Many of us fall into the trap of taking wonderful photos after photos and never ever see them again. They are either shared on social media or backed up in the cloud. Here, is one easy and quick way to get your prints.
Considerations When Choosing a Portable Instant Photo Printer
Battery Life: Portable and self powered units are your options for printing on the go. If you don’t mind looking for a power socket, other equally small, compact and portable units are also available but would require you to be tethered to the wall to print. In this article, we look mainly at photo printers with built-in rechargeable batteries except for one that uses disposable batteries.
Photo Size: While 2 x 3-inch prints are more common, some printers go for for slightly bigger prints. Kodak Mini Mobile Photo Printer produces prints at 2.1 x 3.4-inch while Kodak Dock WiFi Photo Printer produces the bigger and more conventional 4 x 6-inch prints which are twice the size of the more common prints. It also means that prints would cost more to produce. A table comparing the different print sizes are shown below:
|Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 Smart Phone Printer
|2.1 x 3.4-inch
|Canon Selphy CP1200 Black Wireless Color Photo Printer
|Card Size (2.1″ x 3.4″), Postcard (3.9″ x 5.8″), L Size (3.5″ x 4.7″) , Square Label (2.0″ x 2.0″) borderless
|HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
|2 x 3-inch borderless
|Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Smart Phone Printer
|2.1 x 3.4-inch
|Kodak Mini Mobile Wi-Fi NFC Photo Printer
|2.1 X 3.4-inch borderless
|SereneLife Portable Instant Mobile Photo Printer Wi-Fi
|2 x 3.5-inch borderless
|Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer
|2 x 3-inch borderless
|Pickit M2 Portable Photo Printer
|2 x 3.5-inch borderless
|Kodak Dock Wi-Fi Photo Printer
|4 x 6 -inch borderless
BONUS: LifePrint Photo & Video Printer 2 x 3-inch borderless or 3 x 4.5-inch borderless
The other point to consider is if you want photos that are mounted with fixed borders or borderless prints. Different technologies are used to produce these prints and they can be simplified into three categories, ones with self developing films, Zero Ink Printing Technology and heat and dye transfer as you will see in the next section. The only prints with fixed borders are those iconic self developing film format from Fujifilm.
Consumables: Special paper such as the ZINK or Zero Ink Printing Technology paper used on Polariod ZIP Mobile Printer and HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer mean there is no need for ink. The printer simply applies heat to activate molecules embedded in the paper’s layer to produce 2 x 3-inch photo prints featuring deep and vibrant colours which are completely smudge-proof. The paper also has a peel-off sticky back that lets you mount the print easily.
Fujifilm Instax Share smart phone printers use self developing photo paper like those used on their Instax mini cameras while Kodak printers use photo printer cartridges that combine both ink and paper in an easy to replace cartridge that prints using dye diffusion transfer. Other printers, the PICKIT20, PICKIT21 and PICKIT M2 also uses instant image refill cartridges that combines both paper and ink.
Connectivity: Depending on the make, some manufacturer favours Bluetooth while others use WiFi for wireless printing. In all cases, you will need an app to be install on your mobile device in order to print from say a tablet or smartphone. Other manufacturers make it easy to connect their printer with NFC or Near Field Communication. This mean you can pair and start printing quickly.
Cost to own and run: The only way to benchmark the total cost of ownership is to take into consideration the initial investment; the cost of buying the printer itself and subsequently the cost per prints derived from the cost of consumables like paper and refill cartridges.
These vary from one printer to the next. If you don’t mind shopping online, you can also find multi-pack offers that helps drive down the cost of ownership. You do pay more to get your prints instantly compared to doing this at a photo printing kiosk.
Bundles: You may find that certain printers come bundled with photo paper and these are often cheaper than buying the printers and papers separately. If you have your mind made up, look for an option with photo paper/cartridges bundled or a starter kit option.
Top 8 Best Instant Mobile Photo Printer
Here is the overview of our line-up:
- Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 Smart Phone Printer Wi-Fi
- Canon Selphy CP1200 Black Wireless Color Photo Printer Wi-Fi
- HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer Bluetooth
- Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Smart Phone Printer
- Kodak Mini Mobile Wi-Fi NFC Photo Printer
- SereneLife PICKIT20 Portable Instant Mobile Photo Printer Wi-Fi
- Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer Bluetooth NFC
- Pickit M2 Portable Photo Printer Wi-Fi NFC
Let’s take a closer look at each of these instant photo printers
1. Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 Smart Phone Printer (Gold/Silver) – BEST FOR QUICK PRINTS
The Instax Share SP-2 Smart Phone Printer is the second generation portable photo printer with built-in rechargeable battery. It uses the same self developing photo paper that are used in their Instax Mini Cameras. The SP-2 has a higher resolution 800×600 as oppose to 640×480 in the first generation printer. The second generation printer also seems to fix the exposure issue retaining the image quality and colors with 256 Levels RGB reproduction. There is also a quick reprint button to produce more than one of the same print. The companion app lets you edit and optimise the image before sending to the printer.
- Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that charges via microUSB port.High luminance LED indicating the film and battery status. Quick printing, 10 seconds from print data transfer to print output.
- Print Size: 2.1 x 3.4-inch 800 x 600 dots and of (320 dpi 54 x 86 mm)
- Connectivity: WiFi and Instax SHARE App lets you customise your photos before printing.
- Consumables: Fujifilm Instax mini self developing photo paper (pack of 10, 20 or 50 available) App lets you apply filters and use different templates.
2. Canon Selphy CP1200 Black Wireless Color Photo Printer – BEST FOR PRINT SIZE OPTIONS, BORDERLESS
The SELPHY CP1200 wireless compact photo printer is available with or without the optional battery pack so be sure to pick the right package. For portability, you will need the optional battery bundle to allow you to take it everywhere and print anywhere. It is also the only printer in our line-up that supports different size prints; from postcard size paper, label size, square to 8 small stickers, just be sure to pick the right one for you.
- Battery: Rechargeable battery available to buy as a bundle. Up to 50 prints from a single charge.
- Print Size(s): Card Size (2.1″ x 3.4″), Postcard (3.9″ x 5.8″), L Size (3.5″ x 4.7″) , Square Label (2.0″ x 2.0″)
- Connectivity: WiFi with dedicated WiFi button. Airprint enabled for printing from iOS devices.
- Consumables: Each Selphy ink and paper kit comes with the exact amount to print 18, 36 or 54 photos. For the different print sizes, see above.
3. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer – BEST FOR PORTABILITY, BORDERLESS
While the depth is bigger, it has a footprint that is no bigger than your smartphone so it is small enough to fit in your pocket. The Sprocket not only looks good but performs well too. Using the same ZINK (Zero INK technology) first seen on Polariod printers also featured here, it spits out 5 x 7.6 cm (2 x 3-inch) prints that has a sticky back so you can mount it as you would a standard sticker.
Easily one of the more popular photo printers in the market right now with clever market from HP. The printer is available in black, white or red, all in striking and stylish design with its own rechargeable battery for complete portability.
- Battery: rechargeable battery lets you print up to 30 prints per charge, recharge in 60-80 minutes
- Print Size: 5 x 7.6 cm (2 x 3-inch)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and HP Sprocket App lets you customise your photos before printing.
- Consumables: HP ZINK Photo Paper (pack of 10 available) with bright colours, durable, smudge-proof, water-resistant, tear-resistant, glossy and vibrant. Peel off the back of the prints and turn it into an instant sticker.
4. Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Smart Phone Printer – LAST GENERATION
The first generation Instax SHARE makes print quick and easy with self developing films from Fujifilm. Together with the companion app, you can edit and make your prints more attractive and sends it to the mobile printer. You can also take photos uploaded to Facebook or Instagram and print it on here bringing your social images and snaps to life. The downside is, the printer is being replace by the SP-2 and it uses CR2 batteries instead of rechargeable ones although you can get rechargeable CR2 batteries and charger pack.
- Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Printer
- Battery: 2x CR2 batteries
- Print Size: 2.1 x 3.4-inch
- Connectivity: Wireless LAN
- Consumable: 10, 20, 50 exposure film pack
5. Kodak Mini Mobile Wi-Fi NFC Photo Printer – BORDERLESS
The Kodak Mini Mobile comes with NFC so just tape your Android device on the printer and with one touch NFC, you can pair, edit and print your photos instantly. The printer is also compatible with iOS devices and lets you print wirelessly over WiFi. The 2.1 x 3.4-inch prints are face-proof with dye transfer that last for at least 10 years and is both humidity and fingerprint resistant. As with most companion app, the Kodak app lets you crop, collage, filter, apply card, sticker or ID photo print and more to truly customise your prints.
- Print Size: 2.1 X 3.4-inch Photos Direct From Android or iOS Device
- Connectivity – NFC One Touch for Android Launches Kodak App to Print in Seconds; Also Compatible With iPhone or iPad Via Wi-Fi Connection
- Innovative D2T2 Dye Transfer Method Produces Beautiful, Detailed Black/White or Color Portraits That Dry Instantly & Stay Bright Up to 10 Yrs
- Consumables: – Innovative Kodak PMC Cartridges Combine Paper & Color Ink for Easy Maintenance; Purchase Refills in Increments of 20, 30 or 50
6. SereneLife PICKIT20 Portable Instant Mobile Photo Printer – BORDERLESS
Bring your photos to life with Pyle’s new PICKIT20 mobile printer. where technology and tradition come together. The printer takes an hour and a half to charge and once ready, you can take it with you to print wirelessly anywhere you go. A single charge will give you about 25 prints. The body is about the same size as an oversized smartphone and can easily tuck away in any bag. Use the app to make quick edits to your photos and adjust the border before printing.
- Print Size: 2 x 3.5-inch (291dpi) and completely borderless, ideal for quick card and ID prints.
- Connectivity: WiFi wireless and PICKIT app for Android and iOS
- Consumables: high quality laminated 291dpi glossy prints. Inkless self contained cartridges containing both paper and ink enough for 10 prints.
Download the PICKIT app and choose digital photos from your camera roll. Make quick small edits by cropping, changing color or adding filters before sending to the iPhone printer. Make collages with multiple pictures or add sticker and text to spice up pictures.
7. Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer – BORDERLESS
Use the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer to liberate your snaps from your mobile device. The standalone mobile printer is designed to print vibrant, colorful photos from a variety of sources and only measures a compact 2.9 Inches x 4.7 Inches x 0.9 Inches and weighs just 6.6 Ounces.
Sending your photos to the mobile printer is super easy. Simply connect your iOS or Android smartphones, tablets and other devices over Bluetooth or NFC, and print wirelessly from anywhere within range. The companion Polaroid ZIP app is available for iOS and Android devices. With a few finger taps, you can edit your photos before printing. Add emojis, voice recordings, general text, links and a lot more. You can even embed a password protected QR code to share secret information with your inner circle or special someone.
- Print Size: 2 x 3-inch Photos Are Full-Color & Smudge-Proof, and Feature Peel-Back, Sticky Paper and borderless
- Connectivity: Prints Directly from Your Mobile Phone or Tablet via Bluetooth or NFC Technology
- Dimensions: Compact 2.9 Inches x 4.7 Inches x 0.9 Inches; Weighs Just 6.6 Ounces
- Consumables: PREMIUM Zink zero papers – ZINK Paper Means No Ink. No Hassles
- Companion App: Polaroid ZIP App for iOS & Android
8. Pickit M2 Portable Photo Printer WiFi NFC – BORDERLESS
It may seem blocky but it is small enough to fit in your jacket pocket. The PICKIT M2 shares the same all-in-one cartridge like those used in KODAK printers with 10 prints a pop. The built in battery takes an hour and half to charge and lets you print up to 25 prints before needing to charge again. Download the PICKIT mobile app to setup and connect to the printer via WiFi.
- Connectivity: Wirelessly transfer pictures using the printer’s fast WiFi and print in an instant.
- Battery: comes with a built in battery that lets you take it anywhere. Print up to 25 images on a single charge. Compact mini size fits in your bag or pocket for travel.
- Print Size: high quality fully laminated 291dpi glossy images. Prints are 2” x 3.5” and completely borderless. Ideal for quick card and ID prints.
- Companion App: PICKIT Mobile App, choose digital photos from your camera roll. Make quick small edits by cropping, changing color or adding filters before sending to the printer. Make collages with multiple pictures or add sticker and text to spice up pictures.
- Consumables: Inkless self contained cartridges contain both paper and ink, enough for 10 prints. Easy to change. No fingerprints or hassle with cleaning and maintenance. When the cartridge is depleted simply eject it from the printer and replace with a new one.
- Dimensions: 6.2” x 3.2” x 1”
A successful KickStarter project, it now has the backing of Apple, the Lifeprint Instant Photo Printer is an augmented-reality photo printer with a free app that allows you to instantly print your favorite photos and videos from your iPhone. Apart from Apple Life Photos, it prints Vines, GIFs and videos, well not quite videos but it will print a frame, you can then use the app and point your smartphone camera at the print out and it will play the video on your screen with augmented reality viewer. Pretty impressive.
Thanks to unique Hyperphoto technology, LifePrint can print Live Photos from Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. The LifePrint App lets you edit, print and share your high quality photos with your family, friends, and followers by simply printing to any Lifeprint printer. Now, those of you who are wonder, the LifePrint Printer and app is now only available to iPhone, there is an Android app so the printer is fully compatible with Android phones, you just don’t get the Life Photo option and augmented reality viewer option.
Lastly, the app also support video printing from GoPro, so for those who thought they have captured a video and found it difficult to get a photo printed, LifePrint is your answer. Not only that, it will do the same as it did for Life Photos with augmented-reality viewer. After you have finished printing the photo, use the app’s augmented-reality viewer to watch the photo come to life.
- Battery: up to 20 prints per charge, charging time 1 hour.
- Print Size: 2 x 3-inch
- Dimensions: Height: 1.45 in./3.68 cm Length: 5.75 in./14.6 cm Width: 3.8 in./9.65 cm Weight: 10.1 oz./286 g
- Printer: ZINK thermal paper – zero ink printing, just add ZINK film paper, paper comes with sticky back. It takes approximately 30 seconds to complete a print.
- Consumables: 30 or 110 pack with better value going for the 110 pack
A bigger version that churns out 3 x 4.5-inch prints is now available. This bigger alternative has all the features of its smaller counterpart plus the ability to print over WiFi. While it may not be small enough to fit in the pocket, it is still compact and can easily be carried in the back pack and is also capable of printing between 20 to 30 images per charge for a completely wireless use.
OTHERS: Kodak Dock Wi-Fi Photo Printer Dock PD-450 – BORDERLESS
While the printer is small enough to carry with you, it does not feature a built-in battery, so it is not completely portable. You will need to find a wall socket to power this via the supplied adapter. Still it offers high quality photos at standard 4” x 6” prints in brilliant colour and stunning detail using D2T2 Thermal Transfer Technology that won’t bleed or fade. The unique 4th layer overcoat laminates paper to preserve image quality and offer resistance to humidity and fingerprint.
- Print Size: Prints Standard 4” x 6” Photos in Brilliant Color & Stunning Detail; D2T2 Thermal Transfer Technology Won’t Bleed or Fade
- Connectivity: Dock features 5-Pin Micro USB for Android & USB Host for Printing from iPhone, iPad, Digital Camera, or USB Memory Stick with free Android Dock Pin and free iOS Lightning Adapter. WiFi and Dock lets you print wirelessly.
- Charging: Power up to 2 smart devices, unique dock supplies a fast charge for mobile devices.
- App: Download the Kodak Photo Printer App for Filters, Stickers, Card Templates, Collage Maker, Video & SNS Print & Other Features
- Consumables: Refill packs come in size of 40 prints and is offered as a bundle of 40, 80 or 120 Pack Kodak Dock & WiFi Photo Printer Cartridge PHC. These are essentially packs of photo sheets and cartridge(s) with 40 print capacity each.