Which Polaroid printer is best?

If you had a Polaroid camera in the late ’70s or mid-’80s, you probably fondly remember the joy of taking the snap, waving the paper in the air and seeing the photo develop in front of you. But by the ’90s, the appetite for instant photographs started to dwindle, and digital cameras quickly became the must-have item.

Relegated to the sidelines for decades, Polaroid has made somewhat of a comeback. But instead of focusing on what made the company successful in the first place, it has branched out to fit into users’ technology-driven lifestyles.

For example, you can use a Polaroid printer to instantly produce paper copies of photos on your mobile device. And the best of these is the small, versatile Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer Starter Kit.

What to know before you buy a Polaroid printer

Two kinds of printers

Polaroid only sells two basic kinds of printers. 

  • Mobile printer. The small Polaroid Hi-Print is perfect for printing photos from your mobile phone in a few seconds.
  • Desktop printer. The Polaroid Lab is a somewhat bulky printer that fits on a desk. You place your phone’s screen onto a dedicated area, and then the printer scans the image and produces a paper print.

Naturally, the desktop printer isn’t going to fit into a backpack or handbag, whereas the mobile printer is designed for on-the-go printing and sharing.

Battery life

The key to a good portable printer is its battery life and how long it takes to recharge. You wouldn’t want to carry around a printer if the battery doesn’t last very long. So if you use it frequently, you may want to carry a spare USB charging cable. Generally, a Polaroid printer has enough power to easily handle about 20 or 30 prints before needing a recharge. 

Compatibility with your phone

Technology changes quickly and mobile phones are often at the forefront of advancements. To keep up with trends and higher computing powers, Polaroid printers are only compatible with some of the latest phones. 

Before deciding on a printer, consider the age of your phone and check the specifications to see if it meets the system requirements. For the most part, Polaroid printers are compatible with iPhone 7 and higher, or mobile devices running on Android 7 or higher.

What to look for in a quality Polaroid printer

Printing quality

One of the most important aspects of any printer is the final quality of the image. Polaroid printers are slightly different, as you can’t manually set the quality or color. That is determined by the photo paper and the printer. The smaller printers produce images at 300 dots per inch, while the larger printer goes to 1,200 dots per inch.

Connectivity

Smaller Polaroid printers have a Bluetooth connection. The larger printer doesn’t have any connectivity features, as its design is different.

Photo paper compatibility

You wouldn’t want to be limited to just one kind of printing paper, so having a few options is excellent. The larger Polaroid printers work on i-Type and 600 film, while the portable printer uses a variety of 2-inch-by-3-inch paper cartridges.

How much you can expect to spend on a Polaroid printer

The price depends on whether it includes the starter kit. The smaller printer retails for $80-$90, while the same printer with the starter-kit bundle retails for $110-$120. The larger printer costs $90-$130 for the standard version.

Polaroid printer FAQ

Do you need to pay an annual subscription?

A. No, there are no monthly or annual subscriptions. Your printer works straight out of the box and you only need to replace the paper. 

Do Polaroid printers need ink?

A. No, and that is the beauty of the printer’s technology. You don’t need separate ink cartridges as the “ink” is inside the paper. Polaroid printers and cameras use chemistry to bring your snaps to life.

What’s the best Polaroid printer to buy?

Top Polaroid printer

Best Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer Starter Kit

Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer Starter Kit

What you need to know: This mobile printer is small enough to fit in a bag and has a built-in battery that lasts for 20 photos.

What you’ll love: Through the iOS and Android app, it’s easy to pair this printer to mobile phones through Bluetooth. It produces 2-inch-by-3-inch photos in under a minute and can be handled immediately. The Starter Kit includes the printer, two Hi-Print paper cartridges and a microfiber cloth.

What you should consider: It is not compatible with older iPhones running on iOS 7 or earlier. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Polaroid printer for the money

Best Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer

Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Photo Printer

What you need to know: The standalone printer is more affordable than the Starter Kit.

What you’ll love: This small printer can produce photos in under a minute by using Polaroid’s dye-sub cartridge technology. It is compatible with any of the 2-inch-by-3-inch Hi-Print paper. 

What you should consider: Some users complained that the battery life isn’t as good as expected.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Polaroid Originals Lab Digital to Analog Polaroid Photo Printer

Polaroid Originals Lab Digital to Analog Polaroid Photo Printer

What you need to know: This desktop printer works slightly differently, as you place your phone on the screen and the printer then scans the image to produce the iconic Polaroid photo.

What you’ll love: It acts like a small darkroom by using actual film chemistry to produce the images. It uses a three-lens system to project your phone’s image onto the film.

What you should consider: It has a rechargeable battery but there is no Bluetooth connectivity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

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

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.