Fujifilm instax SQUARE Link review
Written by Gordon Laing
The Fujifilm instax SQUARE Link is a portable photo printer that connects to your phone over Bluetooth, and prints any picture onto instax square paper. It’s available in Ash white or Midnight green, and in the video review below I’ll show you what it can do and where it fits in the range. If you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!
Announced in November 2022, the SQUARE Link on the right finally replaces the original SP-3 printer launched five years previously and seen here on the left. Both models share the same print engine, so if you feed them the same image with the same processing, the quality should be no different. The new model does however have a new app with different processing options, and this won’t work with the old printer.
The SQUARE Link is also a little smaller all-round, trades the angular lines of its predecessor for modern curves, and switches from Wifi to Bluetooth for easier wireless connectivity with your phone. Since the images are so small, there’s no speed benefit to Wifi for this kind of device, and in fact Bluetooth can be quicker thanks to an easier connection.
So all three instax formats now have their own Link printer with Bluetooth connectivity. From left to right we have the mini Link 2 costing around $100 or pounds, the latest SQUARE Link in the middle, again at $140 or £130, and the Link Wide on the right for around $150 or £140.
Each model has its own dedicated app, some with creative features you won’t find on the others, but the major difference between the three printers is their actual print size: instax Mini, instax SQUARE and instax WIDE. All three formats are the same height, but vary in width. Since each printer can only handle one instax format, choose yours carefully.
All three instax formats employ cartridges containing ten prints and everything needed to develop them, so there’s no inks or extras to worry about.
Fujifilm typically sells cartridges in twin packs, with instax SQUARE working out around 95 cents or 85 pence each. As you’d expect that’s roughly between the cost of Mini and Wide prints, but look out for bundles and deals which can make all three work out quite similar.
In terms of operation, the SQUARE Link is essentially the same as the Mini and Wide versions. Round the back are levers to open them up to load film cartridges, but no physical window or shot counter to indicate that anything’s inside, so be sure to check the app if you’re unsure. Note the older SP-3 featured a line of small lights to indicate how many prints were remaining at a glance.
All three Link printers employ built-in rechargeable batteries that last for about 100 shots or 10 packs and take about an hour and a half to recharge. Sadly, like so many portable electronics, there’s no way to fit a new battery pack – quick shout-out to the old SP-3 which allowed this – but in some good news, Fujifilm has at least switched to a USB-C charging port instead of the Micro USB ports on the SP-3 and previous Link models.
Again like the other Links, there’s one main button, the INSTAX logo itself which you push to switch-on, and which lights-up to indicate the status.
Of the three Link printers, the Mini 2 remains the only one with a light for AR painting in its app, but the SQUARE Link does at least get a button for making a reprint of the last image in its memory; once you switch the printer off though, the last image it printed is forgotten so if you want any more of them you’ll need to resend from the app.
And the phone app is now the only way you can print with the SQUARE Link. Unlike the previous models there’s no way to print directly from any X-series camera, not even the X-S10.
Weirdly Fujifilm still offers direct printing from many of its new cameras to older Wifi-equipped printers like the SP-3, but once they switched to Bluetooth printers, only one camera, the X-S10 included the ability to talk to them.
It worked with the Mini Link and was firmware-updated for the Link WIDE, but now even the trusty X-S10 won’t talk to the SQUARE Link. It’s bizarre how this capability has been neglected, but you can of course still transfer an image from any camera to your phone and print it.
Like the other Link printers, there’s a dedicated app just for this model, so once you’ve charged-up the unit and loaded a film cartridge, you’ll need to download the instax SQUARE Link app, available for iOS and Android; I tested the latter on my Galaxy S20 phone.
The first step is pairing your phone with the printer, a quick process, although if anyone else wants to use your printer, you’ll first need to unpair your phone before pairing theirs.
Once paired you can check the number of prints remaining in the cartridge, along with the printer’s battery charge. Before exploring the app though, a quick note on the Print mode.
Like other Link printers, the SQUARE now supports the INSTAX Rich mode which typically delivers more saturated colours and graduated tones; this wasn’t available on the original SP-3 and is now the default setting here, although you can opt for the Natural mode if you prefer the more stylised, dare I say starker look of classic INSTAX.
To see how they compare, here’s a photo I took of Brighton Pier with two prints made using the new SQUARE Link. The print on the left is using the Natural mode, while the one on the right is using Rich Mode. Since I prefer the Rich mode, and again it’s the default setting, I’ll use it for the rest of my prints here.
Ok the first thing to show you is the Simple Print option which lets you make a print of any image stored on your phone. For these demos I’m going to reuse a collection of images I’ve printed on previous reviews for easy comparison, starting with Brighton Pier. The app lets you resize, rotate and reposition the image within the printing frame using gesture controls or sliders, as well as overlaying stickers or text, applying various filter effects, adjusting the brightness, contrast and saturation, or an auto correction mode.
Once you’re read, tap print or swipe up and the image is sent to the printer. Roughly 20 seconds later the print emerges and gradually fades into view. It’s fully saturated after around two minutes, but during this time you can pop the print in a pocket or bag without worry. The printer also works at any angle or even handheld, making it perfect for events.
For the quickest workflow, the INSTAX Camera mode lets you take shots with your phone’s cameras within the printing app itself, again with the option to overlay various graphics or effects. As you begin to print more, you’ll notice the app showing the most recent images for reprinting if desired.
So far though, so similar to any existing INSTAX printer. What makes the SQUARE Link special are two new options, exclusive to this model. Let’s start with AR Print which lets you add augmented reality graphics to a print when it’s in front of a phone camera. I’ll demo this by adding a special effect to a couple of prints.
First choose the image, I’ll start with one of me, and you can then see the app previewing the kind of special effect that will track the photo later. There’s a bunch of options from cute graphics to animated text messages, but I like this Anime-style burst effect best, so after selecting it, the app will create a special QR code which you can reposition on the photo before printing.
Later when you show the print to a standard phone camera, it’ll scan the QR code, launch the app (which you’ll need to install if you haven’t already), and overlay the selected graphics as augmented reality. You can record or screengrab this for sharing if you like.
Here’s another example, this time a wedding style photo with a virtual Congratulations message and confetti. Once again the QR code is created and printed on the photo, after which scanning it on another phone will fire-up the app and track the chosen graphics onto it.
Here’s my two images if you’d like to scan either of their QR codes and give it a go, although obviously in person you’d be able to move the original photo around too. I think this is really fun and a nice surprise when handing a print to somebody.
The second new feature is INSTAX Connect which lets you overlay a short text message on an image of your choice which can then be sent to someone electronically before then allowing them to reply. Their message is then shown on the image and sent back to you which you can then print if you like as a memento or reminder. In fact you can even schedule reminders.
INSTAX Connect also limits the number of interactions. There’s up to ten reactions per creation, each with a 60 character limit, and each image can only be printed up to 20 times, downloaded up to 8 times, while the electronic side expires one month after creation. Think of them like an interactive electronic post-in note, perhaps to jog a memory or remind you of an upcoming event.
The fourth icon on the app is Editable Print which lets you create framed images or collages. There’s lots of frame options available, but I quite like this Autumnal one around this photo I took of the Moon, and like the other modes, you can resize and edit the original image as desired.
Meanwhile Collage lets you fill various templates with multiple images before printing – nothing ground-breaking, but still fun. And now for my final verdict.
Fujifilm instax SQUARE Link verdict
The instax SQUARE Link finally completes the Link series of Bluetooth instant printers. There’s now one for each of Fujifilm’s three instax formats, and while there are differences in each of their dedicated apps, I’d say the choice mostly boils down to whether you want to make mini, square or wide prints.
All three models will print any image on your phone, whether taken with the phone itself, copied from any camera, or simply downloaded.
If you’ve only used instant camera before, it’s a delight to print images from higher-end cameras with a variety of lenses and effects impossible with a phone or instant camera.
All three are also truly portable, working from any position, even handheld, and you don’t need to be gentle with the prints either, all making them perfect for events or parties.
Each of the instax Link printers has their own dedicated app with exclusive features and I enjoyed the QR-code based augmented reality options of the latest Square model, although I’m not sure I’d use the messaging mode much myself.
Ultimately, if you’re after a wireless printer for your phone, the biggest question is which of the formats and prices is right for you. If you’d like bigger, postcard size prints at a lower cost, consider Canon’s SELPHY CP-1500 which I’ve also reviewed, but be aware it is pickier about operation, while the battery to make it portable is an optional extra.
Since I’ve always been fond of the instax square format, I’m pleased to finally see an updated printer, especially since the earlier SP-3 has been discontinued and become hard to find. If it’s the right shape and prince for you, I can recommend it.Check prices on the instax SQUARE Link at Amazon, B&H or WEX UK. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!