The Polaroid Zip is a pocket-size portable photo printer and our favorite option for printing digital photos from your smartphone. Polaroid has long tried to recapture the magic of its iconic Instant Camera, and the Zip just might be the right mix of fun and freedom to do that in the Instagram age.
The Zip prints small snapshots with pretty decent quality. While these wallet-size photos aren’t as flawless as those made on a top-ranked photo printer with gallery-quality printing, they are pretty good for a mobile printer. In our test prints, the colors were slightly muted, and there was some banding under magnification, but for near-instant photo printing on the go, it’s not bad at all.
The accompanying Polaroid Zip app lets you add filters and cutesy elements like doodles, text and emojis to photos, and you can even combine multiple photos into a tiled collage. One of its unique features also lets you put a QR code on the photo so you can embed secret messages viewable only to those you share it with.
The Zip uses ZINK Zero Ink photo paper, which has a layer of color-changing dye crystals on its surface. During the printing process, the photo paper is exposed to heat, which activates the crystals and produces a print. It’s a no-fuss process, and you don’t need to worry about ink refills, but you are locked into using Polaroid’s photo paper. Sold in packs of 10 sheets, you pay about 50 cents per photo.
The photo printer’s small size and ZINK paper also mean your snapshots print smaller than 4 x 6. The Polaroid’s prints are half that size, though the 2 x 3 photos can be printed on either standard photo backing or an adhesive-backed paper that turns them into stickers.
The best part of the Zip is its portability. The small photo printer measures 2.9 x 4.7 x 0.9 inches and weighs a mere 0.41 pound, so it is pocket size. It’s not much larger than a smartphone in a bulky battery case, and it prints photos quickly enough (67 seconds each) that you can have a physical print within a minute or so of taking a snapshot. The internal battery lasts for 25 photos on a charge, which is more than enough to work through a 10-pack of photo paper.
While larger photo printers can connect to PCs, cameras, media cards and other devices, the Polaroid Zip simply connects by Bluetooth and nothing else. All printing is done through the Polaroid Zip app, making this wireless photo printer as pure of a smartphone accessory as you can get.
Polaroid covers the Zip with a one-year warranty. One of the only real complaints we have about the Zip is its limited help and support offerings. You can reach support personnel through phone or email, and there is an online manual, though you have to hunt to find it. There are no troubleshooting guides or FAQs, and even the existing manual is limited in its usefulness. During our testing, we ran into a couple of minor issues like paper jams and feed errors, and they were more a result of the lack of clear instructions than any functional problem with the printer itself.
The Polaroid Zip is our favorite answer to the question, “How can I print photos from my smartphone?” The Zip’s pocket-size design, ink-free printing technology and simple connectivity options make it a great personal photo printer if you want convenience and portability more than immaculate image quality.