First look: Polaroid Mint – the 2-in-1 camera-printer for selfie nuts

Polaroid, the penultimate icon of ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia, is hard at work reestablishing its niche in a photography world dominated by smartphones with its latest attempt: the Polaroid Mint.

Polaroid Mint, first shown at CE Week 2018 in New York, is the company’s next photo-printing camera with a decidedly focused orientation and design. The camera is traditionally oriented in a portrait position, which is aimed at leveling with the Instagram generation of amateur photographers. The thing even has a tiny mirror to frame your selfies with.

Secondly, the design of the product, with its optical viewfinder and very simple settings toggles, seems specifically pointed toward older millennials and those of Generation X. Perhaps these people have joined the rank and file of Instagrammers, but they miss the old days of needlessly waving around instant photo prints – ‘to make them develop faster.’

The so-called Polaroid Mint Instant Print Camera is simply a rectangular block that houses a 16-megapixel (MP) digital sensor that can be set with a self-timer. The sensor supports six picture modes: vibrant color, black and white, vintage, vibrant color with Polaroid border, black and white with Polaroid border and vintage with Polaroid border.

Yes, the Mint produces 2 x 3-inch full-color prints – with the classic Polaroid border – by simply loading Polaroid’s ZINK, or zero-ink, paper into the top of the device just as you would in today’s latest standard printers. The camera then artificially imposes the border effect, but it looks all the same.

Of course, you can choose to just print a full photo, but you won't be missing much of your shot with such a small print.

The Mint produces prints in less than a minute, about 45 seconds, and can move photos straight to a microSD card or a computer via microUSB (this port is also used for charging the built-in lithium-ion battery). Speaking of which, the battery lasts for up to 40 prints.

Having taken a photo of ourselves and seen its printing in action, we were immediately taken back to our childhood, watching mom furiously wag freshly printed photos of the birthday party before the cake is obliterated. It’s an interesting, if novelty, product that’s sure to find its place among the more curmudgeonly millenials and Gen-Xers out there.

The Polaroid Mint Instant Print Camera is expected to launch in Q3 2018, so between July and the end of September, for $99 (about £79, AU$139). The required film will come in 20, 30 and 50-sheet packages for unknown prices at the time of writing.

Shoot or just print with Polaroid Mint

Now, Polaroid is also releasing a straight printer version of the product that features local Wi-Fi connectivity. This version of the Mint features no camera, but rather connects to your smartphone to print photos.

This has the unique advantage of printing photos based on your smartphone camera’s sensor rather than Polaroid’s own, which caps out at 16MP and likely doesn’t have the advanced image sensing that smartphones have, like HDR.

Polaroid even developed its own camera app for use with this product, which allows for several filter and custom frame options. Of course, you can just send photos to the Mint (get it?) taken with any camera app.

Otherwise, the product looks identical to the camera-bound option. Oddly enough, this option costs more at $129 (about £99, AU$179), and is expected to launch alongside the camera-equipped model. (It must be the Wi-Fi hardware inside.)

Will either of these products spark a revolution in printed photos? That’s tough to predict from our short time with the device, but we’re just glad Polaroid is still here – and seemingly for the long haul.