Which smartphone photo printers are best?
Before the era of smartphones and digital cameras, many people used Polaroid cameras for photos. The devices were slightly bulky but had one unique aspect: they printed your snaps on the fly.
Those cameras have somewhat made a comeback, but what if you want to do the same with images on your smartphone? Well, that is exactly what a smartphone photo printer is for. A great option would be the Kodak Dock Plus Portable Instant Photo Printer, as it can also laminate your picture.
What to know before you buy a smartphone photo printer
Operating system compatibility
Having a printer by your side to instantly print a photo is great, but you must ensure that it is compatible with your mobile device. Most printers work perfectly well with iOS and Android devices, but other operating systems are not usually supported.
Connectivity must be a consideration
The method by which the printer connects to your mobile phone will determine if you need any additional components to make it work. You might have a problem if your device doesn’t have Bluetooth, as that is the preferred method of connection. Some printers can produce copies from a mobile memory card, but that will only work if your device supports it. Others use a docking pin for connectivity, and your device needs to be compatible with that as well.
Photo quality and size
Mobile devices take photos in different resolutions and sizes. For the iPhone 12, the default aspect ratio is 4 to 3, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a ratio of 20 to 9. This influences the final printout, as it might not be able to get all the detail in — resulting in cropped images. Consider the aspect ratio of your device, and know the limitations of the photo printer.
What to look for in a quality smartphone photo printer
Rechargeable power supply
It is great that you can take the printer wherever you want to go, but running out of power can be disheartening. While some printers need a wall socket to work, a good-quality printer will be charged through an included USB cable. Some printers can also work on replaceable batteries, but those could drain rather quickly.
Smartphone photo printers are designed to be carried around with you, and nobody wants to lug a bulky printing device with them. That is why the size of the printer is important. A good, quality photo printer will be small enough to throw in a bag or backpack without taking up too much space. Some printers available are no bigger than a portable hard drive.
Photo quality and dots per inch
A smartphone printer should be good enough so that you can still clearly see the image without any distortion. Most printing sizes are relatively small when compared to traditional photos, around 4 inches by 6 inches, but this helps to retain the clarity and sharpness. In terms of dots per inch, a high-quality smartphone photo printer should have a print resolution of around 300 dpi.
How much you can expect to spend on a smartphone photo printer
The average price of a photo printer for mobile devices will depend on the manufacturer and the functions of the gadget. An entry-level printer can retail for between $70-$90. High-quality printers usually retail for around $120-$150.
Smartphone photo printer FAQ
Does a smartphone photo printer use ink?
A. That will depend on the printer itself and the manufacturer. Printers like the Canon IVY use Zink (zero ink) paper, which doesn’t need ink cartridges. But with some Kodak models, you need to replace the cartridge — just like in a normal printer.
Can you use the printer on a computer?
A. In most cases that won’t be possible, even though it uses Bluetooth. The photo printers are designed to work specifically (and in some cases exclusively) with Android and iOS devices through the printing apps.
What’s the best smartphone photo printer to buy?
Top smartphone photo printer
What you need to know: This is a great mobile printer for photos slightly larger than other models.
What you’ll love: The Dock Plus is great for instantly printing photos from your mobile device through a Bluetooth connection. Each 4-inch by 6-inch photo is printed with a laminating process, making sure that fingerprints aren’t visible. It uses a USB-C docking pin and comes with a Lightning adapter for iOS devices. The cost works out to around 15 cents per print, and the free app software allows you to edit the photos before printing.
What you should consider: It is less portable than other mobile phone photo printers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top smartphone photo printer for the money
What you need to know: Small and effective, it’s perfect to print your night out.
What you’ll love: About the size of a hard drive, this mobile photo printer produces 2-inch by 3-inch prints. It uses Canon’s Zink technology, meaning that you don’t have to replace the ink cartridges. The paper produces the image through pigments embedded in the paper, and is drawn out and mixed through heat. It has a print resolution of 314 by 400 dots per inch. Connectivity is provided through Bluetooth and the free Canon Mini print app.
What you should consider: The printed images are rather small, so they might not be suited for most people.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This fun printer uses the same popular photo paper as the Instax Mini cameras, but you can print photos right from your phone.
What you’ll love: It has a high print quality, at a stunning resolution of 320 dots per inch. It also prints photos in 12 seconds, which is pretty quick.
What you should consider: The paper can be a little more expensive than that used with other models and the prints are a little small at 2.1 by 3.4 inches.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.