Prynt Turns Your iPhone into an AR-Ready Printer

Prynt wants to add instant photo printing to your smartphone's bag of tricks, and it's just come out with a more compact way of doing that.

The newly unveiled Prynt Pocket is a $149 add-on for your iPhone that turns it into a Polaroid camera, capable of outputting out 3 x 2-inch pictures with an augmented reality twist.

Credit: Prynt

(Image credit: Prynt)

Stick one of the printed photos in front of the camera of an iPhone running the Prynt app, and the picture will start to move on your screen, displaying the same sort of Live Photo effects iPhone users are already used to. If that photo was shot as a video, you'll even get sound when you scan it using the Prynt app.

Prynt first introduced those features last year with its Prynt Case — a 5 x 3.2 x 1.2-inch printer that attached to your iPhone. The Prynt Pocket condenses things considerably: it's now a little more than 3 inches long, making the accessory easier to tote around. That increased portability and the fact that you attach your iPhone to the case via a plug for the Lightning port gives Prynt an edge over LifePrint, a pocket photo printer that also can print out AR-ready photos on the go.

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I had a chance to test drive the Prynt Pocket over a weekend spent snapping photos and printing out wallet-sized snaps. It's a generally clever product that adds another dimension to photo sharing, so long as you're not expecting high-quality prints.

Besides the graphite version I played around with, the Prynt Pocket also comes in grey and mint colors. It's got a textured grip that makes it easy to hold when you're snapping photos. There's also a dedicated shutter button and a scroll wheel for digitally zooming in on whatever you're photographing, though you can also access those controls from the screen of your iPhone.

How Prynt Pocket Works

The Prynt Pocket works with any iPhone 5 or later, with Android-compatible versions of the accessory planned for later this year. It worked well enough with my iPhone SE, though sometimes adjusting the case securely around my phone proved a bit of challenge. Several times during my testing, I went to print a photo only to find out that my phone wasn't securely connected to the case, requiring me to jostle the phone into place. I became more adept at connecting my phone to the case the more I used Prynt Pocket, though.

Editing photos in the Prynt app

Editing photos in the Prynt app

Once you take a photo, you can apply different filters in the Prynt app, make adjustments to things like brightness, exposure and contrast or remove red-eye. You can also draw on a photo or insert text.

If you're satisfied with how your photo looks, hit the orange Print button. On-screen graphics will start to show your photo vanishing just as the print begins to poke out of the bottom of the Prynt Pocket case. The printing process takes less than 20 seconds.

Credit: Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide)

You can share Prynt photos via social networks like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, though as of this writing, the audio on videos you've shot and shared via Prynt appears to be disabled — at least when I tried sharing an image on Facebook. Other sharing features include mailing prints to others and ordering a 4x6-inch postcard version of your photo.

What Prynt Pocket Produces

You wouldn't expect desktop inkjet-style quality from the photos that an iPhone add-on puts out, and you certainly don't get that from Prynt Pocket. Colors don't appear very true to life, and skin tones look a bit blotchy. Prynt Pocket only outputed one photo of me that got my skin and hair color close to accurate and that was after I applied one of the app's filters. These are not prints you're going to want to hang on a wall in other words, but they will serve as handy keepsakes of those times you and your friends got together.

The real magic with Prynt Pocket comes with the AR features. Switching to video mode, you can record motion and sound that come to life when someone scans the photo with the Prynt app. It seems like a handy way to record messages for far-flung friends and family or at least preserve the particular sights and sounds of a moment when you've got a Prynt Pocket within reach.

Preserving those memories can be costly, though. Beyond the $149 you'll spend on a Prynt Pocket, refills on the Zink zero-ink paper the portable printer uses can cost around $20 for a pack of 40 prints. Those costs can add up if you plan on printing a lot of photos with your Prynt Pocket. You're able to get about 20 prints on a fully-charged Prynt Pocket, which ships with a Mini-USB charging cable.

Bottom Line

Figuring out a way to get all those photos you've got on your phone into someone else's hands — or at least on to their screens — has become a bit of an obsession lately. Just last week, for example, Google updated its Photos app to add new sharing features that offer a mix of old (printed photo books) and new (AI-powered automatic sharing). In its own way, Prynt is taking a similar approach that blends old-school photo sharing methods like physical prints with new-age capabilities like social networking and AR.

If that strikes your fancy, the Prynt Pocket goes on sale today (May 23) through Prynt, Amazon and UrbanOutfitters. Best Buy joins the mix of retailers next month.