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Best Photo Printer

Updated: Jan 22, 2024 11:18 PM
best photo printer featured image that shows the top three best printer models

There’s a huge variety of compact 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 portable printers on our list are convenient to set up, produce high-quality prints, offer decent print speeds, and have good value for the money. If you want to find other quality printers for different use cases, read our best printers guide.

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, with 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.

  • Ultra-compact photo printer
  • Unique Polaroid aesthetic
  • Uses Polaroid ZINK paper, eliminating need for ink cartridges
  • Size of prints limited to 2X3
  • Only works with ZINK paper

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, keep in mind that your needs align with a printer’s capabilities, if someone wants to print quality artwork, they’d consider the best art printer first.

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 offering the convenience and sharing of digital photography is an instant hit.

  • Most Eco-friendly printer
  • Prints in less than 60 seconds
  • Earth-friendly ZINK paper
  • Doesn’t let you print photos from other cameras
  • Size limited to 2X3
  • Requires refills with Polaroid ZINK paper

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 it 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 take up to 32 GB of micro SD cards.

 #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.

  • No ink required
  • Easily print via Bluetooth any photos saved to your smartphone’s camera roll
  • Prints 2.3 x 3.4, slightly larger than the Polaroid SNAP
  • Lacks wifi
  • No SD card slot
  • Not as aesthetically distinctive as the Polaroid photo printers

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.

  • Prints 4X6 photos
  • Includes iPhone and Android charging dock
  • Easy wifi photo printing
  • Larger than the pocket-sized photo printers from Polaroid
  • No SD or micro SD card slots

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 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.

 #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.

  • Better resolution than the inkless printers
  • Prints multiple sizes
  • WiFi and USB connectivity as well
  • Only ships with 5 prints’ worth of ink
  • Battery pack optional
  • Bulkier, not a pocket-sized photo printer like the Polaroid ZIP

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 this printer 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 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.

  • Includes scanner and copier
  • 5 color individual ink system saves on ink replacement
  • Prints multiple sizes
  • Not a portable photo printer
  • More complicated to set up than the Kodak Dock or Polaroid ZIP
  • Few 3rd party ink sources

This Canon PIXMA is among the best all-in-one photo printers for light-duty home and home office use. It prints in a wide variety of sizes, including common 5 x 7 and 4 x 6 photos as well as square photo sizes, so you can easily print out postcards, 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 SELPHY photo printer by Canon, the PIXMA lacks an SD card slot and an optional battery.

How We Decided

In order to choose the best photo printers for your party snapshots, photo booth photos, greeting cards, and more, we selected only models that specialized in color photo printing and Wi-Fi connectivity that were able to easily connect with mobile devices.

WiFi or Bluetooth was considered a must, and bonus points were awarded for photo printers with memory 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. Check out our guide on the best iPhone photo printer if that’s your mobile phone of choice.

To ensure a selection of the best-performing compact printers, we only considered those with accurate color reproduction and good resolution for their print size–meaning the Polaroid ZIP, with its 2 x 3 prints, wouldn’t be required to pack the same print resolutions 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 vs Standard Printers

Photo Printers Buyers Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Output Size
    Professional photographers might be looking for the best printer for photographers depending on their required product output. Are you looking for a photo printer to print 5 x 7 cards, postcards, or Polaroid-sized 2 x 3? As you’re shopping through a wide range of photo printers, check the specs of the printer you’re interested in, as well as the price range. Most compact photo printers have only one or a few choices when it comes to paper sizes.
  2. Connectivity
    The best photo printers for iPhones and other mobile devices offer robust connectivity through WiFi or Bluetooth.
    • Speaking of Wi-Fi, make sure the printer you select has a strong Wi-Fi connection to your router. Without this reliable wireless connectivity, you’ll lose printer jobs, or print projects may never get sent to the printer at all. 
    • If you’re looking for a printer to conveniently print from your DSLR, check for SD card slots or micro USB flash drives.
  3. Ink Type
    Ink costs should be a consideration for any printer. For maximum convenience and photo booth vibes, look for a dedicated photo printer that uses cartridge-free printing technology, like Polaroid with ZINK paper. This way, you only have to supply the necessary polaroid paper and not worry about refilling ink.
    • Although, if you’re regularly refilling the ink on your printer, that will raise the printer’s price, especially if you’re printing on photo paper frequently.
    • Other compact photo printers use either inkjet or dye-sub technology, which offers benefits in terms of resolution and image quality, as well as more flexibility in print sizes, but also adds to the cost per print and complexity.
    • Moreover, think about the pigment of your print jobs. Do you need a tighter print output? This may be important, especially if you’re using glossy paper or high-quality photo paper, which requires a high DPI to create better images. 
    • In short, find a printer with a high DPI for the best picture prints.
  4. Touchscreen
    One of the features of most great photo printers is a touchscreen. Having a touchscreen enhances your use of the printer, which means you don’t have to use a PC or mobile device for printing. You can just use the touchscreen to complete print jobs faster.
  5. Paper Type
    Not all printers will take just any kind of paper. If you print on card stock, fine art papers, or glossy photo paper, for example, make sure the printer you choose will print on it.

Best Photo Printer Questions (FAQ)

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