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 a great way to make the most of your pictures. Instead of your best shots and your happiest memories languishing on your phone or in the cloud, they can be displayed in HD on your bookshelf or bedside table.
Not only can you curate your pictures but you can share your frame details so your friends and family can send you snaps directly.
Another reason to buy is aesthetic appeal: they don’t have as many features as a smart display from Amazon or Google, but in most cases, they are much more attractive, styled like classic photo frames rather than functional screens.
Some frames allow you to upload photos from the cloud, your phone or your socials, while others are simpler and use USB sticks or SD cards to move files over. We explain in our reviews how each one works and how easy it is to use. We’ll also give you a full rundown of the pros and cons of each, so you can pick the one that’s best for you.
Best digital photo frame reviews
1. Aura Carver – Best Design
- Simple, minimalist design
- Full HD resolution
- Only designed for landscape
- Need to upload photos to Aura server
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.
Read our full
Review Aura Carver
2. Nixplay Smart – Best Gift Option
- Simple to use
- App & remote control
- Can be expensive
- Low resolution on some sizes
Nixplay’s Smart Photo Frames are well designed and come in a number of sizes. They’re user friendly as well, with the option to control the screen via the included remote or the app (as a remote).
Plus, you can easily add photos from your Google Photos, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Dropbox, or Verizon Cloud accounts. And you can store up to 8GB of pictures on the frame itself.
No, they don’t do as much as a Google or Amazon smart display – and yes, they cost more than those despite that fact. But they’re simpler to use than either once you’ve got past initial setup, and on the 2K 9.7in model the display quality is unmatched.
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.
Read our full
Review Nixplay Smart Photo Frame
3. Nixplay Touch 10.1 – Best Touchscreen
- Touchscreen controls
- Easy to use & organise photos
- Flimsy stand
- Low resolution
- No remote
The Nixplay Touch is an updated Nixplay frame that, you guessed it, has a touchscreen.
That means Nixplay has done away with the remote entirely – which you may see as either a good or bad thing – and instead you’ll have to use the touch controls and accompanying app to manage the screen.
It’s a great idea in principle, but there are drawbacks. The stand is a little flimsy, and with regular poking and prodding it’s only a matter of time before you knock the frame over unless you opt for wall-mounting.
The Touch version is also only available in the 10.1in model, at which size the 1280 x 800 resolution does feel a little lacking.
This is still a great photo frame all-round, but go in with those caveats in mind.
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Review Nixplay 10.1 inch Touch Screen smart frame
4. Dragon Touch Classic 10 – Best for Basics
- Cheap & cheerful
- No extra fees
- Generic design
- Low resolution
- Clunky to use
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.
Read our full
Review Dragon Touch Classic 10
5. Netgear Meural Canvas II – Best for Art
- Massive 20+in display
- Displays artworks & photos
- Hugely expensive
- Wi-Fi problems
- Bad gesture controls
The Meural Canvas II is a little different to the other frames on this list. It’s larger, with a choice between 21.5in and 27in displays, and is correspondingly more expensive.
If you buy the frame on its own you can use it to display your own photos or choose from a small selection of free artworks, but for $8.95 per month you can access more than 30,000 other paintings and photographs to show off from your wall.
The problem is that between the high price of the frame and the ongoing subscription you’ll have to pay a lot and keep on paying – which would be more forgivable if it weren’t for intermittent Wi-Fi problems and some dodgy gesture controls.
If you can afford the price then the software frustrations are worth putting up with, but for most of us that will be harder to justify.
Read our full
Review Netgear Meural Canvas II
Digital photo frame buying advice
As with any tech, not all digital photo frames are created equal, and there’s a bit of variation in what features you can expect. Here’s what to look out for.
The first thing to check is how the frame accesses and stores photos. Older or cheaper frames tend to rely on physical storage, with ports for USB sticks or SD cards, which it plays the photos from. Make sure to check if the frame has its own internal storage to transfer the photos to, or if you’ll need to leave the USB stick or SD card connected to access your images.
More recent frames often have Wi-Fi support, which means they can access images directly from the cloud. That might mean emailing photos directly to your frame, or (more conveniently) linking your account up to your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google Photos, or similar to play images directly from those accounts. You’ll also want to check if you can manage those services through a dedicated smartphone app, or if you’re limited to a web interface or the frame itself.
If you’re already adding your photos to social media or cloud storage accounts anyway, this means you can add them to your photo frame at the same time, making it pretty painless to keep it updated with your latest snaps. Just make sure that you don’t accidentally send something to the frame that you’d rather keep private…
The best digital photo frames may include an activity sensor, which detects whether anyone is in the room, only turning on when there’s someone around, which is a great way of saving power. Just bear in mind that if you have pets roaming the house, they may be enough to trigger the sensor, turning the frame on unnecessarily.
The other option is to set a sleep timer, telling your frame to automatically turn off and on at certain times of day – off when you go to bed or leave for the office, on for when you wake up or come home at the end of the day.
Some frames will include both options, allowing you to combine them to really make sure the frame is only on when you want it to be.
One last note: set your expectations accordingly when it comes to display quality. Even though they’re essentially just screens with photo storage, screen quality is only slowly becoming a priority across the digital photo frame market.
Look out for screens that are at least Full HD (as some still aren’t that) and even better 2K, although these are few and far between. And don’t expect to see 4K yet. Note that the lower resolution screens will typically have fewer pixels than your phone, and in turn lower resolution than your photos were taken at.
Still, for most people that won’t be a problem, and the displays tend to be bright and crisp enough to make photos look good, with decent viewing angles so you can enjoy photos from across the room. Still, it might frustrate serious photographers hoping to see their photos at their absolute best.