Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
134 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best instant photo printers for iPhone

Last Updated July 2019

It’s no secret that iPhones have some of the best mobile cameras out there — but what do you do when you want to print your photos? Traditional printers can take forever to make prints, and they guzzle ink like crazy, so they’re not always the best option for printing your favorite memories. That’s where instant photo printers come in: they wirelessly connect to your iPhone and allow you to use an app to send photos for printing.

Instant photo printers are a throwback to the days of Polaroid Instant Cameras, only now, they can print any photo you’ve got on your smartphone or see on social media. Some deliver high-quality prints at traditional sizes, so you can print frame-worthy photos yourself, while others print pictures on sticker paper or only print to smaller sizes like 2 by 3 inches.

Whether you want scrapbook-ready photos or you just love the novelty of printing at whatever size you want, there are plenty of good options available. Read on for our best advice on finding the perfect instant photo printer for your iPhone.

Printing from social media is fun, but all images on the web are compressed and may not turn out well. If you have the choice, always choose the original — the photos will come out much better.

Instant photo printers for iPhones considerations

There are a lot of instant photo printers for iPhones out there, but many of them are designed for specific use cases and lifestyles. Before you start shopping, consider these questions — they’ll help you narrow your search.

What size photos do you want to print?

This is the most important question to answer, because most instant photo printers can only print to one or two sizes. Think about what you’ll be doing with your photos, and make the decision accordingly — for example, if you want to print photos for a physical photo album, get one that prints to larger sizes like 4 by 6 inches.

Do you need a printer you can take with you anywhere?

Just because your iPhone is mobile doesn’t mean your photo printer needs to be as well! If you’re planning on doing most of your photo printing at home, you can opt for a photo printer that isn’t portable, and usually save a few bucks in the process.

If your instant photo printer doesn’t come with a case, get one. Most instant photo printers have a lot of accessories, so make sure you don’t lose anything by keeping it all together in a case.

Instant photo printers for iPhones features

Different instant photo printers can look similar — they’re all small, nondescript boxes that have an opening on one end where photos come out. But they’re definitely not all the same, and there are key features that set the best models apart. Here are our favorite features on instant photo printers for iPhones.

  • Wireless printing. This is the one feature we can’t live without. Wireless printing makes the entire process easier. Most iPhone instant photo printers use Bluetooth to transmit photos for printing, but more advanced models have on-board WiFi, which means that your iPhone doesn’t even have to be in the same room — just on the same network.

  • Social media integration. If you spend a lot of time on social media, an instant photo printer can be a great way to preserve your favorite memories. Whether you want to print out pictures of your family barbecue or your favorite meme, some instant photo printers can print photos directly from your accounts.

  • Rechargeable batteries. Some instant photo printers for iPhones have built-in batteries, so you can recharge them as many times as you need. Others operate on traditional power sources like AA batteries or a wall outlet. We much prefer the former for convenience, although it does mean making sure the printer is charged before taking it anywhere.

  • Photo editing. All instant photo printers for iPhones come with their own proprietary apps for sending your pictures to print, but some apps have more features than others. The best apps have photo editing capabilities, so you can crop your pictures, adjust the lighting, and, in some cases, add captions.

Instant photo printers for iPhones prices

Between $50 and $100, you’ll find instant photo printers for iPhones that are portable and print to smaller sizes like 2 by 3 inches. Instant photo printers in this price range are fun for printing mini-photos, and even stickers, but the image quality isn’t always amazing at this size. If you’re a casual photographer or you just want to share small prints with your friends, you don’t need to spend much more than this.

Between $100 and $150, expect to see instant photo printers for iPhones that print full-size photographs and deliver image quality that rival what you can get from a professional photo lab. If you want archive-ready photos, this is the price range where you’ll find the best value.

Between $150 and $300, you’ll find, for the most part, overpriced instant photo printers, and some bundles. Bundles can sometimes be a good deal, because you’ll end up saving on accessories, but in most cases, it’s not worth it to spend this much.

Tips

  • Before you buy a specific instant photo printer for iPhone, check to see how much replacement film costs. Some instant photo printers for iPhones use standard sizes of photo paper like 4 by 6 inches, but others only print to unique sizes. Do some research ahead of time to find out how much you’ll need to spend to replace film in your instant printer — you may find that your best option changes when you factor in the long-term cost of ownership.

  • If you need to print fast, buy an instant photo printer that uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth. Instant photo printers for iPhone will use either WiFi or Bluetooth to transmit photos, and they’re both capable technologies — but WiFi is much faster. If you don’t like waiting for your pictures to print, get a model that supports WiFi printing.

  • Always keep spare film on hand. You don’t want to miss out on taking the perfect photograph because you forgot to buy more film, so buy extra ahead of time.
EXPERT TIP

If your prints are coming out darker than you want, try using the included software or your smartphone’s built-in functionality to lighten up your pictures before printing.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you print sticky-backed photos, use a hair dryer on a low setting when you first apply the sticker. The heat will melt the glue slightly, creating a stronger bond.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

Canon’s SELPHY Wireless Photo Printer is a great option if you need to print a lot of high-quality photos. It’s pricey, but that’s because it comes with everything you could possibly need: a printer, film, a power adapter, and even a cable for connecting it to your desktop computer if you want to use it there, too. If you print a lot of photographs for albums, scrapbooks, or sharing with relatives, this is the one to buy. Polaroid’s Mint Pocket Printer is our favorite option for making small prints from our iPhone photos. It prints 2 by 3 inch photos, and can print up to 50 photos on a single battery charge. It’s also just plain fun — it’s pocket-sized, so you can take it anywhere, and it comes in multiple colors.

If you want to print photos from multiple Apple devices, keep your eyes peeled for a photo printer that supports AirPrint, which allows any Apple device to use the printer.

FAQ

Q. Do instant photo printers use ink like traditional printers?
A.
No. Instant photo printers either use specially formulated ink that dries quickly or toner — in either case, there’s no risk of colors bleeding. Most instant photo printers for iPhones will brand their printing process, but that’s mainly so you’ll be required to buy more printing supplies from the same company.

Q. Why do some instant photo printers list NFC as a connectivity option? What is NFC?
A.
Near-Field Communication, also known as NFC, is a wireless protocol that can transfer data between two devices at high speeds, so long as the devices are in close range. While iPhones do have NFC chips inside, they’re used exclusively for mobile payments, and can’t be used for other accessories. However, NFC connectivity for printing photos is available on most Android phones.

Q. How expensive are replacement photo cartridges and ink for instant photo printers?
A.
It depends. If you’re printing to standard sizes, photo paper is readily available and inexpensive, but if you buy an instant photo printer that only works with proprietary replacement cartridges, it can get pricey. Expect to pay anywhere between $15 and $30 for a single replacement cartridge, although you can typically get a price break by buying in bulk.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey