I tried the new device that lets you print Polaroids directly from your smartphone, and it was a fun but pricey experiment



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  • Polaroid released the Polaroid Lab, a way to print photos from your phone.
  • The printer costs $130, and went on sale October 10.
  • Users select a photo in the Polaroid Originals app, and place their phone facedown to print.
  • The Polaroid Lab was fun to test out, but it’s an expensive device for one person to use. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For anyone obsessed with the nostalgic look of Polaroids, Polaroid Originals has the perfect new gadget for you. 

Polaroid Originals on Thursday released the Polaroid Lab printer. The white and black printer allows you to turn any digital image into analog Polaroids straight from your smartphone. 

Polaroid was founded in the 1930s, and became popular for its instant photo products. But with the rise of digital photography, Polaroid declared bankruptcy in 2001. In 2017, the Impossible Project bought the brand and launched Polaroid Originals, creating new cameras for “the modern era” called the OneStep 2 and the OneStep Plus, named after Polaroid’s original camera from 1977. 

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In the press release accompanying the launch of the Lab, CEO Oskar Smolokowski appealed to a simpler time before everyone had high-quality cameras on them all the time.

“The idea behind the Polaroid Lab is that it turns your most precious smartphone photos into tangible Polaroid photographs — bringing them into the world as something you can hold in your hand and store on the fridge door rather than in the cloud,” Smolokowski said. 

He calls cloud storage and digital photos “memories’ worst enemy,” saying that we take thousands of images that we never end up looking at.

To that end, the new Polaroid Lab is intended to take digital images off of your phone and turn them into tangible photographs. I decided to got one into the office try out for a few days — here’s what it’s like to use. 

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The printer comes already assembled in a cardboard box. The directions are clear, and there’s nothing to put together.

I had both black and white and color film to test.

First, I opened the color film first, and unwrapped the cartridge.

The film goes in an opening in the bottom of the Lab. This was the least intuitive part for me, but it didn’t take too long to figure out.

Next, in the Polaroid app, access your camera roll and choose a photo. (The device works with both iPhones and Android phones).

Then, choose your sizing. I used singles so I could try out as many photos as possible.

You’ll be prompted to choose what film type you have — I started with color film.

One tip: Before getting started, make sure you have the brightness turned up on your phone, and for iPhones, True Tone turned off.

To get started, place your phone screen down on the scanner — the lights will blink when your phone is lined up. When you press the red button to print, the lights next to it will indicate how much film you have left.

When your photo prints, you’ll have to remove it and flip it over for 15 minutes while it develops.

Here’s the first photo I printed. It came out looking recognizably like a Polaroid: kind of faded and overexposed. But that’s the aesthetic you know you’re getting when you use a Polaroid.

I tried another color image, and I liked how it came out.

I also tried a black and white one. I think next time, I would use a darker photo, since this one turned out very overexposed.

My final thoughts? The Polaroid Lab is fun but a bit pricey.

The Polaroid Lab was fun to use — and makes for cute decor — but it’s an expensive toy.

I do like the ability to print pictures without going to CVS, and I can see myself decorating my desk or mirror with the images it produces. The photos are recognizable as Polaroids, and I had fun choosing images off my phone. I think the Lab would work best if several people shared it, like a family or group of roommates. Otherwise, I don’t think it will get used enough to be worthwhile for one person.

But if you’re one of many millennials and Gen Z-ers who like a vintage aesthetic, this might be perfect for you.