HP vs Canon printer: which is best?

Both HP and Canon have been manufacturing printers since the 1980’s making them heavyweights in this space, so which one should you choose? Well, in this Canon vs HP showdown we run through the benefits and drawbacks from both brands so you can make an informed decision on which to buy. 

Whether you go for HP or Canon you can expect your printer to have core commonplace technology such as WiFi, Apple AirPrint and Android Mopria connectivity, both brands have developed apps for a better wireless printing experience, such as the Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY and HP Smart. We'll cover apps in more detail later.

HP and Canon have wide expansive ranges of printers from basic budget inkjet all-in-models that come with a built-in scanner, with more premium models costing several hundreds of pounds with enhanced features and both even some laser printer models too.

Whichever manufacturer you go for you can spend a little more and go for a better model which will often come with more premium features such as double sided printing, separate ink cartridges, an SD card slot or USB port and better display for example, but you’ll want to have a look at the exact specifications of the model you’re interested in to make sure it has all of the features that you need. Let’s get to it and compare the core differences between the two brands!

Dan Mold
Dan Mold

Dan is the Technique Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine magazine, which has given him a fantastic insight into the importance of printing. He was also previously a sales assistant in the Audio Visual department at his local department store. Dan has a wealth of knowledge and strong interest for all things tech related, including printers of all types, shapes and sizes. 

HP vs Canon printer: Photo print quality


Canon's PIXMA PRO-200 can produce incredible photo prints with a resolution of 4800x2400dpi at up to A3+ borderless.  (Image credit: Canon)

Canon is the largest manufacturer of digital cameras in the world, which is a statistic HP can’t compete with. So are Canon’s printers better for photo prints than HP? Well,  entry-level printers from both Canon and HP are very similar, but moving up to more premium models we start to see bigger differences in image quality. 

Canon has leant into high quality photographs with models like the PIXMA PRO-200 which HP doesn't really have a direct competitor to. The PIXMA PRO-200 can print outstanding photos at up to A3+ size, a huge benefit for photographers or graphic designers looking to sell their photos as prints. It's worth noting you can print from any camera, not just a Canon camera, using a Canon printer.

This isn't to say HP don't make printers capable of producing good quality prints, but the top end of HP's range is more geared towards office, home-office and student environments with DeskJet, OfficeJet or LaserJet models that usually print at a maximum size of A4.

Comparing Canon's PIXMA PRO-200, the closest model we found in HP's range was the HP OfficeJet Pro 7720. Both are capable of printing A3, though the PIXMA PRO-200 can print at A3+ borderless, and also has a higher resolution of 4800x2400dpi compared to the HP's 4800x1200dpi, so the Canon has a finer level of detail and also takes eight ink cartridges against the HP's four, giving it a wider gamut of colors and tones. So when it comes to ultimate photo print quality Canon's range is better equipped.

HP vs Canon printer: HP's OfficeJet and DeskJet models


(Image credit: HP)

While Canon has a better range of printers for producing great photographic prints, HP has a fantastic product range aimed at office and student environments with an emphasis on producing lots of documents quickly and to a high standard. 

HP has a wide variety of DeskJet and OfficeJet models for home and office. If we compare HP's OfficeJet Pro 8022e with a similarly priced Canon PIXMA TS6350a we find the HP can print mono at 20 pages per minute or 10ppm for color, while on the Canon it's just 15 pages per minute for mono, though matches the color speed of 10ppm. The HP also has useful features such as a Fax machine built-in and a touchscreen display.

When it came to noise levels, again taking the Canon PIXMA TS6350a and HP OfficeJet Pro 8022e as examples, the Canon claimed to have noise levels of 44.5dB while the HP was a little louder at 60dB. The Canon also came out on top when it came to its warranty, offering two years as standard while HP only offers a single year.

HP vs Canon printer: Ink cartridge value


(Image credit: Future)

While Canon and HP make some laser printer models, and Canon even makes some small portable units that use thermal dye sublimation printing technology, their focus is largely on inkjet models, especially at the budget end of their ranges. 

Both manufacturers make entry-level inkjet printers with a dual ink cartridge system, such as the Canon PIXMA TS3350 and HP DeskJet 2710e All in One. The two cartridge setup is cheap and cheerful, with one cartridge for black and a tricolor cartridge for cyan, magenta and yellow that is used to create your colours, the disadvantage of this setup is that if any one color runs out you'll need to replace the whole cartridge which can be wasteful and expensive.

Canon's cartridges claim to hold more ink - 8ml for black against HP's 2ml, and 9ml for Canon's tricolour against HP's 2ml. Both HP and Canon also offer larger XL cartridges that hold more ink and will last for longer so may work out better value for money.

As you go up the range for more premium HP and Canon models you'll find a greater range of cartridges. on many HP inkjets this is a four ink system, while on some Canon's it's as many eight cartridges which provides a wider gamut of tones and also means you get through cartridges less quickly.

At the top end of their ranges they also both offer inkjet printers with refillable ink tanks which is more economical if you're going to be printing large amounts of colour prints and saves you having to buy lots of pricey cartridges.

HP vs Canon printer: Apps and software

Printer app

(Image credit: Future)

Canon PRINT app

The Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app is the free app for Canon’s PIXMA, MAXIFY and SELPHY printers. It has over 10m downloads on the Google Play store with an average rating of 4.6 stars.

It offers Canon Cloud print services, allows you to copy and scan through the app to your phone and also control printer settings. The main complaints we saw from reviews for the app online were connection issues and setup troubles, though many users gave praise for its ease of use, speed and reliability, 

HP Smart app

The HP Smart app allows you to edit your photos inside the app, has a mobile fax function and also has free 'Printables' - a range of free downloadable cards, crafts and learning activities which is a nice touch.

The main complaints for the HP Smart app are that it requires a log in and password to use the app which slowed down use, some customers also found it frustrating to set up their HP printer. Looking at the positive reviews there were plenty of customers that found the app easy to connect to their printer for printing, scanning and copying.

The HP Smart app has been downloaded five times more than the Canon PRINT app, with over 50m downloads on the Google Play Store and has an average rating of 3.9 Stars.

HP vs Canon printer: Verdict

At the budget end of their ranges there’s not too much separating HP and Canon so you can’t really go too far wrong with either brand as both deliver wireless printing with decent image quality for documents and prints. Canon’s cartridges at the budget end tend to have more ink in them so will be a little more cost-effective.

Moving up the range Canon has better options for high quality photos with models like the Canon PIXMA PRO-200, while HP has a huge range of OfficeJet and DeskJet printers that could make them a good choice for business and students.

HP also has top-end ink tank models like the Smart Tank Plus 570, though its most premium printers are laser models which are ideal for office and home office with rapid print times and razor sharp text, though are larger so you'll need the space for them. 

So if you're looking for a printer we'd suggest Canon for top end photos, but HP for office and student environments. Though if you're looking for something in-between that can print high quality photos as well as lots of documents we'd probably lean towards Canon as the higher capacity ink cartridges make it a little less heavy on the wallet over time.

Dan Mold

Dan is Technique Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine magazine. With over a decade writing about all things tech he’s written for a variety of publications before joining Future in April 2019 in that time working across Top Ten Reviews, Digital Camera World, PhotoPlus, NPhoto, Digital Camera and Digital Photographer.