When one thinks about the Instax brand, instant cameras come to mind. While these high-quality cameras have gone from shoot-and-print devices to being able to print voice notes, one factor has been constant. The device one generally uses for pictures is a smartphone.
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Link printer changes that. It provides Instax style printing that’s linked to a smartphone, instead of a dedicated camera. This way, users can print out photos that they’ve taken with their smartphones on an Instax print.
With smartphones having advanced features like bokeh depth effects and high colour accuracy, the images that are produced are visually stunning. Making these pictures ‘immortal’ by printing them does them the proper justice of appreciating their beauty. What’s better is that this camera prints in 12 seconds, so there’s virtually no wait time for printing.
The printer weighs around 200g and is smaller than most smartphones, while being quite a bit thicker to fit the film cartridges. It’s highly portable and can fit into a handbag or medium-to-large-sized pocket.
The app and device link fairly easily: one has to download and open the app, then turn the Instax Mini Link on and wait for it to appear in the app. Thereafter, one can select photos to print from the camera roll or using the Instax camera app function.
One of the more interesting features is motion control. Putting this printer in different positions performs different actions: flat, standing up, or holding it upside down. Moving around the printer also changes the mode within the app.
To activate Print mode, one must put the printer upright. This offers a straightforward printing experience where one can select Simple Print for picking a photo and printing it, Video Print for selecting a frame from a video to print, or Instax camera for lining up a shot within a virtual Instax print.
The Instax Camera can be controlled with motion control as well: tilting the camera forward zooms in, while tilting it backwards zooms out. Pressing the Instax button will take a picture, where a user can review the picture and optionally add filters before printing.
To activate Fun mode, one must set the printer flat. This offers a more creative printing experience. One can select Frame Print to put a sticker on photos before printing, and Collage Print which allows several frames to appear on a single print out. Match Test is one of the cooler modes, which uses a photo of two people and asks questions to see who well they match.
The user must hand the smartphone over to the other person who answers questions, and then the user is tested to see if they can get those questions right. Thereafter, a printout with a score is done with a photo of the friends together.
If several smartphones in the same area have the Mini Link app, they can use Party Mode. This mode accepts several photos from various phones and prints out a surprise collage photo at the end.
The printer takes the same Instax film cartridges as the Instax cameras, so finding replacement film won’t be difficult. It charges via micro-USB and claims to do 100 prints on a single charge. While this may be possible in a single mode, we found after printing 20 shots and using the printer as a remote for about an hour, it was down to 60% battery life. That said, it still offers great battery life for such a small device.
Overall, we were extremely impressed with this device and its brilliant quality print-outs. Even its more gimmicky features were charming and add to the memory-making experience.