Snapchat is arguably one of the most popular social media apps on the planet (if not the most popular). Its ephemeral photo sharing makes it fun and spontaneous, but an app that’s almost exclusively for photo and video sharing isn’t doing right by its users… still.
This all started with the Android app, wherein Snapchat still does not actually take photos when it uses the camera. It just takes in what the camera “sees” without taking advantage of the camera’s hardware or software.
It seems the same is true on the iPhone X. The iPhone X, with its incredible front-facing camera that’s capable of Portrait Mode, might be great for Snapchat filters thanks to its great AR processing power, but Snapchat still isn’t taking advantage of the device’s camera. Thus, we get grainy, blurry, shitty photos.
Rather than actually taking a photo, Snapchat merely takes a screenshot of the viewfinder. Now, I know Snapchat is all about moments in time that are then gone forever, but shouldn’t an app predicated entirely on visuals take full advantage of a phone’s camera? Especially when that phone has arguably the best smartphone camera on the planet?
The answer isn’t so simple.
Rene Ritchie took a photo with the iPhone X’s front-facing camera and then took a photo with Snapchat. Snapchat’s resolution is less than half the iPhone X’s camera, and it’s actually even less than screenshot resolution (WHAT?!).
So the iPhone photo resolution is 2320×3088 and Snapchat’s is 1120×2208. Why would an image sharing app do that? For one, the lower file size makes it easier to upload and lightens the load on Snapchat’s servers. It also limits user bandwidth so that you have the expedient experience you’re used to. If every Snapchat user was consistently uploading full-res photos, it might take minutes to upload and share rather than seconds. Snapchat would probably also have to impose limits on how many images you could upload per day.
Instagram crunches its “story” photos even more, to resolutions of 750×1334, so before you start calling Snapchat in a rage, remember that the “bandwidth crunch is real,” to quote Rene.
Here’s the thing: Does it even matter with Snapchat? What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.