Unlike LG, Lenovo hasn’t abandoned the modular smartphone concept. Its Motorola range carries on the tradition and is compatible with the many Mods offered by the brand: the JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker, the Moto 360 camera, the Hasselblad True Zoom camera, etc. Today, we’re interested in the Insta-Share Printer Mod which has revived the Polaroid concept.
We don’t know if we should be talking about Lenovo or Motorola because the line between the parent company and its subsidiary is a bit blurred, but, nevertheless, the popular brand has announced a Moto Mod dedicated to photo printing: the Insta-Share Printer.
Polaroid makes a comeback with a version 2.0
Our younger readers perhaps have never seen a Polaroid. These devices allowed you to print a photo immediately after taking it, but developments in the photography world and the arrival of camera phones (and the digital age, generally) caused the Polaroid to fall into disuse. However, now, it is making a comeback in a different form: a Moto Mod.
In theory, the basic concept remains the same since you take a photo (this time with a smartphone) and use the printer to print it. Of course, it’s quite different in practice as the Mod is much smaller, quieter and smarter. Another huge advantage: you don’t have to print all the photos you take. You can choose to print only the photos that you think are worthy of printing. Therefore, photos won’t be needlessly thrown in the trash and trees will be saved. Note that there’s a link available in the app to order more paper.
Of course, Motorola hopes that nostalgia will serve it well in its sales, because the device is aimed at a very specific type of customer.
A simple configuration
Like all the Moto Mods, this Printer attaches to the back of your Moto smartphone in a specific area. It snaps on and off very easily and, no matter how much you move around, it won’t unclip itself. To take it off, you have to lift up the notch, which is reassuring since that shows you can use it outside without worrying about it falling off.
The camera at the top of the smartphone is still visible through a hole in the Mod which was included for this purpose. Underneath, the Mod expands the size of the device because of the paper reserve and the printing system which allows the photo to exit through the slot. You can, of course, open it to insert more paper when your reserve is empty, but you must be careful that you print in a 2 x 3-inch format. By default, the printer uses ZINK Zero-Ink, a technology that already appeared on a previous Polaroid device: the Instant Snap Touch. For your information, it costs $10 for a pack of 20 photos (50 cents per photo) or $15 for a pack of 30 photos.
The initial configuration is extremely simple. Once the Mod is attached, a message appears on the screen to inform you that both devices are connected and, the first time, it will ask you to install the device’s official app. There are no necessary tweaks to be made in order to use this device, it is already set up and ready to be used.
What can you do with this printer and how do you use it?
You must use the dedicated app in order to use this Moto Mod. The app is called Insta-Share Printer and, as you can imagine, it allows you to do many things. Let’s start with the most obvious function: Taking a photo followed by printing it. On the app’s home screen, you’ll see a “Take photo” button, press it and take your photo, then select it on the following screen. A new screen will open: It will allow you to edit the photo by changing the filters and playing with the saturation, contrast, brightness and many others. You can also change the borders, add text and other elements (a sheriff’s hat, perhaps).
When you’re ready, all you have to do is press “Print” at the top right-hand side of the screen. The photo will immediately start printing and you’ll quickly have your printed photo in your hands. In short, a Polaroid with a personalized image.
However, you can do even more with it. Perhaps you want to use a photo that you’ve already taken and not just one that you have to take there and then. Don’t worry, this is also possible. On one hand, the app allows you to access a gallery in which you can find all the photos taken with the app, including those that haven’t been printed already. Yes, they are automatically stored. What’s even more interesting is that you can directly access your photo gallery, specifically the one from your smartphone. You’ll find all your photos and you’ll be able to select the ones that you want.
Other image sources are also possible to access. The button at the bottom right-hand side of the screen allows you to connect to Google to access Google Photos. The button to its left is Instagram, and as you’ve already guessed, it allows you to connect to your account. To the left of this button, you’ll, of course, find the Facebook icon which also allows you to connect to your social media to access photos. The mode on the left-hand side is the default mode, meaning the mode that allows you to access images stored on your smartphone.
What about battery life?
The Moto Mod Insta-Share Printer has its own battery and its own Type-C USB port. Unfortunately, the port is situated at the back, so it is inaccessible when it is connected to the smartphone. You have to remove the Moto Mod and charge it separately. Unlike other Moto Mods, it isn’t possible to directly connect the phone and the printer, so it’s a shame that its battery is so limited. You can take around twenty photos before the Insta-Share Printer runs out of steam.
And what about the print quality?
Obviously, it depends on the camera on the smartphone that you use. In the case of the Moto Z2 Play, the smartphone used for the test, we were a little disappointed because the camera is the smartphone’s weak point.
In addition to this, you can see annoying vertical lines (of ink) on the paper, as you can see in the photo below. The colors are quite dark and are reminiscent of the 90s. Is this intended? Perhaps the aim is to awaken nostalgia from the last millennium but, by today’s standards, much more is expected.
Does the price outweigh the benefits?
In the US, you can buy the device for $199. It’s a significant sum of money, so you have to ask yourself whether the investment is worth it. If you only want to try it out, it’s possible that you’ll just print 5 or 6 photos and forget about it when the novelty wears off. True photography fanatics who fuss over every detail might be disappointed by the quality of the printed photos. They’re okay for beginners but professionals will notice the flaws.
Personally, I think the price is too high for what the device offers, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Are you interested in this device? Do you think you’ll buy it?