The 8 Best Digital Photo Frames of 2021

Put your memories on display

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We capture so many priceless moments on our cameras and smartphones, and they deserve to be displayed on no less than the best digital photo frames. Modern digital frames let you break those pictures free from your memory cards or hard drives and show them off as personal pieces of home décor. Unlike traditional frames, you don’t need to get your photos printed, and you don’t need to swap out each picture manually when you want a change of pace; most frames can store and rotate through hundreds of images. Plus, since it’s typically easy to learn to use a digital photo frame, users of just about any age or tech skill can handle and appreciate the upgrade.

There are plenty of options on the market for digital picture frames, and most can take on their basic functions just fine. You can find screens as small as 7 or 8 inches, and as big as 14 inches and up. You’ll encounter a broad range of display resolutions, storage capacities, and frame styles. Frames today support more advanced technology than ever, with many harnessing Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless uploads and controls. Some even serve as multifunction smart devices, with voice commands, video calls, smart-home integration, and more.

We narrowed the options down to frames of the best quality, value, and features—see which of these might be the ideal fit for your home or for giving to loved ones as a thoughtful, practical gift.

The Rundown
The W10G’s screen boasts a super-crisp 2048x1536-pixel (2K) resolution that few frames can match.
Best Video Calling:
Facebook Portal at Amazon
The Facebook Portal serves as more than just a static photo frame, allowing users to also make video calls.
Best Smart Hub:
Google Nest Hub at Best Buy
The Google Nest Hub excels as both a digital photo frame and a smart hub for your connected home.
The Brookstone PhotoShare has a durable design, Wi-Fi, speaker, and support for USB and SD cards.
Nixplay's Seed Wave boasts a pair of very capable 5W speakers that can pump out the solid volume and bass output from behind the device.
Combines modern Wi-Fi functionality with a lot of useful features that can make it perfect for many different kinds of users.
Best for Grandparents:
The Skylight Frame at Amazon
This 10-inch frame is designed to be foolproof for essentially anyone to set up and to use.
The Aura Carver offers Wi-Fi connectivity, Alexa and Google Home support, an app, and easy photo sharing.

Best Overall: Nixplay Smart Photo Frame 9.7-Inch W10G

What We Like
  • Beautiful 2K-resolution display

  • Elegant, effective frame design

  • Advanced cloud-based features

What We Don't Like
  • Internet connection required

Nixplay’s line of Smart Photo Frames embody sophistication in both design and modern functionality, and the 9.7-inch W10G model is about as good as it gets. While there are larger sizes available from Nixplay and other manufacturers, the W10G’s screen boasts a super-crisp 2048x1536-pixel (2K) resolution that few frames can match. Even the beveled frame around the display makes it a gorgeous addition to any room, with a shiny, metallic silver finish as the most striking option.

Turn a Nixplay Smart Photo Frame around and you’ll find advanced design touches there, as well. The brand’s signature honeycomb pattern weaves across the back surface, and you can stick the included magnetic remote to it so you don’t lose it when it’s not in use. Also sticking out from behind the device is a semi-rigid power cord that doubles as a fully adjustable stand that props the frame up in either portrait or landscape mode. It’s an innovative design solution that Nixplay has made quite reliable over the various iterations of its products.

And then there’s the “smart” side to the frame, which kicks in as soon as you set it up and connect to your home Wi-Fi network. You can use Nixplay’s cloud-based platform to upload photos from your computer or mobile device, via e-mail, or through cloud services and social media like Google Photos, Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Your collections can then be shared across any of your Nixplay products or with friends and family on the system. Voice commands through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant round out its impressive set of high-tech features.

"It may require a certain comfort level with web-based tech, but I found Nixplay’s app and online features to be a smooth and powerful way to gather photos from all over your digital collection into automatically updated playlists."Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Video Calling: Facebook Portal

What We Like
  • Dynamic video-calling features

  • High-quality photo frame

  • Serves as a large Alexa display

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey if you only want a frame

  • Calls only through Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp

  • Privacy concerns

Able to serve as more than just a static photo frame, the Facebook Portal bills itself as a smart video calling device. You can use it to video chat with your contacts on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, with a crystal-clear four-microphone array and a 13MP camera covering a wide 114-degree field of vision. Making the experience even better is Portal’s ability to intelligently follow faces around the room, smoothly keeping people in the frame and letting you zoom in on subjects. On top of this are entertaining effects and games powered by augmented reality (AR). Along with a read-along Story Time mode, it’s handy for kids who might not otherwise have much to say on a video call.

The Portal’s bright, sharp display works wonders for both video chats and your photos. When you’re not interacting with the device, its “Superframe” slideshow mode kicks in, displaying your selected photo albums from Facebook or Instagram, or ones uploaded directly from your phone. It also has Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant fully integrated, letting you ask quick questions, get weather updates, set timers, and more. This does mean—even though there is a switch to block off the camera and mic—that the Portal is generally always listening and always connected to Facebook, leading to privacy concerns that could make some users uneasy.

The base Portal sports a 10-inch HD display, but there is also a Portal Mini at the 8-inch size, as well as a Portal+ with a 15.6-inch screen that can easily swivel from landscape to portrait orientation. Rounding out the lineup is the Portal TV, which uses your own screen instead of a built-in display.

"Our family got the Portal for occasional video chats, but now its primary day-to-day use is as a tableside frame for our family to relive fun memories and ask Alexa random questions."Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Smart Hub: Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub
What We Like
  • Multifunction smart home device

  • Excellent for photos and video

  • Convenient voice assistant

What We Don't Like
  •  Small 7-inch screen

  • No offline media support

With all the features that can be packed into a Wi-Fi-enabled display, it makes sense for modern frames to do more than show a few pictures. The Google Nest Hub is a prime example—it excels as both a digital photo frame and a smart hub for your connected home. The compact device serves as a dashboard for controlling smart home products like your thermostat, lights, or security cameras, whether they’re from Google Nest or other supported providers. And you can do it all with your voice through the very capable built-in Google Assistant.

Though it’s on the small side with its 7-inch display and sub-HD 1024x600 resolution, the Nest Hub looks great as a picture frame. This is in large part thanks to automatic brightness and color adjustments that help the display blend into any room. (Google’s higher-end Nest Hub Max has a larger 10-inch screen and other upgrades, but the standard Nest Hub has plenty going for it at a notably lower price.) It displays photos straight from your Google Photos collection, which can include dynamically updated albums of any people and pets. You can also stream music from services like Spotify and Pandora through its small but capable speakers, as well as play video from YouTube and—more recently—Netflix.

"Whether listening to music or watching streaming video content, the Nest Hub is remarkably competent."Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Features: Brookstone PhotoShare Smart Frame

Brookstone PhotoShare Friends and Family Smart Frame
What We Like
  • Durable design

  • Frame has its own email address

  • Wi-Fi capable

  • Built-in speaker

  • USB and SD expansion

What We Don't Like
  • Not battery operated (limits portability)

  • App could be more feature rich

The Brookstone PhotoShare offers a good combination of high design, offline features, and Wi-Fi technology in one elegant digital photo frame. Available is matte black or espresso, its wood construction promotes durability, and you can opt for 8-inch, 10-inch, or 14-inch sizes. Also included are black and white mattes, so you can change the design based on your home decor. 

The Wi-Fi-enabled frame has a companion app, as well as its own email address. It only runs on 2.4GHz, but through the companion app, you can send photos from your photo library or Facebook to the PhotoShare. Friends and family can use the frame’s email address to send you photos, and you can add video clips too. It has a built-in speaker for audio, so you can add background music or hear the audio in video clips. With SD and USB slots, you can locally add content or expand the storage. 

There’s a keyhole mount for wall mounting, and the package includes a stand as well. The PhotoShare plugs into a wall outlet, and it’s not as portable as a battery-operated frame. But overall, this is a high-quality digital frame you’ll be proud to display in your home.

"The high-definition touch display shows enough detail to let you see individual hairs, highlights, and background details."Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Sound: Nixplay Seed Wave

What We Like
  • Large, Full HD display

  • Powerful Bluetooth speakers

  • Extensive online features

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Setup can get complicated

If you want the strong sound to go along with strong visuals, the Seed Wave from Nixplay is here to satisfy your eyes and ears. The 13.3-inch, the widescreen 1920x1080-pixel display is already among the larger and nicer-looking digital frames you can find. It then adds on a pair of very capable 5W speakers that can pump out the solid volume and bass output from behind the device. With the ability to connect it to your audio sources via Bluetooth, you have a picture frame that can easily fill a room with your tunes without bringing in a separate set of speakers.

Nixplay designed the Seed Wave with some high-quality hardware, and it doesn’t skimp on the software side, either. Once the frame is connected to your home Wi-Fi network and a Nixplay account, you can upload photos directly from your phone, from cloud storage like Google Photos and Dropbox, or from social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram. The frame itself can hold 8GB of pictures at a time, and a free 10GB of online storage comes with your account. You can also connect and play video files, but it’s limited to 15-second clips.

Best Mid-Range: Dragon Touch Classic 10

What We Like
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen

  • Various online and offline upload methods

  • Nice frame design

What We Don't Like
  • Some tech effort needed for initial setup

The 10-inch Dragon Touch Classic combines modern Wi-Fi functionality with a lot of useful features that make it perfect for many different kinds of users. The first is the touchscreen display hinted at by the product’s name. Other frames might shy away from touchscreens possibly to avoid fingerprints, but navigating a screen with your fingers simply makes the most sense for a lot of people. The display itself is clear with 1280x800 pixels of resolution and wide viewing angles. You can set it down on its stand or mount it on the wall, and the frame around the screen helps it look more like a pleasant piece of home décor than a high-tech gadget.

When it comes to transferring photos to the frame’s roomy 16GB of storage, the Dragon Touch Classic offers a variety of methods to suit your preferences and where you store your pictures. Plug in a USB drive or SD card to access offline files. Connect to Wi-Fi and transfer directly from your PC. Use the mobile app to upload from your phone or tablet. Multiple user profiles are supported, and each frame also has its own email address for anyone to send photos to. It may take a bit of effort to get everything set up and loaded properly the first time, but after that, this frame makes for a thoughtful way to share memories even with loved ones who aren’t quite as tech-savvy.

Best for Grandparents: The Skylight Frame

Skylight Frame: 10 inch WiFi Digital Picture Frame, Email Photos from Anywhere, Touch Screen Display

Many smartphone users take pictures in portrait orientation, so the lack of portrait mode is problematic. As a solution, Aura Carver will place thick borders on the side of portrait photos or pair two portrait photos together using AI software to best pair them, but it would be better if the frame just had a portrait mode. The Carver also lacks audio, and you can’t display videos. You can, however, display Apple “live” photos.

On the plus side, the screen quality is outstanding, with 1920x1200 resolution at 224ppi. You get unlimited cloud storage via the Aura network, and you can easily upload and share photos with family and friends using the companion app. The Aura Carver is ideal for someone who wants a digital frame that looks like a regular photo frame but has a few cool tech features. It’s also a good option for someone who wants a device that’s easy to use and operate. It even has Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, so you can say things like, “Alexa, ask Aura to show a photo from Palm Springs.” However, if you want something with more bells and whistles, and the ability to display videos is important to you, there are better options available.

What We Like
  •  Very easy setup and use

  •  Designed for sharing photos

  • Attractive appearance

What We Don't Like
  • Few additional features or settings

  • No video support

The makers of the Skylight Frame are well aware that digital frames make great gifts, especially for older family members who aren’t up to date on social media or the newest devices. The 10-inch frame is designed to be foolproof for essentially anyone to set up and to use—installation involves just plugging it in and connecting it to Wi-Fi. It doesn’t need to be online to display photos already loaded to its 8GB of internal storage, but it does count on the cloud to receive those photos. Each Skylight device is assigned an email address that friends and family can send pictures to, and the frame’s owner will be able to see them almost immediately.

Using the Skylight is meant to be as user-friendly as possible. The touchscreen display lets users navigate their collection much like a social media feed, swiping to browse photos, deleting unwanted ones, and even clicking to send a thank-you notification for any shots they like. The downside is there are minimal settings available to adjust, even if you wanted to. That means no brightness controls, slideshow customization, or power-saving settings. It’s a streamlined product that doesn’t do much more than it needs to, but in that sense, it does its job very well.

"My wife’s grandmother has a Skylight that everyone in the family sends photos to—it’s super easy to email pictures for her to enjoy on her frame."Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Software: Aura Carver Digital Photo Frame

Aura Carver Digital Photo Frame
What We Like
  • Good screen quality

  • Attractive design

  • Wi-Fi capable

  • Alexa and Google Home compatible

  • Easy photo sharing

  • Intuitive app

What We Don't Like
  • No audio

  • No mounting

  • No touchscreen display (touch bar only)

  • Landscape-only orientation

The Wi-Fi Aura Carver frame is an attractive and durable frame that comes in elegant packaging. When our reviewer Erika first saw the packaging, she was impressed, noting how she thought the frame would make an excellent professional or holiday gift. However, Erika also noted a few issues with the Aura Carver. It displays in landscape mode only, and you can’t mount it on a wall because it has a pyramid-shaped backing. 

Many smartphone users take pictures in portrait orientation, so the lack of portrait mode is problematic. As a solution, Aura Carver will place thick borders on the side of portrait photos or pair two portrait photos together using AI software to best pair them, but it would be better if the frame just had a portrait mode. The Carver also lacks audio, and you can’t display videos. You can, however, display Apple “live” photos.

On the plus side, the screen quality is outstanding, with 1920x1200 resolution at 224ppi. You get unlimited cloud storage via the Aura network, and you can easily upload and share photos with family and friends using the companion app. The Aura Carver is ideal for someone who wants a digital frame that looks like a regular photo frame but has a few cool tech features. It’s also a good option for someone who wants a device that’s easy to use and operate. It even has Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, so you can say things like, “Alexa, ask Aura to show a photo from Palm Springs.” However, if you want something with more bells and whistles, and the ability to display videos is important to you, there are better options available.

"Even though you may get more features with a smart display, the Aura Carver won’t make your living room or entryway look so cold with technology." Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Nixplay Smart Photo Frames have a robust set of web-based features that let you upload and transfer photos from the cloud, manage and share your albums across devices, and control frame settings from anywhere with an Internet connection. The 9.7-inch size also has a sharp 2K display to go along with its elegant design. The Facebook Portal is another very connected display, serving as an excellent picture frame with the added bonuses of smart video calling and convenient Alexa integration.

About Our Trusted Experts

Anton Galang is a Lifewire writer with a background in journalism and more than 12 years of experience in the areas of tech and education. He tested several digital photo frames for Lifewire and ended up keeping a few for his home and giving others as gifts.

Andy Zahn is a Lifewire writer and reviewer with expertise in all sorts of consumer technology—with the added bonus of photography experience that helped inform his testing of the Google Nest Hub and other digital frames.

Erika Rawes has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. Specializing in consumer technology, she's previously been published on Digital Trends, USA Today, and others. She's reviewed a number of smart home and lifestyle devices, including several digital photo frames.

FAQs

How do I add photos to a digital photo frame?
Different frames offer different ways of loading your photos, so you’ll want to check if it supports the method you prefer to use. More basic frames have a port for a USB storage drive and/or a slot for an SD card, so you’ll need to load your files to an acceptable medium and then plug it in. (Some frames ship with a modest-sized SD card for you to use.) Some frames have internal storage to transfer your pictures into; otherwise, you’ll have to leave your drive or card inserted.

More advanced digital frames connect to the Internet and let you send photos via e-mail, upload wirelessly from your computer or smartphone, or link directly to your existing photo storage or social media accounts. Many of these web-based frames don’t allow for offline photo transfers, so it’s often a case of one or the other.

Do digital photo frames run on batteries?
While there are some frames that are powered by rechargeable batteries, most displays use too much power to run efficiently on batteries. Having a high-end LCD screen displaying images all or most of the day usually requires that it be connected to a power source, i.e., a power adaptor plugged into the wall. In most cases, the frame is intended to serve as a piece of home décor that stays plugged in and stationary.

Can I hang a digital photo frame on the wall?
Traditional photo frames could easily be hung on your wall in any orientation, but digital frames need to specifically account for this option for it to be viable. With the Nixplay Smart Photo Frame, for example, you can remove the adjustable kickstand from the back to access the wall-mounting holes and then use the included hardware (or other VESA-compatible accessories). Digital art frames like the Meural Canvas are designed to be displayed on the wall, and you can purchase it with a standard or swivel-friendly mount. Other frames may have stands, power cords, and other pieces in the back that prevent them from being hung against a wall.

What to Look for in a Digital Photo Frame

Display – Display size is likely a personal preference, with models measuring as small as seven inches and as large as 21 inches. This decision is largely based on your interior design and how much room you have for the frame. Resolution, though, is less negotiable. Some of the best frames out there offer 1920x1080 16:9 IPS displays that will be visibly sharper to the naked eye than lower-resolution models.

Memory - The more memory a digital photo frame has, the more photos (and even videos) the device can store. Most offer between 4GB to 32GB of storage, with some even offering additional capacity via USB, SD, and SDHC memory cards. Still, 4GB of memory can hold about 20,000 pictures, so that should be ample unless you’re uploading large videos.

Cloud features - Higher-end frames today can connect to Wi-Fi and take advantage of a wide assortment of cloud-based functionality. This can include everything from uploading pictures through a computer or mobile device to social media integration and sharing to remote control via a mobile app. Such features can add a lot of convenience and flexibility, but at the same time can make installation and use of the frame much more complicated than some users want to deal with.

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