I’m a millennial, and I don’t own a printer. In fact, if you count from when I moved out of my parents’ house, I’ve never owned a printer, and I doubt I ever will. The expansion of email and popularization of cloud-based document sharing, along with the advent of smartphones, has made printers all-but obsolete.
I need a printer probably less than 5 times a year. Of course, when I do need a printer, it’s incredibly annoying, especially if I want to print a photo that I took on my phone in the first place. That’s where portable photo printers come in. With wi-fi and inkless printing technology, you don’t need a giant box taking up a sizeable chunk of your workspace, and you don’t need to go through a ridiculous chain of emailing yourself just to print a photo from your phone.
We’re going to help you find the best portable photo printer to help bring your Instagram photo reel out of cyberspace and into the real world.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best Portable Photo Printers, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
What Should You Look For in a Portable Photo Printer?
Since portable photo printers are pretty new, you probably aren’t an expert on them just yet. And while you don’t need to be an expert on something to buy it, we want you to feel prepared when you make your purchase. In pursuit of that goal, we’re going to thoroughly detail the criteria we used to evaluate our top portable photo printers. By the time you finish reading our rubric, you’ll feel like a complete pro and you’ll be ready to start giving your friends advice on their portable photo printer.
Criteria #1: Features – It might be a bit unusual to start off our criteria list with such a broad criterion, but because all of our products will perform the same straightforward task – printing photos – the big difference maker will be those extra features. Without spoiling anything just yet, you’ll see a lot of different features in our photo printers that might be the big selling point for you. The little things make a big difference.
Criteria #2: Battery Life – We don’t want you to buy a fancy new portable photo printer that dies on you after just a few pictures. Especially if you’re on a big vacation or at a certain family gathering or party, you never know how many pictures you’ll be snapping, and we want you to be able to print all of them right away if you so desire. Some printers have a battery that can print up to 40 photos on one charge, so that’s what we’ll be aiming to deliver to you with this list.
Criteria #3: Size – Surprising absolutely nobody, we want our portable photo printers to be, well, portable. That means that smaller is better. Of course, the smaller the printer, the smaller the photo. We want to make sure not to overdo it too much in the “portable” category, but where to draw that line is up to you. All we can do is make sure to include the exact weight and measurements of every product on our list.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. Meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well. Luckily, no portable photo printer is really that expensive, but we’ll make sure to include an extra-cheap option for anyone who really needs to tighten up their budget.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Portable Photo Printers
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best portable photo printers” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We also made sure to include a wide variety of products that satisfy different niches and meet different price tags. This way, everyone can find the best portable photo printer that’s absolutely perfect for them.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best portable photo printers.
#1: HP Sprocket Portable Printer (Best Value – All-Purpose)
HP manages to nab the first spot on our list with their Sprocket Portable Printer, which is just about the most popular option out there, so, unfortunately, I can’t pretend to be showing you a hidden gem here. To start things off, our number-one photo printer is compatible with its designated Sprocket app that will let you edit all of your photos before you print them, so you can really personalize everything and become get the perfect final product that matches the filter-heavy, Instagram-version you posted online.
The HP Sprocket Portable Printer uses Bluetooth connectivity and a special sleep mode to stay connected while not in use without draining the battery. Incidentally, said battery lasts for about 30-40 photos, so you won’t feel tethered to your charger. This HP printer also has a frame of 4.63 x 3.15 x 0.98 inches and a weight of just 6 ounces and change, which means it’s about the same size as your smartphone. The photos themselves come printed on 2 x 3 inch sticky-backed photo paper that will help you easily decorate any surface of your choice to give a personal flair to your room, fridge, or laptop.
The HP Sprocket Portable Printer – which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices – can connect to up to 5 devices at once. Specialized LED lights will tell you whose photo is printing ahead of time. You can even scan the printer with your phone and see a full queue of the photos that are going to be printed.
This HP product is featured on multiple mobile printer lists and articles, and it has almost 2,500 reviews on Amazon. The paying customers and the professional reviewers alike love this product, so you can rest easy knowing that the crowd is on your side when you buy the HP Sprocket Portable Printer.
It comes in at a reasonable and affordable price, and as a nice little bonus, it has a one-year warranty that adds to the value. With all of the features you could ask for, the small frame, and the great battery life, the HP Sprocket Portable Printer is the best value out there, and that’s why it’s our pick for the best portable photo printer.
#2: Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer (Best Overall Portable Photo Printer)
With the HP Sprocket Portable Printer, we’ve shown right off the bat that you don’t need to spend a fortune on your mobile printer. Of course, if you’re willing to spend the big bucks for the best product available, there are a few printers you may prefer over our top-ranked HP printer. The most noteworthy of said printers is the Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer.
Canon hardly needs any introduction, and it shouldn’t be a big surprise that they didn’t waste any time climbing to the top of the portable photo printer business. The topically-named Selphy CP1300 may be a bit on the expensive side of things, but it has some features that you just can’t get anywhere else. Here are the perks Canon has to offer that might convince you to splurge for the Canon Selphy CP1300.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Social Media Integration
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or the memories section of your Snapchat account, social media is beginning to act as a virtual photo album just as much as a way of actually sharing photos. This means that, for a lot of modern-day photo enthusiasts, the quickest way to access all of the virtual photos that you just need a physical copy of is to simply scroll through your own social media accounts. And since the Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer can connect straight to your social media accounts, you’ll be able to do exactly that. Without any middle step of manually downloading each picture, you’ll be able to print straight from your Facebook account. You’ll have all of your highlights (and lowlights) in a physical form in no time, thanks to the Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Wifi Printing
Our previous printer, the HP Sprocket, can only print via physical connectivity. This means that printing anything that’s not already on your smartphone or another Bluetooth-compatible device would be a big hassle. Of course, with three different available input methods, you will not have that problem with the Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer.
With our premier Canon portable photo printer, you can print via any micro-USB-compatible device, an SD card, or through wifi. You have many more options than just your smartphone or computer, and you won’t have to play any games of broken telephone to move your photos around before printing them. No matter where your virtual photo album is located, you’ll be able to print it quickly and easily with this Canon printer.
On top of the enticing features already detailed above, the Canon Selphy CP1300 Compact Photo Printer can print photos in multiple sizes of 4.0 x 6.0 inches, 3.5 x 4.7 inches, 2.1 x 3.4 inches, or 2.1 x 2.1 inches. You can print a photo to decorate your wall or to keep in your wallet.
The Selphy has a frame of 5.4 x 7.1 x 2.5 inches and a weight of 1.90 pounds. This means that it’s a bit bigger than our HP printer, but you won’t feel it weighing you down any time soon. It has a nice physical control pad on the device which will be useful when printing directly from an SD card, and it’ll be a great change of pace for the technophobes out there who aren’t a big fan of touchscreens.
The absolute worst part of this printer is that the battery isn’t included, and if you’re not willing to pay for it, then you’ll be stuck to outlets. Of course, if you don’t plan on using it while out and about, that’s not a huge issue.
With close to 5,000 reviews, the crowd has spoken on the Canon Selphy CP1300, wireless or otherwise. If you’re the kind of customer that knows that you get what you pay for, this is the only product for you.
#3: Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer (Best Low Cost)
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I’m pretty happy with the job we’ve done of not overcharging our valued readers. That being said, if even the cheaper of our first two products – the HP Sprocket – was too expensive for you, don’t worry. There are always steals on the market if you know where to look, and, in this case, the place to look is the Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer.
The cheapest wireless compact photo printer on our list provides you with photos in the shape of convenient stickers with a size of 2 x 3 inches, and they’re even water-resistant. The Kodak app allows you to add text, borders, filters, stickers, and more to your photos.
With a frame of just 3 x 5 x 1 inches, the Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer is the most compact option on our list, though it’s surprisingly heavy with a weight of 9 ounces. Of course, 9 ounces isn’t exactly going to slow you down. Our budget portable printer is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and it can connect to them through either Bluetooth or NFC technology.
Finally, it has a battery that lasts for about 25 prints. Of course, those solid specs turn into a homerun when you consider that the Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer is cheaper than a month’s worth of ink. Save your hard-earned cash with this portable Kodak printer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Especially with technology as new and obscure as portable photo printers, I’m sure you have plenty of questions. More often than not, customers tend to have the same recurring questions, and we want to get ahead of things and save you an extra Google search. That’s why we’ve added this FAQ section to our list. We hope that in just a few minutes all of your questions are answered and you’re ready to make your purchase.
How do portable printers print without ink?
I’m sure a lot of you are wondering how exactly our portable printers work without using ink. I certainly was, and it’s worth heaving at least a rudimentary sense of how any product works before buying it. Portable printers use Zink technology – which stands for zero ink – to do their printing. The printers themselves apply heat to special heat-sensitive paper that’s embedded with layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes in colorless form, and overcoat. By applying heat at different locations, durations, and intensities, these amazing and tiny printers able to perfectly recreate your photos without using any ink.
How much does Zink paper cost?
The short answer is “not that much.” As is the case with any disposable product, the cost will definitely start to add up if you’re printing out photos left and right, but if you’re only printing a few photos per week or month, then you won’t really notice the added expense on your credit card bill. Depending on which brand you go with, and how many sheets you buy, a pack of Zink paper can cost less than $10. Of course, the size of your photo paper will also factor into things, and as is usually the case, if you are going to be printing out photos like it’s your job, then it’s probably worth it to do all of your spendings at once and buy in bulk for a larger one-time price that’s cheaper over time.
Verdict: Your Best Portable Photo Printers
We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not to worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the portable photo printer that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our portable photo printers and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the HP Sprocket Portable Printer.
With the Sprocket Portable Printer, HP manages to offer just about every important feature at an affordable price. With Bluetooth capability, sticky-backed photos, and an amazing battery that can last for as long as 40 photos, there’s really no downside to this HP mobile printer. And, of course, the Sprocket also comes with the Sprocket app that lets you customize your photos. As a cherry on top, our number-one ranked printer features a small frame and can host up to 5 devices at once. The HP Sprocket Portable Printer should be everybody’s first pick.
If you need flexible input options, pick the Canon Selphy 1300 Compact Photo Printer.
No other printer gives you the choice of printing via micro-USB, an SD card, or wifi. No matter where your photos are stored, they’ll be easier to print than ever with Canon’s Selphy printer. Of course, that only scratches the surface of the amazing features this printer boasts. The only flaw with the Selphy is that you need to buy the not-included battery pack to make it truly portable. But if you have photos strewn across Facebook, your camera, and that backup SD card in your junk drawer, then Canon’s Selphy 1300 is perfect for you.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer.
Every now and then a product comes around that lets you save money without really making you feel like you’re losing out on anything. The Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer pulls off that impressive feat by giving you sticky 2-by-3-inch photos, a reliable battery, and Bluetooth and NFC compatibility. Its specs are definitely on the weaker side, but there’s no glaring flaw to this affordable printer. That means that if you’re still unsure if you really need a portable printer, the Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer is the perfect choice for you.
That wraps up our list. We’ve given you 3 fantastic portable printers, and while there are other solid options out there, we believe that these three products best fill every niche. Remember, all of our printers have a feature or two that separates them from the pack. So if you’re having trouble making your decision, just think about the trait that’s most important to you, and that should really speed things up so you can get to the fun part.
That’s all for now. We hope our list has helped, and we hope you enjoy the physical photos to go with your virtual collection!