Tech

Comparison test 2020: ten mobile mini photo printers


They are small, mobile and fun: mini photo printers. But there are big differences, not all are recommended. We compared ten mini printers.

Mini photo printers are fun printers. You print pictures directly from your smartphone, are mobile thanks to the battery and mostly do without ink. The zinc printing process dominates the market. There are also models with OLED exposure, thermal sublimation and a classic printer cartridge. The print quality varies significantly among the different printing processes. But if you choose a zinc printer, for example, you get devices with better or less good print quality.

Furthermore, mobile does not mean mobile. That's how it works Canon Selphy CP1300 with an optionally available battery and is therefore mobile by definition. However, unlike its competitors, it is anything but pocket-compatible, or at least backpack-compatible. Further distinguishing features can be found in the compatibility, in the price per picture and in the app. For whom which printer is best suited, this comparison test should clarify. We collect all tests in our theme world Mobile Photo Printers.



These mini printers all rely on the zinc printing process. f.l.t.r .: HP Sprocket Plus, Canon Zoemini, Polaroid ZIP, Prynt Pocket

The four zinc printers Huawei CV80 (test report), HP Sprocket Plus (test report), Canon Zoemini (test report) and Polaroid Zip (test report) are similar in terms of both appearance and workmanship. All four are suitable for trouser pockets, are very well made and need only one physical button to switch them on and off. There is space for up to ten loose photo papers under the removable top cover.

The Prynt Pocket (test report) also uses the zinc printing process, but does something different from the competition. On the one hand, it is directly on the iPhone for printing, and it is not compatible with Android. On the other hand, he uses a cassette that can be filled with photo paper. Neither works very well, the mechanics rattle and you are constantly afraid of breaking something.

At first glance, the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 (test report) and the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link (test report) are similar to the four zinc printers, but use a different printing technique. They are significantly heavier and thicker. The Instax Share SP-3 not only looks good, it is also very well made. Of the Instax Mini Link looks less attractive, its build quality leaves something to be desired here and there.

The cassette with the photo paper sits under one door for both. It is very difficult to open, which makes sense in this case. Because it may only be opened when the cassette with the ten pictures is empty, so as not to destroy the unexposed pictures.

The Canon Selphy CP1300 (test report) is out of line with its optics. It is significantly larger and heavier, has a color display and lots of connections and buttons. He uses comparable to that Prynt Pocket a cassette that the user fills with photo paper. In itself it is well made, only the insertion of the paper cassette could have been made more stable. For the next version, we hope that Canon can do without the removable cassette and find a way to load the paper directly into the printer, even if it makes the device bigger.

The Mbrush (test report), identical to the Princube, is an exotic. He relies on the inkjet process and uses the classic 62XL color cartridge, as found in many inkjet printers in the office area. It comes in the form of a cube and leaves nothing to be desired in terms of its processing.

Peripage A6 (test report) is even more extravagant, it only prints black and white and uses a roll of thermal paper known from cash registers. It is tiny, very light and has a bear face on its front. The mechanism for opening the printer is a bit windy, otherwise it looks thoroughly stable.

Comparison table mini photo printer

product

Huawei CV80

Canon Zoemini

HP Sprocket Plus

Polaroid Zip

Prynt Pocket

Instax Mini Link

Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3

Canon Selphy CP1300

Mbrush (Princube)

Peripage A6

TechStage Note

1

1

2nd

4th

5

2nd

2nd

1

2nd

2nd

Print quality

Good

Good

Satisfying

Good

Satisfying

Very good

Very good

Very good

Sufficient

Inadequate

Printing process

zinc

zinc

zinc

zinc

zinc

OLED exposure

OLED exposure

Thermal sublimation

Inkjet

B / W thermal paper

processing

Very good

Very good

Very good

Very good

Inadequate

Sufficient

Very good

Good

Very good

Good

Weight in g

189

160

204

186

164

244

312

860

162

155

Display

Images per battery charge

approx. 15-20

approx. 15-20

approx. 15-20

approx. 15-20

approx. 15-20

up to 100

about 10

approx. 30 – 40

lots

N / A

compatibility

Android / iOS

Android / iOS

Android / iOS

Android / iOS

iOS

Android / iOS

Android / iOS / camera

Android / iOS / camera

Android / iOS / Windows / Mac OS

Android / iOS

Connectivity

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Lightning port

Bluetooth

WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

WLAN / USB stick / SD card

WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

Bluetooth

Image size in cm

5 x 7.6

5 x 7.6

5.8 x 8.7

5 x 7.6

5 x 7.6

8.6 x 5.4

6.2 x 6.2

10 x 15

1.4 x 130

5.7 × XX

Self-adhesive pictures

– / ✔

– / ✔

Price in euros (as of Apr. 20)

88

120

105

95

120

105

165

115 (+ 50 for battery)

86

39

Image price in euros (as of Oct. 18)

about 0.50

about 0.50

about 0.50

about 0.50

about 0.50

70

approx. 1

about 0.20

low

nearly nothing

The four zinc printers Huawei CV80, HP Sprocket Plus, Canon Zoemini and Polaroid Zip all connect via Bluetooth to the Android or iOS device. At the Instax Mini Link and Peripage A6 it is analogous. The zinc printer Prynt Pocket goes another way. It is plugged directly into the iPhone via a Lightning port and has no wireless transmission technology. A real disadvantage. Of the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 uses WiFi. This works well, but is a bit more cumbersome than Bluetooth. For this purpose, the mini printer connects to compatible Fujifilm photo cameras on request, in order to print out images directly. Of the Mbrush also relies on WLAN.

Of the Canon Selphy CP1300 is most flexible. In addition to a direct connection via WLAN with the smartphone and some Canon cameras, it also has connections for a USB stick and an SD card to print images stored on it. The display helps to select the pictures from stick or card.

All mini photo printers tested here come with a free app or web interface. However, they differ significantly in terms of both their range of functions and usability. Offer the best apps Huawei CV80, HP Sprocket Plus, Canon Zoemini and Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3. They are comparatively self-explanatory, know many options for designing the photos and access external platforms with pictures such as Facebook, Instagram and Google Photos.

The apps of the Prynt Pocket and the Canon Selphy CP1300 are basically okay. However, there are fewer customization options here and we missed the ability to import images from cloud services. The app from Peripage A6 is typically Chinese: it does what it should, but it is neither chic nor intuitive.

The app of the Polaroid Zip (test report) shows that it is even worse. Because although it offers many functions, there are many problems. It starts with poor localization, continues with the unnecessary query of the date of birth, the inaccurate print preview and incorrect options and does not stop with bugs and frequent crashes. The poor implementation resulted in the test of the Polaroid Zip to a strong devaluation of the overall grade.

The app of the Mbrushwhich is not really an app at all. After you have connected directly to the small printer via WLAN, you open a web interface that runs directly on the printer. That is why it is not only compatible with mobile devices, but also with the right computers. The web interface itself is functional, but ugly.

Of the Huawei CV80, of the HP Sprocket Plus, of the Canon Zoemini, of the Polaroid Zip and the Prynt Pocket use zinc printing technology. All color information is already on the unexposed paper and comes to light through different temperatures and exposure times. The patent for this is included Zinc imaging, a Polaroid subsidiary.

Strictly speaking, it prints Fujifilm Instax Mini Link and the Instax Share SP-3 no pictures, they expose them. An OLED bar is used for this, which puts the image information on paper when the image is moved out. Therefore, like an analog photo camera, the flap with the unexposed images must not be opened. Of the Peripage A6 uses thermal paper and can use them to create small black dots on heat, which together form the printed image.

Of the Canon Selphy CP1300 uses the thermal sublimation process for printing. The photo paper is always accompanied by a wax film cartridge that is inserted into the CP1300. When printing, he rolls four color foils one after the other over the image. The first three foils apply the colors cyan, magenta and yellow to the paper using a strip with 300 to 400 degree warming elements. The last step fixes the color with a transparent layer. With each of these steps, the photo paper almost completely exits and back into the printer.

Of the Mbrush uses a normal printer cartridge and accordingly the same procedure as an inkjet printer. The highlight: The user pulls the mbrush over the object to be printed. An optical sensor known from mice transmits the speed, whereupon the mbrush prints.

The zinc printers use a 5 × 7.6 cm, self-adhesive photo paper with a glossy coating. Only the HP Sprocket Plus screwed something to the dimensions and with 5.8 × 8.7 cm offers around 30 percent more image area. On average, they cost about 50 cents each.

The photo paper of the is a little more expensive Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 and the Instax Mini Link. It costs about 75 cents per deduction. But it offers a remarkable feel that is very reminiscent of the iconic Polaroids from long ago, analogue times. There is a transparent plastic layer over the 6.2 × 6.2 cm image. It is susceptible to fingerprints, but quickly wiped clean with a swipe. The layer also protects the printout from moisture and other environmental influences.

The photo paper of the Canon Selphy CP1300 is by far the largest in the comparison test with the postcard format of 10 × 15 cm. It has a glossy surface and is strongly reminiscent of photo prints from the drugstore. It only costs 20 cents each. In addition to classic photo paper, Canon alternatively offers more expensive photo stickers. Here, 18 sheets in the 54 × 54 mm format cost a good seven euros, i.e. just under 40 cents per printout. 18 sheets with eight mini stickers each cost a good 10 euros, that's a good 55 cents for a printout, or eight mini stickers. The KC-18IF photo stickers in credit card format cost about the same.

The photo paper of the Peripage A6 is basically a 5.7 cm wide and several meter long roll of thermal paper. The great strength of the printer is the low price of the paper. If you order the Peripage rolls in China, you get three rolls of self-adhesive printer paper for around 3 euros.

Printing with the Mbrush on paper, cardboard and wood works well. Here the material absorbs the printing ink very well. If these materials are coated, the ink cannot soak in, which leads to a washed-out print image. Since the color in the supplied cartridge is water-soluble, the printed image smears even when touched lightly. Printing on the skin is more difficult than right – despite the included attachment for the printhead, which slightly increases the distance.

The zinc printers all offer similar strengths and weaknesses: the pure printing takes between 30 and 40 seconds. The borderless pictures are then ready immediately. Dark images and hard contrasts are displayed much better than light color gradients.

But there are differences. So shows the HP Sprocket Plus and the Prynt Pocket clear clusters and pixels, especially in bright areas such as clouds. This is less pronounced with the other zinc printers. The software behind it seems to make a big difference. When you look closely at all zinc printers, you can see slight horizontal stripes that are likely to appear when you pull the paper through. Nevertheless, the print quality is good and clearly better, especially with dark images with many details, than we previously expected from the pocket printers.



The printouts of the zinc printer in comparison. f.l.t.r .: HP Sprocket Plus, Canon Zoemini, Polaroid ZIP, Prynt Pocket

With the Instax models, the print only takes about 15 seconds, but the pictures come out of the device in black. Similar to old Polaroid pictures, the finished picture shows up after a few minutes. This slow crystallization of the finished picture has something magical and still provides astonished looks. However, you should resist the impulse to shake the images, as this can have a negative effect on the print result.

The quality of the pictures from the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 and the Instax Link Mini compared to the zinc printers. They swallow a few more details in dark areas, but overall give a more rounded overall impression. The printer shows its strengths especially when it comes to color gradients. Sometimes it looks as if there is a light “retro filter” over it. This fits perfectly with the format and the idea of ​​the photo printer and gives the pictures their own individual charm.

At the Canon Selphy CP1300 the printing takes about a minute. The picture quality is very good, comparable to instant printers in Müller, Rossmann, DM and Co. The pictures show many details and crisp colors. There were no weaknesses to be found in either light or dark areas.

Users often reported an ugly horizontal stripe online, which we did not experience in the test. However, one should pay attention to a dust-free environment. When printing, the images almost completely slide out and back in several times. If a speck of dust gets caught on the paper, this results in an ugly stain on the paper.

Of the Peripage A6 is based on a classic receipt printer. Its print quality is correspondingly poor. While you can still read writing well, photos are gruesome. In most cases you can still see which motive it is, but it's not nice.

The print quality of the Mbrush depends on many factors. On the one hand you need a printhead that has not dried out – and it dries really quickly. Then it depends on the surface to be printed and the inks on the mbrush, water-soluble ink is included, but there are alternatively cartridges with waterproof ink, which blurs less quickly. Last but not least, practice makes perfect here: the more you print, the better the quality.

Mini printers are fun printers. You don't really need them, but they cause a stir at events, for example. In order to quickly print out funny pictures for friends, families and colleagues and, in the case of zinc printers, to stick to objects straight away, it creates astonished faces and a few laughs.

We particularly liked the zinc printers because they form the best compromise between affordable single images, uncomplicated operation and high mobility. Interestingly, there are big differences among zinc printers. The comparatively cheap Huawei CV80 (test report) offers the best overall package. The Canon Zoemini (review) is also recommended. The HP Sprocket Plus (review) offers 30 percent larger images than its zinc counterparts and is basically not a bad printer. However, the picture quality does not convince us.

The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 (test report) and the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link (test report) offer a significantly better image quality on beautiful photo paper, but their prints are expensive. If that doesn't matter, you will find very good alternatives to the zinc printers in the two Instax devices.

The Canon Selphy CP1300 (test report) is our price-performance winner. It is not only flexible thanks to its display and the many connections. We were particularly impressed by the very good print quality combined with the low unit price of 20 cents per image.

Printouts for the Peripage A6 (test report) are even cheaper. Many meters of the 5.7 cm wide thermal strip cost only a few euros. It is the ideal printer for everyone who cares about the mass and not the quality.

The Mbrush (test report) plays in a different league. He doesn't use his own paper, but prints pretty much everything via inkjet. This is a lot of fun and leaves individual pictures on notebook / door / fridge / banana / whatever. Doesn't always work perfectly, but will surely find many fans.

We have to advise against the Polaroid Zip (test report) because its app was by far the worst in the test. The Prynt Pocket (test report) also receives no recommendation. It is only compatible with iPhones, cannot connect wirelessly, is not very well thought out and is poorly made. Hands off!

We collect all individual tests and more on our theme world Mobile Photo Printers.

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