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7 best digital photo frames: A smarter way to display your snaps

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·12 min read
In this article:
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We’ve considered resolution and  nifty functions like remote sharing and streaming, as well as how it looks, of course  (The Independent)
We’ve considered resolution and nifty functions like remote sharing and streaming, as well as how it looks, of course (The Independent)

Most of us have cameras and phones packed with thousands of snaps that rarely see the light of day yet eat up precious memory space, so it’s no surprise we’re constantly searching for ways to store our photos. But what about actually displaying our pics? A survey by Amárach Research shows that less than half of us actually print any of our photos to, you know, look at. Enter digital photo frames…

These displays look a lot like your traditional photo frame, but have a nifty screen built in, which flicks through your images, displaying them in all their glory. You can either select photos from your digital devices – normally via an app on your phone – or use a USB or SD memory card.

Something worth noting is the digital frames without USB or SD memory card slots tend to use cloud-based software to store your photos. So it’s a good idea to check you’re happy with the privacy on these clouds, and that you have adequate storage space for the photos you want to display.

Many digital photo frames now offer friends and family the ability to ping their photos to your frame, too. This is a lovely feature if you want to share photos with loved ones – who you trust, of course (there’ll always be one prankster).

Regarding image quality, the screen’s resolution is the best thing to look at. The higher the number of pixels per inch (ppi), the better the screen will be at displaying images. Of course, it relies on the images being of good quality, too – uncompressed images will always look better, whereas images saved from social media are often compressed and so can look a bit grainy.

How we tested

We spent more than a month trialling digital photo frames in our house. We looked at how large the screens were, how good our photos appeared on the displays, and how nice the frames looked on our shelves, of course. Extra functionality was a bonus, as was the ability to auto rotate and size our images to suit the frame. Here’s how they fared.

Read more:

The best digital photo frames for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Aura mason digital photo frame: £189, Auraframes.co.uk

  • Best for bedside table – Amazon echo show 5: £74.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best budget buy – Hyjoy wifi digital picture frame: £89.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for privacy concerns – Nixplay digital photo frame: £79.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for customising display – Nixplay touch screen smart photo frame: £139.99, Nixplay.co.uk

  • Best multifunctional screen – Amazon echo show 15: £239.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for on the go – Facebook portal go: £199, Facebook.com

Aura mason digital photo frame

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Screen size: 9in

  • Resolution: 1,600 x 1,200ppi

  • Orientation: Landscape or portrait

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Other functions: Like photos, remote sharing

We can’t rate this Aura mason highly enough. It’s sleek and smart, and looks like a good-quality photo frame. The stand is built into the back of the frame, which was great for saving space on shelves.

Once plugged in, it’s easy to set up via the very user-friendly app, and then you can start adding photos via the app. You can also share this app with friends and family, so they can add photos too. This makes the Aura mason a really lovely gift – perhaps for grandparents and loved ones who live far away. Talking of which, this frame comes with a gifting function, so you can have it all set up and ready to go with photos, without having to unbox everything first.

Yes, this frame is a bigger ticket item but it’s a quality one. The photos are backlit, which made both the frame and photos really stand out on our shelves. Visitors to the house always remarked on the frame and how brilliant (in the truest sense of the word) the photos looked.

The digital frame seemed to take even not-great photos (we have more than a handful of those…) and make them look amazing. Oh, and it also has unlimited photo storage – and who doesn’t want that?

Buy now £189.00, Auraframes.co.uk

Amazon echo show 5

Best: For bedside tables

Rating: 8/10

  • Screen size: 5.5in

  • Resolution: 960 x 48ppi

  • Orientation: Landscape

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Other functions: Alexa skills, camera, streaming

This second-generation Echo show was released in 2021 and has plenty of features that will blow your mind. But we’re here to look at the digital photo frame aspect mainly, so let’s focus on that.

This frame was quick and easy to set up, thanks to the touchscreen that guides you through. During set-up you can choose what background display you want, and it’s here you want to select ‘Amazon album’. You can then add photos to your album via the app, which will rotate in the display at random.

At 5.5in, the screen on this frame isn’t the biggest (about the size of an iPhone’s), and as most of our photos are taken in landscape (thanks to the aforementioned iPhone), this made the photos pretty small. That said, the resolution is decent, helping to make pics pop on the screen. Cleverly, it autoflips your photos, so you don’t have to crane your neck to see them properly.

We really loved this frame as a bedside option. Not only because it doesn’t take up much space, but it does lots of useful tasks, such as telling you the weather, waking you with the sunrise alarm clock, showing you your schedule and playing music. Hey, you can even watch streaming services on it. This is all very handy to have right there when you wake up, or for flicking through your favourite images at bedtime.

Buy now £74.99, Amazon.co.uk

Hyjoy wifi digital picture frame

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 8in

  • Resolution: 1,280 x 800ppi

  • Orientation: Portrait or landscape

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Extra functions: Photo editing in the app, remote photo sharing

If you’re looking for a mid-range digital picture frame, this could be the one for you. It has an impressive-for-the-price 8in screen, with a very decent resolution – all our photos looked sharp and vibrant on there.

Set-up was easy, thanks to the touchscreen, which although not as sharply responsive as some of the others, got the job done in a matter of minutes. You can then share the frame’s unique code with friends and family. If they download the app, they can send photos to you – an alert on the frame lets you know when new snaps have been added.

From the app you can also select the order in which photos are displayed, the zoom and crop, and captions on the photos. We liked that the frame also showed the time and weather in the corner.

The built-in memory can store up to 8GB of photos and videos, which was more than enough for us. You can also set the frame to turn on and off at times throughout the day, so it’s not wasting valuable energy.

Buy now £89.99, Amazon.co.uk

Nixplay digital photo frame

Best: For those with privacy concerns

Rating: 8/10

  • Screen size: 10.1in

  • Resolution: 1,280 x 800ppi

  • Orientation: Portrait or landscape

  • Wifi: No

  • Extra functions: Motion sensor, video display with sound

This Nixplay is a bit more low-fi than some of the others in this round-up, making it ridiculously easy to set up – plug in, tap the remote and plug in a USB stick or SD card, and you’re off. This makes it perfect for those who are a bit nervous about using cloud-based storage or an app to store photos, and also means you’re not limited in storage space either.

The HD screen is a generous size and the resolution is more than decent – our photos looked fantastic in it. The frame also displays the time and date in the corner, which we liked.

Some other nice touches to this frame are that you can wall mount it and it autorotates your photos. Plus, the remote sticks magnetically to the back of the frame, so you don’t have yet another remote around the house that you haven’t the foggiest what it’s for. It’s these little thoughtful things that make a big difference.

Buy now £79.99, Amazon.co.uk

Nixplay 10.1-inch touch screen smart photo frame

Best: For customising your display

  • Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 10.1in

  • Resolution: 1,280 x 800ppi

  • Orientation: Portrait or landscape

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Extra functions: Motion sensor, energy-saving mode

This clever HD smart photo frame has clearly been well thought out, enabling you to beam in photos from the app, but also from social media and Dropbox, making it easier to collate images from lots of different sources.

The frame itself is gorgeous – it comes in wood and black finishes, both of which feel very premium. The colour and clarity of our photos was excellent on the screen, and one of the best we tried in this round-up.

We also loved the level of control this frame and its app gave us. We changed the way photos transition to one another, how often they change and if it displays a caption or not.

This clever frame comes with a motion sensor, which you can programme to switch off the screen when it hasn’t sensed movement in a while (you can select how long it will wait before shutting down). It then wakes up again and starts displaying photos when you walk past.

As a cherry on top, the sharing of photos on Nixplay’s cloud is all GDPR compliant and secure for total peace of mind.

Buy now £139.99, Nixplay.co.uk

Amazon Echo show 15

Best: Multifunctional screen

Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 15.6in

  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080ppi

  • Orientation: Portrait or landscape

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Extra functions: Alexa skills, camera, streaming, smart-home control

This is Amazon’s top-of-the-range and newest Echo show and – excuse the technical jargon here – it’s pretty fancy. In among all the very amazing functions (we’ll get on to those in a minute), it has a huge screen – easily the largest of all the digital photo frames we tested. This Echo can be positioned on a stand (sold separately) or mounted on the wall in landscape or portrait orientation.

As you’d expect, the show 15 can display your photos from Amazon Photos (organised via its app) but also from Facebook. However, it’s worth noting that images from Facebook are automatically compressed, so they won’t be as pin-sharp as ones directly from your phone, say.

Another feature we loved about this frame is its multifunction aspect – you can have your photos popping up as the backdrop, and along the bottom as stick-on digital versions of post-it notes, your to-do lists and schedules. It can also have your smart-home control centre on it (check your Ring doorbell at the same time, for instance) and the weather and time, too.

We also really liked the digital family noticeboard feature – it was so much more attractive having photos of our nearest and dearest popping up in the background rather than on the noticeboard behind. Very nice touch.

Buy now £239.99, Amazon.co.uk

Facebook portal go

Best: For on the go

Rating: 9/10

  • Screen size: 10in

  • Resolution: 1,280 x 800ppi

  • Orientation: Landscape

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Extra functions: WhatsApp, Messenger and Zoom calling; Teams; Spotify; smart-home control; Alexa enabled

As the name suggests, this digital frame is portable and comes with a carry handle at the back. It looks modern and swish, and it’s designed as a wedge, so it stands up all on its own.

Set-up is easy, and it links to your Facebook account – you can add other accounts too, but the device suggests Facebook is best. From here it will pull photos into the display from any Facebook albums you tell it to. You can also tell it which photos you don’t want to appear on the screen – that’s sure to come in handy!

The photos are decent quality, but as Facebook compresses images when you upload them, they’re not going to be the sharpest images ever. The display includes the album’s name along the bottom, as well as the time, date and the weather.

This is a fab little screen that has plenty of uses – staying in touch and being a home hub, predominantly. We loved that you can take it on the go with you around the house – great if you’re taking calls and want to move to another room. This isn’t a function that’s vital for a pure digital photo frame, but as a multifunctional device, it’s a great perk.

Buy now £199.00, Facebook.com

The verdict: Digital photo frames

We just love the Aura mason digital photo frame. It looks good switched on and off, the picture quality is incredible and actually made us enjoy our photos, which is surely the main point of digital photo frames. If you’re after something with more bells and whistles, then the Amazon Echo show 15 has everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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