Prynt is bringing paper photos back. If you’re old enough to remember a time before digital photos, you likely have albums full of printed photos stashed around your home. In those days, you blindly took photos through an analog viewfinder and hoped for the best.
You waited until you had a whole roll of film and then went to get them developed. The result was a fist full of memories that you could hang, frame, mail to friends or leave lying around.
If you were lucky, you had a Polaroid camera. With a Polaroid you could take photos and, thanks to special ink embedded paper, a photo would print instantly. It was expensive but effective.
If you were even luckier, you had a Gameboy Printer!
With the advent of the digital camera, photo printing has become a novelty and instant photo printing has pretty much disappeared. There are wifi and bluetooth enabled photo printers, but you’ve probably never seen anyone carrying one around.
The team from Prynt got the bright idea to embed a Zink (zero ink) instant printer and put it in a phone case.
Now you can take a small instant printer where ever you go, giving you instant access to a printed version of your photos, as you take them. You don’t even have to shake them like a Polaroid picture.
Your phone case becomes the printer. By using an innovative mount on the printer, the product can support lots of different phones. And when you get a new phone, you can just get a new mount.
Product / Company History
Prynt was Co-Founded in Paris, France by Clément Perrot and David Zhang in June of 2014. Since then, the team has moved to San Francisco and grown to twenty people.
Clément and David started Prynt in Paris in June of 2014. They conceived the product through Haxlr8r (now just Hax), a hardware accelerator based in Shenzen, China. Shenzen is widely regarded as the Silicon Valley for hardware.
Hax has built lots of products to fruition including the Crowdwonder reviewed Petcube Play.
After some initial prototypes were developed, the team brought the product to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and were a hit of the show. CNN even named them one of the four best products of CES.
With a design, prototypes in hand and feedback from CES, Prynt launched their Kickstarter campaign in January of 2015. Due to the buzz generated at CES and a demand in the market for fun ways to print photos, they had a very successful Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter was so successful that Prynt ended up reaching their goal in an unheard of 33 minutes!
By the end of the campaign, they had raised $1,576,011 from 9,023 backers!
Built in a factory outside of Seoul, Korea that specializes in Zero Ink printing (which is ink embedded paper, like Polaroid), they had built all of the Prynts for their backers by December of 2015 and quickly ramped up for retail sales.
By the fall of 2015, they were selling on their own site and through Amazon.
The Case, Adapter and Power
The printer is embedded in the case and when you order a Prynt, you order it with an adapter specific to your device. Right now, they make adapters for the following phones:
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6S
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 6S Plus
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone SE
- Samsung Galaxy S5
You have to remove any case that you might have on your phone to get it into the Prynt housing. If you upgrade your phone, you’ll be able to buy a separate adapter for the printer.
This phone case printer is powered by an internal battery that can be charged with any micro-USB cable (one is included in the box).
The Prynt App
The Prynt app, a free download from the Play store or iTunes, pretty much acts like most photo apps. You can apply filters, select from your library or take a photo. You can even add stickers.
The big difference, of course is being able to print your photo from your case.
The augmented reality feature is nice too, of course. You get a video feed and when you wave it over a photo, it plays a short video within the frame. It sounds strange but when you see it in action, it’s really captivating.
Printing is pretty simple. You put the paper into the printer, load up the photo that you want, apply filters and stickers in the app and press print. A few seconds later, the paper dumps out of your case with a photo on it. Magic.
You can generally put in about 20 pieces of photo paper into the case at a time.
The Paper and Accessories
The zero ink (Zink) paper, is less than $20 for 40 pieces. Since the paper has ink embedded right in it, you never have to buy ink cartridges like a traditional printer.
The backs actually peel off of the paper so that you can stick them to things.
The Prynt team really pushes the augmented reality angle in their marketing. It’s a bit of a party trick, but who doesn’t love a party trick?!?
The AR feature of the app works by using computer vision to find a tracker through your phone’s camera. The app measures the angle of your phone and records the angle and position of the Prynt photo that you have it pointed at.
It then uses the tracker to read a video from the cloud. It superimposes that video right on top of the photo frame on your phone giving you the feeling that a video is playing inside your camera’s phone. It’s a pretty satisfying effect, especially if you have a few of them to go through.
In case you have videos that you would like to keep private, you can set your videos to private or public through the app.
Where to Use It
Beyond the pure novelty of printing from cell phone case (excuse me, are you from the future…), there are a lots of applications for this technology.
First of all, it’s great for parties. You can wake up the next morning with a pocket full of paper of last night’s memories, roll your phone over them and see videos. Pretty fun. Throw them all in an album and enjoy them for years. That’s a lot better than storing them on the iCloud!
You can mail these things to friends and family. If your friend has the app (and remember that it’s free), they can load up the augmented reality and see an embedded surprise in the video too.
There are also some craftier ways to use the app.
Interior decorators are using Prynt to build interactive photo walls. When you swipe the app across the wall, you or your guests will be able to see lots of videos.
They are also great for scrapbooking.
Stick it in a frame and watch highlights from little Stacy’s dance recital when you wave your phone over the frame.
Let’s face it, this is a pretty expensive case for what is essentially a party trick.
But, it might be worth every penny twenty years from now when you run across a forgotten memory printed on a sticker, stuffed into a shoebox.
If you have a printer with you when you make a memory, that means that you will print a photo of the moment as it happens and your memories will be saved. I’m old enough to have photos stashed in strange places and they’re hilarious to run into. Digital photos are great, but they’re stealing memories from us.
Also, some users complain that this polaroid camera phone case is toy-like, prints small photos and really isn’t that portable. Those things are all true but it’s a camera case that prints photos. If that isn’t living in the future, I don’t know what is.
There are also some reports online of getting broken or open units. The company seems to be making good on purchases, in the unlikely event that you get a broken one but be aware that quality could be a problem.
Like a lot of Crowdwonder reviewed products, there aren’t a lot of direct competitors to this device. Crowdfunded products tend to be pretty unique.
There really isn’t another polaroid phone printer case on the market. And there certainly isn’t one that has augmented reality.
All of the printers below are portable, print on small paper and run on batteries. None of them are phone cases, but with a roll of duct tape and a bit of creativity…
Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer
This Polaroid phone printer delivers the quality that you’d expect from the company that popularized portable instant printing. You can connect to this printer via NFC or bluetooth. Polaroid also has a free app that you use to improve and print your pictures.
Fujifilm INSTAX SHARE SP-2 Smart Phone Printer
This smartphone instant printer is very similar to the Polaroid ZIP in terms of features. It has a free app that connects via Wifi to the battery powered printer.
It’s slightly less portable than the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer but it has slightly more true photo quality (the Polaroid can be a little bright, especially with reds). Both are very good for what they are.
The FujiFilm INSTAX Share SP-2 has wifi, not Bluetooth, which is a nice feature because wifi has a better connection range.