best portable photo printers

Best Portable Photo Printer

Determining what the best portable photo printer on the market is a daunting task. Not only do we need a lot of research, but we also need to go through a lot of in-depth discussions.


Portable Photo Printer

At the end of it all, we may not even have a conclusive answer. There are many models out there and many factors to consider.

Nevertheless, I’d like to share with you about what I think are the best portable photo printers. In our world where taking photos and uploading them on social media have become a daily routine, having a kick-ass mobile printer has become a fundamental requirement for any adventure.

The convenience and entertainment that it gives you as it helps you capture memories and bring them to life are considered by many as priceless. Life is a fleeting moment, so having something to hold onto is something people value a lot. Having a device like a portable photo printer helps us achieve that goal.

IN this article:

In this article, I’ll be presenting a collection of photo printers to you. I would be discussing not only their pros and cons but also their comparisons with one another.


To help in deciding which one to buy, I’ll be taking a look at the important factors of each. These include price, image quality, mobility, compatibility with other devices, and other features.


Hopefully, after reading this article, you won’t only have a deeper appreciation for this type of technology. But you would also have a better picture of which model you’d like to buy.

Best Portable Photo Printers

Fujifil Instax

Most 'Intelligent'

Fujifilm INSTAX SHARE SP-2 Smart Phone Printer

Price: $$$

It’s a very good-looking portable printer with solid features, but the price is trouble some for me.

Rated by Phillip

Kodak Mini

Best Choice

Kodak Mini Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer

Price: $$

A magnificent piece of equipment, with a multitude of uses, and produces high quality images

Rated by Phillip

Polaroid Zip

Great Alternative

Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer

Price: $$

If you can overlook the printing quality, the Polaroid Zip should still be a fun printer to own and use.

Rated by Phillip

1. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

The HP Sprocket is a great entry-level model that is easy to use and perfect for beginners. It has all the basic requirements of a portable photo printer.

Weighing about six ounces, the HP Sprocket is light, compact, and portable. It fits perfectly in your backpack, purse, and even in your pocket.

The size of the printer makes it a perfect companion for all your adventures.

Printing a photo is also simple with HP Sprocket. All you need to do is use a Bluetooth connection to pair your phone with the printer, download the app, and start taking your pictures. Once already set-up, you can easily control the whole process with your smartphone.

You can even edit all the images you took via the app by adding stickers, borders, or even text. After you’re done, just click on the print button and the image will be sent directly to the portable printer. Wait for a few seconds, and you’ll have your photo ready.

The whole process takes about 45 seconds excluding the editing part, of course. The images are printed using Zink (Zero-Ink) imaging which utilizes molecules embedded in a specialized paper to create the picture.

HP-Sprocket

Printing only takes 45 seconds!

The heat from the printer triggers this process by causing these particles to move around and take the shape of the image on your phone. The end product is a vibrant photo ready to be used.

This is an efficient feature because it saves you a lot of money without buying an ink. Instead, you just need to buy the special re-fill paper, which would cost about 50 cents per piece.

Another added feature that HP introduced is the ability to sync the app with your social media accounts and download photos there for printing. It gives you a very convenient way to print pictures on your Facebook or Instagram account as well as upload photos you’ve previously edited there. This is a great way to re-invent your photos.

Finally, the HP Sprocket is compatible with both iOS and Android users. So, you don’t need to purchase any additional software to use this. Overall, the HP Sprocket portable photo printer is a user-friendly model to have and use in day-to-day activities.

PROS

  • Lightweight and ergonomic design for easy mobilization
  • Sync the app with your social media accounts 
  • Peel the back of the photo to turn it into a sticker 
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    Very efficiently prints each photo in under 45 seconds 
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    Zink Imaging technology
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    Compatible with different operating systems 

CONS

  • Takes 1 and ½ hours to fully charge the battery
  • Sub par image quality
  • App interface can be slightly difficult to decipher

2. Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer

Polaroid is a well-known camera brand that specializes in instant photography. So, it is not a surprise that they too have tried their luck in the portable printer industry.

Eerily similar to the HP Sprocket, the Polaroid Zip mobile printer also utilizes Zero-ink technology to create the picture.

The heat activates the molecules in the dye which changes colors to create an image. Sadly, similar to Polaroid cameras, the photo isn’t apparent and looks like it has a filter over it.

If you can overlook the printing quality, the Polaroid Zip should still be a fun printer to own and use. Similar to other models, this device is also lightweight and compact and can easily be transported from one place to another.

The Polaroid Zip photo printer is convenient to take to the beach or out hiking. You can use this in places where many nice photo opportunities are waiting to be snapped.

After taking a photo, you can also adjust the light, contrast, and warmth, and add stickers and emojis to your pictures. As compared to the HP Sprocket, the interface of the app is easy to understand.

Polaroid Zip platform

Controlling the settings of the photo is a breeze. After you are done, click print, and the photo will automatically send from the app to the printer. It should all take an average time of 55 seconds, which is not exceptionally fast but not slow either.

Similar to the HP Sprocket with fewer features, this is an adequate entry-level printer you can buy for yourself or give as a gift. If you enjoy printing photos, editing them to your liking, and printing them for hard copies, you’re going to love this product.

PROS

  • Easy to understand app interface
  • Lightweight design
  • Affordable price compared to other models
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    Easily print photos using Zink technology
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    Edit photos and re-decorate them based on your liking

CONS

  • Only has about 20 prints for every full charge
  • Below average image quality
  • Pictures only come in 2 x 3 inches size
  • Colors tend to be inaccurate

3. Kodak Mini Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer

In a world where Zink technology is slowly taking over but not necessarily delivering on the results, Kodak teaches us that affordable inked printing is still the way to go.

In an effort to make both worlds meet, they have introduced their innovation to the market: D2T2 dye transfer method.

The Kodak Mini uses a special fade-proof dye to print the photos.

Kodak Mini is really nothing special except for the fact that it will last ten years guaranteed, and it has fingerprint and humidity-resistant qualities.

While the Kodak mini is basic compared to other models, you cannot argue with the results. Each image printed has a crisp and high-quality feeling which is almost similar to professionally printed photos. If quality is what you are looking for from your photos, the Kodak Mini can keep up with the best of them.

The Kodak Mini’s process is similar to other models. You pair your phone with the device using a Bluetooth connection or NFC for Android users. And after a few minutes of syncing, you’re now ready to print.

The application’s interface will give you the option to choose photos from your gallery or take new pictures yourself. Afterward, you will be given the option to edit your images and let your creativity run wild. When you’re contented, just click on print and wait for the finished product.

Kodak Mini

The Kodak Mini is about the same size as a smartphone.

The images are printed on a 3.1 x 3.4 inches paper which is slightly smaller than the other portable printer papers. Personally, I like the added size because it helps me appreciate the photo more. The printer is also capable of making edge-to-edge prints, so there are minimal borders on your photos.

Lastly, my favorite feature about the Kodak Mini is its price at just below $90. Getting a mobile printer at that price, which produces real-looking images, is a dream come true. Just be ready to spend a little bit more on the photo paper used.

Compared to other choices, the price per print of this device is roughly 80 cents. If you’re okay with this setup, that's great because it seems like you have a real bargain on your hands.

PROS

  • Impeccable and real-life image quality
  • Professional looking exterior
  • Companion app allows you to edit your photos in a wide variety of ways
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    Affordable price
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    Photos are slightly bigger than standards size of 2x3 inches
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    Durability of the pictures can last up to ten years
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    Compatible with Android and iOS

CONS

  • Refill paper is more expensive than standard
  • Need to buy ink cartridges
  • Tendency for cartridge to get stuck inside the machine

4. Serene Life PICKIT 20 Portable Instant Mobile Photo Printer

The PICKIT 20 is one of the biggest portable printers we will be evaluating today, but with that size comes a fantastic image quality.

This particular model has an average dimension of 6 x 3 x 1 inches and weighs approximately 9.8 ounces which is a lot larger than its competitors. It can still be transported easily but might just be a little bulkier to carry around.

The reason why it is so big is this is essentially a pocket-sized sublimation printer which is similar to the big ones we use in the office.

It prints photos in four levels which help create its detail-oriented, real looking photos. To be specific, this printer produces 291 dpi glossy images.

Similar to the Kodak mini portable printer, the PICKIT 20 always uses a holder that has the ink and paper already pre-loaded in it. When you buy the cartridge, you simply load it on the side of the printer. The downside is, when the ink has already been used up, you’ll need to throw away the whole container which adds to unnecessary waste.

Serene Life PICKIT 20

The Serene Life is very easy to use.

The printing process also takes about 85 seconds, which is a lot longer than other products. For me, I wouldn’t mind waiting that long, for as long as the quality of my image is top notch. I think the PICKIT 20 can reach that standard.

There are a lot more details in the photos, more accurate color, and more vibrant look. I am simply amazed at how such an incredible picture came from such a small portable printer.

As a whole, I think the high image quality is the best feature of the  PICKIT 20. It is affordable and provides exceptional picture quality. If that is what you are looking for in a printer, you may want to consider buying this particular model.

PROS

  • Prints high quality photos with exceptional details
  • Uses special dye to create images
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
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    Affordable price
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    PickIt mobile app allows you to adjust the photo as you like it

CONS

  • Takes a long time for the photos to print
  • Expensive cost of printing is at 70 cents per picture
  • Heavier and bulkier than other mobile printers
  • Has unnecessary waste when you need to dispose of the cartridge

5. Fujifilm INSTAX SHARE SP-2 Smart Phone Printer

Fujifilm is another popular camera manufacturer that has made its way into the portable printer industry. As expected, they did not disappoint.

The Fujifilm Instax share SP-2 smart produces images with 800x600 dots and a stunning 320 dpi. These specs will give you a more vibrant photo with sharp details on the background.

All images are printed on a 2.4 x 1.8 inches Instax photo paper which is disappointing because you won't be able to appreciate the photo at that size fully.

There also isn’t much you can do with that other than keep in your wallet as memorabilia.

Like other mobile printers, using it is quite easy. All you need to do is download the free SHARE app, pair the printer with your smartphone, and start snapping away. The app also allows you to edit your photos quickly before forwarding them to the device for printing.

The actual printing is laser fast at only ten seconds, but this can be deceiving because it would take another two minutes for the image to dry properly. You see, the printer uses a self-developing film which is what causes the delay.

Fujifilm INSTAX SHARE

The Instax share SP-2 is also quite bulky weighing in at 8.65 ounces. It is not small enough to keep in your pocket, but it is small enough to place in your bag or purse. Personally, I don’t prefer big models just because it’s more of a challenge to bring around. 

The printer also comes pre-loaded with ten Instax films so when going out and using it, it might be best to bring extra film.

The SHARE app also allows you to download your photos from social media and print it on this device. Just be careful because other consumers have encountered a glitch in the Wi-Fi because the internet seems to disconnect when you pair with the printer. It might be best to save all your photos on your smartphone first before starting to print the images.

All in all, it’s an awesome portable printer with solid features. But it's quite overpriced at around $145 which makes me doubt whether it’s a good investment or not. If you want outstanding photos, check this particular model out.

PROS

  • Clear photos filled with lots of detail
  • Share app allows you to use the printer easily and edit the photos as well
  • Fujifilm intelligence Filter automatically chooses the best filter for your photos
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    Equipped with a rechargeable battery
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    Ten second printing time

CONS

  • Photo size is very small
  • Price is expensive
  • 75 cents for every photo that you want to produce
  • Printer is a bit bulky

6. Lifeprint 2x3 Portable Photo and Video Printer

The final portable printer that we will be reviewing today is the Lifeprint 2 x 3 portable photo and video printer.

A unique feature it gives users is the inclusion of AR or Augmented Reality. This device allows you to create hyper-photos which are still frames of video that come to life when you direct your phone’s camera at them.

The Lifeprint portable photo printer is like a magic wand that allows you to bring inanimate objects to life. 

If you’re not a fan of the AR feature, you can still print regular photos using the app which is similar to how other printers do it. The printed copy size is about 2 x 3 inches. This is quite small to be fully appreciated.

Lifeprint also introduced another feature which is a network intended exclusively for their users. This means you can share content on the app with your friends or family who also use the Lifeprint application.

Regarding the photo quality, the device uses zero ink technology, which is beneficial because you don’t use ink but at the expense of the clarity of the image.

Lifeprint 2x3 Portable Photo

Many other users have complained that similar to the HP Sprocket and the Polaroid Zip, the Lifeprint has sub-par image quality. While you can adjust the lighting and color before printing, the difference between the actual printed photo and the one on your phone is pretty far.

The Lifeprint app also allows you to add different designs to your photos. Not only can you add stickers and smileys but you can also create memes and moving GIFs. I think younger users will appreciate this technology more.

Finally, the price of this device is pretty affordable. Currently having a price tag of less than $100, it’s a small investment to make for a lot of innovations. If you want to try something fun and out of the ordinary with your picture-taking skills, you might want to try out what the Lifeprint portable photo and video printer has in store for you.

PROS

  • Augmented reality option that literally brings your photos to life
  • Lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
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    Lifeprint network allows you to send and receive content with other users
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    Allows you to print photos directly from your social media accounts

CONS

  • Tendency for the application to crash
  • Picture quality is not so clear and sub-par
  • Application interface is difficult to understand especially for beginners
  • Photo sizes are too small

Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Photo Printer:

Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Photo Printer

As I said a while ago, various things should be considered when purchasing a portable photo printer. After going through all these different models, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities as well as differences.

I realized that some factors seem to outweigh others, and those are what I want to focus on in this segment. These are my recommendations on what you should look out for buying a mobile printer.

1. Inkless or Inked – Which One Produces a Higher Image Quality?

Having high-quality pictures with great attention to detail seems to be a basic requirement for consumers. If that’s the case, I believe you should first decide whether you want to use an ink-less or an inked printer.

There seems to be a growing trend with portable, ink-less printers that are cheaper but produce low-quality images. However, some people prefer inked printers that print high-quality of images although they are a little bit more expensive.

Inkless or Inked

For me, it all boils down to how or where you will use the photos. Are you just planning to play around and use the photos for a scrapbook? Or do you prefer crisp and clear photographs? I think answering these questions will give you a clearer idea of what type of printer you should buy.

2. Go Big or Go Small

In the same way that choosing ink-less or inked printers help you narrow down the choices, then the size is also a big deal. Mobile printers seem to come in all shapes and sizes and even designs. Deciding whether you want a compact and lightweight model or something a bit bulkier can affect what device you end up buying.

Portable Size and Easy to Carry Around

Normally, the printing machinery of small printers is basic as opposed to bulkier brands that use more advanced technology.

The design or material used also affects the weight of the printer. Lighter models use hard plastic while bulkier ones use metal and have a nice matte finish. Each of the designs also adds a specific dimension to the portable printer. Bigger photo printers look more professional than smaller ones while lighter products are more juvenile than darker ones.

All these, in some way, affect the type of portable printer you want to buy.

3. Price Point and Affordability

As with anything we purchase, the price is always going to be a major factor. Like I said earlier, portable printers are mere luxuries that we don’t necessarily need to invest in. However, they add a lot of fun and entertainment to our lives, so having one is not a bad idea.

It is important to remember to set a budget, but looking for the right model must also fit our requirements. Something that is expensive doesn’t always mean that it's of top quality. We can always find models that aren’t top of the line but answer your needs just right.

4. Need

Finally, we have reached the most important factor: what fits your needs. I want you to ask yourself this question: "why are you buying a portable printer in the first place?" Once you answer this, everything will be more precise because you will be able to prioritize what specific benefit you are looking for.

Conclusion:

In this article, we’ve discussed a lot of different brands and models of portable printers on the market. Now, let's go back to the initial question: Which among them do we consider the best of the best?

I can’t say for a certain nor can I speak for anyone, but after doing my research and analysis, I would have to go with the Kodak Mini Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer. Out of all the models we’ve talked about today, I believe this one best answers the factors needed to be considered in a practical, portable printer.

Kodak Mini Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer

Firstly, it can provide the users with high-quality imaging through its D2T2 dye technology which is guaranteed to last for at least ten years. It has clear imagery and accurate details and is comparable to professional-looking photos.

Aside from that, the size of the photos is just right. They’re small enough to be portable but big enough to appreciate the intricate details of the image. The printer itself is also lightweight and convenient to bring around with you or store in your bag.

The Kodak Mini is not bulky and carrying it in your pocket is not a challenge. It is also coated with a matte or metallic finish which gives it a professional look. I like that about the Kodak mini photo printer.

Lastly, it is an affordable portable printer. With a price tag of less than $100, it is a complete bargain to own. I don’t need to break the bank to buy a quality piece of machinery such as this. Simply put, it is worth far more than its price, and I like that about this product.

All in all, it is these factors that affect my choice for Kodak mini photo printer to be the best portable photo printer. It is a magnificent piece of equipment with a multitude of uses and produces high-quality images. I am sure any person who buys it will be glad they made that purchase.