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Polaroid Lab turns your phone photos into instant print masterpieces

Want Polaroid photos, but hate the idea of carrying any camera but your phone? You're in luck.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Just in time for your next new iPhone, Polaroid Originals, formerly the Impossible Project, announces the Polaroid Lab, a miniature instant film darkroom for your phone's digital photos. With a design that'll fit nicely with your vinyl collection, the printer churns out instant prints at the push of a button using Polaroid's film packs and mobile app for iPhone and Android.

The $130 Polaroid Lab, available Oct. 10, is essentially a more user-friendly, compact redesign of the company's Instant Lab from 2012. (It's £119 in the UK, with no Australian details yet, but that converts to about AU$215.) Press a button on the side, the unit turns on, and the phone platform on top extends from inside the body. Using the mobile app, you can either take a fresh photo with your phone or pull one from your library. Then you just place the screen down over the opening in the platform and press the print button on front.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

There are onscreen dots to use as a guide to line up with dots below the opening. In my experience using it, though, it still requires you to move your phone around some to get it lined up correctly. Fortunately, your phone's flash will blink and the phone will vibrate and beep until you get it into position. It's a minor frustration, but it worked every time and never resulted in a crooked image. 

You can do single photos or have the app split your image into a collage of multiple shots. And I appreciated that there's no need to wirelessly connect to the Lab to make your prints, which competing products from Fujifilm's Instax line and HP's latest Sprocket printers require. It means anyone who installs the app can walk right up to it and make a print with little effort.  

Although it's more compact than the original Instant Lab, it's still a bulky device. Plus, packs of the Polaroid's i-Type and 600 film are $16 for a eight-shot pack or $2 per picture. Still, printing later is more convenient than packing an analog Polaroid camera like the OneStep Plus, and there's less chance of wasted prints because you're using your phone's best photos.

Now playing: Watch this: Polaroid's OneStep+ is a solid app-connected analog camera...

Originally published Sept. 10, 5 a.m. PT.
Update, 7:22 a.m.: Adds correct pricing following an update from Polaroid.