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iPhones have completely revolutionized photography. You can take a picture anywhere you want, and have dozens — if not hundreds — of different algorithms, filters, and features to help you out.
But there’s one thing we’ve lost with the switch over to digital photography: prints. It might seem like an outdated fashion now, but printing photos is a blast. Having pictures around your house is a great way to add joy to your surroundings.
And sharing pictures with people is a super fun way to give a memento that will be appreciated. That’s where iPhone printers come in.
What’s an iPhone Printer?
An iPhone printer is, simply, a portable photo printer for your iPhone (or other smartphone). It’s a tiny printer that you can easily stash in a backpack, messenger bag, or large purse. Just connect your phone via a built-in Lightning connector or Bluetooth, and print photos from your iPhone on the spot.
There are lots of different brands and styles, but they all have the same goal: print photos from your iPhone while you’re on the go.
It’s a great way to share memories, get fast prints of new favorite photos, even charge your phone while you’re waiting. And because they’re so compact and affordable, you really don’t have anything to lose!
All of the printers we’ll review below use a process called zero-ink printing. This uses cartridges that contain both paper and ink, and prints in a single pass using heat pulses. It’s different from regular printer tech, and it’s crucial for making such small printers.
There are two downsides of zero-ink printing. First, few printers can handle anything bigger than a 2″ x 3″ print. This is a fun size for posting and sharing, but if you want a larger print, your options are limited. We’ll show you the best 4″ x 6″ portable printers below.
Second, the refills are expensive. Prices vary, but you’re probably looking at between $10 and $18 for a 20-pack. Larger packs provide better value, but they’re still not cheap. This makes the prints more expensive than printing services, but you also don’t have to wait. And you never have to pay for ink, which is a big plus.
It’s worth noting that Kodak uses its own proprietary dye-sublimation tech. NerdTechy has checked out prints from numerous portable photo printers, and says that the Kodak prints are closer to lab-grade than those that use the Zink-brand process.
The Best Mini iPhone Printers
While the iPhone printer market hasn’t exactly exploded, there are a lot of great options if you’re looking for a smartphone photo printer.
1. Kodak Mini
Kodak’s mini photo printer isn’t the smallest printer available, but it’s definitely one of the most affordable. And it packs the features that you expect in higher-price iPhone printers, like Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, Kodak’s dye-sublimation printing, and a companion app.
The app has some cool features like being able to print stills from video and the ability to print out social media statuses in a nice-looking format. You can print stickers with sticker refills, and apply fun effects from the app.
2. Polaroid ZIP
If you think of portable photo printers as an extension of instant photography, it makes perfect sense that Polaroid would jump onboard. The ZIP’s 2″ x 3″ prints are printed with industry-standard ZINK zero-ink technology.
One of the biggest advantages to this model is its small size; it’s less than an inch tall, and only 4.7″ long. It’s very compact, and easy to stash in a purse or shoulder bag. And with Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, you can sync up your phone in a flash.
3. HP Sprocket
The Sprocket is one of the most highly rated iPhone printers on the market. It’s known for a very portable size and a fun companion photo-editing app. Unfortunately, it’s not known for its extremely high-quality prints.
Ashley Carman, in her review, characterized it as more of a toy than a photographer’s tool. But she also said that it’s the most fun portable photo printer out there. The fact that it comes in a lot of fun colors doesn’t hurt either. The purple Sprocket is, frankly, fantastic.
The Best 4″ x 6″ iPhone Printers
If you want 4″ x 6″ prints, you’re going to need something bigger. These printers aren’t quite as conveniently portable, but they’re still pretty easy to get around.
4. Kodak Dock
Connect to this dock with the micro-USB connector, Lightning adapter, or Wi-Fi, and you can get a full-size print in an instant. You can even charge two devices while you’re printing. And the print tray folds into the printer to make it easier to transport.
This larger printer uses the same D2T2 dye sublimation printing as the Kodak Mini printer, so you get fast, durable prints with no ink. You’ll pay more for the printer, but it’s worth it for getting 4″ x 6″ prints. (Unless you need maximum portability.)
The Canon Selphy differs from the other printers on this list in that it actually looks like a regular printer. It has an LCD touchscreen, a bunch of buttons, a print tray, and can print via Wi-Fi, USB, and from camera memory cards.
And in addition to printing 4″ x 6″ prints, you can print stickers, postcards, 2.1″ x 2.1″ square photos (perfect for your favorite Instagram images), and 2″ x 6″ photo booth photos. It uses dye sublimation, though not the same technique as Kodak uses. And it’s affordable.
The only drawback is the size: 7.1″ x 5.4″ x 2.5″. It’s a little bigger than your standard portable iPhone photo printer. But it’s a trade-off you may want to make.
Get an iPhone Printer!
If you take a lot of pictures on your phone, you’re missing out by not having a portable smartphone printer. You can get quick prints to share or file away in your photo album (your physical one, not your digital one). They’re highly portable, don’t use ink, and are surprisingly affordable.