reactions takes place under the hood producing various colors.
This intricate system excels in accurately reproducing colors, giving you natural-looking photos. Also, the fact that the color pigments are residing inside the photo film itself means your photos will be preserved for a long time to come with zero smudges or color fading.
In terms of connectivity, I wish we’ve gotten other options beyond the Wi-Fi capabilities. Don’t get me wrong; the wireless connection here is fast and convenient; however, it only works if you disconnect your mobile device from any other Wi-Fi network you’re already on and connect directly to the printer’s network.
In other words, you won’t be able to use the internet while your phone is transferring data to the Instax SP-3, which is a bummer. Finally, the printer is only compatible with a limited number of models of Fujifilm’s own digital cameras. Anything outside this specific umbrella will require an extra step of transferring your photos to a mobile device to proceed from there.
- Fast printing speeds
- No clogging issues as it doesn’t use ink
- Stunning, vibrant colors
- Excellent photo preservation
- Limited native support for digital cameras
If you, like many people, use your smartphone as your primary camera, the Fujifilm Instax SP-3 will be the best companion on the go. The printer comes with built-in Wi-Fi features, allowing you to instantly print photos right from your mobile device without having to stumble around for cables.
2. Kodak Mini 2 HD – Best Connectivity
Kodak strikes just the right balance between high-quality printing and a portable form factor with its Mini 2 HD printer. The 4PASS D2T2 dye-sublimation technology uses heat to imprint detailed copies of your photos on the plastic films, which keep their vibrant colors for up to 10 years.
Since the dye sublimation process inherently depends on the heat for its operation, your photos will dry right away, cutting down any risks of accidentally smudging your freshly printed image.
Quality comes with a trade-off in terms of speed. It takes an average of one minute to get one photo printed, which isn’t that bad. However, Kodak’s mobile app experience is far from perfect. We experienced many hiccups with the app while processing and transferring photos to the printer, which slowed down the total print speed even further.
This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, as the quality delivered by the Kodak Mini 2 HD is in a whole different league compared to similar small photo printers.
Furthermore, Kodak’s all-in-one MC cartridges combine the photo sheets and ink refill cartridges in one affordable package, allowing you to print more of your irreplaceable moments without any second thoughts.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the Kodak Mini 2 HD uses Bluetooth or NFC (Near-Field Communication) to establish a connection to your smartphone. This addresses our complaint with the Fujifilm Instax SP-3, as here you can keep your current Wi-Fi connection and remain online while transferring data to your portable printer.
- Excellent photo quality
- Kodak’s MC cartridges are a good deal
- The printed photos take no time to dry
- NFC and Bluetooth connectivity
- Poorly optimized mobile app
- Could benefit from a boost to the print speed
The Kodak Mini 2 HD brings an unmatched level of photo quality to the portable printer space. Its dye-sublimation technology is put to great use, ensuring your photos remain vibrant for years to come. Finally, Kodak’s MC cartridges deliver great value to consumers as they bundle photo sheets and ink refills in one affordable package.
3. HP Sprocket – Best Finish Quality
The first thing that will garner your attention about the HP Sprocket is probably the printer’s unique colors. It comes in 4 different colors complemented by a stylized ink droplets-like finish, making the Sprocket stand out among the other boxy portable printers out there.
Aside from the aesthetics, the Sprocket follows in the footsteps of the Fujifilm Instax SP-3 and doesn’t use ink cartridges. Instead, the printer opts for the full-color printing paper offered by ZINK. You can use the ones that come with sticky backs to easily place your photos anywhere you like.
Moving on to photo quality, you get similar photos to those delivered by the Fujifilm Instax SP-3, but the HP Sprocket app offers more customization options to spice up things a bit. You can add frames and stickers to your photos from within the app, creating a fresh look.
Furthermore, the HP Sprocket comes with Bluetooth 5.0, which means multiple devices can be connected to the printer at once. You can gather around all your friends and take turns in printing the best photos that everyone has on their phones.
The advanced Bluetooth technology also allows you to boot up your printer right from your mobile devices, speeding up the whole printing process. The Sprocket is idle in the background, waiting for you to click the print button to kick into action. It won’t be draining much battery while in sleep mode though, which is a welcome addition.
It’s worth mentioning that HP goes the extra mile to add more social features to Sprocket’s printing experience. You can mess around with augmented reality using your iOS or Android devices to visualize your printing queue in real-time. I have to admit; it’s a gimmicky feature; nevertheless, I enjoyed the novelty and fun I had with it.
- Unique finishes to choose from
- Bluetooth 5.0 allowing multiple devices to connect simultaneously
- Uses ZINK photo paper instead of ink cartridges
- Versatile customization tools in the mobile app
- One-year warranty
- The app experience needs better optimization
The HP Sprocket’s main strength lies in all the features that Bluetooth 5.0 brings to the table, from connecting multiple devices to powering up your printer right from your smartphone. HP’s mobile app offers some neat customization tools for you to try; however, expect to face some occasional bugs.
4. Prynt Pocket – Most Compact Design
Prynt Pocket ventures in a different route than all the other portable printers featured on our list so far. Instead of following the same boxy design trend, Prynt went for a printer that clips directly to your phone, similar to a case. This translates into an even more compact form factor that you can slip easily into your pocket with zero hassles.
Since the printer comes with Apple’s proprietary Lightning port, only iPhones are supported for the time being. The Prynt Pocket is deliberately designed to add extra grip to your phone, simulating the feeling of holding a digital camera.
The striking design approach doesn’t mean that Prynt scrapped all the great ideas implemented by its competitors all together. The printer still supports ZINK photo sheets for an inkless printing experience.
Also, it comes with similar augmented reality features to what we’ve seen in the HP Sprocket. You can use Prynt’s app to embed videos to any photo you print.
Your friends can then scan these photos to be prompted by the video you’ve included as a bonus surprise. Again, such features are a welcome addition, but I can’t imagine myself using them beyond the testing period.
Finally, Prynt delivers on all that you expect from a portable printer. You get high-quality, detailed prints, bringing your photos to life with an impressive speed of under 30 seconds per print.
- Adds grip to your phone for a more intuitive shooting experience
- Compact design
- Fun augmented reality features through the Prynt app
- An impressive printing speed of under 30 seconds
- Only iPhones are supported for now
If you keep forgetting your portable printer, Prynt Pocket offers a unique solution that clips right on your phone. The portable printer uses a direct connection, so you experience no lag and benefit from impressive print speeds. It also adds an ergonomic grip to your iPhone, significantly enhancing your mobile photography experience.
5. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link – Fastest Printing
Fujifilm brings everything that users like about the Instax SP-3 printer to a smaller, more affordable package. The Instax Mini Link is 23% smaller and 20% lighter than its bigger brother, yet it comes with all the same fundamentals that define Fujifilm’s portable printers.
As it has become the norm with many portable photo printers, the Instax Mini Link doesn’t use ink cartridges to mitigate some issues like photo smudging, ink clogging, and expensive refills. Instead, Fujifilm uses its very own Instax Mini films, which means you’ll be out of luck if you want to bring your ZINK photo sheets to this mini printer.
In terms of design, the printer comes in a textured finish, adding extra grip to the otherwise slippery plastic. Also, Fujifilm offers three different colors to choose from, ensuring there’s something for everyone. The printer comes in Ash White, Dark Denim, and Dusky Pink.
Furthermore, the Instax SHARE app will be your primary means of interacting with your new portable printer. You’ll be greeted by plenty of customization tools to personalize your photos before printing them. The app also lets you pick your favorite frames from videos and print them right away.
The Instax Mini Link has an LED light indicator to let you know your printer’s status at a glance. When there are pending printing commands, you get blue light. On the other hand, your printer will blink in orange whenever you’re in photo editing mode.
- A lightning-fast printing speed of only 12 seconds
- Doesn’t use ink cartridges
- A tiny footprint that slips easily into your pockets
- LED indicator to give you insight on the printer’s status
- Fujifilm’s Instax Mini films are on the pricey side
Fujifilm delivers one of the best budget portable photo printers on the market with its Instax Mini Link. The printer provides impressive print speeds and connects directly to your smartphone via Bluetooth. If you don’t mind the smaller print size, you’ll be happy with what you get here with the Instax Mini Link.
6. Canon Selphy CP1300 – Best for Bigger Photos
What better way to wrap up our list than with the Selphy CP1300? Canon’s portable printer is a departure from the formula set by the majority of smartphone-oriented printers on the market, as the Selphy CP1300 shares more DNA with full-blown desktop photo printers.
Portability takes a bit of a hit here in order to deliver a set of features rarely seen in portable printers. For instance, you can print larger photos at a size of 4 x 6 inches, giving your best shots a broader room to breathe and come to life in more detail.
Furthermore, the connectivity options you get with the Selphy CP1300 are a significant upgrade over the exclusively wireless portable printers. You get a USB port ready to connect all your different devices, including flash memories, in addition to a dedicated SD memory card slot that will make the life of all the photographers out there much easier.
The final piece to delivering a professional printing experience lies in the ink system. The Selphy CP1300 comes with ink cartridges similar to what you find in traditional inkjet printers. This means proprietary photo sheets won’t limit you, and you can use pretty much any paper type.
Though the printer still comes with Wi-Fi features, it doesn’t offer any mobile app to streamline the experience. Another point to bear in mind is that your Selphy CP1300 needs to be plugged into an electrical wall outlet as it doesn’t come with a built-in battery out-of-the-box. Nevertheless, Canon offers an optional battery accessory, which comes in handy.
- Supports bigger 4 x 6 photos
- Comes with an SD card slot and USB
- Prints on a variety of different paper types
- Ink cartridges deliver a higher printing capacity
- Larger form factor
- Doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app
If you don’t mind the relatively larger footprint, you’ll be happy with the professional features offered by the Canon Selphy CP1300. The inkjet printer uses traditional ink cartridges, allowing you to print more photos without being limited to dedicated photo films. You also get more versatile connectivity options to reach your photos, no matter which device they are on.
How to Pick a Portable Photo Printer
If you’re not sure what to consider when you’re shopping for a portable photo printer, check out this guide I’ve cooked up with all the important features.
Printer Type & Size
It’s impressive how hardware manufacturers managed to bring printing technologies from larger office printers to a pocketable form factor that can go with you anywhere.
Most of the portable photo printers you’ll encounter on your search won’t be using any ink cartridges. Instead, they operate on special photo sheets where all the magic takes place. Such a design choice allows these printers to keep a compact form factor since they don’t have to deal with many internal moving parts.
On the other hand, you’ll find inkjet models like the Canon Selphy CP1300, which doesn’t shy away from a bulkier footprint in order to deliver professional-grade photo printing. This can be the preferred choice for people planning to do tons of printing. To this segment of customers, the dedicated photo sheets won’t be an economical solution in the long run.
Finally, dye-sublimation printers hold the middle ground between the other two. Such printers use heat to imprint pigment onto your paper. This means you don’t have to stick to a specific type of paper. Some models like the Kodak Mini 2 HD manages to pack all this technology in a portable, compact package.
Before finalizing your purchase decision, you have to consider whether the portable printer you’re eying offers the convenient connectivity options that fit seamlessly in your workflow or not.
Almost all portable printers come with wireless connectivity. Whether it’s through Wi-Fi, NFC, or Bluetooth, your printer can connect directly to all your mobile devices. Some models take it a step further and offer an SD card slot for photographers to effortlessly slip their memory cards and start printing.
You can even find USB ports on some printers, allowing you to hook up your laptop and have yourself a portable printing station.
Rechargeable batteries power most of the portable printers on the market. On paper, you have the potential to start printing your favorite photos at any time and from anywhere. However, the battery life on portable printers isn’t that great. Your printer can quickly die on you anywhere from 10 up to 40 prints.
Other models need to be directly plugged into a wall outlet, allowing you to have extended printing sessions. Although those printers are relatively less portable, some manufacturers offer optional battery kits to keep you up and running when there is no electricity outlet nearby.
Now that we’ve come to the end of our journey to choose the best portable photo printer, we hope you now have all the insight you need to make an informed purchase decision.
No matter which model you settle for, you’ll enjoy the versatility that such tiny devices offer. Whether you’re planning to print your perfect professional shots or just the highlights of your social media feeds, there’s a model just for you.