People are always asking me “Where are Apple’s portable printers?” or “I want a movable battery printer which I can use with my Apple devices (iPad, iPhone or MacBook Pro)”. This magical article is going to tell you everything you need to know about portable Apple printers, clear up some misconceptions and offer a few useful product solutions. I’ve spent four years writing about this type of mobile printer so trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about!
Does apple make portable printers?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is “no, but… you can still find compatible Apple portable printers”. If you’re looking for a device which Apple makes itself then no – they do not currently have any of their own products. This will definitely change within two years I’d estimate (demand is growing) – but at the moment the only manufacturers of this type of product are Canon, HP and Brother. There are a few more less well known brands with their own devices but they’re not particularly good so I’m not going to mention them on this post.
How can I print from Apple devices?
You basically need three things:
- An iPad, iPhone or MacBook Pro (if they can make their own WiFi point that’s very useful!).
- An up-to-date WiFi-enabled portable printer.
- A suitable printing application.
You need your Apple device to send the information, the WiFi network to carry the information (usually by AirPrint or sometimes by ePrint), the printer to… print… and the printer app to allow non-AirPrint printers to still use AirPrint just like the regular pre-installed devices can.
Having an Apple device which can create its own WiFi hot spot is a massive advantage – most people can utilize this function so it’s very very useful. You cannot (yet) just use a usb cable to plug on device to the other to print from.
If you’re interested in how this Apple printing app works with mobile printers then I recommend you read the page I just linked to at the start of this sentence.
What are my options for printing from Apple’s iPad, iPhone or MacBook Pro?
You essentially have two actually useful options – HP’s option and Canon’s option. I’ll go over both of them but ultimately I do think that Canon’s product is the best. It’s not just the best for Apple’s iPad, iPhone or MacBook Pro it’s the best device in general – that’s why it’s on the top sidebar of almost every single page on this website.
This baby is a winner. It excels at almost every aspect a printer should excel at, but at this point I’ll do a direct comparison to the OJ 100 (which is just below).
The iP100 has double the resolution (dots per inch), it’s 50 dollars cheap, it’s more reliable, it’s smaller, it weighs less and it looks cooler too.
It’s cheaper, better and more reliable. There are more Amazon reviews (which you can see here) which implies it’s more popular and these reviews are much more highly rated too. It wins on all counts.
Now I just want to say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the OfficeJet 100 from a completely objective point of view. It’s a great product. But no one cares about objectivity – this isn’t philosophy. What you (and me) and everyone else cares about is how this Apple capable printer squares up against other Apple capable printers.
You want to pick the choice which is the best. If that’s what you want then I wouldn’t pick the HP OJ 100 – because even though it’s a great modern printer, it’s just not as great and not as modern as its competition. A solid piece of equipment but still number two. Cream, but not clotted cream. Cake, but not chocolate cake. A Thai girl, but not a Japanese girl… but I digress.
Which portable printer’s don’t work with Apple’s devices… and why?
There are two types of portable printers which don’t work with Apple’s iPhone or iPad and they’re the ones which use either Bluetooth of manual cable (usb) attachments. The iPhone and iPad print via AirPrint and ePrint. AirPrint and ePrint both must have WiFi. So any device without WiFi is therefore incompatible with Apple.
This is a massive let down because there are lots of useful printers which only use Bluetooth. In fact the smallest battery printers always have only Bluetooth. This is because their small size sacrifices functionality such as color printing but it makes them ultra portable. Such is the case that their only real use is where there are unlikely to be any WiFi signals and so any kind of internal or external WiFi adapters were not included.
I am of course talking about printers such as the PJ 6 Plus with Bluetooth which is the smallest portable printer ever made. Some day there will be a small product. Not today. Unfortunately the PocketJet 6 Plus with Bluetooth requires either Bluetooth or USB cables for data transfer – not WiFi. This means it’s not compatible with the iPad or iPhone. It’s a real shame because Apple’s mobile products are so portable and small so it would have been nice to marry them with equally tiny printers. Oh well. I’ll get over it.
If you want to put an Apple printer in your car
One very interesting solution I saw was simply buying an ePrint or AirPrint computer and putting it in your car. That might sound crazy but since you can create a WiFi hot spot at the touch of a button then it’s actually far less crazy. If your Apple device cannot create a hot spot then you can get standalone WiFi routers for your car. These don’t need a computer to work although they do need a computer to make sure that they’re set up correctly.
This is a much cheaper way of doing things because you can get an AirPrint-enabled printer for around 50-80 dollars. The router might cost another 50 dollars – but it’s still perhaps around 1/3rd of the total price. For the two products I mentioned above their prices on Amazon are 200 dollars for the iP100 and 250 for the OJ 100. But these prices don’t include the battery and WiFi adapter. The battery costs 100 dollars and the WiFi adapter 50 dollars (if you get a Bluetooth adapter that’s another 50 bucks). Ultimately you can spend 400 for a mobile printer or about 120 for a router and AitPrint printer.
You also need to factor in that the regular AirPrint printer won’t need a printing app to be purchased – and this saves both time and the hassle of getting everything purchased and installed correctly. It’ll also have similar if not superior specifications.
It might sound crazy but I have seen a video on YouTube of a man who’s done exactly as I’ve explained so you can look him up if you need to.