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Which portable photo printer is best?

Whether you happen to be a professional photographer who needs a mobile means of printing physical pictures or a dedicated scrapbook maker, solutions may seem few and far between. With the decline of the instant camera and the one-hour photo booth, ushered in by the proliferation of smartphones and digital cameras, getting your hands on physical photos is no longer so simple. Fortunately, the HP Sprocket Portable 2×3″ Instant Photo Printer (Luna Pearl) gives you the ability to produce high quality photos wherever you are with little fuss and effort.

What to know before you buy a portable photo printer

Make sure that your portable photo printer is compatible with your technology

While many debate the various pros and cons of iOS versus Android, the most important thing is owning technology that works well with your preferred technological ecosystem. After all, the last thing you want is to be standing in front of clients who are waiting for their photos while you sweat nervously and try to figure out a workaround.

As such, all of the selected models have been chosen for their ability to work seamlessly with both iOS and Android. Regardless of your particular technological affiliations and preferences, you can access a portable photo printer that works reliably with your operating system of choice.

Ink or inkless photos can have an impact on both price and quality

For those who are unfamiliar with the two main methods of photo printing, they are the traditional inked photos which require the purchase of both paper and ink and the zero-ink, or ZINK, sticky-backed paper. Whereas inked photo printers rely on placing ink appropriately onto photo paper and flash heating it to create your photo, ZINK paper makes use of paper which has been embedded with dye crystals that are activated by exposure to the correct temperature.

As far as pros and cons, it is undeniable that if you are looking for a physical photo that will last for years or even decades to come, inked photo printers are the clearly superior choice. However, those who prefer not to have to lug around less portable photo printers may prefer ZINK paper, which is not only less expensive to purchase but also allows photo printers to be made much smaller and lighter.

What to look for in a quality portable photo printer

Capable of creating high-quality photos edited and customized in place

Would you rather not have to go about the potentially tedious process of editing photos, adding borders, stickers, emojis and much more before they are ready to be printed? Luckily for you, the selected models allow you to review, edit and even print your photos directly from your smartphone, PC, tablet or other mobile device.

Want to add some dog ears and an overly dramatic lens flare in the background to make a wedding photo that much more humorous? If so, you can rest assured that said photo will be resistant to smudging, tears and other physical damage and can potentially last up to ten years, depending on the printing method used.

Comes with a convenient companion app for making photo printing easy

If you have ever struggled with getting your home or office printer to correctly communicate with other devices, you know just how much frustration can be involved in just getting a simple document printed. Given that ink and paper for photo printers are much more expensive than conventional printers, especially when considering the size difference between them,  the last thing you want is to have wasted valuable supplies and time.

Thankfully, each of the selected models come with free apps to help facilitate the easy editing and printing of photos with minimal effort. If having the ability to create a physical photo and print it with a simple press of a button sounds like an attractive proposition, then a portable photo printer could become your new favorite piece of technology.

Features like battery packs and charging cables help keep you mobile

While having the ability to carry a photo printer as small as a deck of cards around in your bag, purse, backpack or other container is great, you want to ensure that it isn’t a fancy paperweight when the time comes to perform. As such, any portable photo printer you purchase should have the ability to connect to an electrical source or a portable battery pack to receive power, though some models are capable of both.

How much you can expect to spend on a portable photo printer

Depending on your preferred method of printing and any budgetary considerations, a quality photo printer can cost anywhere from $80-$129, and sometimes more.

Portable photo printer FAQ

Can I use my photo printer to also print regular documents?

A. Given that the printing trays for portable photo printers are significantly smaller than average printers, any 8.5 by 11 inch paper is impossible to print.

Do I need to own a computer in order to use a portable photo printer?

A. Not at all, In fact, many photo printers also come equipped with free companion apps that allow you to edit, share and print photos directly from your smartphone or other compatible mobile device. 

What are the best portable photo printers to buy?

Top portable photo printer

HP Sprocket Portable 2x3" Instant Photo Printer (Luna Pearl

HP Sprocket Portable 2×3″ Instant Photo Printer (Luna Pearl)

What you need to know: A top notch inkless printer that is perfect for weddings, parties and other social gatherings.

What you’ll love: This unit offers the ability to print 2”x 3” photographs resistant to smudging, tears and water damage from your smartphone or social media, as well as a Micro USB Charging Cable with 35 prints per charge, personalized LED lights to let you know who’s printing, customizable snaps with great editing tools on the free HP App, including applying Stickers, Borders, Emojis, Share Albums and much more.

What you should consider: Users report issues with sharing their phone contact list and GPS location to use the device, as well as Bluetooth connectivity problems.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable photo printer for the money

Kodak Mini 2 HD Wireless Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer

Kodak Mini 2 HD Wireless Portable Mobile Instant Photo Printer

What you need to know: An affordable portable photo printer for those who prefer to use real ink.

What you’ll love: This unit features the ability to print 2.1 by 3.4 inch photos directly from your Android or iOS device. It boasts an innovative 4 PASS D2T2 Dye Transfer Method capable of creating photos that will last up to 10 years, cartridges that combine paper and color ink for your convenience and a free Kodak photo printer app for filters, video and sns print cropping, card templates, ID photo print, stickers and more

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with successfully finding replacement Kodak MC cartridges and problems with said cartridges jamming.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Canon Selphy CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer

Canon Selphy CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer

What you need to know: A capable, portable photo printer for the working professional or home office. 

What you’ll love: This unit offers a 3.2-inch LCD screen that lets you choose, edit and print your favorite photos as well as a paper tray that can hold 18 sheets of postcard size paper. It has the ability to print via USB-cable connection, the printer’s removable memory card and either AirPlay or the free Canon mobile app.

What you should consider: Users have reported issues with film cartridges and paper being very expensive and the unit not accepting non-Canon supplies.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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