Polaroid Originals OneStep+ camera review: Retro with modern mobile features

At one point in time, owning a personal camera meant carrying around a Polaroid. From the 1960s until the 1980s, these so-called instant cameras came in various styles and print sizes. By the early 21st century, however, the Polaroid Corporation was bankrupt as photo-taking moved from film to digital.

In the years that followed, Polaroid's intellectual property was divided up among various companies. Odd licensing agreements followed that led to the introduction of non-camera Polaroid products such as televisions. Back in 2017, a holding company for Polaroid, PLR IP was acquired by Polish investor Oskar Smolokowski. Soon after, the investor's Impossible company became Polaroid Originals, which is the maker of old-school Polaroid Film. Soon after, the first new Polaroid camera in a generation was revealed, the OneStep 2. A year later, the OneStep+ was born.

The Good

  • Just as you might have remembered it
  • App offers 21st-century enhancements
  • There's nothing like a Polaroid

The Bad

  • The film is still expensive
  • Can't print images stored elsewhere like other instant cameras

The real Polaroid returns

What is the Polaroid Originals OneStep+?

Polaroid OneStep+ with film

The OneStep+ is the first Polaroid Originals camera that uses Bluetooth wireless technology that allows it to be paired with the official Polaroid Originals app. In doing so, it enables you to use six new features, including a remote trigger, double exposure, light painting, self-timer, manual mode, and noise trigger. The OneStep+ is also noted for offering a portrait lens with a minimum focusing distance of 89mm for the first time. (The traditional lens provides distance up to 103 mm.)

The OneStep+ also includes a high-capacity battery that's recharged through a micro USB adapter, a built-in flash, and a viewfinder.

Aren't there other Polaroid cameras? Because of licensing agreements, there are other Polaroid-labeled cameras on the market, including the Polaroid Snap, Polaroid Snap Touch, Polaroid Pop, among others. These products use Zink Paper for prints, not the traditional Polaroid film as the OneStep+. If you're looking for the real Polaroid experience, you need to buy the OneStep+ or OneStep 2.

New + Old

Polaroid Originals OneStep+: What I like

polaroid sample

One of the first things I noticed about the OneStep+ is just how similar it looks to previous generation OneStep models, including the 2017 OneStep 2. From the built-in viewfinder to the iconic red shutter button, it's all there. And yes, the film takes a few minutes to develop once it comes out of the device -- just like you would expect from a Polaroid camera. Beyond this, I was impressed with the added physical features, including the new portrait lens that works as intended.

Because this is the OneStep Plus and not the OneStep 2, I was most interested in trying out the tools that work with the free Polaroid Originals app for iOS and Android devices. These include the ability to snap images using the camera from your mobile phone. For example, thanks to the app, you can establish a self-timer for snaps. There's also a remote trigger that's ideal for group shots. A unique noise trigger allows you to have the camera automatically take a photo when the volume in the room increases.

Other bonus features include the option to capture two photos in a single frame, and turning a light source into a virtual paintbrush, thereby drawing pictures in the air and catching them inside a picture frame. The OneStep+ also includes a manual mode that lets you take full control over its aperture, shutter speed, flash intensity, and photo ejection.

I have tested all of these features using the Polaroid Original app. For the most part, I was impressed with how the tools slightly altered prints. However, some may view the features as gimmicks, especially Polaroid traditionalists.

Expensive habit

Polaroid Originals OneStep+: What I don't like

color film polaroid

One of the things I like the most about the Polaroid Snap Touch is being able to print images found on my iPhone with the camera. Unfortunately, this feature isn't available on the OneStep+. Also missing on the OneStep+ is being able to save prints to a microSD card; again, as you can do with other Polaroid cameras. The only way to add prints from the Polaroid OneStep+ to your mobile device is to use the Polaroid Originals app to scan physical images. If this sounds a little bit clunky, you'd be correct.

There's also the issue of the price of Polaroid Film. It's very expensive, just as it was many years ago. Eight prints (yes, just eight) can set you back around $15. Hopefully, the price of the film comes down with time. Otherwise, it may price out users who would like to learn more about what Polaroid Originals has to offer.

A nice return

Polaroid Originals OneStep+: Bottom line

Polaroid cameras never took perfect pictures. Instead, they offered a way to capture a moment instantly. The OneStep+ does this and more thanks to its new Bluetooth capabilities.

If you want to go retro with your picture-taking and want some mobile features thrown in, I strongly recommend the OneStep+. If the mobile tools don't interest you, the slightly less expensive OneStep 2 is basically the same camera but without the app and new portrait mode.

Have any questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about the Polaroid OneStep+ or instant cameras in general, let us know below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

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.