Best Photo Printer 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

If you’re thinking of buying a new printer and want something which can print out your photos as well as your documents, it may actually be worthwhile grabbing two separate machines.

Big models which do both jobs could set you back hundreds of pounds and will probably still be better at one thing than the other, but buying a mobile photo printer and separate document printer could save you a lot of money. Plus, some of the latest models don’t even need ink which keeps running costs down too.

The photo quality will likely be higher, and it will be much easier to set the mobile model up when you want to quickly print off your memories in case your phone has a meltdown, and everything is lost. Many are portable, or even small enough to stash in your pocket, and can connect to your phone via Bluetooth so you can stick to just taking your phone everywhere for quality photos and everything else.

They’re admittedly a bit less retro than instant Polaroid cameras but offer a much more practical solution in modern times, especially when you’re travelling or at a party and want to keep your tech to a minimum. If you love to have your memories in physical form, they are a must-have.

If you’re after a model which can print any sized photo as well as documents, we have reviewed some of the best photo inkjet printers around, too. If not, then without further ado, these are the best instant portable photo printers around.

The Best Portable Photo Printers – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
HP Sprocket Plus Photo Printer
  • Dimensions: 1.8 x 14.1 x 8.9cm
  • Paper: HP ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Paper Capacity: 10 Sheets
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
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Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer
  • Dimensions: 7.62 x 1.27 x 2.54 cm
  • Paper: ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
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INSTAX Share SP-2 Photo Printer & 10 Shot Bundle
  • Dimensions: 4 x 8.95 x 13.18 cm
  • Paper: Instax Mini Film
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
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Best Mobile Photo Printers

HP Sprocket Plus Photo Printer

Thanks to the ZINK technology, this is one of the latest photo printers which don’t require any ink. All of the colours required are embedded onto the specialist paper, so as long as you have a stash of this, you are good to go.

It is around the size of a smartphone, so great if you need something ultra-portable. If you need to personalise the photos, you can do so through the HP Sprocket app. Adding text, emojis and other effects is easier than ever, and no longer requires specialist Paint skills on your laptop.

The back of the ZINK sheets is stickable, which is great if you want to make a collage of photos on your wall. They are 5 x 7.6 cm (2 x 3 in) in size, giving them the perfect professional feel and also making them ideal if you have a photo album.

It connects to your phone via Bluetooth 5.0 and wakes automatically when you require it to get going. Multiple phones can connect at the same time, so all of your friends can print when they need to, which could come in handy at a festival or party.

The noise it emits is barely audible, and the photo quality is fab. The paper is a bit pricey to buy, especially if you’re going to be using it a lot, but the convenience is going to be well worth this for many photo-lovers.

We like

  • Compact
  • Ability to personalise pictures
  • Quick results

We dislike

  • Price of paper (but this is a common theme)

Final Verdict

Definitely one of the best for convenience and style, and the instant results will save you an awful lot of time

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 1.8 x 14.1 x 8.9cm
  • Paper: HP ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Paper Capacity: 10 Sheets
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer

As you would expect from a brand like this, this is a quality photo printer which gives incredibly good 2”x3” format results.

Polaroid is seen as the leaders when it comes to instant photography, so it is no surprise that this printer also gives instant pictures. Just connect your iOS or Android phone to the unit via Bluetooth and then select the pictures you want to print off.

ZINK paper combines both the paper and ink, so you don’t need to buy cartridges or carry around other bits and pieces to get the results. Because it is wireless, you also don’t need cables for power or connectivity. The battery will support 50 prints on one charge.

The Polaroid app will allow you to customise the photos before they develop, with the addition of borders, emojis, filters or text. So if you want to add a physical caption or want to make a collage on your wall with photos which all have the same effect, you don’t have to have high technical ability or expensive editing suites on your computer.

We like

  • Available in five eye-catching colours
  • Slim and compact - the smallest on the market at the time of reviewing
  • Very easy to operate

We dislike

  • Pictures come out slightly on the darker side

Final Verdict

A small size, easy to navigate app and very generous battery life makes this one of the best for overall usability

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7.62 x 1.27 x 2.54 cm
  • Paper: ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

INSTAX Share SP-2 Photo Printer & 10 Shot Bundle

A very advanced piece of equipment to ensure your photos come out just how they should, you can have the physical picture in just ten seconds.

Thanks to the intelligence filter, there is no need to spend hours editing your photos. It automatically touches up any little imperfections, so you get a quality picture each and every time. Many other instant printers suffer from the colours being too dull/pink/overexposed, but this is corrected without you having to lift a finger.

There is still the option to edit them if you want, though. Why not add a Real Time or Limited Edition Template to give your photos a unique edge, or even convert it into black and white?

The battery is one of the best, as it can cope with around 100 prints before needing recharging. It is one of the few which will connect via Wi-Fi as opposed to Bluetooth, which makes it suitable for use with the majority of phones/tablets but can also mean connectivity issues if you don’t have internet access.

Just be aware that it is one of the few which doesn’t use ZINK paper, so there is a little more setting up to do (but they can generally be bought for cheaper).

We like

  • Simple to navigate
  • 10 sheets come with the purchase

We dislike

  • Could be one of the priciest to run due to the price of film

Final Verdict

Polaroid-style pictures when you want them and how you want them, and the price makes it one of the more affordable

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 4 x 8.95 x 13.18 cm
  • Paper: Instax Mini Film
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi

HP Sprocket 200 Photo Printer

Not an awful lot separates the Sprocket 200 from the Sprocket Plus when it comes to reviewing the two, except that the 200 is that little bit older, larger and therefore cheaper.

But it is still worth a very high position on our rundown. It is palm-sized and very easy to connect to your phone or tablet so you can get going.

It is available in black and white, and the speckled almost marble design gives it a very different touch to the others on the market.

The photos aren’t as vivid as they are on the phone screen, and come out with a little bit of a pink tinge and dull, but this does actually add that vintage Polaroid instant pic look which is great if you want a fun product as opposed to detail and clarity.

You may think it is well worth the money saving aspect, as seeing in general there isn’t much of a difference overall. We would have to agree, especially if you aren’t fussed about having the absolute latest technology.

We like

  • Photos are customisable before printing
  • Easy to print straight from social media

We dislike

  • Colours can be slightly off and dull

Final Verdict

HP have long led the way in this instant photo technology, and even their older models still beat a lot of modern options hands-down

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 8 x 11.8cm
  • Paper: ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Paper Capacity: 10 Sheets
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

CANON Zoemini Mobile Photo Printer

Canon makes some of the best inkjet printers which give you great photo and document printing, so we had no doubt that this model would print out great looking pictures.

The 2 x 3 Inch photos are ready in seconds, and the ZINK paper means you don’t need to bother with refilling ink or replacing cartridges. They are also stickable, so you can decorate your flat, bedroom or locker at work with precious memories without damaging the walls or buying frames.

You can customise the pictures before they print using the dedicated Canon Mini Print app, and add on-trend filters or doodles. We also loved the tiling feature which is pretty unique; four or nine prints can be produced which all fit together to make one larger picture, in case you want something bigger than the usual 2×3 inch photos.

It is one for those who are bothered about aesthetics, or who want the printer to match their phone. The colours available are white, black or rose gold. You get ten free sheets of the speciality paper with the purchase, so you’re good to try it out as soon as it arrives.

Price-wise, it is one of the cheapest around. The app is a little less easy to navigate than some of the others but still takes you through the printing and setup process clearly. You have to zoom in and out to get the photo size you’re after, which can be a bit annoying if you’re trying to edit it and forget to go back to the ordinary size or want a perfect crop. But overall, the price makes it a steal.

You can use other brands of Zink paper with this Canon, but do be aware you need to keep the blue card which comes with the dedicated paper.

We like

  • Easy to pair with phone
  • Price

We dislike

  • Photo colours are on the dark side

Final Verdict

We don’t know why it is a lot cheaper than other models, but the fact that it is makes it well worth the purchase if you just want something fun

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Paper: Canon ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Paper Capacity: 10 Sheets
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

KODAK Smile Instant Digital Printer

One of the most compact to carry around, and it opens up into a wedge to print off the photos, which makes it slightly different. This keeps it nice and protected when in transit.

All you need to do is take the photos on your phone, and then open the Smile App Editing Studio to put your own personal touch on them if you wish. Then, they can be printed in under 30 seconds, and ready to stick or place wherever you wish.

It uses Zink paper, so there are no cartridges or films to replace. And as it connects to your phone via Bluetooth, it will be compatible no matter if you have an iPhone, Android or Windows model. Around 40 prints can be done on a single charge, and it takes two hours to fully charge again, which actually makes it one of the poorest for battery life, but it is by no means the worst or particularly bad.

We like

  • Solid built - good for anyone on-the-go
  • App gives great editing options

We dislike

  • A bit pricey to say it doesn’t offer as much as some rivals

Final Verdict

There are a few which have more to them for the price, but Kodak is a very trusted name and the photos are very customisable

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Paper: Zink
  • Battery: Built-In CR123A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Prynt Pocket Instant Photo Printer

Now for something very different. While all of the others on our list use Bluetooth/WiFi to communicate remotely with your phone, this one needs the two physically connected.

It turns the phone into a hand-sized instant camera, and you can print photos which are saved to your phone or uploaded to social media with little fuss.

A fab feature we love in the app is that you can embed a video within your photo. When this is shared with friends, they can use the app to unlock the video, which makes it a fun way of sharing memories (and saving videos).

It only works with an iPhone, and is definitely one of the least compact models on the market. But if you want something which doesn’t rely on tech to work, and therefore is easy to use, it could work well. Although we would like to see it a bit cheaper because of this lack of tech.

We like

  • On the more retro side of the scale
  • Video embed technology

We dislike

  • Lack of Bluetooth/WiFi could become frustrating for some
  • Price, as there are fewer features than rivals

Final Verdict

More fun than practical, but great for younger people who prefer the fun aspect over wanting the latest technology (and who have an iPhone)

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.4 x 11 cm
  • Paper: ZINK
  • Battery: Built-In
  • Connectivity: Manual

KiiPix Portable Photo Printer

By far the cheapest photo printer on our list. Able to print photos from your Android or iPhone, it is also the largest, but doesn’t rely on wireless communication to get the job done.

It is a pretty clever bit of kit despite this. You can fold it down when not in use to make it easier to transport, but when you do want to print, KiiPix folds out. You then place your phone on top, push the button and turn the crank. The photo rolls out on the paper.

Because it prints whatever was on your phone’s screen, it can make it a lot easier to adjust the picture before printing. What you see on the screen is what you get, so you can add filters and effects and also turn up the brightness and contrast if you wish.

The size of the paper is credit-card Instax paper, so perfect if you want the instant camera look. Because it is a manual operation, there are no batteries, no charging cables and no need to rely on Bluetooth or WiFi, so great if you want to take it on holiday or to a festival for instant physical memories.

As it takes the image displayed on your phone screen, any cracks or imperfections will affect the outcome. Placing the phone correctly can be fiddly, and you really have to make sure the brightness is up to full etc. so there is a lot of setting up involved. But it is budget-friendly, so worth a go if the price of others makes your eyes water a bit.

We like

  • Self-contained printer
  • No need for charging or batteries

We dislike

  • Section for printing is small - no good if your phone screen is huge
  • Can be unreliable

Final Verdict

Can be unreliable, but in the end, it is cheap and great it doesn’t rely too much on wireless communication

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 14 x 5.7 x 15.9 cm
  • Paper: FUJIFILM Instax
  • Battery: N/A
  • Connectivity: Manual

Help and Resources

Mobile Photo Printer Buying Guide

Paper Types

The most common is ZINK paper, which basically stands for zero ink. Some also use Instax prints, which are the standard retro-looking Polaroid instant camera styles. Many Intax sheets also use Zink technology, but the photo will be smaller and have a white border surrounding the picture.

Which you prefer depends on the style you are after, but will affect the printers available to you.

Battery

The majority have rechargeable, built-in batteries. This is what helps to keep most so compact, and is generally more reliable than having to replace the batteries every so often.

Most batteries will last for a minimum of 30 prints before needing a charge, and recharging fully should take around two hours at the most.

Connectivity

Most use Bluetooth to communicate with your phone or tablet. Most phones now have this feature, so compatibility should be high. A few will use WiFi, which is not really as reliable as WiFi isn’t as widely available as Bluetooth. It certainly would not help if you were in the middle of a field camping or at a festival.

There are a couple of manual ones still about too, which require you to plug in your phone or scan the screen. These are great if you don’t want to have to rely on wireless communication, but aren’t quite as compact and hassle-free.

Paper Capacity

This is how many pages the printer can hold at once. It isn’t a massive thing to look out for, but if you’re going to want to print out a few pictures at once, it could save you having to constantly feed through the printer sheets or carry it around separately.

FAQ’s

Instant Polaroid Camera Or Instant Photo Printer?

There are pros and cons to each, but the printers are generally seen as the best option by far if you want high-quality photos and want to use your phone to take them.

They are also great for anyone who is concerned about wasting paper or film, as you get to see the picture on your phone before you print. A big issue with some instant cameras is that you only get the viewfinder, so the photos you develop can be underwhelming.

But if you want to move away from using your expensive, precious phone for pictures and want to keep it safely in your bag at parties and festivals, a Polaroid camera could be the answer. They still give you instant photo results (so you don’t have to wait for the film to fill then head to develop them), but still just do the job of a camera.

What Is Zink Paper?

Instead of using cartridges, all of the ink is on the paper already, and the different levels of heat make certain colours appear to develop your photo. To be more technical, cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals are embedded inside the paper and a protective polymer overcoat layer outside. The heat colours/activates the crystals.

This helps to keep the photo printer so small and compact as only the paper sheets are needed, and still gives good-sized photos. It is pretty much instantly smudge-free, waterproof and scratch-proof too because of the protective layer.

Is There A Difference In Print Quality?

Not massively, no. Because most use the same paper, you get pretty much the same outcome. Some are a little more on the pink/red side, but this is to give the pictures that retro Polaroid feel as opposed to there being something wrong with the printer.

The big difference will be depending on the phone you use to take the photo, and any editing/filters you place on the image.