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Polaroid OneStep+ vs. Pop: Which camera should you buy?

polaroid onestep+ vs pop
polaroid onestep+ vs pop (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

The Polaroid OneStep+ and Polaroid Pop represent two different takes on how an iconic brand from the 1970s and 1980s can get back on track in the 21st century. Where you stand on authenticity and how many modern features you want will likely determine which camera is best for your household.

Polaroid OneStep+ vs. Pop: Nostalgic digital camera showdown

Before digital cameras — and then mobile devices — became the rage, the world was in love with instant cameras. And if you owned one of these, it was almost certainly a Polaroid. These cameras were unique because they used square format integral film, which contained everything you needed to produce and develop an image in virtually realtime, including the negative, developer, fixer, and more. This concept remains mostly intact on the next-generation OneStep cameras such as the 2017 OneStep 2 and 2018 OneStep+.

The Polaroid Pop, like many others, also produces instant photos. In this case, however, it uses the newer Zink technology, which consists of heat-sensitive layers with cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes in colorless form.

Polaroid OneStep+Polaroid Pop
Dimensions5.9 × 4.3 × 3.8 in6 x 4 x 1 in
DesignTraditional Polaroid cameraBulky, thick, rounded square
Battery1100mAhBulky, thick, rounded square
PowerRechargeable via USBRechargeable via micro USB
Connects to phoneYes via Wi-FiYes via Wi-Fi
Compatible phone appYesYes
Digital copiesTechnically, noYes (microSD up to 128GB)
Review pictures before printing?NoYes
Video recordingNoYes, 1080p/720p HD
Touch screenNoYes
Built-in photo editingNoYes
FlashYesYes
Self-timerYesYes
Manual lighting adjustmentsYesYes
Close-up shotsYes, with Portrait ModeYes, digital zoom
PrintsPolaroid 4.2x3.5" inch filmPolaroid 3.5x4.25" inch Premium ZINK paper

If you're looking for the Polaroid camera with the most features, the Polaroid Pop is the camera for you. However, the choice shouldn't be that simple.

Yes, the Polaroid Pop allows you to store images both on the camera and on microSD cards. And yes, it also offers video recording and the ability to create GIFs. However, smartphones can do this too, and in most cases, are much better at it than the Polaroid Pop. The most significant benefit of owning a Polaroid Pop is its ability to print photos that are stored on your mobile device. However, the 3.5-by-4.25-inch Zink paper only provides low-resolution prints, at best.

The Polaroid Pop isn't better because it provides more features — you can do a lot of the same things better on mobile devices.

By contrast, the less expensive Polaroid OneStep+ is meant to allow folks to take imperfect, iconic Polaroids that capture a moment in the quickest time possible. It also offers a limited number of advanced features through the Polaroid app, including a remote trigger, double exposure, light painting, self-timer, manual mode, and noise trigger. The OneStep+ also offers a portrait lens with a minimum focusing distance of 89mm for the first time (the lens on traditional Polaroid cameras provided distance up to 103 mm only).

Polaroid OneStep+ vs. Pop: Which one is right for you?

If you're looking to buy an instant camera (as opposed to a digital camera), go with the closest thing to the original, in this case, the Polaroid OneStep+. Yes, the film for this camera is a little bit more expensive, but we believe it offers better prints than Zink Paper, so it's worth the premium price. The Polaroid Pop isn't better because it provides more features — you can do a lot of the same things better on mobile devices, including video recording and the post-processing of photos.

Bryan M Wolfe
Bryan M Wolfe

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.