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The best portable printer for photos in 2021: get prints straight from your smartphone!

Included in this guide:

best portable printer for photos in 2020
(Image credit: Fujifilm)

The best portable printers can get your photos off your phone and into the real world. Rather than leaving images unseen on SD cards, hard drives and cloud storage sites, making prints is a fantastic way to make them into real, tangible memories.

Portable printing doesn't have to cost a fortune! Portable printers tend to be very affordable, with much less in the way of moving parts and weight than desktop printers. 

This guide covers portable printers for smartphone users who want to be able to create a physical photo from a camera phone with a device small enough to carry to a party or a family gathering, for example. Many will even fit in a small bag, and still print out an image within seconds. Basically, they turn your smartphone into an instant camera.

Most portable printers have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, so you can output your prints without any cables. There are different printing technologies too. 

Some portable printers use Zink photo paper (short for zero-ink), which is the cheapest method of quick printing, though these prints will never win awards for clarity and contrast. Still, they do the job, and tend to be fairly damage-resistant too.

Other printers are dye-sublimation, also known as 'dye-sub', which uses heat to transfer dye to the printing material. The print quality is better than Zink printers, and while the prints might not be quite as good as those from a regular desktop photo printer, that's a small price to pay for portability and ease of use.

Some portable printers also use the same types of instant film that you find in instant cameras, making it super easy to stock up, though instant film formats are often pretty small (instax, for example), and the costs can ramp up pretty quickly.

We've included all different types in our guide, and noted which is which. So, let’s get started on our rundown of the best portable printers!

Best portable printers for smartphones

(Image credit: Canon)

The handbag-sized QX10 produces 6.8x6.8cm prints that can last 100 years!

Specifications
Paper type: Canon sticker paper (dye sub)
Approx paper cost: $14.99/£14.99 for 20 sheets (about 75c / 75p per print)
Print size: 2.8 x 3.3 inch / 7.2 x 8.5cm
Image size: 2.7 x 2.7 inch / 6.8 x 6.8cm
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi
Printer weight: 445g (without ribbon or paper)
Battery: Rechargeable Canon battery
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Available colors: White, pink, green or black
Reasons to buy
+Excellent print quality+Long-lasting prints+Extremely portable
Reasons to avoid
-Prints are relatively costly

Canon aims its sights squarely at Instagrammers with its latest flashy portable printer, the Selphy Square QX10, which produces a printed image in a 6.8cm x 6.8cm square format. (Yes, we know that Instagram doesn't make you upload photos in square format any more... we won't tell them if you don't). The prints, which come in a brand new XS-20L pack, are rated to last more than 100 years if stored responsibly, and come with a smudge-proof, water-protected coating. Not bad for something that's produced in as little 43 seconds! The QX10 is also small enough to fit in a handbag, making it perfect for travel and parties, and thanks to its pro-quality dye-sub technology, its prints will look really great.

Read more: Canon Selphy Square QX10 printer

Best instant printers: Kodak Step Instant Printer

(Image credit: Kodak)

2. Kodak Step Instant Printer

This Zink printer makes adequate rather than great prints, but it's cheap and fuss-free

Specifications
Paper type: Kodak Zink
Approx paper cost: £12.99 / $12.99 for 30 sheets (about 43p / 43c per print)
Print size: 2 x 3 inch / 5.08 x 7.62cm
Image size: 2 x 3 inch / 5.08 x 7.62cm
Connectivity: Bluetooth, micro USB
Printer weight: 453g (without paper)
Battery: Rechargeable battery
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Available colors: White or black
Reasons to buy
+Useful app connectivity+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Zink quality is average-Micro USB port

Not to be confused with the Kodak Step camera, the Kodak Step printer is a quick and simple Zink printer for bringing smartphone shots into the real world. Connect your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth, and you can use the Kodak Step Prints app to do a quick edit of an image, or add borders and stickers. It's not the printer of the highest quality, but it is very simple and a lot of fun, with Zink paper meaning you don't need to worry about messy ink refills. It's a shame that it only charge via Micro USB, which (as anyone who owned an Android phone a few years ago can attest) is less robust than other connection types. But this capable printer is extremely well-priced, with low running costs, and is fantastic for anyone looking to print on a budget.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

This instax printer is smart, simply and stylish, but the titchy 54 × 86mm prints are more for keepsakes than display

Specifications
Paper type: Instax Mini Film
Approx paper cost: £14.05 / $15 for 20 sheets (about 70p / 75c per print)
Print size: 2.1 in × 3.4 in / 54 × 86mm
Image size: 1.8 in × 2.4 in / 62x46mm
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Printer weight: 209g
Battery: 1 x Lithium-Ion
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Available colors: Dark Denim, Dusky Pink and Ash White
Reasons to buy
+Prints in 12 seconds +High-quality, 320 dpi 
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive per sheet -Small prints 

The Instax Mini Link, and the special edition Instax Mini Link SE, makes printing pictures fun – and is a brilliant alternative to using an instant camera. It uses the same film the most popular Instax Mini cameras – but the advantage here is that by taking the pictures with your camera phone, you get more control over your results, and can just print our the edited highlights of your night out! 

The app enables you to add borders, fun overlays, and even combine several shots into a montage. And not only can you print directly from your phone, you can also use the Mini Link SE app to print Instax photos from your Nintendo Switch!

The Instax Mini Link is about 20% lighter and 23% smaller than the previous Instax SP-2 – and is undoubtedly one of the most stylish looking portable printers around.  Printing on Instax is a little more expensive than some other types of media, particularly as the image size is a pretty miniscule 62x46mm (1.8 in × 2.4 in).

(Image credit: Canon)

Outstanding print quality with postcard-sized 6"x4" prints, but more for a briefcase than a handbag

Specifications
Paper type: Canon postcard-sized photo paper
Approx paper cost: £34.99 / $34.99 for 108 sheets (about 33p / 33c per print)
Print size: 6x4 inch / 14.8 x 10 cm
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint
Printer weight: 860g
Battery: Optional NB-CP2LH battery pack
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful 4x6in prints+Cartridge ink/paper system
Reasons to avoid
-Large and heavy-No dedicated app-Battery not supplied as standard

While it’s still much lighter and more transportable than a standard printer, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 is definitely on the heavier and bulkier side of portable printers, so if you’re looking for something to sling in a handbag or other small bag, this isn’t it. If you don’t mind a little extra weight, however, the prints it produces are absolutely excellent, with rich colors and clearly defined lines.

Able to connect to Wi-Fi (though with no bespoke phone app), the Canon SELPHY CP1300 dye sublimation printer is easy to set up and get printing with. It uses Canon’s ink/paper cartridge system, meaning it’s easy to load with everything you need in as few steps as possible. It’s able to print at a maximum of postcard size, though you can also produce various smaller print sizes if you prefer. While it usually requires a power outlet to work, there is also an optional battery pack that allows you to take the CP1300 on your travels more easily.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

It's actually a hybrid digital instant camera, but it can also print straight from your smartphone

Specifications
Type: Digital instant camera + instant printer
Sensor size: 4.9MP
Film type: instax Mini
Approximate paper cost: £14.05 / $15 for 20 sheets (about 70p / 75c per print)
Image size: 1.8 in × 2.4 in / 62x46mm
Print size: 2.1 in × 3.4 in / 54 × 86mm
Lens: 28mm f/2
Minimum shooting distance: 10cm
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: LCD screen
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Colors available: Black/gold, white, or blush
Reasons to buy
+Built-in instant camera, as well as instant printer+Standard Instax Mini film+45-image internal storage
Reasons to avoid
-Clunky app -App doesn't edit photos

The Fujifilm instax Mini LiPlay is not marketed specifically as a portable printer – so this one may be easy to miss. Instead it is one of a new breed of hybrid instant cameras – that offer the functionality of an instant camera, a digital camera, and a portable printer in the same device. Unlike standard instant cameras, you therefore have the choice of which pictures you actually print out – as you can look at them on the screen first. But just as usefully, this can be used to print pictures from your smartphone (just like other pocket printers). The camera has a modest 4.9 megapixel sensor - but it does allow you to store up to 45 images internally (or more with a microSD card).  

• See other digital instant cameras

6. Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer

Another Zink 3"x2" printer that offers both style and value. And yes, it is 'Mint' not 'Mini'

Specifications
Paper type: Zink
Approx paper cost: £12.99 / $12.99 for 30 sheets (about 43p / 43c per print)
Print size: 2 x 3 in (5.08 x 7.62 cm)
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Printer weight: 162g
Battery: 1 x lithium-Ion
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Available colors: Black, blue, red, white or yellow
Reasons to buy
+Cheap to buy and run+Choice of colors+Pre-print customization options
Reasons to avoid
-Frequently needs recharging

You’d expect a mini-printer from Polaroid to do the business well, and the Mint Pocket Printer doesn’t disappoint. Available in a range of stylish colours and portable enough to take everywhere, it uses Zink paper to produce colour-rich and detailed prints. It’s easy to load and use, and can be paired quickly and easily with a smartphone thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity.

The Mint Pocket Printer has a generous battery life, however it’s worth noting that the battery runs down quickly on standby (within a couple of weeks), so if you’re using the printer infrequently you’ll likely have to get in the habit of remembering to charge it before you use it. As long as this isn’t an issue, you’ll find this a wonderfully handy portable printer. Use the Polaroid Mint app to make stylish adjustments to your photos, and you’ll find the printer is not only useful but fun to use as well, as a Polaroid should be.

7. HP Sprocket Plus

Another great Zink printer, and one that actually produces rather good print quality

Specifications
Paper type: HP ZINK S2 photo paper
Approx paper cost: £10 / $10 for 20 sheets (about 50p / 50c per print)
Print size: 5.8 x 8.6 cm
Image size: 2 x 3 inch / 5 x 7.6cm
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Printer weight: 204g
Battery: 1 x Lithium-Ion
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-sized +Beautiful print quality +Prints from video
Reasons to avoid
-Slight crop of images

Providing a fantastic balance between portability and quality, the HP Sprocket Plus is a printer that’s small enough to take everywhere with you. It produces fantastically detailed prints on HP Zink S2 photo paper or HP Sprocket Plus Photo Paper, and it’s simplicity itself to set up. Simply load the paper in the back, pair the printer with your phone using the built-in Bluetooth, and you’re away.

The HP Sprocket app is easy to use and offers a multitude of cool features to make printing more fun – one of the most intriguing is “Embedded Experiences”, which lets you print a frame from a video and tag it with details of the people in it or the place it was taken. Once this is done, you can then scan the print with your phone and see it “come to life” in-app, with the video playing and the metadata displayed. It’s a cool little feature. 

The prints themselves are gorgeously high-quality, with plenty of detail and rich colours. The vibrant memories you’ll make with this printer will look wonderful on display, and given that it’s the size of a mobile phone, you’ll have no trouble taking it everywhere with you.

Note: Stock levels of the HP Sprocket Plus have been fluctuating recently, so you might initially struggle to buy this printer until it comes back in stock.

Best portable printers: Kiipix Portable Smartphone Picture Printer

8. Kiipix Portable Smartphone Picture Printer

This amazing hand-cranked instax printer uses real old-school tech. You'll either love it or think it's mad

Specifications
Paper type: Instax Mini Film
Approx paper cost: £14.05 / $15 for 20 sheets (about 70p / 75c per print)
Print size: 5.33 x 8.63 cm
Connectivity: No
Printer weight: 404g
Battery: No
Compatibility: n/a
Reasons to buy
+ Cheap asking price + No battery required 
Reasons to avoid
-Requires maximum phone brightness-Uses more expensive film  

There’s no charging the Kiipix Portable Mini Printer, nor any need to plug it in. Simply load it with Instax film, place your phone face down on the scanner (with the brightness cranked all the way up – trust us), using the reflective mirror to ensure it’s properly aligned, and then you can manually crank out the prints yourself.

Cheap and cheerful, the Kiipix printer also folds up for easy transportation. It’s cheap asking price makes it more attractive than some of the other printers on this list, though it’s worth noting that it requires the more expensive Instax film to run, meaning it could work out more expensive in the long run if you plan to make lots of prints (though to be fair you’d have to make a lot of prints before approaching the cost of something like the Sprocket Plus).

Best portable printers: Kodak Mini 2

9. Kodak Mini 2

Kodak's Mini 2 uses all-in-one dye sub paper and ink packs, and simple NFC or Bluetooth communication

Specifications
Paper type: Kodak Cartridge Printer Paper & Dye sublimation cartridge
Approx paper cost: £34.99 / $38 for 50 sheets (about 70p / 76c per print)
Print size: 5.33 x 8.63 cm
Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth
Printer weight: 322g
Battery: 1 x Lithium Polymer
Compatibility: iOS/Android
Available colors: Black, blue, pink, white or purple
Reasons to buy
+ Fast connectivity with NFC + Excellent quality 
Reasons to avoid
- All-in-one cartridges - App can be unreliable 

The handy Kodak app for Android makes this printer a breeze to use (though some report it can be a little unreliable and prone to crashing). Make use of the Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities of this printer and enjoy printing in seconds, and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android via the Bluetooth connection.

The prints the Mini 2 produces are first-rate, making use of Kodak’s all-in-one ink-and-paper cartridges for convenience and ease of use It uses 4Pass printing technology, also known as dye sublimation, to make its images, resulting in unmatched quality. The free app also provides access to loads of editing functionality, allowing you to tweak and filter your images to your satisfaction before hitting the print button. 

(Image credit: Epson)

10. Epson WorkForce WF110

We've included a portable 'proper' printer for executives on the move

Specifications
Paper type: Plain paper / photo paper
Approx paper cost: Varies
Print size: A4/US Letter
Connectivity: Micro USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct
Printer weight: 1,600g
Battery: 1 x Li-ion
Compatibility: iOS/Android/Windows/Mac
Available colors: Black
Reasons to buy
+Top-notch print quality+Wi-Fi direct connectivity+Rechargeable battery
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive inkjet cartridges-A little slow

Able to handle glossy photo paper as easily as it does plain A4, the Epson WorkForce WF-110W is a hugely useful portable printer if you want to use a laptop when traveling. With a rechargeable Li-ion battery built in, and connecting via Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, it's an easy printer to set up and get started with, producing prints that a highly detailed and look fantastic (albeit doing so a little slower than other printers on this list). Its inkjet cartridges are a little on the expensive side, so factor that in before making a decision as this is the kind of cost that will mount up over time.

• See also Best compact printers

Read more:

Best photo printer
Best digital instant hybrid cameras
Best online photo printing services
Best wireless printer