Best Portable Photo Printer for 4×6 Quality Prints On The Go

Best Portable Photo Printer for 4×6 Quality Prints On The Go

Are you looking for the best portable photo printer for 4×6 prints? Our expert team has had fun testing the top models available on the market. Find out which ones made our top pick list of 6 so that you can decide which one is best for you.

Why Portable Photo Printers Are Surging In Popularity

In the days before smartphones, we took photos with a camera and then took the roll of film to a lab to get the printed photos developed. Yes, I’m old enough to remember this well!

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Then, along came the Polaroid instant camera that would print the photo immediately after it was taken. You just had to take the photo, wait a few minutes for the photo to develop fully and then you had an instant printed photo.

In today’s world, we take a lot more photos because it’s just so easy to snap a picture with your smartphone and then store it in digital form, either on your phone, your laptop or in the cloud.

While this is convenient and easy, there’s nothing quite like having a physical photo as a memento of an important family event or milestone or some holiday snaps that you can display proudly in some pretty frames around your home.

Photographs also make excellent gifts for family members who are far away, especially those who are older and can remember leafing through treasured photo albums.

a collection of treasured photo albums

While inkjet printers can be used to print photos, the quality is not all that good even if you use special photo paper.

That’s precisely why 4×6 portable printers have become increasingly popular. They allow on the go printing of good quality photos that are the perfect size for keeping as mementoes or sending to family and friends.

While these photos may not quite rival professional quality prints, a portable photo printer produces high quality prints that are smudge proof and will not fade over time.

Who Commonly Buys A Portable Photo Printer?

Mobile photo printers are popular with photography enthusiasts who like to produce prints of their best photos to keep in photo albums or share with their family and friends. While portable photo printers may not produce professional grade photos, the image quality is still good enough to produce beautiful prints as gifts.

Crafty people who enjoy scrapbooking also enjoy printing their photographs so that they can display them in the highly decorated albums that they create. 

A collection of photos and other supplies for scrapbooking

Event coordinators also see the benefit of having a portable photo printer because they can incorporate the printed photos into keepsakes that they can give to the guests who attend the event. 

Even small business owners have found that portable printers can be extremely useful. They can use the photos on greeting cards and other promotional materials that they give to their most valued customers.

Of course, parents enjoy printing out their photos of special events and vacations so that they can display them around their homes as treasured memories.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Portable Printer

When it’s time to select a portable photo printer, there are various factors that you might want to consider before making your choice, apart from ease of use.

Compatibility With Your Android And iOS Devices

It’s important to check whether the photo printer you want to buy is compatible with the device you want to use it with. Whether you take photos with a smartphone or a tablet, it’s necessary to check whether the photo printer will work seamlessly with your device.

Connectivity

You also want to take into account the type of connectivity that the photo printer can handle. For example, does it connect via Bluetooth or is it a wireless printer? Or, does the printer have wi-fi connectivity or do you have to connect it using a cable?

Many portable photo printers use either dye sublimation or thermal technology. These usually provide high-quality photos when compared to printers that use ink cartridges. Of course, you also want to ensure that the photo printer can produce color photos instead of just black and white ones.

The Size And Weight Of The Portable Photo Printer

Because we’re focusing on compact photo printers, their size and weight are relatively important. For example, are you looking for a photo printer that can easily slip into a pocket or small bag?

This is particularly important if you’re constantly on the go and want to print your favorite photos wherever you are.

The Speed Of Printing

While static printers can produce many pages per minute, portable photo printers do have their limitations in regard to printing your photos. Most of the printers on our list will only produce 1 photo per minute.

However, if you want to print photos while you’re traveling or at a social event, good printing speeds may not be your top priority.

Price

While portable photo printers don’t vary all that much in regard to price, this is still something that you want to consider if you’re on a budget. Obviously, more advanced photo printers that offer additional features will come at a higher cost but how much you invest will depend on the other factors that you’re looking for.

The 6 Best Portable Photo Printers

Now that you know what to look for in a portable photo printer and have decided what you’ll primarily be using the printer for, let’s take a closer look at the photo printers that made it onto our list of the 6 best portable photo printers.

#1 – Sony Picture Station DPP-FP90 Photo Printer

Sony picture station DPP F90 portable photo printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – USB
  • Print Technology – Dye-sublimation technology
  • Printer output – color
  • Maximum printing speeds – 1 ppm
  • Weight – 2 pounds

This is the most expensive portable compact photo printer on our list but it offers exceptional print quality and features. It is suitable for connection to a Sony Cybershot digital camera but can also use other flash media card formats.

There’s a large 3.6-inch LCD screen that allows you to view the photo before printing it. This is necessary in case you want to edit photos before printing them. With this printer, you can easily reduce red-eye, improve the exposure or sharpen the focus of the images printed all with the touch of a button.

The printer uses dye sublimation printing technology which will give you exceptional output quality.  In fact, this printer will produce lab-quality prints at a fraction of the cost.

The printed photos come out with a protective laminate coating. This protects them from fingerprint marks, moisture and color fading.

This would be an ideal portable printer for photographers who take photos with a camera rather than a mobile device and want to print pictures out at home. 

ProsCons
Produces lab-quality photos with a protective laminate coatingIt needs to be plugged into a power socket
Photos can be edited simply Cannot connect to a smartphone or tablet

#2 – Canon Selphy CP 1300 Wireless Photo Printer

Canon selphy cp1300 photo printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – Wireless, USB, Apple Airprint
  • Print Technology – Dye sublimation 
  • Printer output – Color
  • Maximum printing speeds – 1 ppm
  • Weight – 5.59 pounds
  • Dimensions – 7.1” x 5.4” x 2.5”

This is a highly functional 4×6 photo printer that is compatible with smartphones but will also print from a memory card if you take photos with digital cameras. Not only can this portable photo printer produce 4×6 high-quality prints but also other sizes as well including 2×6 and 2.1×2.1.

You can even turn this printer into your own personal photo booth. When you use the photo booth print mode you get two strips of 4 images each that you can cut up and give to friends or guests at your next party.

The printer features an easy-to-use 3.2” LCD screen as well as highly intuitive settings to make printing photos easy. It also connects to any Apple or Android device using either WiFi or a USB cable. 

Plus, if you have an iPhone, you can print directly with AirPrint. There’s also the Canon Print app that allows you to print from both Instagram and Facebook. 

The printer produces excellent prints of a good quality.

You also get a few additional extras when you purchase this printer which means you can get started straight away. These include:

  • 4×6 paper cassette
  • Canon KP-108IN color ink paper set (in sample size)
  • 2 HeroFiber ultra gentle cleaning cloths

You can even purchase an optional battery pack for this printer which makes it ultra-portable. Extra paper and cassette bundles are available to purchase separately.

Here’s an introductory video about setting up the printer:

Hint: This video does not give you exact instructions but if you click on “more” to extend the text under the video, you’ll find a list of videos that explain a whole range of set up procedures. You just need to select and watch the videos for the instructions that you’re looking for. Or, click on this link to see a list of set-up and troubleshooting videos.

ProsCons
Can print from any smartphoneYou have to use the Canon Selphy paper cassette and ink
Has intuitive settings
Connects seamlessly to Wifi

#3 – HP Sprocket Studio Plus WiFi Printer

HP Sprocket Studio plus portable photo printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – WiFi
  • Print Technology – Dye sublimation
  • Printer output – Color
  • Maximum printing speeds – 1 ppm
  • Weight – 3 pounds

This convenient portable 4×6 photo printer will connect to your smartphone through your Wifi to print your photos. You have to download the HP Sprocket app for it to work seamlessly.

You can edit the photos using the app before printing them out. Other interesting functions include creating a collage with several photos before printing. There’s also a photo booth function. Plus, if you’re a scrapbooker, you can even add elements to your photos such as frames, stickers, and text.

Here’s how easy it is to use this printer:

  • Load the paper
  • Install the ink cartridge
  • Turn it on
  • Download the app onto your phone
  • Select photos you want to print
  • Edit the photos
  • Press the print button to print your photos

You do get a sample paper and ink bundle to get you started but this will only give you 10 prints. You can purchase the HP Sprocket paper and cartridge bundle separately.

Here’s a video that shows you how to set up this printer:

ProsCons
Connects seamlessly to your smartphoneOnly compatible with the HP Sprocket Studio Plus 4×6 photo paper and cartridge
Impressive photo editing capability with the downloaded appYou need to plug this into a power source
Very easy to use with good image qualityEach cartridge only prints around 10 photos

#4 – HPRT CP4000L Portable Photo Printer

HPRT CP4000L Portable Photo Printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth
  • Print Technology – Thermal
  • Printer output – Color
  • Maximum printing speeds – 15 ppm
  • Weight – 3.5 pounds

This portable 4×6 photo printer uses thermal dye sublimation. This will result in clear and crisp photos. 

The printer connects seamlessly to your mobile phone and there’s an app you can download. This is called HeyPhoto. It’s extremely user-friendly.

The printer can be connected either using Bluetooth or WiFi or it can be connected with a USB cable. This means that not only can you print photos from your smartphone but you also print them from your camera, laptop or desktop computer. The team really liked this functionality because it offers extra versatility.

Using the matching photo paper (CP4000L) means that your photos will have a protective film on them. This protects your photos from dust, fingerprints and water.

When purchasing this printer, take note that you also need to purchase a cartridge and glossy paper separately if you want to start printing straight away. It’s also important to consider that each cartridge will only print around 10 photos.

Here’s a video that shows you how to set up this photo printer:

ProsCons
Great image qualityNeeds to be connected to a power source
Can connect via WiFi, Bluetooth or using a USB cableEach cartridge prints only 10 photos
Compact and portablePrinter does not come with sample cartridge or photo paper

#5 – Kodak Dock Wi Fi Plus Instant Printer

kodak dock plus instant photo printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth
  • Print Technology – Dye sublimation
  • Printer output – Color
  • Maximum printing speeds – 1 ppm
  • Weight – 4.4 pounds

This portable 4×6 photo printer from Kodak has an extra functionality that the other printers don’t have. It’s also a dock for your phone to charge it while you’re printing your photos. The printer and dock are compatible with iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

If you select the printer and 90 sheets bundle, you’ll get a cartridge and 90 sheets of photo paper. This is the best value for money compared to just purchasing the printer with the customary 10 sample sheets of photo paper.

Refill packs of cartridges and photo paper also seem excellent value for money compared to those of some of the other printers. These are available in a 40-pack, 80-pack and 120-pack.

You also need to download the Kodak app in order to make printing photos as easy as possible. The app also allows you to edit your photos and add interesting decorative touches such as frames.

Here’s a video that shows you how to set up this printer:

ProsCons
Easy to use photo printerYou have to download the app to use this printer
Charges your smartphone as wellNeeds to be connected to a power source
Compact and portable
Good image quality

#6 – Liene M200 Portable Instant Photo Printer

Liene M200 portable instant photo printer

Main Features:

  • Connectivity – WiFi, USB
  • Print Technology – Dye sublimation
  • Printer output – Color
  • Maximum printings speeds – 1 ppm
  • Weight – 2.16 pounds

This Liene portable 4×6 photo printer bundle is the best printer for value because you not only get the printer but it also comes with 3 cartridges and 100 sheets of photo paper, reducing your printing costs overall. Extra cartridges and photo papers are available as a 40-sheet pack or an 80-sheet pack.

The printer can easily be connected to your iPhone, Android phone or PC using either WiFi or a USB cable. Like most of these portable photo printers, your photos will have a protective covering so that they will last for a long time.

Additionally, there is an app available that allows you to edit your photos and add other interesting features such as a border. 

This is the most affordable printer on our list and is very easy to use.

Here’s a comprehensive video on the features and set-up instructions for this photo printer:

And, here are the instructions on how to connect this photo printer to the app on your smartphone:

Instructions for connecting the Liene photo printer to the app

ProsCons
Easy to use for high quality printsNeed to connect to a power source
Connects via WiFi or with a USB cableTakes about 1 minute to print each photo
Photos are protected from marks and fingerprints

Comparison Of Printer Specifications

Here are some printer specifications so that you can easily compare them with each other.

comparison table showing all the features of the portable photo printers in our reviews

How A Photo Printer Works

If you’ve never used one of these photo printers before, you may find it quite fascinating watching your new printer as it prints the first photo using dye sublimation technology.

Unlike an inkjet printer that uses ink to print documents on paper, dye sub printers that utilise dye sublimation technology, use thermal transfer technology to lay the different colors onto the special photo paper

Essentially, these printers use the three primary colors of yellow, red and blue to layer them onto the photo paper and create the image. This means that the paper generally passes through the printer four times.

On the first pass, the printer will lay the yellow color onto the paper. The second pass lays the red ink while the third pass lays the blue color resulting in a complete photo. The paper then passes through the printer a fourth time and this pass covers the paper with a protective film, giving your photo a glossy look and a protective coating.

For this reason, you want to ensure that you have a free space behind the printer so that the paper can easily travel back and forth through the printer.

Tips For Using A Portable Photo Printer

Dye sublimation printers are generally fairly easy to use as long as you follow the instructions that should come with the photo printer that you’ve selected. These instructions may vary from printer to printer but essentially, you need to just follow a few basic steps.

Step 1 – Insert The Paper

Place your photo paper into the paper tray, making sure that it is the right side up. Your printer or paper should have some instructions to say which side should go up. For many, it will be the glossier side that points upward but check the instructions to make sure.

Step 2 – Insert The Print Cartridge

Follow the instructions that came with your printer to insert the print cartridge in the correct way.

Step 3 – Download The Print App

If your chosen photo printer is supported by an app, make sure that you download this onto your smartphone following the instructions. Once installed, the app should guide you through the print process itself and some will also allow you to edit your photos and add decorations such as frames.

Step 4 – Connect The Printer To Your Phone

This step will definitely vary depending on the photo printer that you’ve chosen. Some printers will use Bluetooth connectivity to connect to your phone and others will use your WiFi network. For these methods, you might have to follow the directions on the app to wirelessly connect your printer to your smartphone.

Some photo printers also have the option of using a USB cable. This means that you can connect the printer to your PC, laptop or even a camera to then print some photos.

A few photo printers also allow you to insert a memory card that you can print photos from. In this instance, you would just need to insert the card, select the photo you want and then print it.

Tips To Ensure That You Get High Quality Photos Every Time

Printing quality photos using the best photo printer is not all that difficult but sometimes there can be certain things that can affect the photo quality of your prints. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your printer.

Check The Photo Paper

Before inserting the photo paper, check each sheet to make sure that it doesn’t have any marks or bits of dirt or dust on them on the glossy side. You can easily wipe this off with a soft, clean cloth. You also want to discard any sheets that are torn, bent or wrinkled.

When you handle the sheets of photo paper, hold them by their sides so that you don’t touch the glossy side and inadvertently leave some fingerprints on the paper.

Make Sure Your App Is Up-To-Date

If your chosen photo printer uses an app to control the printing process, this may have upgrades on a regular basis. These upgrades are designed to make printing easier and more seamless so always ensure that you upgrade your app when prompted to do so.

Give Your Printer Enough Space When Printing

Remember that most portable photo printers will layer the colors to give you the final print. This means that the paper needs to move back and forth through the printer at least four times. Always ensure that there are at least 5 inches of space behind the printer to allow for this.

If you want some clever ideas on what you can do with your photo printer, you might want to check out this article:

What Can You Do With A Photo Printer: 25 Photo Print Ideas

Frequently Asked Questions

Are mini photo printers worth it?

Having a mini photo printer that you can either use at home or take with you when you’re out and about is definitely worth it if you like to print high quality photos to keep as mementoes. Plus, there are so many ways that you can use printed photos if you’re into a variety of different craft pursuits.

What printer prints 4×6 photos from iPhone?

Most of the printers on our list will let you print photos directly from your iPhone in a 4×6 size. Primarily, the Canon Selphy, the Kodak Dock, the HP Sprocket Studio Plus and the Liene photo printer all allow you to print photos from your iPhone.

How can I print a 4×6 photo at home?

You can easily print 4×6 photos at home with one of these portable photo printers that we’ve reviewed.

Final Thoughts

Portable photo printers are great for printing photos from your smartphone, PC, laptop or camera at home. These pocket printers allow you to create long-lasting memories that you can display at home or give away to family and friends.

All of the portable photo printers on our list have excellent features and are relatively easy to use. Which one you choose will depend on the features that you’re looking for and your budget. 

Plus, if you’re looking for some creative ideas on what you can do with your photos, check out this article I wrote that gives you 25 creative photo print ideas.