Few things bring people closer together than a stroll down memory lane, flicking through a stack of old photos. They act as glossy reminders of cherished get togethers, happy holidays and spontaneous snaps that captured a specific moment in time perfectly.
While for many during the time before digital photography, snaps were taken sparingly on 35mm camera film rolls with only 36 exposures before a trip to Boots to get the film developed and printed (often at quite the expense).
But now, the rise of the standalone digital camera and later the emergence of massive megapixel-packing smartphone cameras has practically done away with all that, letting people, young and old, rich and not so rich, snap away, free from the constraints of exposure allowance or, indeed, cash.
However, it wasn’t all rosy in the realm of digital photography. No, because while it was easy to shoot and store photos on phones, people forgot to actually print them out to stick in albums or frames. All too often, phones would be lost and all those digitally captured moments lost with them.
In the bright technological utopia of 2022, photos can be automatically uploaded onto the Cloud for safe storage online. But, as the 2020s move inevitably onwards, a growing desire for real pics has developed (pun intended). As ever, the tech world has answered the self-print demand with some rather excellent results.
As ever, my tech-embracing self firmly in the Zoom meeting room of this latest zeitgeist, I’ve sought out eight of the latest and greatest portable photo printer options available to the pro-photographer and the selflie-aware snapper alike. So, if you want to sit and flick through photos with your friends, focus in and smile for the camaraderie.
See our edit of the best portable printers below
Fujifilm instax Mini Link
Best for: funky photo fun that’s all set for social media
You know that photo printer that everyone loves? The one that’s always hanging out with the coolest posse, yet still manages to keep it real? Yeah, well, this is that photo printer.
Firstly, very reasonably priced, this highly portable little printer weights just 210g and uses Bluetooth (4.2) to connect to your smartphone. The free Instax app cracks open a whole fresh keg of fun when it comes to playing with your pics.
So, first up, not only can you print wirelessly from your phone, you can also do so directly from compatible Fujifilm cameras and – this being the age of social media – your Facebook and Instagram accounts too.
But that’s merely convenience. Where the real fun kicks in is within the Instax app itself, where you can take your photos (either taken via your smartphone or the Instax app camera) and import stuff like sketches and text to edit into your photos to create a whole new chimera.
Switch to Party Mode to collaborate with up to four pals to merge individual ideas on image manipulation, keeping the final outcome a secret using Surprise Mode until you’re all ready to reveal. Or up the fun ante to is utmost dizzying level with Match Mode, a compatibility test that takes the photo of you and a ‘friend’ and sees how much of a match you are either through an in-app test or by letting the app chose for itself.
Naturally, you can also add frames, create collages and, essentially, adjust, amend and edit your images as much as you like, prior to sending them through the air to the palm-sized Mini Link printer for a quick print out.
Shots are printed at a maximum size of 2.4 x 1.8-inches, with a resolution of 318dpi (dots per inch) and with 256 levels per primary colour for nicely vibrant reproduction.
Finally, while taking pics through the app on your phone, you can even physically tilt the Mini Link printer back and forth to zoom in and out on you and your subject to get exactly the shot you want. Technology!
Buy now £110.00, Amazon
HP OfficeJet 250
Best for: those who want more than just a printer
Who needs to be stuck inside some stuffy, shared office when you can easily gather up your digital business-doing accoutrement and get your job done on the go?
Exactly, which is why the massive brains over at HP created the OfficeJet 250 in the first place – to allow you, the savvy, powerful businessperson flitting from high-stakes meeting to meeting to be able to print pro-level, full colour, razor-sharp photos, documents, images, graphs and charts when and where you like.
Fully charged over AC within 90-minutes, what makes the OfficeJet 250 most remarkable is that, weighing just 2.96kg, it’s not just an inkjet printer with an automatic document feed and Wi-Fi connection capability; it’s also an all-in-one scanner too, meaning you can copy and print or scan and save photos and documents on the dash too.
Running at a rate of 9 pages per minute in black and 6ppm in colour (it has 10 x 15cm, A4 and envelopes sizes all covered) at a stunningly low noise level to boot, printing from laptops or mobile devices over the Wi-Fi connection couldn’t be simpler. The 2.65-inch colour touchscreen makes using it a business-based walk in the park.
Buy now £279.99, Jessops
Canon PIXMA TR150 with battery
Best for: keeping photos thoroughly pro while on the go
Stepping away from the selfie-abuse side of things and getting business firmly back on the road, the PIXMA TR150 with battery does everything the PIXMA TR150 can do… but with a battery!
What, you want to know more? Okay it’s your time. Capable of being charged using an AC power adaptor or the bundled USB Type-C cable via a compatible in-car charger, power bank or laptop, the PIXMA TR150 can be whipped out almost anywhere, using its 1.44-inch mono OLED screen to print out up to 330 pages from a single charge without breaking a sweat.
Compatible with iOS and Android devices, gloriously wireless printing can be achieved using the Canon PRINT app or by printing from popular cloud services such as Google Drive and Evernote with the PIXMA Cloud Link, but – and this is the USP coming right up – the TR150 with battery can also store up to five pre-saved custom templates, which you can print directly from the screen without the need for a separate computer or smart thing at all. What’s more, it can dish said docs out at speeds of 5.5ipm for colour and 9ipm for mono.
With support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands and a hybrid ink system that boasts a black pigment cartridge for sharp text and a combined dye-based four-colour cartridge for gloriously vivid photos, the PIXMA TR150 with battery is capable of producing professional A4 borderless prints, while a borderline sexy, scratch-resistant design means it can take the rough with the smooth when out and about.
Buy now £269.99, Canon
Canon SELPHY Square QX10
Best for: bringing images alive outside of the digital domain
Sometimes everything you need to know about a tech toy is right there in the purposely misspelt name; prime example being this ludicrously compact printer from Canon, the SELPHY Square. Yes, ‘SELPHY’, clearly meant to be pronounced ‘selfie’ and therefore setting its sights firmly on Gen Z and perhaps the youngest of the millennials.
Created to offer instant prints of smartphone snaps that you can share physically rather than on some cold, distant social media channel, the QX10 is a pocket-sized bit of kit that connects with any smart device from a simple scan of the SELPHY’s QR code. Once through. you can edit images using the free SELPHY Photo Layout app.
Completely cable-free and capable of connecting over Wi-Fi, once you’ve transformed your images by adding the likes of stamps, filters, borders, text, overlays and layouts, press print and wait just 43-seconds for the SELPHY’s ink cartridge-free dye sublimation technology system to push out your high-quality finish 68mm square print, on Canon’s special sticky-back XS-20L format photo paper, ready to be stuck to bags, laptops, walls or even foreheads.
Chargeable using the included USB Micro B connector to USB Type-A connector and capable of churning out 20 prints per full charge, the SELPHY’s ink cassette prints up to 256 shades per primary colour, resulting in 16.7 million possible colours, meaning that this is no low-res gadget gimmick. It’s a means to instantly accessing quality images that are tough enough to resist wear for up to 100 years.
So, if you give good face and want to have your fabulous physiognomy stuck around for future generations to enjoy, get yourself a Canon SELPHY Square QX10 and get snapping.
Buy now £129.00, Currys
Canon Zoemini S2
Best for: selfie-obsessed outdoor creative types
While the idea of physically printing photos started falling out of fashion around about the time George Michael crashed his 4×4 into the Hampstead branch of Snappy Snaps, the recent resurgence is seeing all manner of exciting new printer options appear and the pocket-sized Zoemini S2 from prodigious photo and printer producer Canon is quite the contender for your cash.
Small enough to slip in a pocket at 121 x 80.3 x 22.4mm (W x H x D) and weighing a piffling 188g, the S2 is actually a 2-in-1 wotnot which lets owners to shoot photos, customise them on the spot and then print them out wherever they darn well please.
Hook it up to your Apple or Android smartphone over Bluetooth (5.0), download the Canon Instant Camera Printer and the Canon Mini Print App and edit away on your phone using the built in vivid and vintage colour filters to adjust your images depending on your photographic fancy. Effects and frames can also be added before flinging your photos back to the S2 for instant printing on sticky-backed photo paper to then slap on your possessions. Or, should the paper run out or your phone not be available, you can store your snaps on MicroSD card to be toyed with later.
Definitely designed to service the selfie-spirited, the Zoemini S2 lens is surrounded by an in-built mirror and ring-light so you can align your duckface perfectly and ensure the best possible picture, while a top-mounted button lets you segue between portrait, outdoor and selfie modes as you see fit.
With battery life good for, what I would say was an ample, 25 prints, the Zoemini S2 comes in a Gen Z-pleasing Rose Gold, Pearl White or Dark Teal colour options.
Buy now £159.99, Very
HP Sprocket Portable Instant Photo Printer
Best for: taking your printed photos to a different reality
With a plethora of portable photo printers flooding the market at the moment, it must be hard to find a USP to separate your product from all those of a highly similar ilk that surround you. Well, with the Sprocket, HP have looked at what everyone else is doing and added a quite unusual USP extra.
Firstly, small at 11.76 x 8 x 2.49cm, light at 172.94g and compatible with iOS and Android phones over Bluetooth, the HP Sprocket app lets you customise your pics – both newly taken and those already existing on your social media accounts – by adding in all manner of filters, emojis, borders and your own hand-hewn artwork and print them out at 2 x 3-inches on smudge-proof HP Zink sticky-backed paper.
All of which probably sounds rather familiar by this point deep into this review round-up, but this is where the Sprocket now takes itself off in another direction: augmented reality!
Yes, by scanning previously printed Sprocket photos, the app opens up a world of embedded digital media content connected to the time and location the photo was created, including associated images, video and other online content. If that’s not delivering a USP above and beyond the abilities of its contemporaries, then I don’t know what is.
Available in either ‘Luna Pearl’ or ‘Blush Pink’ finishes, if you want quick, customisable sticky-backed printed snaps that can still take you back into the digital dimension, then the HP Sprocket could have been created especially for you.
Buy now £90.00, Amazon
Kodak Step Instant Printer
Best for: inkless ingenuity and less expense
A classic name within the world of cameras, a famous ad campaign in the early 1960s coined the expression “Kodak moment”, a term which quickly fell into common usage to describe any situation, sentimental or otherwise, that would be worth immortalising in a photo.
Unfortunately for Kodak, the term later also became synonymous with a situation in which a big company fails to recognise and react to changes within its own industry and, as such, ends up in bankruptcy. Indeed, cocksure about its film cameras, Kodak ignored the rise of digital photography and fell utterly by the wayside, filing for bankruptcy protection in 2012 and re-emerging in 2013 like a butterfly with a distinctly digital-based business plan.
Which brings us to the Kodak Step Instant Printer, a portable photo thrower that works with any Android or iOS device over Bluetooth or – USP warning – near field communication (NFC) to wirelessly print bright, colourful and detailed pics, in less than 60-seconds, onto 2 x 3-inch sticky-back paper, using ingenious embedded dye crystals instead of expensive ink. Clever.
But is there a smartphone-based app in which I can fiddle with things, you ask. Well, of course there is, in the shape of the Kodak Step Prints app, which if free to download and lets your creativity run wild, editing your images, creating collages and using filters, borders, stickers and text (yes, expletives too) to customise your selfies, groupies and belfies (a term I have just learnt refers to a ‘butt selfie’) to your heart or, indeed, your backside’s content.
Capable of knocking out 25 prints from a single charge, now you can enjoy countless Kodak moments anywhere.
Buy now £70.00, Amazon
Best for: a fairytale photo ending that Prints Charming
Another old-school face and the originator of the portable photo printer, Polaroid was inviting owners of its first instant film camera to enjoy (more or less) instant prints as far back as 1948. Sadly, like Kodak, Polaroid also failed to acknowledge that the future was digital and so suffered an almost identical fate. However, it bounced back and this fresh revival of the printed image is right smack-bang in its ballpark.
So, the Hi-Print, not an instant print camera (although the firm is making those again), but a smartphone Bluetooth buddy that chums up with all iOS and Android devices to let you interfere with your images using the filters, stickers and text add-ins of the Polaroid Hi-Print app, prior to wirelessly printing them out at 2 x 3-inches on stickable photo paper.
Another option that eschews ink, the Hi-Print uses dye-sublimation technology to produce beautifully high-resolution, life-like – and perhaps even – life-affirming prints of you and your mates, possibly festooned with added rainbow uni-alpacas and cats with comedic speech bubbles.
Lightweight at just 255g (without cartridge) and good for 20 prints on a single charge, the Hi-Print may not offer much more than any of the other options already looked at but remember: Polaroid invented all this in the first place.
Buy now £74.99, Currys
I’ll be honest, as a man literally hours away from hitting 48 as I type these words, I’m not a tremendous taker of selfies. And that’s not because of my age, it’s also because I look absolutely shocking most of the time and try to keep that fact hidden from the world.
However, even a selfie-cynic such as myself has to admit that some of the portable photo printers I’ve played with here not only represent the next evolution of the soul-stealing technology we know as photography, but also add an element of fun.
With that being the case, while the more pro-orientated portable PIXMA and OfficeJet printers offer a bevy of desirable factors, for pure photo-flipping-about pleasure I think the myriad features of the Fujifilm instax Mini Link and its expansive accompanying app has to get my vote. Now, where’s my Botox and lip-filler gone?