The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link ($99.95) is a simple, battery-powered printer that works with your smartphone. Unlike competitors that typically use low-quality heat-sensitive thermal materials to print, the Mini Link opts for instant film. The chemical process nets crisper detail and much truer color than Zink alternatives, though it does cost a little bit more per print. The higher-quality output is worth it, though if you don't mind spending more, don't forget about the Instax Share SP-3, a similar printer that makes bigger, square-format images.
The Instax Mini Link is small enough to slide into a pocket or handbag. It measures 4.1 by 2.0 by 0.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 8.7 ounces when loaded with a full pack of Instax Mini film. The exterior is lightweight plastic, available in Ash White, Dark Denim, or Dusty Pink. Molded ridges improve its aesthetics, and make it easier to hold onto when you're moving it about.Our Experts Have Tested 53 Products in the Printers Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
The printer is purely portable—it works with smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS, not with desktops and laptops. It also skips Wi-Fi in favor of Bluetooth, tech that makes it easier to pair with your phone. Bluetooth isn't as fast as Wi-Fi to transfer files, but there's no practical difference when it comes to beaming relatively tiny image files across the air.Dusty Pink
Power is provided by an internal battery. Fujifilm says it's good for around 100 prints per charge. Charging is via micro USB—you get a cable in the box, but no AC adapter. We would have preferred Fujifilm use the newer USB-C interface, especially for a device meant to be used with a smartphone.4.0Excellent $300.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 Review 4.0Excellent $114.96See Itat AmazonRead Our Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Review 3.5Good $119.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Polaroid Originals Polaroid Lab Review4.0Excellent $76.28See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Sprocket Select Review 3.5Good $99.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer Review 3.5Good $74.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Kodak Mini 2 HD Instant Photo Printer Review 4.0Excellent $149.99See Itat HPRead Our HP Sprocket Plus Review
Film loads in the back. The printer works with Instax Mini film. You can buy it in color or black and white, though there's little reason to opt for pricier black-and-white materials with the Mini Link, as you can always convert color images to black and white before printing.
Film isn't included, though. You can readily find Instax Mini for around $6 per pack of 10 frames. It means the Mini Link is a little more expensive to run than a printer with support for Zink materials, like the Canon Ivy Mini—expect to spend about $4 for every 10 prints.
The Mini Link needs an app to work. To get started, you'll need to head to Google Play or the Apple App Store and download the Instax Mini Link app. It's free, and asks for permission to use your camera roll and smartphone camera when you install it. I tested it with iOS 13.3.1 on an iPhone 8 Plus.iOS App
The app is straightforward enough. Making prints from images is a tap away—Simple Print—and in-app filters allow you to convert a photo to monochrome, sepia, or automatically enhance it for a better-looking print. Prints are relatively speedy too—it takes about twenty seconds total to transfer and fully eject a film frame.
There's still time needed for the image to emerge, usually a couple of minutes. Despite what Andre 3000 would have you believe, shaking the photo will not make it develop faster, but "leave it alone, like a Polaroid picture" isn't as catchy. Shake it if you want—it won't hurt anything.Simple Print
In addition to Simple Print, the app has Video Print and Instax Camera options. Video Print loads videos from your smartphone instead of stills. It works with clips up to three minutes in length, and when it works it lets you grab any frame from the footage to manipulate and print just like a photo.
But it doesn't always work, at least not on my iPhone. Video clips take a long time to load, and while you can scrub through frames during the process, you won't be able to tap the Edit button and go to the print screen until it's loaded. Some videos on my phone never got past the loading stage. If you're running into trouble and really want to print a video frame you can always extract using another app.Collages and Split Prints
Likewise, you're more likely to use your phone's camera app than the one here. And you probably should—your phone's camera app likely takes advantage of features like portrait mode (for bokeh), multi-lens arrays, and low-light night modes. Here you can swap to the front of rear camera, pinch to zoom in, and set the flash, but that's about it.
The app also supports virtual frames and stickers—there's a gallery view available—and has some social aspects in the form of Match Test and Party Print. The former asks you to load pictures of two people and asks each to answer some Buzzfeed-quiz questions—my wife and I got some about laughter, favorite school subjects, and ice cream flavors. I like strawberry and she's a chocolate fiend, making us just 64 percent compatible. It's fun, but I wouldn't recommend choosing your partner based on the results.Match Test
Party Print is for groups of friends, up to five. You all load the app on your phone, each selecting one image, and the printer owner can send them all to the Mini Link to create a one-of-a-kind collage.
Instax Mini film has been around for more than two decades. Apart from the Polaroid 600 format, it's the most mature format on sale. As such you can find it easily, both online and in person at your local big box store's electronics counter.
The prints are framed by a white plastic border, just like a Polaroid. Fujifilm often sells colorful special edition films too—there are some out for the Minions from Despicable Me at press time, as an example. Prints are about 3.4 by 2.1 inches, with a 2.4-by-1.8-inch image area.In-App Camera
The finish is glossy, which adds some extra apparent vibrance to colors and contrast to monochrome shots. Color reproduction is quite faithful—you don't see the odd shifts in magenta tones as you do with Zink material. It's also free of the ugly dithering that plagues Zink. The image area is a little smaller than what you get with the HP Sprocket Select, but photos look better.
The images you feed the printer come into play too. The cameras on the latest smartphones, including the iPhone 11 Pro, are fantastic. And if you use a pro-grade camera, expect even better results. I printed shots from the Sigma fp, the Nikon Z 7, and the Sony a7R IV and ended up with colorful and crisp prints.
The Instax Mini Link is an easy printer to recommend. It doesn't cost much to buy or operate, it works with the smartphone that's already in your pocket, and there are some fun features in the companion app to keep you entertained.
There's some extra appeal for photographers who already own an Instax Mini camera, whether it be an entry-level model like the Fujifilm Mini 11 or a more niche option like the Lomography Lomo'Instant Automat Glass. You'll enjoy using the same materials to make digital prints as you do with your film camera.Ash White
There are alternatives to do the same thing. The Instax Mini LiPlay adds a camera component, though it's not as good as the camera on any modern smartphone. Still, we recommend it to parents looking for a fun camera to give budding shutterbugs. It's also able to connect to a smartphone for wireless printing.
For bigger prints, check out Fujifilm's Instax Share SP-3. It prints wirelessly from your phone and uses Instax Square film. The largest instant shots are made by the Polaroid Instant Lab—it's a bit more hands-on, though. Instead of operating wirelessly, it makes prints directly from your smartphone's screen.4.0See It$114.96 at AmazonMSRP $99.95View MoreView More
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link prints any shot on your phone's camera roll using real instant film instead of paper and ink.
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