The best digital photo frames we’ve tested

Can digital photo frames help put our photos back on display or are they still stuck in the 90’s?

Even though it’s estimated that in 2023 we will take 1.8 trillion photos across the globe, over 92% of all photos are taken on smartphones and rarely make it out of the phone and into the home.

It’s time we made the most of the photos we’re snapping, which is where our best digital photo frames can help display your favourite images.

Editors Choice

Best Overall & Best Value for Money

Aura Carver

RRP: £179.99
Who’s this for?
Anyone who wants to display their photos

Best Specific Category Buy

Amazon Echo Show 15

RRP: £269.99
Who’s this for?
Amazon fans who want the versatility of a hub but the look of a photo frame
Google Nest Hub Max

Google Nest Hub Max

RRP: £219
Who’s this for?
Adopters of Google products who want a home tech hub for occasional photo display

Nixplay 10.1 inch Touch Screen

RRP: £179.99
Who’s this for?
Someone with patience and tech knowledge who is comfortable if they encounter issues

Skylight Frame

RRP: £159
Who’s this for?
Only someone who knows a user with a better experience than we had

Tech to the rescue

In the late 1990s companies embraced our growing digital preferences by launching digital photo frames. On paper they were a great idea, but the fact they relied on external memory cards to store and display images made updating them tiresome and limited their appeal.

Fast forward a couple of decades and the rise of home automation and smart hubs has once again created a growth opportunity for smart digital photo frames.

As a qualified photographer with an eye for detail, and memories of a failed attempt to help my mum use a digital frame in the late 1990s, I’ll admit to feeling sceptical when I was asked to test the new versions.

The good news is, buy well and you’re in for a treat.

While some frames are still complicated to use, there are clear category winners and when it comes to display, the light emitted from the frames adds a richness and shine to photos that is normally reserved for images displayed in well-lit galleries.

photo of building and blue sky displayed on digital photoframe screenCredit: Exceptional
A digital photo frame can bring your images to life

Which brands did we test and why?

We chose five frames, including two automated home hubs that offer photo display:

Aura Carver, Nixplay 10.1-inch touchscreen, Skylight, Amazon Echo Show 15, Google Nest Hub Max.

All devices were testing using an iPhone 13 to operate product apps.

What our tester looked for

What’s the style? Are there colour options? Did it look like a photo frame or a tech gadget?

From opening the box to getting photos live, how easy is it to use? Are the instructions clear?

Is there any pixelation? Does it compress the image and lose clarity? Is the image rich and colourful?

What is the storage capacity? Is there an app or can you control it via the frame? Can family members send images to it remotely? Do you need a paid subscription? Are there different display options?

How does the price compare to others tested?

Aura Carver Overview

Best Overall & Best Value for Money

Aura Carver

Editors Choice

Minimal effort, easy to use, would happily have it at home or give as a gift.

Visual appearance

Ease of use

Screen quality


Value for money

Who’s this for?

Anyone who wants to display their photos

Our likes and dislikes

  • Easy to use
  • Quality display
  • Free unlimited photo storage
  • Can’t be rotated to stand in portrait mode

Expect to pay

RRP: £179.99 We’ve seen the Aura Carver go as low as £143.99, and it’s frequently available for £149.99

The gift-box style packaging immediately makes the Aura Carver feel like an expensive present. If you’ve purchased this as a gift, you can also upload images and a message to display on the frame without even opening it. All the recipient need do is plug it in and the images will appear.

Although I didn’t trial this aspect, it appears simple to use. Just download the Aura app on your phone or tablet and pull down a corner of the packaging to reveal a QR code. Scan the code to upload photos and message.

One minor criticism: the box is pre-wrapped in cellophane which you’d have to tear slightly to reveal the code.

hand peeling back cover on box to reveal a QR codeCredit: Exceptional
Gifting is simple using a QR code

Visually, the frame resembles a standard black wooden photo frame – the kind you might buy at John Lewis – with a screen size of 10.1-inch (26cm).

The frame felt a little rough to touch, but the ridged design detail was minimal, making it suitable for any style of interior. It’s also available in white.

Sending overseas? Aura Carver has it covered. Three different plug options make it useable straight out of the box hunting for an adaptor.

3 white plugs in black boxCredit: Exceptional
With three plugs included it’s easy to send overseas

Written instructions were easy to follow – so simple, in fact, that I checked the box a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.


App connection

It’s a breeze. On opening the app, you supply your email and first name. It asks to use your phone or tablet’s Bluetooth, automatically finds your wi-fi network, connects, and in just a few minutes you’re a registered user.

Photo choice

Once you’re in the app, the functionality is ample. You can choose which photos the frame has access to from your image library, enable or disable smart suggestions, change the fill ratio or position of the image, and have a blurred or black background if your image doesn’t fill the screen.

Slideshow and transition timings can be adjusted, or you can pause on a single image.

Unlike some of the others tested, the frame can only be used in landscape (horizontal) orientation and can’t be physically turned on its side to become portrait (vertical). This means portrait-shaped photos display as single images in the centre of the screen, or you can opt to show two together.

portrait image of girl shown on digital photo frame in centre of screenCredit: Exceptional
Portrait images display centrally or as two together to fill the screen

Videos can be edited in-app but have a 30-second restriction, which seems a little short. They also take a while to upload, and as the volume is automatically set to loud, it can be a surprise when it first plays.


Primarily controlled via the app, there is also a touch bar located on the top of the frame which lets you turn it off, remove an image, scroll to the previous or next image and close the touch bar once the task is complete.

In all the frames tested, energy efficiency is available with automatic on and off settings. The Aura can be set to switch on and off depending on the level of light in the room, or you can schedule daily show times.

hand touching top of digital photo frame displaying a picture of pumpkins and mugsCredit: Exceptional
A touch bar lets you perform various functions


A range of images were uploaded to all frames, some of which had been taken with a phone and others with a digital SLR. All the images displayed clearly on the Aura frame, with great colour replication, depth and no pixelation.


Free unlimited photo storage. Images are linked to the frame and only accessible to those granted access. There’s no subscription or additional fee.

Ease of sharing

Without wanting to overuse the word, it’s easy. That’s what I loved most about this frame: it’s minimal effort and does exactly what it says on the box.

Friends or family can be invited to add photos via mobile phone or email. Once they’ve downloaded the app, they simply register and upload. I invited my son and within minutes he’d sent an image to the frame.

The frame owner is notified when this happens, and if you’re not happy with the image you can remove it from the slideshow. The app can also be used for more than one frame, whether that’s your own or someone else’s you’re invited to collaborate on.

The Aura Carver was, without doubt, worthy of Exceptional testing and was exceptional in performance. I’d buy it for myself and would feel comfortable purchasing it as a gift.

The quality and ease of use makes it worth every penny spent, which is why it also wins the Best Value category.

Sharing memories shouldn’t be complicated and tech should ideally be accessible to all – regardless of your age, ability, budget or knowledge. The Aura meets all these criteria.

digital photo frame open in boxCredit: Exceptional
The winning digital photo frame for easy of use and quality of image display

Amazon Echo Show 15 Overview

Best Specific Category Buy

Amazon Echo Show 15


A great option if you want a home hub that masquerades as a sizeable photo frame

Visual appearance

Ease of use

Screen quality


Value for money

Who’s this for?

Amazon fans who want the versatility of a hub but the look of a photo frame

Our likes and dislikes

  • Size
  • Quality of photo display
  • Doesn’t look like a home hub
  • Only works with Amazon photos

Expect to pay

RRP: £269.99 Even though the Echo Show 15 has been available since 2021, it doesn’t often see a price drop, although during big sales event you may see it closer to the £200 mark.

The biggest frame we tested, with a whopping 15.6-in (40cm) display, the Amazon Echo Show 15 was selected as it looks more like a photo frame than other home automation hubs. If this seems too large, the Amazon Echo Show 5, 8 and 10 all offer smaller screens.

Although it comes with a lot more functionality than just photo display, we only tested its strengths as a digital frame.

image of amazon echo show 15 boxCredit: Exceptional
The Amazon Echo Show 15 has a huge display screen

Not standalone

The Amazon Echo Show frame is black with the appearance of a white photo mount. Although there is a small camera in the top left-hand side to assist with home automation features, this can be disabled by sliding over a small white cover.

corner of digital photo frame showing switch to disable cameraCredit: Exceptional
It’s easy to disable the camera on the frame

I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed when I opened the frame as I hadn’t realised it needed to be wall mounted. A stand can be purchased on Amazon from £23.99.

box containing wall mount and plug with back of frame showing location points for mountCredit: Exceptional
You’ll need to purchase a stand if you can’t wall mount the frame

Photo options

Once plugged in, the Echo Show’s touchscreen activates, finds your wi-fi network and asks for the password. If you have an Amazon account, you can log straight in using your user Amazon username and account details, or you can set up a new account.

Download the Alexa app for voice control and you’re nearly ready to go.

The hub works through onscreen settings options, with photo management one of the early choices. I skipped any that weren’t relevant for testing.

You can choose to display a preloaded Amazon album of themed images such as seasonal, nature or travel, or you can choose images from your Amazon photos account. There’s also an option to manually link to a Facebook album.

hand holding mobile phone with app displaying and digital photo frame in backgroundCredit: Exceptional
Picking photos to display is easy through the app

An Amazon photos account gives you 5GB of total storage, but if you have Amazon Prime this provides you with unlimited photo storage and 5GB for videos.

Stunning image display

Once I’d opened the Amazon Photos app, adding photos from my phone was easy, although it was less slick than I’d hoped – you can only load one image at a time.

In terms of image choice, you can give the app permission to select daily memories from your phone or tablet library, or you can give restricted access to selected images.

Being patient about the time taken to upload images is worth it, though, as the quality is stunning – clear and crisp, with great colour depth and luminosity. I appreciate I love photography, but I felt anyone would be impressed. Both smartphone and professionally taken photos were beautifully displayed.

photo of building and blue sky displayed on digital photoframe screenCredit: Exceptional
Images display with great clarity and colour

The frame can be turned for use in either landscape or portrait. However, when turned to portrait, the proportions didn’t seem quite right. Although the image displayed perfectly and wasn’t stretched or distorted, it somehow looked too long.

Sharing images

Allowing others to share images is relatively simple: you allow the app access to your contacts and it sends them an invite. Once accepted, they can add to the album.

Full video available

As with the Aura, there are slideshow settings as well as the opportunity to set on and off times.

There is no limit on the length of videos, although the 5GB video storage limit may affect how many you can store.

And of course, with Alexa in the driving seat, you don’t even need to be near the frame to change anything – it can all be done through voice activation.

You can ask your frame to display photos for youCredit: Exceptional
You can ask your frame to display photos for you

Music bonus

You can have music playing as an accompaniment to a slideshow, but if you pause on a single image, the screen will switch to the screen displaying the music information. To avoid this, you must stay in slideshow mode.

Winning aesthetics

If you are looking for a home automation hub with great aesthetic value, this is the one. It would suit any interior and in photo mode, doesn’t even look like a hub.

The photo display is truly exceptional in terms of quality and is now on my wish list – even though I don’t use a home hub.

Granted it’s more complicated and expensive, but that’s because you are purchasing a multi-faceted home automation hub rather than a digital photo frame.

If you like your hub to look more like a photo frame this is the one for you
If you like your hub to look more like a photo frame this is the one for you

Google Nest Hub Max Overview

Google Nest Hub Max

Google Nest Hub Max

If you prefer your home hub to look more tech but display photos well, this fits the bill

Visual appearance

Ease of use

Screen quality


Value for money

Who’s this for?

Adopters of Google products who want a home tech hub for occasional photo display

Our likes and dislikes

  • Audio instructions to set up
  • Easy to add contributors
  • Competitively priced
  • Only works with Google photos

Expect to pay

RRP: £219 Pricing currently seems the same across a variety of retailers

As Google is the other market leader in home automation hubs, it was only right to test the Google Nest Hub Max alongside Amazon’s Echo Show 15.

Although it looks more like an iPad or tablet with a built-in speaker stand than a photo frame, its ability to show photos is a recognised feature.

google nest hub max in boxCredit: Exceptional
The Google Nest Hub Max is a more tech looking option for photo display

Inside the box, the small set of flashcards seem sparse in detail. Once you switch on the Nest, however, it speaks to you and tells you how to use it.

The camera and microphone are automatically switched on but can be independently disabled.

google nest hub max wrapped in protective cover in boxCredit: Exceptional
Once connected the Google Nest Hub Max gives you audio instructions

Use the same wi-fi

Once you’ve downloaded the Google Home app, you can sign in with an existing Gmail account on your phone to finish setting up the Nest. If location and Bluetooth services are enabled, the hub will display and connect once you have popped in your wi-fi password.

If you have wi-fi extenders in your home with more than one wi-fi address, both your phone and hub must be on the same wi-fi to connect.

Team Google

As with Amazon Echo Show 15, the Google Nest is geared towards sharing images from its proprietary photos account. This is to be expected, but another step to navigate for those without one.

Although I skipped the voice personalisation steps and other settings that make the Nest work as a hub, it clearly has a lot more to offer.

Select to share

Once images are loaded into your Google Photos account, you can select which albums or images you want to show.

In the home app, touch and hold your device’s name > tap settings > photo frame > Google Photos, and then select or deselect which albums you want to show.

If you’re keen to use voice control, ask your Nest to “Change photo frame” and then go into Google Photos and follow the same album selection process. If you prefer to use the touch screen function, an easy menu at the top of the screen gives you access.

Available albums include auto-selected albums like “Recent highlights” and your private Google Photos albums.

two photos of females displayed on google nest hub maxCredit: Exceptional
You can choose images from Google Photos to display

Adding friends and family

To add images from other people to your Nest, create a shared album in Google Photos, invite contributors and then select this as one of the albums the Nest can show.

If you’ve got thousands of images on your phone (guilty as charged), I’d deselect all other albums and add your own choice of images to the one album. Although it may initially take time to populate, it would make deciding what to share on the Nest a more thoughtful process.

Function over form

As with the Amazon Echo Show, if you’re just looking for something to display photos, then this is probably not the best choice.

But, if you want the best of both worlds and prefer your home hub to look more like a piece of tech than wall art, then the Nest will likely answer all your needs.

split screen image showing app screen and picture of sea on digital displayCredit: Exceptional
You can choose from curated art albums if you don’t want to display your own images

Nixplay 10.1 inch Touch Screen Overview

Nixplay 10.1 inch Touch Screen


Pleasant design and good picture quality but more challenging to upload images and use

Visual appearance

Ease of use

Screen quality


Value for money

Who’s this for?

Someone with patience and tech knowledge who is comfortable if they encounter issues

Our likes and dislikes

  • Display quality
  • Touch screen access
  • Need to pay for extra storage
  • Uploads failed

Expect to pay

RRP: £179.99 Now regularly sold for £143.99, we have seen the Nixplay 10.1 reduced to as low as £90 during sales periods.

According to the packaging, the company plants a tree for every Nixplay sold. It’s always good to feel an environmental benefit and over 1 million trees planted suggests the frame is popular. However, as the saying goes, don’t believe everything you read on the tin.

back of cardboard box detailing information on tree plantingCredit: Exceptional
Text suggests it’s popular but that doesn’t always mean it’s great

Plastic stand

Similar in design to others with a black frame and white mount, the Nixplay comes with a rear stand that can be inserted in two different places for landscape or portrait mode. While easy to insert, the plastic felt brittle and I was concerned about it snapping.

The sheer size of the fold-out instruction sheet was daunting. As well as being awkward to hold, it suggested a lengthy task ahead.

back of digital frame showing stand and instruction bookletCredit: Exceptional
The stand and instructions weren’t a great start to testing

Less gift-friendly

As with the Aura, there is the option to preload the app and upload photos and a message for the recipient. The catch is you can only do this after opening the package as you need the frame details to log in – not ideal if you want to gift it untouched.

Touch-friendly access

As with all frames, wi-fi is needed and the touch screen function makes it simple to type in passwords – although with so much touching of the screen required, you may need to keep a cleaning cloth handy.

Once connected, the product required an automatic software update and although it downloaded in a minute, installation was longer.

With a built-in activity sensor, the frame automatically turns off after a specified time without detected movement. Or you can set a sleep schedule so it runs permanently during set hours.

You can also display the time on the frame, even in sleep mode.

hand pressing touch screen display on digital photo frameCredit: Exceptional
Touch screens could cause a fingerprint problem on any digital photo frame

Subscription is extra

In terms of storage, the frame has two app subscriptions available: a free standard version and the paid-for Nixplay Plus.

As well as a larger storage capacity, membership offers extended warranties and enhanced customer service. It starts from £4.99 a month and can be cancelled at any time. However, it’s an extra cost compared to others tested and I’m not sure the benefits warrant it.

table showing costs of Nixplay plus membership

Picture quality strong

Picture quality is unquestionably great – although, as with all the frames, to me it looked better horizontally.

The background automatically blurs if the image doesn’t fill the screen and different transition effects can be applied to the slide show if you’re after something more visually creative.

A nice touch is the editing function. If images need minor tweaks such as cropping, or you want to add a filter or colour effect, you can do this before uploading.

Images automatically play once in the app, as do videos – although these are restricted to just 15 seconds.

image of three people displayed on digital photo frameCredit: Exceptional
Picture quality is unquestionable

Upload hassle

A few issues during the upload process left me feeling more than frustrated.

The first video attempted still hadn’t uploaded after four goes, so I gave up and tried another, which uploaded first time. I checked my wi-fi connection, but everything was working smoothly on other devices.

After auto-trimming the failed video to 15 seconds, it finally uploaded after another three attempts.

Upload time for images was also slow.

Frame friends

Use the app’s friend setting to add someone’s email (or existing Nixplay Plus username) and they’ll be sent an invite to download the app and share images to the frame.

You can specify which playlist the images are added to, and also choose not to add images. There’s an option to send an image from the frame to your friend’s list.

Challenging and off-putting

Overall, the testing experience felt challenging, and I could imagine someone who didn’t feel tech-savvy might find it even more complicated. Encountering upload problems at set-up could make you less inclined to regularly upload new photos.

Skylight Frame Overview

Skylight Frame


In my experience this sadly didn’t fulfil the promises it made

Visual appearance

Ease of use

Screen quality


Value for money

Who’s this for?

Only someone who knows a user with a better experience than we had

Our likes and dislikes

  • Can gift with images via own email
  • Misleading about subscription
  • Tricky to set up
  • Slow upload

Expect to pay

RRP: £159 We’ve not seen any discounts on the Skylight Frame, but you’re best off looking at a different brand anyway.

Prior to testing, a Facebook ad for the Skylight appeared on my feed which made it sound ideal. It was described as a frame that didn’t require an app or subscription and displayed images you email to it in less than a minute.

But when I opened the box, my hopes faded. Several lengthy sheets were inside, some explaining how to get Skylight Plus, the £29 annual subscription (about £2.40 per month).

opened box with plug, frame and various leafletsCredit: Exceptional
Be prepared for disappointment when you open the box


When a product claims to offer something free, it’s annoying when it turns out there’s a better version they haven’t disclosed until you buy the item.

Although it’s not as expensive as the Nixplay monthly subscription, without it, the frame has hardly any features. It’s simply a one-trick digital photo frame.

table showing Skylight subscription details

Continued disappointment

Although I persevered, I found the Skylight lacking on many counts.

Appearance wise it was a perfectly acceptable 10in (25cm) black frame with a white mount. Slightly heavier and plainer than the others, it also has less image capacity with only 8GB of integrated storage.

While it claims this gives you 8,000 photos, this assumes each image to be under 1MB – not always true with smartphone images, let alone professional ones.

The magnetic stand which attaches to the back of the frame came out on the first attempt, but then secured in place. The striped cable is perhaps a utilitarian choice of finish but was perfectly functional.

back of digital photo fame showing cable and space for inserting standCredit: Exceptional
The stand is attached magnetically to the back of the frame

Gifting bonus

If you’re buying it as a gift, the website explains how you can set up the frame on the app using your own email address then transfer ownership once the frame is with the recipient.

It’s more complicated than other frames but does means you don’t have to be in receipt of the frame prior to gifting. Images you’ve shared to it will be shown once the new user connects to wi-fi and enters a code you give them.

image showing instructions for gifting a Skylight frame

As with Nixplay, the screen can be controlled and set up using the touch screen. However, it prompts you if you take too long, which is mildly irritating.

Upload failure

The niggles continued with slow upload times, plus you must stay in the app upload screen –if you leave it, the upload stops. I exited as images were taking so long to upload, which meant starting over again.

Standard membership limits uploads to 25MB at any one time – again, not ideal. With larger images from a good camera or smartphone, this could equate to just four or five images.

Picture quality

Picture quality was acceptable, if a little duller than others tested. As with all the multi-orientation frames, the portrait position felt more uncomfortable to the eye.

A nice feature was the ability to use a pincer finger motion on the screen to zoom into an image for an alternative view. If you do this, the frame remembers it and defaults to this view next time it plays the image.

photo of young boy in blue coat sat in field of long grass displayed on digital photo frameCredit: Exceptional
Picture quality is good

Sharing: don’t sit and wait

To allow others to share images, you’re asked to send invites through the app either by sending a device link via email or through a messaging service such as What’s App.

Alternatively, you can grant the app direct access to your contacts and work through your contact list this way.

Recipients reply to the email and attach images they want to share. You will be asked to approve the sender once they accept your invite.

The device is automatically programmed to only recognise images from emails and not text. On the surface this may seem smart tech, but if there’s an image logo contained within your email signature – as there is in mine – it will also upload that to the screen. Not so smart.

I tested the invite by sending an invite to my personal email addresses which left me feeling the one-minute claim is highly ambitious.

Sending images from my Gmail account took several attempts. The approval request for me to send images from another email address actually took days to even arrive in my inbox.

Skylight not a green light

My experience seemed very different to reviews on the website. Perhaps I was unlucky, but during testing it just didn’t do what it said it would.

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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