Remember paper? It’s that stuff your bills used to be printed on. You can also use it to print out, frame, and share photos—provided you’ve got a photo printer.
Portable photo printers are smaller and more mobile than their full-size home office counterparts. They’re designed to quickly print photos for fun and to share with family and friends. They generally don’t require ink cartridge refills, favoring zero-ink paper processing instead.
Best of all, they’re mobile-ready, so you can print directly from your Android or iOS device. Here are six of the best portable photo printers available right now.
The HP Sprocket is a small and mobile photo printer for iOS and Android smartphones. First download the HP Sprocket app for iPhone or Android, select and customize your photos, then send them to the Sprocket for wireless printing. You can also connect your social accounts to the app and print from Facebook or Instagram directly.
The printer itself is about the size of a smartphone and should fit neatly in most pockets. Photos are printed onto 2×3-inch sticky-backed paper, which starts at around $10 for a pack of 20 (with bulk discounts applied to packs of 50 and 100). The printer charges via the included USB port and can produce around 35 photos on a single charge.
Also consider: HP Sprocket Plus, an updated version of the Sprocket that prints 30 percent larger photos on 2.3×3.4-inch sticky-backed paper. It also has Bluetooth 4.0 for faster photo transfer.
The third revision of Fujifilm’s most popular mobile printer, the Instax SP-3 is a self-contained unit that produces square format 2.4×2.4-inch images. The Instax SP-3 uses Wi-Fi to share images wirelessly via the Instax SHARE app for iPhone and Android. You can also connect select Fujifilm digital cameras and print directly.
The square format makes this printer perfect for Instagram prints. It’s also possible to split one image into two (ideal for portrait or landscape shots) or create a collage of up to nine photos. Prints are ready in about 13 seconds, and no ink refills are required. Paper refills start at around $12 for a box of ten, with discounts for buying in bulk.
The Kodak Mini Shot is a digital camera and photo printer in one small package. The unit has a 10-megapixel sensor and 1.7-inch LCD screen, with autofocus, metering, white balance, and gamma correction. You shouldn’t expect too much from the point and shoot, but the images will be good enough for their intended purpose.
Printer-wise the Mini Shot produces 2.1×3.4-inch prints that cost around $35 for a pack of 50. There’s no ink required since the processing takes place on the paper. The printer is compatible with smartphones via the Kodak app for iOS and Android. Prints have a laminated protection layer to guard against fingerprints, and Kodak promises they’ll stay bright and colorful for up to 10 years.
The Canon SELPHY CP1300 isn’t your average photo printer. Not only does it cost slightly more than the other printers on this list, but it also produces larger 4×6-inch prints. You can print from your smartphone via the Canon PRINT app, use AirPrint on iOS devices, or just print from a computer via Wi-Fi.
The CP1300 also uses more traditional cartridges sold in sets along with photo paper. The unit itself is much larger than a printer like the HP Sprocket, while still being small enough to be considered portable. If you want a truly mobile printing experience you can purchase an optional battery pack, otherwise use the included AC cable.
The SELPHY produces a higher quality image than most of the other printers on this list, at the expense of portability and added cost. A 108-pack of 4×6-inch photo paper with ink costs around $30, which makes it one of the more reasonably priced printers in terms of refills.
Polaroid’s answer to the portable printer craze is the Mint, a mini printer that produces 2×3-inch prints from iOS and Android smartphones. You’ll need to use the Polaroid Mint app to edit, customize, and print your images wirelessly via the printer’s Bluetooth connection.
With a built-in rechargeable battery, the printer provides around 50 prints on a single charge and uses Polaroid’s ZINK—or zero ink—paper which costs around $12 for 20 sheets. If ZINK refills are easier for you to come by than rival brands, the Mint is a good choice. It’s also available in a range of bright and bold colors to help set it apart from the pack.
Also Consider: Polaroid ZIP, a slightly cheaper and smaller photo printer from Polaroid. It uses the same 2×3-inch ZINK refills, but only offers 25 shots per charge.
The Kodak Mini 2 is a rechargeable portable photo printer that produces 2.1×3.4-inch prints. These are slightly larger than the prints you’ll get from HP and Polaroid. Additionally, Kodak’s prints are protected with the company’s 4 Pass process. This applies a protective layer to each photo to help defend against fingerprints and premature fading.
The Kodak Mini 2 includes nifty one-touch NFC functionality on supported Android devices. This allows you to launch the Kodak app directly on your Android phone without touching a button. The free Kodak app is available on Android and iOS. It allows you to wirelessly print your photos, and apply a range of filters, effects, and edits.
No ink is required, and you can purchase all-in-one mini cartridges containing 50 sheets for around $35.
The Best Portable Photo Printer for You
It’s never been easier to print photos while on-the-go. These portable photo printers mean that you can take a picture and immediately commemorate it with a physical photo. Remember though, the best portable photo printer for you will be the one that’s cheapest to run.
Based on our experience, Canon and HP provide some of the cheapest portable printers in terms of running costs. For best value always buy refills in bulk. However, you should be aware that like film many of these refills have use-by dates.
Portable photo printers are great for printing photos while out and about, but for serious home use, you’d better get a decent printer that’s cheap to run.