We’re starting the year off with a new flagship from Instax, in the form of the Mini Evo. This retro-style gadget is both an instant camera and smartphone printer, and resembles Fujifilm’s 35mm film cameras.

The body has a 1/5-inch CMOS sensor with a 28mm F2.0 lens that lets you focus as close as 10cm. It has a silver coating with a plastic and leatherette finish, and elements like a dial, buttons and a print lever.

The large 3-inch LCD display can be used horizontally or vertically. It is not a touchscreen, though — you use physical buttons to navigate, but not all of them are labelled.

What’s new on this flagship is an improved print quality resolution of 638x318dpi — double that of previous models. And it can save printed images onto a paired phone via the Mini Evo app.

As a camera, some of the functions are not obvious to the user. The large dial on the top left and the protruding front lens each serve a purpose: one for adjusting filters (mono, sepia, vivid); and the other for lens type (fish-eye, light leak, mirror).

While the camera seemed nonintuitive, I found it easy to pair with my smartphone and print images off it.

The composition, colour and so on that you get from shooting with a modern smartphone trump the Mini Evo camera.

The 10cm close-up shots may be better for objects or pets, but taking a selfie that close was not flattering for me.

It has onboard storage that holds up to 45 images, or you can insert a microSD card. A full charge of the battery prints up to 100 photos.

The higher-resolution printouts are a big improvement from previous models. Printouts are sharper, without that soft/blur effect.

The credit card-sized prints use Instax Mini film, which I prefer over the square and wide formats because it looks elegant and fits into a wallet.

The Instax Mini Evo works better as a printer than as a camera, because smartphone photos are so advanced.

If you’ve been holding out due to Instax print quality, it has been worth the wait.

The Mini Evo costs R2,069 at camerawarehouse.co.za and film is available separately at R169 for a pack of 10.