Kodak Smile Instant Digital Printer full review

Very often when you're out and about with a group of friends or at a family event someone will take an amazing photo that everyone says you should have printed. But no-one ever remembers to get it printed.

Kodak has just the thing for this type of scenario: its Smile instant digital printer connects to your phone over Bluetooth and allows you to print any photo right then and there. The prints are small, just like the printer itself, but easy to print on the move and in an instant.

Price and availability

The Kodak Smile printer costs £99.99/$99.99, and you can grab it from Amazon in a variety of colours.

Like a few other instant printers it uses 2x3in Zink (Zero Ink) paper for printing, which has an adhesive rear for turning your prints into stickers. You’ll find this on Amazon at £9.99/$9.49 for 20 sheets or £24.99/$23.99 for 50. This is cheaper than what you pay for the real film prints used by Instax, albeit still pretty costly so you’ll want to ensure every photo is worth printing.

You might also notice that Kodak also makes a Smile Instant Camera, which also doubles as a printer for the same price. That might make the camera model seem like better value, but bear in mind that the camera only lets you print photos transferred over a MicroSD card, and has more limited editing options than the Smile printer.

Kodak Smile Printer review

While the Smile Camera lets you take your own shots with the device itself, this digital printer can make use of the higher-quality images on the phone that's always in your pocket. It also enables easy sharing of photos edited in the Kodak Smile app, which is available for iOS and Android.

Using the Smile app you connect the printer to your phone or tablet over Bluetooth, and from there can access photos saved to your phone's camera roll or any you have in Instagram, Facebook, or Google Photos if you log into those accounts.

The instructions are simple to follow for all users and make printing on the Kodak easier than composing the picture in the first place. The 700mAh lithium-ion battery should be good for printing 40 pictures on a single charge, before recharging over Micro-USB.

One area of concern for instant printers such as the Kodak Smile is their print quality. Compared to rivals the Kodak fares pretty well, with fairly true-to-life colours, but smaller details are lost. For scenic shots and portraits it does the job.

Before printing you get options to add filters, frames and stickers, and crop or adjust the exposure on an image if required. You can also use the Smile app to embed a video into photos, which you can scan using your phone like a QR code to watch back - though we wonder how many will actually use the feature.

The design is very similar to that of the HP Sprocket, and actually almost identical in size at 117.5x81.5x25mm, but you get more colour options here with Blue, Red, White, Green and Black. As with the Sprocket it’s a sleek device that is rectangular in shape with rounded corners. An LED bar runs is visible where prints are released, activated when the printer is turned on.

Each pack contains a blue card that is inserted on top of the paper to ensure you put it in the right way round, and the Smile will spit this out before it begins printing.

Verdict

The Kodak Smile printer is a fairly simple bit of kit, but it gets the job done. Zink prints aren't the highest quality in the world, but if you don't mind a slight loss of detail - usually OK in the smaller format anyway - they're a great way to get your favourite photos off your phone or Instagram and into a real print or sticker.

The Smile app has a decent array of editing options, and both the app and printer are easy to use, which isn't true for every portable photo printer on the market.