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.
The best part is that it 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. Great for holidays and parties, many are diminutive enough to fit in a small bag, and can print out an image within seconds. Effectively, they'll transform your smartphone into an instant camera.
Most work with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to send your photos out within minutes or even seconds of capturing them. There are different types of photo printers available, using various types of printing media. Some use Zink photo paper (short for zero-ink), which is the cheapest method of quick printing. These prints will never win awards for clarity and contrast, but they'll do the job, and tend to be reasonably damage-resistant.
Other printers are dye-sublimation, also known as dye-sub, which use heat to transfer dye to the printing material. The print quality tends to be better than Zink, and not quite as good as a desktop printer (which is reasonable, given that these printers tend to be cheaper, smaller and quicker). Some portable printers also use the same types of instant film that you find in instant cameras, making it super easy to stock up.
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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