The best portable printer is a great thing to have at a party, a wedding, or any other social event. Because when you've shot a great picture on your phone, it's great to be able to share it with people in a physical form. If you just post it on Facebook, it'll be quickly scrolled past and instantly forgotten. Prints, in contrast, are priceless souvenirs that people will keep and treasure.
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With the best portable printer, you can give people a permanent keepsake. And while that does involve some expense – the printing packs can be expensive if you use a lot – the printers are usually quite cheap.
There are three main printing technologies:
• Zink photo paper: Short for zero-ink, this is the cheapest. The quality isn't the best but they do the job, and tend to be fairly damage-resistant too.
• Dye-sublimation: Also known as 'dye-sub', this uses heat to transfer dye to the printing material. The print quality is better than Zink printers.
• Instant film: Some portable printers use the instant film (opens in new tab) you find in instant cameras – the formats are often pretty small (instax, for example), and the costs can ramp up quickly.
Below, we've selected the very best portable printers available today, covering all three types. We explain what makes each one unique, and give you the information you need to choose between them.
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Instagram has brought the square photo back into fashion, and the Selphy Square QX10 is the best portable printer for this format. It produces 2.7x2.7 inch (6.8cm x 6.8cm) prints that are claimed to last more than 100 years if stored responsibly. They come with a smudge-proof, water-protected coating, too. 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. Learn more in ourCanon Selphy Square QX10 review.(opens in new tab)
Never used a portable printer before, and a little nervous of technology generally? Don't worry: the handy Kodak app for Android makes this printer a breeze to use.
By making use of the Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities of this printer you can enjoy printing in seconds: it’s compatible with both iOS and Android via the Bluetooth connection. The prints it 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.(opens in new tab)
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, although 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.(opens in new tab)
Not to be confused with the Kodak Step camera, the Kodak Step printer is a quick and simple way to bring your 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. These prints won't be the highest quality, but it is cheap, 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.(opens in new tab)
With the Instax Mini Link, the image size is a tiny 62x46mm (1.8 in × 2.4 in). If that sounds like something that interests you, read on...
The Instax Mini Link 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 (opens in new tab)!
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. Note that printing on Instax is a little on the expensive side, though.(opens in new tab)
The Fujifilm instax Mini LiPlay is not marketed specifically as a portable printer, so this one may be easy to miss. Instead it's 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).
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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.(opens in new tab)
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).(opens in new tab)
The Polaroid Hi·Print 2x3 is only about an inch thick, and weighs a mere 255g, complete with a built-in rechargeable battery. When paired to your smartphone via Bluetooth, it has a companion app that enables you to create 2x3-inch photo prints of your smartphone snaps, and outputs them with speed and style, delivering impressive image quality from its dye-sublimation technology.
All in all, this portable printer is quick, convenient and compact. Competing with other mobile photo printers like the Canon SELPHY Square QX10, the Polaroid Hi–Print 2x3 Pocket Photo Printer uses tried and trusted dye-sublimation or ‘dye-sub’ technology that predates inkjet printing.
As such, cyan, magenta and yellow dyes are embedded on a ribbon that’s contained in a cartridge and laid on the paper in three successive passes, before a final protective overcoat is applied. As such, the paper passes through the printer four times in total before the final print is completed. The Polaroid Hi–Print companion app lets you know what’s going on at every stage of the progress, reporting back via your phone screen.(opens in new tab)
The wider version of Fujifilm's original Instax Mini Link, this is a great smartphone printer for casual use, with fun and creative ways to customize images by using templates and emojis. There are some great features of this wireless printer – including it's superb QR code functions, although the image quality is lacking and its features aren't nearly as impressive as those available with the original Instax Link Mini (see number 5 in this guide).
The Link Wide printer is best avoided if you're after professional quality prints to display, but would make a great gift otherwise for photographers who enjoy being creative and like a bit of fun.
• See our full review (opens in new tab) of the Fujifilm Instax Link Wide printer.