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The Best Portable Photo Printers in 2021 – Tested & Reviewed

With the advance of technology, so comes tinier and tinier products. Everyone’s looking for the most compact and practical designs – the easier to carry and store, the better. And with ever-changing camera technology, it’s no different. More and more photographers are leaving their bulky DSLRs at home in favor of more compact mirrorless designs and even smartphones. So it’s no surprise that portable photo printers are becoming mainstream, too.

These days, Canon, Kodak, and the like are coming out with nifty little portable printers that you can keep on hand to print out your best photos on the go – with their own apps to create, edit, and customize your prints.

Today, we will be testing some of the best-selling portable photo printers on the market so you can decide if it’s time to bring home a younger sibling for your professional home printer. Not replace – these little guys aren’t going to provide the same high-res, large prints you’ll get with a quality home printer – but they’ll make for a great sidekick.

We will be testing things like design, print quality, ease of use, app features, printing speed, accessories, and (most important) average cost per print.

Our contenders are:

Canon SELPHY Square QX10 Compact Photo Printer Our Pick
Dye-sub technology makes for professional prints with true, natural coloring and definition.
Polaroid Zip Mobile Photo Printer Also Good
Sleek, portable design; pocket-sized, standalone printer produces crisp & clean images using ZINK technology.
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer 2nd Edition
Does well in preserving detail in very bright and dark areas with reasonably true colors, using ZINK zero-ink tech.
Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer
Pocket-sized printer using ZINK technology with an app to improve coloring and tone.
Canon SELPHY CP1300 Photo Printer
High-quality prints due to the dye sub printing process, but requires purchasing ribbon replacements.
Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer
One of the smallest and lightest mobile printers around, this ZINK printer packs a powerful punch.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer
Fun, compact, interactive wireless printer prints instantly on Instax mini film from any smartphone or tablet using ZINK technology.
KODAK STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer Best Budget
Affordable little printer using Zink Technology and offering the basics, but print quality is disappointing.

1. Canon SELPHY Square QX10 Compact Photo Printer

Our Pick
Best print quality with incredible colors and detail

Produces professional high-quality prints that are true to original colors and retain detail. Slightly bulkier than other models but worth the extra weight!

Professional print quality
Colors are natural, vivid & true to original
Larger 2.7×2.7″ Polaroid-style prints look great
Prints guaranteed to last up to 100 years
Bulkier & heavier than most portable printers
Need to buy replacement ink cartridges

Design & Details

The Canon SELPHY Square QX10 isn’t the smallest printer here, but it’s not the biggest either. While you can’t carry it around in your pocket, it’s compact enough to keep in your carry bag or backpack so you can have it on you wherever you go – albeit, it’s a bit bulky and heavy.

The design is nice and simple, with a textured top and smooth, rounded front and back edges. There’s a single button on top for power with charge and status lights next to it and a USB port on the side. Since the SELPY QX10 uses dye-sublimation printing, you’ll need to insert a cartridge into the ink cassette, which is next to the USB port on the side of the printer. The paper is loaded in a push-button tray in the back, making for a practical and functional design.

The extra cartridge, along with the larger, square dye-sub photo paper and printing technology adds to the overall weight but delivers incredible detail (which we’ll get to in a sec), so in my opinion, it’s worth it.

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You can get the QX10 in White, Black, Green, or Pink and there are plenty of hard carry cases you can buy for it. And since it connects wirelessly via Wi-Fi, you only need an internet connection to print from your phone.

  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 14.3 x 3.1 cm
  • Weight: 445 g
  • Battery: Rechargeable 900 mAh lithium 
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Prints per charge: 20

Print Quality  

The QX10 outperformed in every way. Sure, it’s about twice the size of most of the other portable photo printers on this list, but the overall print quality is just unmatched.

Because the printer uses a dye-sub process, the images it produces far exceed those of your typical portable printers that use ZINK technology. The SELPHY QX10 prints are accurate to the original shot, with natural skin tones, vivid colors, and well-defined detail, and are guaranteed to last up to 100 years.

The prints come out in 2.7×2.7-inch square photos on Polaroid-style, white-bordered paper, which adds a nice touch to the already stellar-looking photos.

Printing Speed

It takes 43 seconds to fully print a photo. That’s because each print passes four times through the printer – one for each color (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) and another pass at the end for a clear coat.

App Features

The SELPHY Photo Layout 2.0 App is incredibly easy to set up and use. While many of the other printers connect via Bluetooth, the QX10 runs through Wi-Fi, limiting when you can connect, but also eliminating any compatibility or device finding issues. The setup took seconds, really, and I was printing in no time.

Upon first open, you have two choices to print: “Select & Print” for a single photo and “N-up Layout” to arrange multiple photos in a layout. You can select photos from your phone or the Canon gallery or upload them from Instagram or Google Photos.

App features include a number of basic creative design elements like adding borders, pre-set filters, text, and painting options. It’s all super straightforward and quick.

Cost Per Print

The SELPHY Square QX10 costs about $150, plus you’ll need to shell out for extra cartridges and paper. You’ll get sample packs when you buy the printer, but then you can buy a 20-pack of the Canon Color Ink/Label Set XS-20L, sticker-back paper with one ink cassette for about $15. The average cost per print works out to be about $0.75.

2. Polaroid Zip Mobile Photo Printer

Also Good
Best portable printer using ZINK Zero-Ink Technology

For a no-ink printer, the Zip produces crisp, high-contrast images that look amazing.

Images are clear with beautiful contrast and detail
Small, pocket-sized printer that you can take with you anywhere
Not many accessories available

Design & Details

The Polaroid Zip is a sleek, compact, pocket-sized, standalone printer that makes it easy and convenient to instantly print pics to share, with no ink, toners, film, or cartridges. It’s very handy and easily fits in your pocket. It also comes in different colors to fit your taste (Black, Blue, Orange, White).

However, if you’re looking for accessories for this printer specifically, you won’t find a lot – maybe a couple of sleeves and that’s it.

  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 12 x 2.2 cm
  • Weight: 186 g
  • Battery: Rechargeable 500 mAh lithium-ion
  • Charge time: 1.5 hours
  • Prints per charge: 25

Print Quality

The print quality of this small beast was excellent; the colors were crisp and clean, and the contrast was so good that I got the feeling that I could print a high-quality photo, though in a small size.

Printing Speed

It takes just 16 seconds to complete a print using this small printer.

App Features

The app is very easy to use and has some decent features, like pre-set filters, frames, and stickers. You can also create and print collages, but that’s it – nothing more than basic features. 

Cost Per Photo

This small, sleek printer will cost you around $165 and using ZINK Zero Ink Technology, you won’t need to buy ink because the photographic paper is embedded with all the colors. You can buy the Polaroid ZINK 2×3” photo paper in many options, from 20-sheet packs up to 50-sheet packs, with a price range from $10 to around $25. Therefore, the average cost per photo will be $0.50.

3. HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Portable Photo Printer

Best design with high-end look

Available in four fancy colors & marble-like finishing, this printer looks like a luxury product.

Beautiful design & finishing
Produces true-to-color prints with preserved detail in bright & dark areas
Plenty of accessories available
Variety of editing & creating features in the app
Prints are decent, but with the high-end design you might expect more pro results

Design & Details

The HP Sprocket comes in four colors: Black Noir, Luna Pearl, Blush Pink, and Lilac. I have to say, I love this design. It’s almost the same size as most of the other portable photo printers on the market, but this one doesn’t feel so bulky in the hand.

It has a marble-like finish, which makes it look like a luxury product, with only one button at the back, a USB charger port, and only one light at the front. It feels awesome in the hand.

The good thing about this printer is that HP offers a huge selection of accessories for it, such as a carrying sleeve, wallet case, and studio bag.

  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 8 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight: 172 g
  • Battery: Rechargeable 550 mAh internal battery
  • Charge time: 1 hour
  • Prints per charge: 35

Print Quality

The printer quality is very good, and it doesn’t look cheap. However, it is built entirely from plastic. Yes, it feels like a luxury product with its marble-like design, but still, I’m not feeling confident about dropping it.

Related Post: HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Complete Review

The overall print quality was extremely good, with reasonably true colors. The Sprocket portable printer did well in preserving detail in very bright and dark areas. The print quality was slightly better than that of other portable printers; however, you still can’t compare the prints to professional prints.

Printing Speed

It takes only 12 seconds to fully print a photo.

App Features

When I first installed the HP Sprocket app, I thought it was pretty basic. It can pull photos from your camera roll, Instagram, Google, or Facebook account. Because it also has access to your camera, you can take a photo of anything you want to print.

However, my thoughts changed when I clicked on the Edit button. That’s where all the fun starts. There are lots of features, such as tapping on the pencil icon to edit your image; applying filters, stickers, text, and other extras; using two fingers to zoom, rotate, or resize your photo; and tapping on the print icon to print the photo. You can also save, share, or print multiple copies.

One awesome feature is Tiles Printing, which allows you to print your photo on a pattern of either 2×2 or 3×3.

Cost Per Print

The printer will cost you around $80, and uses ZINK technology, so you won’t have to buy ink. You can buy the HP white photo paper in many options, from 20-sheet packs up to 100-sheet packs, with a price range from $10 to $45. Therefore, the average cost per photo will be almost $0.50.

4. Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer

Good for hobbyists

Small, cute, simple design for convenient, on-the-go printing, but don’t expect pro-like results. The colors come out cool with little contrast; although, still good for the average shooter.

Simple, compact design with nice accent colors
Decent app features with optional notifications to print new photos
Images appear faded with low-contrast
Accessories are limited
A little noisy while printing

Design & Details

The Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer is small enough to fit in your pocket, so you can take it just about anywhere. It has rounded edges and features only one function button. The back lid comes out, making it easy to access the photo paper. This small printer comes in Mint Green, Rose Gold, and Slate Gray, which instantly creates a fun and playful feel. The number of accessories for this printer is limited.

  • Dimensions: 11.9 x 8.1 x 1.8 cm
  • Weight: 158 g
  • Battery:  Rechargeable 500 mAh lithium-ion
  • Charge time: 1.5 hours
  • Prints per charge: 20

Print Quality

Overall, the print quality was ok. The prints look faded compared to how you see them on your mobile device, so you can edit the photo within the app before printing. I feel like the prints tend to be a bit on the cooler side, or maybe there’s not enough contrast. However, in general, they compared well to other prints.

Printing Speed

It takes about 19 seconds to complete a print. I have to mention that a little bit of sound came from the printer while it was in operation (though maybe it was just my unit).

App Features 

The app has all the same features as the other apps. You can print from your camera roll or connect a bunch of social media accounts and print directly from there. You can also do all your basic editing and select a pre-defined filter from within the app. Also, you can print different photos as collages.

If you enable notifications for this app, you will start getting notifications to print your photos.

Cost Per Print

The Canon IVY will cost you around $99. As almost all the printers use ZINK technology, again, you won’t spend extra money on ink. You can buy the sticky-backed photo paper for this printer in 20- to 50-sheet packs, which will run you between $10 and $25. Therefore, the average cost per photo works out to $0.50.

5. Canon SELPHY CP1300 Photo Printer

Not for on-the-go

Prints are bright, accurate, and incredibly detailed due to the dye-sub printing process. Far better results than ZINK printers, but this printer is bigger & bulkier than the rest.

Excellent print quality
Long-lasting prints rated up to 100 years
Prints larger 4×6″ images
Tilting 3.2″ LCD screen for easy photo viewing
Can print over 50 photos on a full charge
Big – not a printer to carry around
Must buy battery as an extra
Long charge time

Design & Details

The Canon SELPHY CP1300 is a big printer with a paper tray and an LCD to show you the available options. It’s not as small as the other portable printers on this list, but it’s a wireless compact photo printer, giving you the option of connecting a battery and using it on the go. However, it’s bulkier and heavier. Using the power adaptor, you can simply connect it directly to an outlet for a more consistent set up. With the tilting 3.2″ LCD screen, it’s easy to choose, edit, and print your favorite photos from an SD card or any social media.

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You will be able to find some accessories for this printer, like cases and bags. And you will definitely need one because it’s very hard to carry the printer around. In terms of color, you have a choice between black and white.

  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 18 x 6.4 cm
  • Weight: 861 g without the battery and 977 g with the battery
  • Battery: 2000 mAh lithium (you must buy it as an extra; the cost will be around $25 for a third-party product and around $90 for the Canon OEM)
  • Charge time: 4 hours
  • Prints per charge: 54

Print Quality

I have to say that the print quality of this printer is far better than the ZINK options on this list because like the QX10, it uses thermal dye-sublimation printing, which allows the ink to dry instantly. Its prints are long-lasting (rated for 100 years).

The paper is fed through the printer feeder and then goes in and out (or passes) four times. On each pass, a different color dye from the ribbon is sublimated and deposited on the photo paper.

However, because it doesn’t use ZINK technology, you will have to buy the ribbon. It also uses 4×6 paper, which may be a factor accounting for the excellent quality that you will get out of this printer.

Printing Speed

Because the CP1300 prints in four passes, it took around 42 seconds to fully print a photo.

App Features

The good thing about this printer is that it uses wireless AirPrint to print from anywhere via your mobile device. You can print using technically any software – for example, Photoshop or the photo app on your phone.

Cost Per Print

The printer itself will cost around $129, though you should keep in mind that this doesn’t include the portable battery pack, which will cost you around another $90. Moreover, you need to use ribbons or a cartridge, so you will have to buy both the ribbons and the paper in a full pack together – a one-pack (which includes 100 sheets and one ribbon) will cost you around $35.

Therefore, the average cost per page will come to about $0.35.

6. Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer

Exceptional performance for a little printer

Capable of printing 50 photos on a single charge, more than twices as many than most portable printers.

Gives you more prints at full charge than competitors
Uncomfortable design with sharp edges
Average print quality
Limited accessories

Design & Details

The Polaroid Mint is one of the smallest and lightest portable photo printers around. It has a relatively fast charge time and can print 50 pictures on a full charge. However, when it comes to the design, I don’t like the printer’s sharp edges. It would have been better if the printer had been designed like the Zip.

It comes in Black, Yellow, Blue, White, and Red, so you can choose the color you like.

The only accessories available for this printer specifically are cases.

  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 7.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Weight: 162 g
  • Battery:  900 mAh lithium polymer
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Prints per charge: 50

Print Quality

The colors are sharp and the lines are clear. I’m not a big fan of the shadows, as they’re a bit on the dark side. The printer does a great job on the mid-tones, but unfortunately, compared to its little sister the Zip, it loses.

Printing Speed

It takes only about 15 seconds to completely print a photo.

App Features

Again, like with the Polaroid Zip, the app is very easy to use and has some fun features like pre-set filters, stickers, and frames. You can also create and print collages, as well as connect to your social network accounts to print directly from there. 

Cost Per Print

The printer will cost you around $99. It also uses ZINK Zero Ink Technology, so no need to purchase ink. You can buy the Polaroid 2”x3” photo paper in many options, from 20-sheet packs up to 50-sheet packs, with a price range from $10 to around $25. Therefore, the average cost per photo will be almost $0.50.

7. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer

Good for retro-loving photographers

Prints on Instax mini film for an old-school Polaroid-style feel. But with the retro-style prints comes outdated, darker results.

Cool, retro-style framed prints
Variety of accessories available
Lots of fun & unique app features
Images come out dark, losing detail in shadows
Feels bulky in hand

Design & Details

The Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer is a fun, compact, interactive wireless printer that lets users print photos instantly on Instax mini film, from any smartphone or tablet. With a motion sensor, the printer is intuitive and seamlessly connects with the app through Bluetooth.

Related Post: Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer

The Mini Link is available in three colors: Ash White, Dark Denim, and Dusky Pink. The printer has a decent number of accessories, from cases to sleeves.

  • Dimensions: 9 x 3.5 x 12.5 cm
  • Weight: 209 g
  • Battery: Rechargeable 1000 mAh lithium-ion
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Prints per charge: 100

Print Quality  

Instant prints can’t compare to professional prints, but overall, the photos printed on the Instax Mini Link were exceptionally rich in color. Brown hair or dark blue skies may look black but, generally, the color balance is consistent.

The colors will be a bit off if you didn’t adjust them in the app first. They definitely remind me of photos from the early 80s.

Printing Speed

It was very easy to print photos using this printer. It takes only 12 seconds to fully print a photo; however, it takes up to two minutes to fully develop the photo.

App Features

The Mini Link app includes a variety of fun features. With Sketch and Edit mode, one can use any handwriting, artwork, or photography to create unique transparent overlays for their prints. For more fun, upload a photo of you along with a photo of a friend – or even a celebrity – to test your compatibility! Several filters and frames are also available for customizing each photo before printing.

The printer feels a bit bulky in the hand – and I’m saying this as someone with big hands. Because of its smooth design, it feels comfortable, but I can’t imagine someone carrying this for a couple of hours while moving around, taking pictures, and printing them. That’s why a case or bag comes in handy.

Cost Per Print

The printer will cost you around $135 by itself or you can get a great deal on a bundle. Like most of the others, it uses ZINK technology, eliminating the need to keep buying cartridges, ribbons, or toners. You can buy Fujifilm instant film in many options, from 20-sheet packs up to 120-sheet packs, with a price range from $13 to $80. Therefore, the average cost per photo will be about $0.65.

8. KODAK STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer

Budget Option
Best budget portable printer

This is a very affordable printer, but don’t expect anything more than average results.

Affordable price
Nice, simple, comfortable design
Photos lack contrast and detail
Some images printed off-center with white edge
App can be finicky to set up

Design & Details

The KODAK STEP is a compact little unit that feels comfortable in the hand and fits in just about any pocket. It features a discreet power button, micro USB port, and status lights, along with a slide-off top to open the paper tray, keeping the design smooth and simple.

Available in White, Blue, Black, or Pink, the STEP is great on its own, but you can also get a number of accessories, like cases and sleeves, to protect it, or even a scrapbook bundle to boost your creativity.

  • Dimensions: 11.9 x 7.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Weight: 187 g
  • Battery: Internal rechargeable 500 mAh Li-polymer
  • Charge time: 1.5 hours
  • Prints per charge: 25

Print Quality  

The printed images weren’t bad when it came to capturing true-to-life colors like skin tones, but overall, were flat and dark. While brighter colors came out ok and skin tones looked natural, they were lacking in contrast and saturation, giving them a dulled look. Also, detail was lost in shadows and dark areas blended with dark backgrounds, leaving some printed images almost completely black.

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I also had a problem with print positioning. The paper was loaded into the tray as per the instructions, but three of five printed photos came out off-centered with white space on one edge. And that’s after previewing each image before printing, where they looked good.

Printing Speed

Each photo printed in under one minute.

App Features

After the initial box opening, which was good because I liked the design and feel of the KODAK STEP, setting up the app was my first real introduction to it. And it was the precursor to an overall disappointing experience.

The smartphone app connects to the printer via Bluetooth or NFC, which should be a fairly simple process, but the KODAK app adds an extra step to connect it after initial pairing. As a result, my phone found the device but wouldn’t connect and I ended up Googling why not, which led me to a video on where to find the in-app toggle switch – upper right corner of the gallery, btw.

Once connected, however, the app is easy enough to navigate and offers the typical editing features like color & temperature adjustments and extra design elements. You can also create collages and change formats.

Cost Per Print

The KODAK STEP costs just under $70, making it the best budget option for portable photo printers. You can buy the 2×3″ photo paper in packs of 20 to 100 for $10 and $48, respectively. So the average cost per print works out to about $0.48.

Portable Photo Printers Summed Up

In the following table, we will look at the printers side-by-side to clearly compare them. Then we’ll break them down in order of preference for design, print quality, and cost per print.

PrinterCanon SELPHY Square QX10Polaroid Zip HP SprocketCanon IVY
Size10.2 x 14.3 x 3.1 cm7.4 x 12 x 2.2 cm11.8 x 8 x 2.5 cm 11.9 x 8.1 x 1.8 cm
Weight445 g186 g172 g 158 g
Battery900 mAh Lithium Polymer500 mAh Lithium Polymer 550 mAh Lithium Polymer  500 mAh Lithium Polymer
Charge time2 hours1.5 hours1 hour1.5 hours
Prints per charge20252520
Print time43 sec16 sec12 sec19 sec
Print paperCanon Color Ink / Label Set XS-20L, sticker paperZINK Photo, sticker paper  ZINK Photo, sticker paper  ZINK Photo, sticker paper   
Cost per print$0.75$0.50$0.50$0.50
Print format2.7×2.72×32×32×3
WirelessWi-FiBluetoothBluetoothBluetooth
PriceCHECK CHECKCHECK CHECK
PrinterPolaroid MintCanon SELPHY CP1300Fujifilm Instax Mini Link KODAK STEP
Size11.6 x 7.7 x 1.8 cm13.7 x 18 x 6.4 cm9 x 3.5 x 12.5 cm11.9 x 7.4 x 2.3 cm
Weight162 g861 g209 g187 g
Battery1000 mAh Lithium Polymer 2000 mAh Lithium Polymer1000 mAh Lithium Polymer500 mAh Lithium Polymer
Charge time2 hours4 hours2 hours1.5 hours
Prints per charge50543025
Print time15 sec42 sec19 sec + 2 min to developUnder 60 sec
Print paperZINK Photo, sticker paperCanon SheetsInstax Mini, color paperZINK Photo, sticker paper
Cost per print$0.50$0.35$0.65$0.48
Print format2×34×61.8×2.42×3
WirelessBluetoothWi-FiBluetoothBluetooth
PriceCHECKCHECKCHECKCHECK

Design Ranking

  1. HP Sprocket 
  2. Polaroid Zip
  3. Canon IVY
  4. KODAK STEP
  5. Polaroid Mint
  6. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
  7. Canon SELPHY Square QX10
  8. Canon SELPHY CP1300

Weight Ranking

  1. Canon IVY (158 g)
  2. Polaroid Mint (162 g)
  3. HP Sprocket (172 g)
  4. Polaroid Zip (186 g)
  5. KODAK STEP (187 g)
  6. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link (209 g)
  7. Canon SELPHY Square QX10 (445 g)
  8. Canon SELPHY CP1300 (861 g)

Print Quality Ranking

  1. Canon SELPHY Square QX10
  2. Canon SELPHY CP1300
  3. Polaroid Zip
  4. Canon IVY
  5. HP Sprocket 
  6. Polaroid Mint
  7. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 
  8. KODAK STEP

Without a doubt, the Canon SELPHY Square QX10 has the best print quality of all the portable photo printers on this list.

Cost Per Print Ranking

  1. Canon SELPHY CP1300 ($0.35 per print)
  2. KODAK STEP ($0.48 per print)
  3. Polaroid Zip ($0.50 per print)
  4. HP Sprocket ($0.50 per print)
  5. Canon IVY ($0.50 per print)
  6. Polaroid Mint ($0.50 per print)
  7. Fujifilm Instax Mini Link ($0.65 per print)
  8. Canon SELPHY Square QX10 ($0.75 per print)

And the Best Portable Photo Printers Winner Is…

We have to say, if you are looking for a small portable printer to carry anywhere, the practical choice is the Polaroid Zip, as it performed well in every category. But if you want the best print quality possible, sacrificing slightly in size and cost per photo, then the clear winner is the Canon SELPHY Square QX10.

Canon SELPHY QX10 Portable Square Photo Printer for iPhone or Android, White
Canon SELPHY Square QX10

Other good options and our runner-ups are the HP Sprocket (best in terms of design) and the Canon SELPHY CP1300 (best in terms of cost per print).


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