The Polaroid Lab Lets You Turn Any Photo Into a Retro-Cool Print

Polaroid knows its sweet spot: giving us new tech in its Originals camera line, while still staying true to the design that put it on the map all the way back in the 1930s. And with the Polaroid Lab, a fully functional photo printer that produces tried and true Polaroid pictures, there's another game-changer for its Originals line. Now, you can turn edited photos on your smart phone into tangible (and wonderfully retro) keepsake Polaroids.

Though it sounds a bit complex, Polaroid made the Lab foolproof. The Polaroid Originals app walks you through everything, making it easy to pick up and use. Once you select an image from your phone's photo library, you can adjust it in the app before you place it on the printer. The app even senses how you've placed your phone on the printer to make sure everything is lined up correctly. A tone will play and the light on the Lab will blink when it's ready for you to hit print. That's it.

Step 1: Select a photo from your library; we like this one from our Woody Harrelson cover story.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

Step 2: Upload the photo into the Polaroid app’s Lab section. Position and crop your photo, then hit the arrow to proceed.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

Step 3: Place the phone on top of the Lab. Wait for the chime and the blinking Polaroid logo light.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

Step 4: Hit the red button.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

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Step 5: Wait for the photo to print and develop.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

Step 6: Hang your new Polaroid photo wherever you like.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

The Polaroid Lab absolutely aces the challenge of producing a Polaroid photo that looks exactly as if you took it with a Polaroid camera. Once printed from your phone, the photo appears slightly faded with those vintage color readings and high-contrast fades we all know and love, all the while saving you insurmountable amounts of expensive film. Gone are the days of trying to get that one special shot with your instant camera, only to have someone blink, or to print a blurry mess, or any of the other thousands of things that inevitably go wrong.


Look at this photo from our John Mulaney cover story through the AR viewer in the Polaroid app.

Photo by ESQUIRE.

In addition to printing phone photos, the Lab lets you embed secret images, messages, or videos in your prints as well. Polaroid's app has an AR viewer, and when the AR viewer is open, you can point your phone's camera at a barcode on the photo, and there you'll see it on your phone screen—a very Harry Potter experience. (The barcode can be private to you or public to anyone.) In fact, if you download the Polaroid app and use the AR viewer to look at some of the photos in this story, there'll be secrets waiting for you. Cool, right?

On top of the tech, the Lab's aesthetic is right, through and through. Its compact, minimalist design makes it a great shelf edition when it's not being used. Beyond that, the Polaroids it prints are true to form, nearly indistinguishable from a Polaroid taken with an actual instant camera.


There are a lot of mobile photo printers out there, many of them very good, but the Lab puts that extra personality and retro love into the modern gadget, easily making it the most unique photo printer on the market. You can order the Polaroid Lab now for $130.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Cameron Sherrill
Cameron Sherrill is a designer and writer for, where he covers technology and video games.
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