The Polaroid Go is a tiny retro instant camera for your hot vax summer – here’s what it’s like to use

The Polaroid Go
The Polaroid Go is a mini version of the classic retro camera.

  • Polaroid Go is a teeny version of the classic Polaroid instant camera.
  • The $100 device takes pictures that develop in 10 minutes, and nearly fits in your pocket.
  • The device is charming – but expect lo-fi shots with a blurry aesthetic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Polaroid Go might be the most fun gadget to come out this summer.

While Apple, Samsung, and Huawei duke it out on smartphone cameras by putting increasingly professional software and hardware onto smaller devices, the regenerated Polaroid wants to appeal to the analog-lovers.

To that end, the company has unveiled the $99.99 Polaroid Go, a teeny-tiny instant camera to capture the much-predicted hot vax summer. Like the original Polaroid, this is a device with minimal functionality beyond taking a simple snap and printing it out instantly. The focus here is on spontaneity rather than carefully planned shots for the ‘gram.

The new generation of Polaroid cameras don’t come from the original Polaroid Corporation, but a Dutch venture that scooped up its IP and manufacturing equipment in 2017.

Here’s what the Polaroid Go was like to use:

It’s an instant camera in the classic style

The Polaroid Go
The Polaroid Go.

There are very few bells and whistles on this small, boxy device. Its body is made of plastic, giving the Polaroid Go a retro, toy-like rather than premium feel – but that all adds to the sense that this is a device for play. One advantage of the plastic build is that the Go is relatively hardy – we dropped it on a London pavement by accident, and there was no visible damage.

There are few settings and buttons on the camera itself. There’s a viewfinder, a power button, a large red shutter button, a flash button, and a release button to open the film drawer. There’s also a handy, tiny screen to show you whether the flash is on and how many shots you have left.

Polaroid Go, front view
The Polaroid Go boasts a photo tray and viewfinder mirror on its front.

The Go is intended to be easily portable and could fit into a large coat pocket or a handbag. It measures 105 x 84 x 61mm (4.1in x 3.3in x 2.4in), so it’s more compact than the earlier-generation Polaroid Now. It weighs 242 grams, about double the weight of the regular-sized iPhone 12.

There’s a rechargeable battery

You can charge the Polaroid Go’s rechargeable battery through its microUSB port. The firm claims the Go’s battery life is an improvement on prior models, and that it lasts for about 15 packs of film (each pack allows for eight instant photos, and you get two packs in a box.) We ran through two packs of film after trialling the device for several weeks, and only charged up the camera once.

It costs $99.99, pricier than some competitors

The Polaroid Go
At $99.99, the camera comes in at a higher price point to some of its competitors.

The Polaroid Go comes in at $99.99, or £109 in the UK. That compares to $99.95 for the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40, a larger retro-style instant camera, and the $69.99 Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, a more direct rival to the Polaroid Go.

It’s pretty easy to use

The Polaroid Go
Autofocus helps make the Polaroid Go easy to use.

The camera’s autofocus and comparative lack of features mean the device is pretty easy to pick up and start snapping with.

It is worth getting to know the settings to improve your shots, however. The flash is automatic, and double pressing the flash button gives you double exposure shots – though if you’re holding the device in your hands as we were, this will probably result in blurry snaps.

You can manually turn off the flash, and holding it down activates a self-timer mode for group selfies.

The instant film creates tiny, cute photos…

The Polaroid Go
A look at the Go’s film.

Adding to the Go’s cuteness is the size of its film, measuring 67mm x 54mm and a picture area of 47mm x 46mm. The film cartridge is easy to insert into a drawer at the bottom of the camera, and as with other instant cameras, the Go ejects your shot from a front slot.

The format has been developed specifically for the Go, and is partly how the company shrank the camera to its pocket size.

“We had to be clever about shrinking everything outside – the way the light comes in and bounces off the mirror. Because of the way the film works, that mirror is key,” Oskar Smołokowski, CEO of Polaroid BV told Insider. “There’s been advancements in terms of the ranging sensor. It’s very small, very flat, we leveraged some of the technology that’s been developed for smartphones … people don’t realize how integrated the system is, how dependent on each other the film and camera are.”

Photos need around 10-15 minutes to develop and to be kept carefully in a dark place. The delicacy of the film means this isn’t ideal if you’re using the camera while out and about with friends.

…but the film is pricey

The Polaroid Go
A Polaroid Go film cartridge, which allows 8 shots.

One of the major drawbacks of the Go is how much the film costs. A set of two cartridges, allowing 16 shots, will set you back $20, or £19 in the UK. We found a 20-shot Fujifilm pack for closer to $15, meaning that overall a Fujifilm device and film will set you back less.

You also can’t return the film packs to Polaroid for recycling – though the company does give some tips about disassembling and recycling the materials.

Here’s what the photos are like

Polaroid Go photos
Photos from the Polaroid Go.

While the Polaroid Go is simple to use out of the box, actually trying to get decent shots by trial and error is difficult and, with film packs at $20 a pop, quite expensive.

Polaroid Go photos
The Polaroid Go captures detail fairly impressively.

We’d recommend a brief read of the user manual, which contains useful tips like standing at least half a meter away from your subject, half-pressing the shutter button to lock the focus and flash, and to leave your photo under its dark film for five seconds once it’s ejected.

A Polaroid Go snapshot.
The camera’s photos deliver on a lo-fi aesthetic.

Photos emerge with a washed out, lo-fi aesthetic, and the square shape. This is part of the charm of the instant camera, but it’ll be anathema to anyone thinking they’ll get smartphone-quality shots, so set your expectations accordingly. The smaller format is joyous, and perfect for dotting around your work desk, sticking on surfaces, or giving to people.

Verdict

A Polaroid Go snapshot.
The Polaroid Go shots are great to hand out to friends.

Everything about this camera is fun, and the fact it’s a cute accessory is obviously intended to be part of its appeal. Though retro in aesthetic, pulling it out to snap friends still feels more novel and more spontaneous than taking shots on your phone. That the photos only exist physically rather than digitally is also compelling when everything is documented online.

On the flip side, the camera does mostly feel like a toy – one that’s expensive to keep topping up with film. This is a much more compelling buy for anyone who loves the camera’s portability, the way it looks, and the rebooted Polaroid brand.

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