Prynt grabs $7 million for its photo-printing phone case

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Prynt just raised a $7 million Series A round led by GGV Capital. Prynt turns your smartphone into a Polaroid camera thanks to a phone case that can print instant photos. In addition to the hardware component, Prynt also has a nifty app that lets you scan photos to view short video clips.

The Prynt phone case started as a popular Kickstarter project, raising more than $1.5 million. You can now find the device on Amazon and in various stores, such as Best Buy, Target and Urban Outfitters. It costs $150. The startup also makes money on paper orders in the app, as well.

But why should you buy a Prynt instead of a Fujifilm Instax or any instant photo-printing device? Prynt has a couple of differentiating factors.

First, compared to an Instax camera, you take Prynt photos with your smartphone. In addition to the physical photo, you can also save the photo to your camera roll and use it in other apps. This is smart, as I’ve seen dozens of people take digital photos of tiny Instax photos.

Second, Prynt is trying to invent a new format. When you take a photo with the Prynt app, your phone will also record a short video clip of what happens after you take the photo. The startup stores those video clips on their servers.

Anyone can then download the Prynt app and “scan” a photo by pointing their phone camera at a Prynt photo to view the video. It doesn’t just play the photo, it projects the video on top of the photo in a sort of augmented reality viewfinder. This is more or less similar to Apple’s live photos, but with sound.

I’ve played with the device and I wouldn’t necessarily call it a smartphone case. It’s a bulky add-on that turns your phone into a cumbersome device — you can’t put it in your pocket, and it’s a lot less practical to send a text once you’ve plugged the Prynt to your phone.

If you’re using a smartphone case, you’ll have to remove it first to use the Prynt. I started using the Prynt at a music festival. But then I removed it because I didn’t actually need the case to take photos — the Prynt is just a printer after all.

When it comes to the augmented reality video format, this is the best part of the Prynt case. I enjoy looking at old photos and playing the videos with the Prynt app. I think this format would look great with a wall of photos. It’s a great way to relive fleeting memories.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to partner with more online and offline retailers, iterate on the product front and hire more people. I’m quite curious about what’s next on the hardware front. I’d personally like to see a standalone Bluetooth or Wi-Fi printer so that I don’t have to plug the device to my phone.