I don’t know much about teenagers at this point in my life, but I do know that they love photos. From scrupulously documenting their adventures on visual platforms like Instagram and VSCO to setting their chillest summer memories to music for 15-second clips on TikTok, the teens love to wax nostalgic about their very recent pasts. The new Instax Link Wide printer from Fujifilm, which lets you print wide-format photos from your smartphone instantly via Bluetooth, is the perfect tool for that.
The $US150 ($204) Link Wide is compact enough to stash in a handbag and completely cordless, save for the discrete micro-USB charging port that lets you power up its internal battery. Available in two colours — Mocha Grey and Ash White — the tiny printer is both similar to Fujifilm’s other instant film printers and distinct in that it produces prints that are 2.4 in. x 3.9 in. (62 mm x 99 mm) in size — the widest of Fujifilm’s instant film sizes.
Bigger = Better
Before we go any further, let me just clarify that teens aren’t the only ones who will love this printer: I love it too. The largest of Fujifilm’s formats, the Instax Link Wide isn’t necessarily a huge innovation on the brand’s other two film printer formats, the Instax Link Mini, which was released last year and prints tiny photos like the name suggests, and the Instax SHARE Sp-3, which prints the brand’s signature square portraits.
But while the Link Mini is great at producing baby prints that are perfect for toting in a wallet or sticking in a binder, and the SHARE Sp-3 is great at printing… squares, the Instax Link Wide is perfect for producing memories with some heft to them, since the resultant prints are roughly twice the size as those the Link Mini spits out. Whether you’re looking for photos that will adorn a dorm or bedroom wall or prints that will one day populate a physical album, the larger size just makes more sense for a printed photo; if you wanted your photos to be compact, why not just save the space and keep them in your phone? “The wider the frame, the better the memory,” is not a phrase that anyone actually says — yet — but the oversized prints are so much fun that maybe people should start saying it soon.
Ridiculously Easy — and Fast — to Use
Fujifilm’s smartphone printers have basically perfected the art of convenience, and the Instax Link Wide is no exception. After unboxing, it takes a little over an hour to get a full battery charge going — something you need to have before you can fire off your first prints — and after that, using the printer is as easy as linking the device to your phone via Bluetooth and hitting a button through the accompanying Link Wide app. According to the company, a single charge should support the generation of roughly 100 Instax instant prints, a feat made easier by the device’s ability to power itself down after a couple minutes of non-use to conserve that battery life.
When it comes time to actually print your first photo, the accompanying app itself is ridiculously intuitive; all you have to do is select “simple print” from the home screen, select the photo from your camera roll that you want to manifest physically, and then hit the giant, glowing “Print” button. The app also has a bunch of fun editing modes that are surprisingly useful, including collage templates that let you combine up to sixteen photos in a single printout, editable templates that allow you to add customisable flair to your prints (which are perfect for special occasions like birthdays and holidays), and a sketch and edit tool that allows you to superimpose fonts, emojis, and stickers onto your best shots. A new tool also lets you easily add QR codes to your designs, which can be scanned with a smartphone to link out to websites, location tags, or messages.
All of these functionalities take about 30 seconds to learn, and the resultant design modes really do allow for a creative photo-editing experience that takes your printouts to the next level. The wider format also gives you a bigger canvas to play with, allowing you free rein to customise your memories to your heart’s content.
Polaroid-Grade Nostalgia, but More Premium
If you’ve used an Instax camera before, you already know the drill: These prints aren’t going to fry your eyeballs with their staggering quality, but they do offer a lo-fi nostalgia effect that makes them an attractive option for anyone who loves the dreamy, softened look of a Polaroid.
With instant film, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to sacrifice some of the overall sharpness, texture and depth of the original photo, particularly given how capable smartphone cameras are becoming. But it should be noted that while the Instax Link Wide isn’t skimping on the quality by any stretch of the imagination: the saturation, colour and contrast are all pretty much superior to the other instant film options on the market, including King Polaroid, which generally leaves a little something to be desired in the clarity department.
The Link Wide takes Fujifilm Instax Wide Instant Film, which is $US20 for 20 sheets on Amazon — roughly $1 a print. Monochrome film is also available for the slightly steeper price of $1.30 per print, and provides a moody alternative to the traditional white-bordered look. Both options are pricey, obviously, but when the alternative is heading down to your local FedEx Office or shelling out for an expensive consumer-grade inkjet printer that comes with none of the convenience or fun editing tools, I’m inclined to think the Link Wide is, at the end of the day, a good value for your dollar.
Like the Link Mini and the SHARE Sp-3 before it, the Link Wide is a highly portable, intuitive, and capable instant film printer that delivers your memories from your devices to the real world in seconds flat. The printer is compatible with almost any Bluetooth-capable device, from fancy DSLRs to smartphones to the brand’s own Fujifilm X-S10 mirrorless digital camera, and it’s surprisingly easy to use. Anyone inclined to print fast, easy copies of their memories on film will get a kick out of Fujifilm’s latest, widest-format printer — maybe the teens are onto something after all.