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Best digital photo frame 2021: the 7 best connected picture frames for your photos

Aura Mason
(Image credit: Future)

Searching for the best digital photo frame you can buy right now? You’ve come to the right place. From simple screens to smart displays, we’ve tested all of the top connected frames for showing your photos at home. 

Digital photo frames are a great way to display your snaps. Whether you have hundreds of historic shots hiding on your hard drive or a smartphone camera roll that’s packed with classics, the best connected frames make it simple to show your favorite photos. Some even allow friends and family to add their shots to a shared slideshow via the cloud.

The best digital photo frames in 2021 come in a whole range of designs, so you’re sure to find one that matches your home decor. If you like simple understatement, for example, the minimalist Aura Mason might do the trick. Or for something shinier, look at the Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Photo Frame. You’ll also find both freestanding and wall-mountable models listed below, as well as a wide range of display dimensions to suit your available space.

Whichever style you like, our guide covers all bases and budgets. Some frames, such as the no-frills 8-inch Nixplay Nix Digital Photo Frame, are simple, easy to use and affordable. Others promise a feature-packed experience, including cloud storage, Wi-Fi connectivity and social media integration – for which you’ll typically pay a healthy premium.

Whether you’re shopping for your shelf, desk or wall, our current top pick for the best digital photo frame in 2021 is the Aura Mason. It features a sharp, vibrant 9-inch screen that gets the best out of your snaps, plus a stylish freestanding design which can switch seamlessly from portrait to landscape. Complimented by an accessible interface and companion app, it’s a fantastic all-rounder for most people.

But it might not be the perfect frame for you. You might, for example, like a frame which can be mounted on the wall, or one that’s equipped with an ultra-sharp 2K display, like the Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Photo Frame. Alternatively, you could be looking for something with smart home integration, such as the Facebook Portal or Google Nest Hub Max. Whatever you want from your digital photo frame, the list below features recommendations to suit every preference.

The best digital photo frames in 2021:

Aura Mason

(Image credit: Future)

1. Aura Mason

Smart, chic and slick, this is the best digital frame you can buy

Specifications
Display: 9-inch LCD
Resolution: 1600x1200 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 246 x 193 x 48 mm
Sources: App
Remote control: No
Cloud storage: Unlimited (free)
Orientation: Portrait/landscape (automatic)
Wall-mounting: No
Reasons to buy
+Seamless design & interface+Vibrant, high-res screen
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed display angle-Only ships with a US plug

The name of Aura’s minimalist frame is no accident: the Mason feels as if it’s hewn from stone. With a tiered bezel, sculpted back and premium finish, it’s a lesson in stylish understatement – a real thing of beauty. And though its display is a decent size at 9in, the freestanding design gives it a compact footprint that can fit anywhere a traditional frame would.

The Mason’s 1600x1200 display is one of the best out there, offering excellent depth, sharpness and saturation. Images are vivid but balanced, and the added pop helps counter what is a slightly reflective screen. While the standing angle cannot be changed, its viewing angles are the class of the field – aided by the ambient light sensor’s brightness adjustments.

As with the frame itself, the partner app is pretty pared-back. Customization options are limited to slideshow timing and sleep schedules, while individual images can be selected as favourites and the crop on portrait shots adjusted. While some might want more control, the interface is uncluttered and intuitive, even for the uninitiated – which is ideal, given that you’re able to invite family members to contribute. Snaps can be added individually or as albums, and there’s also support for Live Photos.

Two touch bars are seamlessly integrated into the top and right sides of the frame. These can be used to swipe through photos, bring up more details and select the current photo as a favourite. Subtle, smart and effective, they’re just like the Mason itself.

Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Photo Frame

(Image credit: Future)

2. Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Photo Frame

This high-res frame is the ideal size for almost any shelf

Specifications
Display: 9.7-inch LCD
Resolution: 2048 x 1536 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Dimensions: 248 x 199 x 31 mm
Sources: App, cloud storage
Remote control: Yes
Cloud storage: 10GB (free) or 30GB (£14.99/year)
Orientation: Portrait/landscape (automatic)
Wall-mounting: Yes
Reasons to buy
+High-resolution display+Proportions are close to perfect
Reasons to avoid
-Resolution makes menu text small-Metal-effect bezel is too reflective

Nixplay’s 2K Smart Digital Photo Frame features one of the sharpest screens on the market. With a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, the display offers detail for days – and it’s vibrant, too, with impressively deep blacks and more than enough brightness to beat the screen’s reflective coating.

At 9.7 inches, the display also strikes an excellent middle ground: with a flexible stand setup that can support the frame in portrait or landscape orientation, the Smart Digital Photo Frame will fit on almost any shelf, while also giving images enough real estate to really be seen and enjoyed. Handily, it can also be wall-mounted.

As with other Nixplay frames, the settings menu offers no shortage of customisation options, from transitions and colour adjustments to sleep timers and the sensitivity of the motion sensor. Controlled via the physical remote (or the virtual replica in the app), the frame is responsive and pretty intuitive, even if the high resolution means text sometimes appears a little small.

Loading up photos via the partner app is a straightforward process. Create, populate and organise multiple playlists using photos from your smartphone, or sync with Google Photos to display AI-generated smart albums. You can also connect with friends to easily receive snaps and assign them to your frame.

One final note: in matte black, the frame’s bezel is sizable but understated. In contrast, the metal-effect variant is both excessively reflective and a serious fingerprint magnet, distracting from what is otherwise a sharp and capable Wi-Fi frame.

Facebook Portal

(Image credit: Future)

3. Facebook Portal

This social screen doubles up as a stellar connected frame

Specifications
Screen size: 10-inch touchscreen
Resolution: 1280x800 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 260 x 175 x 141 mm
Sources: App, social media
Remote control: No
Cloud storage: Unlimited (free)
Orientation: Portrait/landscape (automatic)
Wall-mounting: No
Reasons to buy
+Chic contemporary design+Vibrant smart display
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed stand is too big for some shelves-Sleeps after an hour without motion

Primarily a device for calling friends and family, Facebook’s social screen does a side-gig as a slick digital photo frame. Styled like a floating box frame with neat lines and a quality finish, it’s an attractive fit for contemporary shelves – provided there’s space for the supporting leg. The stand can prop the Portal in portrait or landscape, but it sticks out by 12cm – and the power cable exits from its end, so it can’t sit flush against your wall. 

Up front, the 10-inch display is vibrant and responsive, with good detail and colour reproduction. The panel is quite reflective, but there’s enough brightness to counter glare – though this dips when viewing from a 45-degree angle.

Setup is straightforward and the slick touchscreen interface is matched by the polished partner app. Photos can be sourced from Facebook, Instagram or your smart device, then sorted into albums which can be individually enabled. 

You can’t change how the Superframe slideshow is sorted or tweak the transition style, though – only the duration of each slide. Nor can you extend the sleep setting beyond an hour: if the Portal’s sensor doesn’t detect motion for 60 minutes, it’ll automatically sleep. Not a major issue, unless you position the Portal on a high shelf or in a far corner where it misses any movement.

You do need a Facebook or WhatsApp account to activate the Portal, which will be a negative factor for some – but with Alexa, Spotify and family apps included, it’s certainly a feature-packed frame.

Nixplay Nix Digital Photo Frame 8-inch

(Image credit: Future)

4. Nixplay Nix Digital Photo Frame 8-inch

Small but versatile, this is the best affordable frame you can buy

Specifications
Screen size: 8-inch LCD
Resolution: 1280x800 pixels
Connectivity: N/A
Dimensions: 212 x 148 x 30 mm
Sources: USB, SD card
Remote control: Yes
Cloud storage: N/A
Orientation: Portrait/landscape (automatic)
Wall-mounting: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good value+Plenty of settings to adjust
Reasons to avoid
-Definition could be better-File browser interface isn’t the slickest

Compact and affordable, Nixplay’s 8-inch digital photo frame is also surprisingly feature-packed – provided you’re happy to skip the cloud connectivity offered by more expensive frames.

Front-on, it apes the aesthetic of a traditional photo frame. Its plastic build doesn’t feel premium, but a bevelled bezel and unique rippled back mean it stops short of characterless. Propping it up is an adjustable stand that works in portrait or landscape (the display automatically rotates) and can also be removed for wall-mounting.

The 8-inch screen is at the smaller end of the spectrum, but it displays landscape snaps at a size similar to standard photo prints, so it’s a natural fit for most shelves. The panel is bright with decent colour reproduction, though there’s noticeably less contrast depth and detail definition than some frames with the same 1280x800 resolution.

That said, the matte finish means reflections aren’t an issue, while the brightness, contrast and colour settings can all be adjusted to suit. In fact, from transitions to interval times to sleep settings, tinkerers will find plenty to customise in the settings menus, including the activation of the motion sensor.

The downside is an interface that feels like a file browser. The infrared remote is easy to use and navigating images on an SD card or USB stick is straightforward, but the system simply isn’t as slick as some – and it can sometimes feel quite sluggish, especially when scrolling through thumbnails. But it’s a minor compromise on an otherwise versatile budget frame.

Aura Carver

(Image credit: Aura)

5. Aura Carver

A sizeable landscape frame that’s sharp, stylish and easy to use

Specifications
Display: 10.1-inch LCD
Resolution: 1920 x 1200 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 270 x 189 x 66 mm
Sources: App
Remote control: No
Cloud storage: Unlimited (free)
Orientation: Landscape
Wall-mounting: No
Reasons to buy
+Big, sharp and vibrant screen+Streamlined, intuitive interface
Reasons to avoid
-Landscape orientation only-Limited customization options

Bigger sibling to the Mason, Aura’s contemporary Carver takes the same streamlined and premium approach, but packs a bigger landscape display with a higher resolution to match.

At 10.1 inches, the sharp, sizable screen offers lots of space for your photos to shine. Snaps are vibrant, displaying with the kind of detail, saturation and depth that made the Mason a winner. Though the triangular stand is fixed, viewing angles are excellent and adaptive brightness brings out the best in almost any image.

Surrounding the screen is a minimalist bezel that appears to float within the frame. It’s a neat and understated design that’s mirrored around the back, where an angular, textured shell supports the Carver in style, without stealing too much shelf space. That said, a serious snag for some will be the landscape orientation which, unlike most rivals, can’t be rotated.

Then again, the Carver looks subtly sublime as a landscape frame, and its party trick is displaying a pair of portrait photos side-by-side. It’s a simple yet striking solution, powered by Aura’s Intelligent Photo Pairing software, which uses AI to match similar pictures – often in happily unexpected ways.

Because the Carver also shares the same pared-back partner app and interface as the Mason, there isn’t much to tweak. You can’t manually adjust brightness, for example, or change color settings. But surrendering control does net you an intuitive interface that makes selecting favorites, uploading albums and inviting contributors straightforward. Similarly, a touch bar atop the Carver means swiping through the slideshow is a cinch.

Google Nest Hub Max

(Image credit: Future)

6. Google Nest Hub Max

A capable smart screen for your Google Photos

Specifications
Screen size: 10-inch touchscreen
Resolution: 1280x800 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 250 x 183 x 101 mm
Sources: Google Photos
Remote control: No
Cloud storage: 15GB (free) or pay to expand
Orientation: Landscape
Wall-mounting: No
Reasons to buy
+Decent screen brightness+No shortage of smart features
Reasons to avoid
-Screen angle is fixed-Slideshow only supports Google Photos

The Nest Hub Max is both a hub for smart devices and a portal for accessing Google Assistant at home, but it also does well as a digital photo frame. Styled like a 10-inch tablet attached to a fabric-skinned speaker, it forms a neat free-standing package with a small shelf footprint – even if the screen’s plastic shell and bezels don’t feel particularly premium.

The fixed stand setup means you can’t adjust the display angle from its default upward tilt. While this will be an issue if you want to place the frame on a higher shelf, the viewing angles are otherwise good, with decent saturation and plenty of brightness – provided you’re fine with a reflective panel.

At 1280x800, the resolution of the touchscreen could be higher, but there’s still good detail with no noticeable pixellation – and it makes controlling the Nest Hub Max a cinch. Swipe between photos or tap the pop-up controls to hide, star or share particular images, or do the same thing with voice commands.

The Nest Hub Max can display art backgrounds, a full-screen clock or a selection of snaps from your Google Photos account. It supports Live Albums, features the option to show portrait pics in split-screen and offers time, weather and image data overlays – but you can’t manually change the slideshow order. And because it only works with Google Photos, the Nest Hub Max makes sense mainly for those already invested in the company’s cloud backup service.

Nixplay Seed Wave

(Image credit: Future)

7. Nixplay Seed Wave

A sizeable display with distinctive speakers to soundtrack slideshows

Specifications
Display: 13-inch LCD
Resolution: 1920x1080 pixels
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 336 x 213 x 38 mm
Sources: App, social media, cloud storage
Remote control: Yes
Cloud storage: 10GB (free) or 30GB (£14.99/year)
Orientation: Portrait/landscape (automatic)
Wall-mounting: No
Reasons to buy
+All sorts of settings to tweak+Integrated speakers with Spotify support
Reasons to avoid
-Chunky bezel isn’t subtle-Images aren’t crystal clear

If you’re looking for a centrepiece display, the Nixplay Seed Wave is one of the biggest digital photo frames you can buy: at 13 inches, there’s no shortage of screen real estate – though the widescreen proportions mean many images will be cropped or bordered by black. 

And while the Full HD resolution is higher than on many alternatives, the extra pixels are stretched over a larger area. As a result, images lack detail and, though colours are fairly well balanced, photographs can feel a little flat and lacklustre.

On the other hand, the matte finish keeps glare at bay and viewing angles are decent. With a smooth but chunky plastic bezel around its edge, the frame isn’t especially subtle, though it does feel sturdy. Flip it round and you’ll find two mesh elements harbouring the 5W speakers. These are surprisingly punchy and, with support for Spotify and 15-second videos, give the frame a welcome dose of versatility. 

As for the stand, that’s a flexible affair: the thick, reinforced cable – which also houses the power connection – can be adjusted to almost any angle to support the Seed Wave, aided by a clumsy but effective rubber base.

Photos are added through the comprehensive Nixplay app. Snaps can be uploaded in batches to different playlists, while the app also allows you to adjust the Seed Wave’s many options – from transitions to sleep schedules. Alternatively, you can use the bundled infrared remote. Both are useful compliments to what is a slightly cumbersome but generous frame.

How to pick the best digital photo frame for you in 2021

Aura Carver

(Image credit: Aura)

Where will you place it?
Most digital photo frames include some kind of stand, but not all can be wall-mounted. Similarly, some only work in one orientation, while others can switch from portrait to landscape. It pays to consider placement, including how a frame’s finish will fit with your decor.

What screen size do you need?
Screen size can vary substantially, from 8 to 13 inches. Frames with smaller displays can be easier to place and are sometimes sharper. Larger options offer more space for your snaps but won’t always have a higher resolution. The sweet spot is usually somewhere around a 9-inch Full HD display.

How will you add images?
Many of the latest digital photo frames rely on cloud storage to host your slideshow, letting you add photos directly from different devices. Others feature social media integration. But if your images live on hard storage, consider something with a memory card or USB input.

How much control do you want?
Some digital photo frames offer seamless simplicity, while others allow you to adjust every setting – from brightness to sleep schedules. It’s worth checking what a given frame lets you tweak, especially if you’re particular about color balance or slideshow transitions.

How smart does it need to be?
More than passive panels, several of the best digital photo frames in 2021 are actually fully fledged smart displays. That means voice control, media streaming and smart home integration. Whether you need this additional functionality will depend on the other devices already in your abode.