There’s a huge variety of photo printers out there for your digital photos, so we’ve put in the research to help you find the best photo printers for your needs. All the compact photo printers on our list are convenient to set up, produce good quality images, print at a reasonable speed and have good value for the money.
Our top pick, the Polaroid ZIP, is a fast and portable photo printer that works with the free Polaroid app to seamlessly print out your digital photos on the go, no computer connection necessary. Keep reading to see more of our top picks.
Top 6 Best Photo Printers Compared
#1 Polaroid ZIP
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: A super portable photo printer for iPhone, other smartphones and tablets that prints out 2×3 sticky backed photos using Polaroid’s ribbon less ZINK Zero Ink technology, it’s the most compact and convenient on-the-go photo printer on our list.
The compact and portable Polaroid ZIP photo printer effectively captures the spirit of polaroid photos, but lets you produce shareable keepsake photos on the spot from just about any digital image you can put on your iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet. The Polaroid ZIP uses Polaroid’s innovative ZINK Zero Ink method, meaning it doesn’t need ink cartridges. This lets it be more compact and cuts down on waste, but it does mean you can only use the ZIP printer with Polaroid’s paper.
That said, the 2X3 sticky backed photos it prints out make great party favors and an ideal way to transform your digital memories into physical keepsakes. The ZIP pairs with Polaroid’s free app and is easy to use and set up. It has a USB rechargeable battery. The best printers, whether for photos or work, should all be easy to use.
#2 Polaroid Snap
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: A Polaroid digital camera with integrated printing that preserves the fun and spontaneity of the original Polaroid instant camera format while also offering the convenience and sharing of digital photography, it’s an instant hit.
An all-in-one digital polaroid camera, the SNAP manages to preserve much of the aesthetic and nostalgic appeal of a Polaroid camera while offering the convenience of a digital format with 10 MP images and the ability to accept an SD card so you can store your images for sharing. The Polaroid SNAP lets you take a photo, share digitally and print all in one.
Like the ZIP printer, the SNAP uses ink-cartridge free printing on ZINK paper. These 2X3 sticky-backed photos print out in full color in under a minute, giving you a physical keepsake along with the digital image you can store and share. The SNAP camera and photo printer takes micro SD cards up to 32 GB. If you like to print photos this is one of the computer accessories you need.
#3 HP Sprocket Plus Instant Photo Printer
Award: Best Portable
WHY WE LIKE IT: Slimmer and with larger prints than the original HP Sprocket, this compact photo printer connects with your smartphone over bluetooth 4.0 and lets you easily print out smartphone photos via a convenient app.
A simple and very slim, compact design, the HP Sprocket Plus prints slightly larger on the go photos, using 2.3 x 3.4 rather than the Polaroid’s 2×3. Like the Polaroid SNAP photo printer (our top pick) the Sprocket is super compact and works with ZINK zero ink technology, which combines the functions of a toner cartridge and the paper itself, so there’s less waste. It uses a USB cable to charge and can print out about 30 photos on a full battery, or five more than the Polaroid ZIP promises.
While this HP photo printer lacks the nostalgic charm of the Polaroid instant photo printers, it does print slightly larger photos and offers similar functionality via the included free app. It pairs with smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth 4.0. Even the best all in one printer isn’t dedicated to photos, so get one that specializes in them.
#4 Kodak Dock and Wifi Portable Photo Printer
Award: Best for iPhones
WHY WE LIKE IT: This innovative photo printer from Kodak delivers high quality 4×6 keepsake photos and doubles as a smartphone dock and charger.
This portable photo printer is designed to print from your mobile phone or directly from a digital camera via USB or micro USB or Kodak’s pict bridge software. It also serves as a charging dock, and can power up to two mobile devices simultaneously, a nice extra. Unlike the HP Sprocket photo printer, it has built-in Wifi, and it will print directly from a Wifi-enabled digital camera like a Sony A7, Canon 6D Mk II or Nikon Z6.
The prints are 4 x 6 from this photo printer, making them significantly larger than the prints from Polaroid’s ZIP and HP’s Sprocket compact photo printer. The Kodak doesn’t make use of ZINK paper, meaning it has a traditional ink cartridge, though the cartridge does offer up to 120 prints per refill. The best printer for the office is all about work, while this is for people who want the best photos.
#5 Canon SELPHY CP1300
Award: Best with SD card slot
WHY WE LIKE IT: A compact photo printer that prints in multiple sizes, it’s more versatile and less of a novelty than the portable photo printers from Polaroid and the HP Sprocket.
More versatile than the ZIP compact photo printer from Polaroid and the HP Sprocket, this Canon photo printer can print a variety of sizes ranging from photo booth-style 2x 6 format to 4 x 6 postcards and 2 x 2 squares. It uses dye sublimation and provides usefully better resolution, around 300 dpi, than the tiny Polaroid and HP Sprocket prints can deliver. It can print from your mobile device using a Wifi connection and the Canon print app, and the functionality here is pretty similar to what you get with Kodak’s pict bridge. But the Canon SELPHY can also print from an SD card, making it potentially more convenient for printing out digital camera photos.
The Canon SELPHY CP1300 is billed as a portable photo printer, but the battery pack is optional, so make sure you specify if you’re looking to print on the go. The limited amount of ink it ships with can also be an inconvenience, as only about 5 prints’ worth are included. The best inkjet printer for home can’t compete, though it comes close, when it comes to photos, even with the best printer ink.
#6 Canon PIXMA Photo Printer
Award: Best All-in-One
WHY WE LIKE IT: This all-in-one photo printer also prints documents and can double as a home desktop printer. It prints over wifi and can print from your mobile device or computer.
This Canon PIXMA is among the best all-in-one photo printers for light duty home and home office use. It prints on a wide variety of sizes including common 5 x 7 and 4 x 6 photo as well as square photo sizes, so you can easily print out post cards, greeting cards, photo keepsakes from Instagram and even photo-booth style photos. The PIXMA TSC220 has a rear mounted paper feed for smooth printing and also functions as a scanner and copier.
Being a compact desktop photo printer it’s not portable like the other photo printers on our list, and it is more complicated to set up than the seamless photo printers from Polaroid and Kodak. Compared to the more specialized Canon SELPHY photo printer, the PIXMA lacks an SD card slot and an optional battery. You can compare this with the best printer for home.
How We Decided
In order to choose the best photo printers for you party snapshots, photo booth photos, greeting cards and more, we selected only models that specialized in color photo printing and were able to easily connect with mobile devices.
WiFi or Bluetooth was considered a must, and bonus points were awarded for photo printers with SD card slots, USB ports and micro USB ports. This way, you can print directly from your digital camera as well as wirelessly print images from your mobile phone.
To ensure a selection of the best performing compact photo printers, we only considered those with at accurate color reproduction, good resolution for their print size–meaning the Polaroid ZIP, with its 2 x 3 prints, wouldn’t be required to pack the same resolution as a 5 x 7 dye sublimation print from the Kodak iPhone printer.
In addition, we only looked at compact photo printers, with dimensions of less than 15 inches by 12 inches. Some of the photo printers on our list, like the Polaroid ZINK, are even virtually pocket sized.
Photo Printers Buyers Guide
Features to Consider
- Output Size
Are you looking for a photo printer to print 5 x 7 cards, postcards, or Polaroid sized 2 x 3? Check the specs of the printer you’re interested in, as most compact photo printers have only one or a few choices when it comes to output size.
The best photo printers for iPhone and other mobile devices offer easy connectivity through WiFi or Bluetooth. If you’re looking for a printer to conveniently print from your DSLR you may also want to check for an SD card slot or a micro USB port.
- Ink Type
For maximum convenience and photo booth vibes, look for a photo printer that uses a cartridge-free printing technology, like Polaroid with the ZINK paper. This way, you only have to supply the necessary polaroid paper, not worry about refilling ink. Other compact photo printers use either ink jet or dye-sub technology, which does offer benefits in terms of resolution and image quality, as well as more flexibility in terms of print sizes, but also adds cost and complexity.
Do you have to be connected to WiFi for these to work?
While most of the printers on our list require an internet connection when first setting up, they can typically connect with your camera or mobile device via Bluetooth, as with the Polaroid ZIP, or a built-in WiFi network or physical connection as with the Kodak dock and photo printer.
Will these print directly from a digital camera?
The Canon SELPHY photo printer has an SD card slot, and the Kodak with has a micro USB input so these can both print directly from a compatible digital camera. Most of the portable photo printers on our list are designed to print off mobile devices, however, you can still easily print images from your DSLR or mirrorless digital camera, especially since most such cameras nowadays offer WiFi, NFC or Bluetooth and a direct to mobile device image transfer protocol.
Also why not check out:
- Best Inkjet Printer for Home in 2020 (October Reviews)
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- Best Printer for Home in 2020 (October Reviews)
- Best Printer for Office in 2020 (October Reviews)
- Best Printer Ink in 2020 (October Reviews)
- Best Printer Paper in 2020 (October Reviews)
- Inkless Printing Hits the Consumer Market