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After releasing its Mini Link back in 2019, Fujifilm’s instant printer and camera brand Instax has followed it up with the Instax Mini Link 2.
This printer looks extremely like the previous generation, but the addition of the InstaxAir mode provides new features for users to play around with when taking photos. But is this new printer worth the price?
Design and Build
The design of this instant printer is remarkably like the last generation. It has a ribbed exterior with the Instax logo in the middle, and comes in three colours: white, pink and navy. Like other products from Instax, it has a young and fresh feel and a distinctive design.
The Instax Mini Link 2 measures 91.9×36.4×124.8mm and weighs 210g. This isn’t quite as portable as rivals such as the Kodak Step Slim, but it will still fit in a small bag or large pocket, and doesn’t feel heavy at all. It can also either stand by itself or be laid down flat.
The images print from the top of the device, and the centre logo serves as the power and pairing button. This lights up various colours to indicate the status of the printer.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Film packs are loaded at the back of the printer, where a panel clicks open via a button. As this is real film, you shouldn’t reopen the panel once you’ve loaded it, as this will expose the film and change the final look of the prints.
The biggest design change on this printer is the addition of an LED on the right-hand side, and a button on the top left. These are both dedicated to the brand new InstaxAir Mode – more on that later.
App and Features
To print and access all the features on the Mini Link 2, you will need to download the Instax Mini Link app – which is available for free on iOS and Android.
If you’re looking for lots of different printing options, then Instax trumps its competitors. You get the the standard frames, stickers, filters, text and QR code edits – but Instax also includes things such as video prints – so you can play a video on your phone and choose what frame you’d like to capture.
Instax’s presets are rather extensive, and the app even adds seasonal frames. For example, now there are lots of spooky overlays available, as Halloween season is coming up. You can also add images to collage layouts, with lots of different options to choose from.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
Instax has brought back the weird ‘match test’ from the previous generation. This is where you take a quiz with a friend to see how many of your answers are the same, and then the results are printed on the image. You can also take photos directly within the app, and then print them instantly. This feature can be used on its own, or via the new InstaxAir mode.
InstaxAir allows users to draw patterns and filters on to an image. This is done by pointing the printer’s LED at your phone’s camera, and then holding down the button on the printer as you wave it around. Your phone should detect where you are moving the printer and add the effect to the image – just like a light painting.
Some effects such as bubbles and glitter work quite well. However, if you’re trying to create a specific pattern, the printer has issues with motion detection if you’re too far away, or if the lighting conditions are on the brighter side. See the examples below:
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
In the first photo, my conditions were dimmer and I held the printer closer to the phone’s camera, so I was able to draw a heart quite successfully. However, when I got someone else to take a full body shot of me in a well-lit room, I couldn’t successfully draw a squiggle to my right-hand side – this instead appeared across my body.
This is worth keeping in mind if you plan on using the InstaxAir feature out and about, and on other people.
If waving the printer around isn’t doing the job, you can also manually draw in effects on your smartphone. This is much more user-friendly, and a unique creative feature that many leading rivals don’t offer.
Overall, the app is easy to use, and I didn’t encounter any glitches. However, the text is quite small, and there seems to be a lot of wasted space. Kodak’s Step app has a much better layout in comparison.
Like other Instax devices, the Mini Link 2 produces excellent prints. This is real film, so it will come out blank when it is ejected and takes around 90 seconds to fully develop as it is exposed to the light.
Details are crisp and clear on Instax prints, and the colours are bright and contrast well – even black and white and sepia prints still look impressive. You can especially notice the difference when you place them next to cheaper Zink prints, which are a bit fuzzier and duller overall.
Instax offers two options when printing: Natural Mode and Rich Mode. The latter brightens tones and deepens the saturation, giving an overall warmer tone to images. You can switch between these in the settings of the app.
Instax Mini prints measure 86x54mm, which is about the size of a credit card. They also come with space to write on the bottom, should you wish. This isn’t the biggest out there, so you should only invest in this printer if you want smaller images for your wallet, scrapbook or for adding to a pin board.
If you want your images to be a bit bigger, then you should consider the Instax Link Wide, which prints images that are double the size of those produced on the Mini Link 2.
Instax claims that this printer can last up to 100 prints on a single charge. However, that is dependent on how you are using it. If you utilise the InstaxAir mode, then this will drain it much faster than that.
Regardless, you should be able to take this printer out for a full day and not have to worry about it running out of charge. If you drain the battery to flat, it takes around two hours to charge to 100% – the app can tell you the battery status of the Mink Link 2.
Like other printers from Instax, this product uses MicroUSB charging. Whilst a cable is included in the box, this tech is rather out-dated at this point. USB-C charging would be a welcome addition to new printers in the future.
In the UK, this is £10 more expensive than the launch price of the first Mini Link. At the time of writing, you can buy this model for as little as £89, making it a much more competitive option – especially if you’re not fussed about InstaxAir. However, in the US, stock of this printer is low.
The cost of Instax prints can also rack up in the long-term. Single prints work out to around 98c/75p per print. In comparison, Zink paper costs 50c/50p per sheet – but of course, this isn’t real film, and the quality therefore isn’t as good.
The Instax Mini Link 2 has a lightweight, funky design, and produces some excellent small prints, with bright colours and impressive textures. It also outpaces many of its rivals when it comes to filters, frames and creative tools for editing.
However, the InstaxAir feature is a bit confusing and clunky to use, and the lack of USB-C charging is a disappointment. It’s also not as good value for money as the original Instax Mini Link in the UK. Nonetheless, you’re still getting a capable portable printer with the Mini Link 2.
Hannah Cowton is a Senior Staff Writer at Tech Advisor and Macworld, working across entertainment, consumer technology and lifestyle. Her interests and specialities lie in streaming services, film and television reviews and rumours, gaming, wearables and smart home products. She's also the creator of The London Geek, a geek culture and lifestyle blog.