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Impossible's Instant Lab printer now works with almost any smartphone

Nick Summers, @nisummers
February 19, 2015
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As the saying goes, the best camera is the one that's with you. For most of us that's a smartphone, so the traditions of printing and sharing physical photos have slowly fallen by the wayside. To bridge the growing analog-digital divide, Polaroid experts The Impossible Project (TIP) crowdfunded an instant photo printing kit back in 2012. The idea was simple: you took your smartphone, opened a photo and placed it face down at the top of the machine. The light from the display would then shine through the Instant Lab's underlying lens and down the tower to expose the Polaroid film, creating a new print.

The cradle where you would place your smartphone was designed for smaller iOS devices, such as the iPhone 4/4S/5/5S/5C. Android handsets weren't supported and since then, Apple has launched its larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. Over time, the smartphone upgrade cycle has made the device an increasingly niche proposition. A refresh is long overdue and today, TIP is responding with a new 'Instant Lab Universal' kit, which comes with a revamped cradle and wider device compatibility. The new version accommodates almost all iOS devices and flagship Android hardware from Samsung, HTC, Sony and Google's Nexus lineup. TIP has a list of handsets it says have been "fully tested," but notes that most Android smartphones with high-resolution displays should be compatible.

Gallery: Instant Lab Universal | 3 Photos

The new cradle is made up of three parts: a "universal" mount for Android and recent iOS devices, a secondary adapter for keeping Apple's older iPhones and iPods locked in place, and a protective cover to keep the underlying lens dust and dirt-free. As before, you'll need to use the Impossible app to import your favorite photos and start printing. There are six different presets to choose from, which alter the length of the exposure and the brightness of your smartphone's display to suit Impossible or third-party Polaroid film.

Little has changed from the original Instant Lab, but the novelty of making Polaroids is still as strong as ever. If you own the first version, you can pick up the new cradle for $36/€30/£21.50, while the complete Instant Lab Universal costs $249/€199/£159.

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