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The best portable printer for photos in 2021 for smartphones, laptops and more

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

Want to make the most of your photography? The best portable printers literally make your pictures real, rather than leaving them languishing on your phone never to be seen or shared. 

Whether you want to print quick snaps while on holiday, share a selfie that you've taken with multiple friends, or produce meaningful prints of your friends and family to gift, scrapbook or magnet to the fridge, the best portable printers effectively transform your camera or smartphone into an instant camera

Not only will they have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity (meaning you can print your photos just minutes after capturing them), but the best portable printers will be able to print our your shots in a matter of seconds. 

It's worth noting that the different printers in this guide will use different types of both paper and ink – however, some of them will use the same types of instant film that you find in instant cameras, making it super easy to stock up. 

Others are dye-sub printers that use heat to transfer dye to the printing media – it's fast and high-quality. A fringe benefit is that ink ribbon lasts exactly as long as the paper – so these are sold in packs together, so you always know how many more prints you can do.

So, let’s get started on our rundown of the best portable printers!

Best portable printers for smartphones

(Image credit: Canon)

1. Canon SELPHY Square QX10

We can tell what's going on... it's hip to be square

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

Excellent print quality
Long-lasting prints
Extremely portable
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

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Best budget portable printer for smartphones

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

Prints in 12 seconds 
High-quality, 320 dpi 
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)

3. Canon SELPHY CP1300

Outstanding print quality, as you’d expect from Canon

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

Beautiful 4x6in prints
Cartridge ink/paper system
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)

4. Fujifilm instax Mini LiPlay

This portable printer also works as an instant camera

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

Built-in instant camera, as well as instant printer
Standard Instax Mini film
45-image internal storage
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

5. Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer

Budget-friendly, stylish and portable

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

Cheap to buy and run
Choice of colors
Pre-print customization options
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.

Best portable printers: HP Sprocket Plus

6. HP Sprocket Plus

Stock levels have been low recently, but this is a great printer

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

Beautiful print quality 
Prints from video
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

7. Kiipix Portable Smartphone Picture Printer

No power is required for this portable printer – simply crank and print

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

 Cheap asking price 
 No battery required 
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

8. Kodak Mini 2

Wireless and fast, with NFC one-touch communication

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

 Fast connectivity with NFC 
 Excellent quality 
 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)

9. Epson WorkForce WF110

Best laptop printer for the mobile office

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

Top-notch print quality
Wi-Fi direct connectivity
Rechargeable battery
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

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