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Instant cameras have seen a resurgence over the past couple of years (in the same vein as record players), with photographers and casual snappers alike remembering the fun of physical photos. However, although we love instant cameras, it can be a drag to bring them everywhere and remember to use them (instead of your phone). Here’s where the portable photo printers come in.
The best portable photo printers are pocket-sized devices that connect to your smartphone to instantly print any pictures on the spot. There’s no need to carry around a camera; just snap a photo on your phone, edit and view it as you would normally, and print it instantly to give to friends and family or put in a scrapbook. Better yet, the best portable photo printers are very affordable. We’ve been able to find some great examples for as little as $50, making excellent gift ideas this holiday.
How to Choose the Best Portable Photo Printer
There are a few key factors we considered when choosing the best portable photo printers — check them out below.
Connectivity: Most portable photo printers use Bluetooth to connect to your phone, where you can manage and print photos using a companion app, but a few also use WiFi to connect to your phone. We recommend Bluetooth, as its a bit easier and works from anywhere (i.e. outside), and an intuitive companion app is always a bonus.
Battery: The portable photo printers in our guide have rechargeable batteries, and charge using a MicroUSB cable.
Size: Most portable photo printers we’re recommending create prints that are around a two-inch square, but they can get as large as three by three. Be sure to check this, as well as the overall size of the printer (especially if you plan on tucking it in a pants pocket or small bag).
Photo Paper: You will need to get special photo paper for these printers, which can range in terms of price and quality. Luckily, the photo paper these printers use doesn’t require ink, so you won’t have to get any cartridges.
What Are the Best Portable Photo Printers?
Below are some of the best portable photo printers to buy right now — all available on Amazon.
1. KODAK Mini 2 Retro Portable Photo Printer
With a reliable wireless connection to your phone, high-quality prints, and a tiny build, this Kodak Mini 2 Retro is an excellent mini printer. But what makes the best portable photo printer is the cost of paper, which is typically an issue with instant cameras and printers: a 50-sheet pack of Kodak brand paper is just $25 on Amazon — an excellent value compared to Instax or Polaroid.
Kodak’s dye-sub printing technology is also among the best, producing crisp, color-correct images in a wide range of lighting. Plus, you can choose to have photos printed with or without a white border.
2. Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer
It’s no surprise that one of the best portable photo printers comes from the company that popularized the instant camera.
In our testing, the Polaroid’s Hi-Print always produced good-looking prints and did so quickly. Color reproduction is especially impressive, given the printer’s tiny size. You’ll need to use Polaroid’s proprietary paper with the Hi-Print, but a 20-pack costs $17 on Amazon.
Connecting the printer to my phone took less than a minute, and Polaroid’s Hi-Print app was easy to use. It takes about a minute for the Hi-Print to finish your photo, and you can make several prints in quick succession as long as the printer has enough paper and battery.
3. Canon Selphy QX10 Portable Photo Printer
This Selphy QX10 from Canon is slightly more pricey, but you get what you pay for. The dye-sub photo quality is a noticeable step up from the competition, and Canon promises a 100-year life for each photo. Prints are square, and you can even add a caption on the border to remember the occasion. The only slight downside is the Selphy uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, which adds an extra step to the connection process.
4. Canon Ivy Mini Photo Printer
Another great portable printer from Canon is the Ivy Mini, which boasts a pocket-size build measuring just 4.7 by 3.2 by 0.7 inches. After an easy connection process to your phone or laptop via Bluetooth, the mini printer pumps out crisp photos with a sticky back for easy scrapbooking and displaying. Best of all, the Canon Ivy Mini is currently 45% off on Amazon, bringing the price down from $144 to just $79.
Buy Canon Ivy Mini $79.00
5. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 2 Smartphone Printer
Thermal printing technology — as seen on this Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 2 — yields some of the most high-quality, durable prints possible with an instant camera. The camera is also one of the fastest, printing photos in seconds. We also like the Fujifilm app, which features an easy-to-use interface and makes connecting to the printer a breeze using Bluetooth.
6. Kodak Mini 3 Retro Portable Photo Printer
If you want slightly bigger prints from your portable printer, pick up this Mini 3 Retro from Kodak. Photos measure three by three inches, which is slightly larger than those from our other picks, and you can choose between bordered or borderless photos. As with the Mini 2, color and print quality is excellent with the Mini 3 thanks to Kodak’s advanced dye-sub technology.
7. Phomemo M02 Pocket Printer
Don’t mind black and white photos? (Or maybe you prefer them?) Pick up this M02 mini portable printer from Phomemo. At a tiny 1.65 by 3.86 by 3.23 inches, it’s the smallest portable printer on our list, as well as the most affordable at $50. The companion app is also loaded with fun features that let you print lists and drawings as well as photos from your phone’s camera roll. If you’re thinking of gifting a portable photo printer, this is the one to buy.