Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera review: On-demand photo nostalgia for people who barely remember instant cameras

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The Good The Polaroid Snap is a basic instant print camera that also captures 10-megapixel photos to a memory card. It's absolutely easy and fun to use.

The Bad The print quality is good, but won't blow you away, especially at around 50 cents a print. Likewise, the digital photos can't compete with a decent phone camera. There's no flash, and the rechargeable battery isn't user replaceable.

The Bottom Line The Polaroid Snap is an instant camera that's equal parts past and present, with a nostalgic trick -- printing actual photos -- that your phone's camera can't duplicate.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

More than likely pictures from your smartphone will put those from the Polaroid Snap to shame. If that's your main concern -- a camera that's better than your phone -- stop reading and go here. The Snap just isn't about that.

Priced at $100, £90, AU$200, the Snap is about having fun with your photography and being able to enjoy your pics -- not on a screen, but on a wall or notebook or anywhere you want to put an actual, 2x3-inch borderless print. It is, however, a 10-megapixel digital camera as well. That means you're getting a digital copy of your picture, too, to keep on your phone, to email to friends and family or to make a larger print.

What Polaroid -- or, more appropriately Polaroid licensee C&A Marketing -- has done is create a camera that's part-past, part-present, and small and light enough that you won't think twice about taking it along on your next adventure to a party or wedding, or just out into your backyard.

Sarah Tew/CNET

About as basic as a camera gets

One of the things I like most about the Snap is that it pretty much gets out of your way and just lets you shoot. There is no screen to frame your shot, but instead a small pop-up viewfinder on top that also turns the camera on. After a second or two it's ready to go and you can just press the shutter release and get your print. That's it.

On top at the far left there's a button that lets you change between normal, black and white, and vintage sepia tone color palettes. Next to that, there's a button that will add that classic Polaroid border to your print, and next to the shutter release there's a 10-second self-timer so you can get in your photo (a tripod mount is on the bottom). But those are all your shooting options and controls you have, there's no flash and it's a fixed focal length lens, which means you're zooming with your feet.

Let's get one urgently important item out of the way, however: Polaroid Snap requires an immediate firmware update to prevent it from accidentally printing pictures taken with the lens cap on. The firmware download and instructions are available on Polaroid's site. If you buy this product, make sure that's your first order of business.

The Snap is powered off a built-in rechargeable battery that's charged via a Micro-USB port on the side. A Micro-USB cable, magnetic lens cap and a wrist strap are included in the box. No paper is included, though, so you'll need to buy some before you can print your first shot.