Instax Mini Link full review
Sure, having photos to look at on your smartphone is all well and good. But what if you could capture all these moments in a physical, polaroid-style form?
The Instax Mini Link is the latest starter printer from Fujifilm, designed to do just that and a whole lot more. Besides the standard print mode, it also offers a ‘fun mode’ that’s geared towards sharing your printing experience with your friends - turning it into a social activity within itself.
We tested out the Instax Mini Link to see how it held up as an instant printer, and whether these extra features are something worth shouting about. If you'd like to see what other printers are on the market, check out our list of the best portable printers.
Price and availability
The Instax Mini Link is available now for £109.99/$99.99, and you can get it from a number of different retailers.
Before you go printing away, you’ll need some of Fujifilm's Instax Mini Instant Film. This costs just under a pound for one print in the UK, just under a dollar for one print in the US, with the total cost of the film getting cheaper the more you buy. As a comparison - Zink Paper - the closest rival which is used for digital prints in cameras and printers from Polaroid, Kodak and more - costs just under fifty pence for one sheet in the UK and just below fifty cents for one sheet in the US. However, this isn’t the same as proper film.
The instant printer market is quite baffling, as there are some camera-printer hybrids on the market that don’t actually cost a lot more than instant printers.
For example, the Instax Mini LiPlay is a digital camera that can print polaroid-style photos, both from the camera directly, as well as from your smartphone. Sure, it doesn’t have all the wangled social features that the Mini Link does, but for basic printing from your mobile, you may as well pay the extra few bucks to get a camera included as well.
Instax is also releasing a Link printer for wide-format photos.
Design and build
Instax is really carving out a place for itself in terms of design. This printer fits perfectly with the designs of the Mini 9 and the Mini LiPlay. Funky colour options, a young and fresh feel, and most importantly simple and easy to navigate for the user. The film pack can be easily loaded on the back panel, and the printer can be turned on via the only button on the device that lights up when you do.
You connect your printer up by downloading the Mini Link app and connecting your phone via Bluetooth. From there you can access your entire camera library and choose from various frames and options for printing your pictures. The printer has a speed of around 12 seconds per print, supports continuous printing and can print up to 100 photos on a single charge. All Fujifilm X Series cameras that are compatible with the app can also be connected for printing photos.
You can also edit a photo directly within the app, with three colour filters and three adjustable dials to change the brightness, contrast and saturation respectfully. Admittedly, if you’re printing photos from your smartphone, your own built-in camera editor should do a better job than this one does, but the option is there nonetheless.
Once you’ve printed a photo off from your phone, there’s a handy little button on the front of the printer that you can press to get a second copy instantly, saving some time on your end. This button also lights up different colours to indicate what mode you’re using, when the device is printing, or even if there’s an error with the product.
The photos that we printed out all came out clear, crisp and vibrant on the mini film. Though we recommend not turning the brightness up too high on your image when editing - some of the darker colours pop better on the paper.
This is a printer that is aimed at the younger generation, and some of the features are geared perfectly towards that.
We tested out the ‘match test’, which basically involves two people taking the same series of Buzzfeed-esque questions on the smartphone app. The pair are then given a percentage on the print of how much they match up based on how similar their answers are. The quiz has a roster of thirty different questions, and will randomly select five for each match test. Therefore you could take this test with several of your friends and have a different experience every time.
You can also use the printer at social events with the ‘party print’ mode. This allows users to connect up to five phones to one printer, combining a picture from each device to create one Instax print. There’s also a fun ‘surprise mode’ in which each person doesn’t know what the other person has chosen to print until they appear on the picture.
Instax have also included a feature in which you can use the printer as a remote control for your smartphone camera, tilting the printer back and forth to zoom in and out. Personally I found this feature to be a little laggy and occasionally not work as directed - you’re probably better off taking your photos directly on your smartphone.
I also enjoyed the customisable prints, which include frame designs, split prints (separating one photo into two prints) and my personal favourite, collage prints. These gave a new dimension and fun element to all your prints, and allows users to be more creative and expressive with the printer.
Considering that the Mini Link is all based around the ‘social’ element, it’s quite surprising to see that the printer's app doesn’t integrate with your social accounts. You can only print photos that are stored directly on your phone. If Instax are targeting the 8-24 demographic, they should consider finding a way to update their app to allow access to social media accounts for a more flexible use.
However, Instax is releasing a brand new app called Instax Mini Link for Nintendo Switch, which as the name suggests, allows you to use the printer to print screenshots from your games console. There's also brand new frames based around Mario and Animal Crossing, and a new colour edition of the printer. You can check out more about the Instax Mini Link and Nintendo Switch collaboration here.
Are all the features on this device necessary? Probably not. But there's definitely something fun to explore with the Instax Mini Link that other instant printers don't offer - though the lack of social media integration is something that the company should definitely rethink.
Overall this is a simple printer to use, offering great quality photos for the user with customisable options for a more creative experience. However, if these fluffy features aren't of any interest, we recommend spending that little bit more for a camera-printer hybrid.
Instax Mini Link: Specs
- 3-color exposure with OLED
- Requires Fujifilm Instant Colour Film
- Film Size – 86x54mm
- Picture Size 62x46mm
- 90 secs approx film developing time depending on ambient temperature
- Standard compliance: Bluetooth Ver. 4.2 (BLE)
- JPEG, PNG and HEIF image supported
- Printing time approx ten secs
- Approx 100 prints on a full charge
- Lithium ion battery
- Charging time approx 80 to 120 mins
- Comes with USB cable
- Film packs sold separately
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