When was the last time you actually printed one of your photos and had it framed? If you’re anything like us, it’s been years – which is why digital photo frames are becoming a popular way to put your smartphone snaps on show.
Some let you upload photos from the cloud, while others are simpler and use USB sticks or SD cards to move files over. Either way, they’re a great way to get your photos off Instagram and up on your walls.
Dedicated digital photo frames have since been joined by smart displays from Google and Amazon that show off your photos but do a lot more besides – here are the best of both.
The 9.7in Smart Photo Frame is Nixplay’s best digital photo frame yet, finally pairing excellent display quality with software smarts.
No, it doesn’t do as much as a Google or Amazon smart display – and yes, it costs more than those despite that fact. But it’s simpler to use than either once you’ve got past initial setup, and on the 2K 9.7in model the display quality is unmatched for showing off your holiday snaps.
Just note that the larger models use lower resolution screens, so there will be a drop in quality as you move up sizes. The FHD 13.3in and 15.6in models should still make your photos look pretty good, but we’d steer clear of the lower resolution 10.1in variant – it’s cheaper, but you likely lose too much quality for that price.
The Aura Carver has a large, 10.1 inch display and 1,920 x 1,200 screen resolution, showing photos in crisp detail. If you usually view your pictures on your phone camera, you’ll enjoy seeing your best shots scaled up.
You can add an unlimited number of pictures and there are no subscription or storage fees. You can also invite friends or family members to send photos directly to your frame, in a simple and nearly instantaneous process. There’s unfortunately no option to automatically sync with social media accounts.
The Carver is a landscape format frame and portrait pictures will be displayed either centred with a black bar on either side, or ‘intelligently paired’ via an algorithm. The latter can be a bit hit and miss but it throws up some interesting combinations.
Our only reservation is security: you have to allow Aura access to your phone pictures and once sent to your frame, they’ll be stored on company servers.
The Google Nest Hub Max is the best smart display we’ve tested to date.
It brings along a larger, more useful display as well as a camera which is far more useful than simply making video calls. It can recognise different users, be used as a security camera and supports gestures for playback.
Futhermore, the audio performance is excellent so well worth the upgrade if you want to listen to music. The JBL Link View has better audio but we prefer the Max as an all-round device.
It’s a lot more expensive than the 8-inch Echo Show smart display, which you’ll find below, but if you’re looking for a device to primarily use for photos then the Echo Show 10 largely justifies its cost with the larger display and the unusual ability of the screen to rotate to follow you around the room.
It sounds a bit gimmicky, but it means that in larger rooms or kitchens your photo display will always point your way, giving it a versatility that none of the other displays on this list can match.
Beyond showing off your snaps it’s obviously a useful feature for video calls too, as the camera can track you, and you can also use its ability to rotate to keep an eye on your room when you’re away, swiping the screen of your phone to turn the camera remotely.
Other than that, the experience is much like its predecessors and the smaller-screened versions, though audio has been improved substantially too. We’d be open to an even larger screen, but for most photos it’s big enough.
The second generation of Amazon’s Echo Show 8 has been upgraded with improved audio and the ability to pan and zoom the camera during video calls (though not rotate the actual screen, as in the Show 10), but more importantly this model offers a great balance of features, screen size, and sound quality.
And at this price, you’ll be impressed by how much you get for your money. The 8in display is large enough to make the most of your holiday photos, and display quality is great.
Alexa is just as capable here as she is on the most expensive Echo Show 10, able to show the video feed from compatible cameras, show you lyrics for many songs from Amazon Music, and more.
The second-generation version of the Google Nest Hub is a solid step forward from the original model with a few extra features.
From a photo display perspective things are essentially the same: a 7in HD touchscreen that can adjust its brightness and colour to suit ambient lighting. The Google Assistant is built in, along with Google Photos support to display your best shots.
Beyond photos, you get YouTube support to watch videos, and Thread support to make this a great smart home hub.
It also includes a new sleep tracking feature (using Google’s Soli radar, not a camera) and a light alarm function, making this a great option for a bedroom photo frame with smart support.
The Classic 10 is a decent, budget-friendly digital photo frame. It has 16GB of photo and video storage, which is apparently enough to hold 40,000 photos at 30KBs each.
You can upload photos via email or FTP. The screen also has a USB port and an SD slot, but photos can only be played, not uploaded, from these removable devices. Other people can also email pics straight to your frame, although the process could be faster and more user-friendly.
Also on the minus side, the screen resolution is only barely HD and the frame design is generic.
The big plus is that there are no subscription or storage fees associated with this frame and if you’re concerned about security, you can keep everything offline.