In the era of the iPhone, photo printers have perhaps become an afterthought — why print your images when they can all be accessed with the touch of a finger? But here’s the thing: Images buried in between screenshots and photos of the dog just don’t carry the same weight as those hanging on your living room wall. There are moments that simply deserve to be on display, regardless of whether or not they also happen to exist on the Cloud.
Thus, in an age where we are all constantly overwhelmed with information and imagery, the photo printer takes on new importance, making it possible for you to make intentional choices about what should be on display in your home. Here are our favorites:
— Best Overall: Canon PIXMA Pro-200
— Best Portable: Kodak Dock Plus Portable Instant Photo Printer
— Best for iPhones: HP Sprocket Studio Photo Printer
— Best Inkjet: Epson Expression Photo XP-970
— Best Budget: HP Envy 6055e Wireless All-in-One Printer
How We Chose the Best Photo Printers
The price range for photo printers is hundreds of dollars wide, so we had a lot to consider in evaluating each category. Unlike the comprehensiveness of the best all-in-one-printers, you should focus on what characteristics of a photo printer are essential, versus optional. High-quality prints are a must, so inkjet versus dye-sublimation printing was an important distinction.
Secondly, connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, and ethernet play a huge role in determining how accessible a printer is, so those features were important to note. Lastly, a lightweight design matters for portable printers, but not so much for home office printers, so depending on the device, the literal weight of the thing was at times relevant, and at other times less so.
Ultimately, choosing a photo printer that will best serve your needs requires you, the consumer, to know exactly what those needs are. (Do you want easy, small prints on the go, or professional-grade, gallery-worthy photos, for instance?). Once you are able to determine your priorities, shopping becomes much more fun and much less stressful.
Related: Start making your own models with the best 3D printers for beginners.
The Best Photo Printers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Photo Printer Overall: Canon PIXMA Pro-200
Why It Made The Cut: There’s no cutting corners with the Canon PIXMA Pro-200; if you’re dreaming of a printer that boasts truly every techie gadget available, you’ve come to the right place.
— 8-color ink system
— 3-inch color LCD screen
— Includes Canon’s Professional Print & Layout software
— Print custom sizes up to 13 inches x 39 inches
— Compact design
— Most features require an Internet connection
The Canon PIXMA Pro-200 is the best photo printer overall — no, really. Boasting every gadget under the sun — a huge touchscreen, wireless capabilities, very fancy 8-color ink, and, of course, professional grade quality prints, for instance — this printer does it all. Of course, you’ll need an Internet connection for most of these features, but given that it will likely live in your home office (it’s not portable), that’s not necessarily a problem.
Looking closer at the actual prints, you’ll find that the quality is exceptional. Using an 8-color dye-based ink system means that photos will be vibrant and true to their original form. Print on premium photo paper for best results or try your hand at printing on other media types — the world’s your oyster. Lastly, if you want to preview a print before giving it the greenlight, simply use Canon’s professional Print & Layout software to find the correct print settings, hassle-free.
Best Portable Photo Printer: Kodak Dock Plus Portable Instant Photo Printer
Why It Made The Cut: This pocket-sized Kodak printer is perfect for instantaneous printing from your iPhone. All you need is a reliable Bluetooth connection and voila — your favorite Instagram image is suddenly in the palm of your hand.
— Tiny 4-inch size
— Bluetooth connectivity
— Free Kodak app
— Use anytime and anywhere
— Only 15 cents per photo
— Prints are laminated and thus long-lasting
— Only produces 4×6 prints
— Only holds 10 sheets at a time
With the recent removal of the “Pictbridge” function, the Kodak Dock Plus has become even more user-friendly than before. Combined with its tiny size and lightweight design, it should come as no surprise that this model wins best in class for portable photo printers.
Further, this printer actually laminates every single photo, is compatible with both Android and iPhone smartphones, and prints out standard-size 4×6 prints, meaning every image will be easy to frame and hang in your home. Oh, and then there’s the Kodak app: A super easy way to further personalize and customize prints beyond your phone’s filters. Lastly, because this printer uses dye sublimation, you’ll get the best print quality possible on every photo (though sharpness also depends, of course, on the resolution of the actual image itself).
Best Photo Printer For iPhones: HP Sprocket Studio Photo Printer
Why It Made The Cut: This HP Sprocket Studio printer is a miniature version of everything we love about HP printers: It’s reliable, lightweight, and, most importantly, produces high quality images in seconds making it our pick for the best photo printer for iPhones.
— Instant 4×6 prints
— Bluetooth connectivity
— Optional portable battery
— Produces smudge-proof and water-proof prints
— Free Sprocket app enables customization
— 20-sheet input tray
— No Wi-Fi-printing
The largest of HP’s three portable printers, the Sprocket Studio is the perfect middle ground between teeny tiny devices and the larger, bulkier machines we typically associate with printers of yore. But what makes this the best photo printer for your iPhone isn’t necessarily its size; rather, its Bluetooth capabilities and its portable battery push this printer over the edge. Plus, a special HP app for image customization (AKA “augmented reality fun”) made it that much easier to crown the Sprocket Studio winner.
Simply put, if personalization is the name of your game, then this photo printer is for you. Imagine: Within seconds, a whole album worth of photo prints can be at your fingertips, no expertise required. Bring your Sprocket Studio to your next party for an even more collaborative (and instantaneous) experience; with Bluetooth connectivity, everyone in the room can take a turn printing memories, never missing a beat.
Best Inkjet Photo Printer: Epson Expression Photo XP-970
Why It Made The Cut: Like the Canon PIXMA PRO-200, the Epson Expression is flush with gadgets; unlike the Canon, though, it’s half the price, and still delivers on this award’s defining quality: The ink.
— Wide-format prints
— 6-color HD ink system
— Voice-activated printing
— Compatible with the Creative Print app
— Uses 6-color Claria Photo HD ink
— Not portable
— Most features require an Internet connection
The Epson Expression is the best inkjet photo printer because it’s most appropriate for the techie, gadget-loving readers among us; with features like voice-activated printing and a Creative Print app, the options are endless, if only a tad over the top. That doesn’t mean, however, that this printer isn’t user-friendly — on the contrary, its touchscreen design and speciality media support (available at, you guessed it, the touch of a button) make it a good printer for almost any user.
More on those techie features: this printer can print a 4×6 photo in as fast as 11 seconds, and can print on a wide range of mediums, like CDs, DVDs, and speciality paper. It also has wireless and ethernet capabilities, and can print wide-format. Speaking of the prints themselves: Using a 6-color ink system, your photos will be almost as vibrant as those of the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 (which, by contrast, boasts an 8-color system, but is double the price).
Best Budget Photo Printer: HP Envy 6055e Wireless All-in-One Printer
Why It Made The Cut: No wires, no cables, no hassle. The HP Envy 6055e Wireless Printer is as user-friendly as they come, and most importantly, it’s budget-friendly making it the best budget photo printer.
— Bluetooth connectivity
— USB portal
— Flatbed scanner
— Made from recycled plastic (up to 20 percent)
— Auto two-sided printing
— Dual-band Wi-Fi
— No separate photo tray
Picture this (pun intended): You’re running home from one kid’s soccer game, on the way to another kid’s ballet practice, and you want a couple of photos to document the chaos. The HP Envy 6055e will have those images from your phone printing IRL in mere seconds, meaning you might even make it to every engagement on time (no promises though). Point being: This speedy, easy-to-use, affordable photo printer is the best device for busy people (AKA all of us) and won’t break the bank. Now that’s what we call a win-win.
Though the HP Envy 6055e is less than half the cost of the most expensive photo printer on this list, it’s not really missing all that much. With this printer, you’ll still get the high quality prints you’re looking for (via thermal printing, which is arguably better than inkjet), and you’ll get them fast. Further, like most other printers on this list, this one is Wi-Fi-enabled and comes with its own app, the HP Smart App. Lastly, a nice freebie: With this printer, you’ll get six free months of instant ink and an extra year of HP warranty (which may come in handy if your household is as chaotic as our opening anecdote suggests).
Things to Consider Before Buying a Photo Printer
Photo printers have become a lot more complicated since you had your family’s Christmas card photo taken at Sears in 1998. Now, the technological features you should consider before making a purchase run the gamut — from iPhone and Android compatibility, to Bluetooth capabilities, to instant printers that fit in the palm of your hand. You name it, it’s likely that a printer somewhere out there has it.
Unsurprisingly, this also means that photo printer prices have increased as well, meaning that it’s even more important to spend your money wisely. You’ll want to make a purchase that lasts for years to come, survives the constant evolution of technology that often renders devices obsolete, and, of course, doesn’t empty your wallet. We’ve done the hard work for you of combing the internet for products; now, all that’s left to do is clarify your priorities and browse our selections. Ahead, the best photo printers for your needs — whatever they may be.
Q: What could be the best printer to use to have a high quality of pictures?
The best printer to use to have high-quality pictures will use the best-quality ink system (for example, an 8-color ink system is better than a 6-color) and use premium photo paper. Further, a professional-grade machine such as the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 will undoubtedly print higher-quality photos than, say, a portable machine designed to quickly print Instagram images.
Q: How much does a photo printer cost?
A photo printer can cost just under $100 to over $500 — and typically, the more money you spend, the higher quality your prints will be. Quality also depends on the original image and its resolution, however. So don’t expect to get a stellar print from an expensive machine if you’re starting out with a pixelated or otherwise low quality photo.
Q: What should I look for when buying a photo printer?
When buying a photo printer, you should pay close attention to a few attributes: price, ink, usability, and, if you’re looking for something portable, size and weight. Your personal priorities will help to narrow down and clarify this list, but these are the general quality indicators to help get you started in your search.
Q: Do I need special ink to print photos?
Special ink to print photos does exist, and moreover, each photo printer has specific ink requirements, so make sure to purchase the ink that corresponds with your printer for best results. Otherwise, you might end up damaging your machine.
Q: Are photo printers just for photos?
Photo printers are indeed just for photos, meaning the machine is dedicated to this one task alone. There are some machines, however, that can perform multiple functions, including but not limited to photo printing.
Q: What are the types of photo printers?
The types of photo printers are limited, and most photo printers fall into one of two categories: inkjet or dye sublimation. If you plan on putting your prints on display, go with inkjet.
Related: Cover the basics with the best inkjet printers of 2022.
Final Thoughts on the Best Photo Printers
While most modern-day technology seems to encourage more screen time, photo printers are that magical exception that actually keeps the family focused on the present — by taking your images off of your iPhone and putting them into the home.
Thus, the best photo printers produce the most high-quality prints, which is why we selected the professional grade, 8-color ink system Canon PIXMA PRO-200 as best overall photo printer.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
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