Picking up one of the best portable printers can make such a difference to your photography in ways you may never have imagined. So many people are guilty of letting their images languish on their phones or on hard drives, never taking the time to make a print, and thanks to the latest and greatest portable printers, it doesn't even have to be difficult or time-consuming!
A good portable printer effectively turns your camera or smartphone into an instant camera – allowing you to share wonderfully detailed prints of images with family and friends within seconds. Loved by scrapbookers, many of the printers we've featured in this guide are capable of producing a print within seconds. Furthermore, thanks to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, can take an image from capture to physical print in a matter of minutes – making them great gadgets to have at parties and family gatherings.
The different printers in this guide use different types of paper and ink, and some use the same types of instant film you'll find in instant cameras. Which one suits you best will depend on what kind of photographer you are, as well as what type of camera or phone you're using to capture your images.
We've divided our guide into sections to make it easier to navigate: the best printers for smartphones, for laptops, and lastly we've also included a professional dye-sublimation printer designed for pro photographers. Dye-sub printing uses heat to transfer dye to the printing media – it's fast and high-quality and used on some of the smaller printers in this guide. But larger portable dye sub printers are perfect for pro photographers working at events who want to print photos on location at 6x4 inch sizes or larger.
You can use the tabs above to navigate to your preferred section. So, let’s get started on our rundown of the best portable printers!
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
The Instax Mini Link makes printing pictures fun – and is a brilliant alternative to using an instant camera. It uses the same film as used in Fujifilm's most popular Instax cameras – but the advantage here is that by taking the pictures with your cameraphone, you get more control over your results, and can just print our the edited highlights of your night out! The app allows you to add borders, fun overlays, and even combine several shots into a montage.
The Instax Mini Link is about 20% lighter and 23% smaller than the previous Fujifilm Instax SP-2 printer – and is undoubtedly one of the most stylish looking smartphone accessories 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).
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
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.
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.
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.
More than a printer, the Kickstarter-funded Prynt Pocket also acts a phone case – simply slot your iPhone into the groove and you can instantly start creating high-quality prints on ZINK sticker paper. In as little as 30 seconds you can turn the photos on your phone or on an Instagram account into gorgeous prints full of detail and colour.
The makers have also added lots of interesting extra functionality. Download the Prynt app and you can embed a video inside your printed image for others with the app to discover by scanning the photo themselves – similar to the Embedded Experiences on the HP Sprocket. The Prynt is iPhone only at the moment, though an Android version is reportedly in the works, and will only work with ZINK Sticker paper.
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).
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.
Printers for laptops
Able to handle glossy photo paper as easily as it does plain A4, the Epson WorkForce WF-110W is a hugely useful portable printer, lighter than Canon's Pixma TP150, with a rechargeable Li-ion battery built in. Able to connect 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 all-in-one printers
Producing five-ink prints of outstanding quality on ordinary or photo paper, the Canon Pixma TR150 portable printer packs in a lot of technology for a device that can fit inside a standard backpack. Connecting easily to your laptop or other device via USB or Wi-Fi, this inkjet printer can manage up to nine pages per minute in black and white, which is not too shabby at all for a portable device (and color pages are delivered at 5.5 pages a minute)! It's also available at a respectable price, so no need to scrimp and save in order to enjoy top-quality prints from your laptop.
One important thing to note is that this printer can be battery powered –. which is particularly appealing for when traveling – but doesn't come with the rechargeable power pack as standard. In some places you can buy the TR150 with battery as a kit, and others the Canon LK-72 battery is bought separately.
If you're an event photographer looking to deliver a large number of prints on-site, then the Fujifilm ASK 300 is a solid choice of printer. It's significantly heavier than the other printers on this list (as it's 16kg, you're not going to be carrying it on the train), however it has a reasonably small footprint at 44 by 27cm, so won't take up too much space. Provided you have your own transport it's a perfectly portable choice, and it's able to spit out high-quality 4x6in prints in 12 seconds. Its ink packs may appear expensive, but one $120/£130 (ish) pack will do you around 800 prints, so the value for money is not bad at all. A solid workhorse dye-sub printer for any working event photographer.
The Fujifilm instax Mini LiPlay is our pick of the litter for one reason. A hybrid instant camera that also functions as an instant printer, the LiPlay uses real instax Mini film – this obviously gives that unique and intangible retro look that's impossible to recreate in any other medium. And, since you can send images to the LiPlay from your phone, you can print any of your pictures on cool instax film.
It's also perhaps the most "wow"-looking camera here, with gorgeous design (especially in the black with rose gold trim), in a beautifully compact design that measures just 82.5 x 122.9 x 36.7mm and weighs 255g. The 4.9MP sensor is the smallest here, but it's more than enough to take attractive prints on the 1.8 x 2.8-inch film. There's enough built-in memory to store 45 images, but the camera supports microSD cards to give you as much room as you require, so you can take a bunch of shots and pick the ones you actually want to print.
The LiPlay has a couple of unique party tricks, too, the first being remote shooting, the second being the ability to record a sound clip that can be shared with your image by printing a QR code on the photograph – this can then be scanned and played back, so you can share a voice message, a snippet from a song or another aural trigger for the visual memory you've shared.