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Does Snapchat Compress Photo Quality?

Posted by Arch on October 11, 2018

For a few years now, Snapchat has been known as ‘the fastest way to share a moment’. The social media app was designed for mobile devices. It is used as a means of instant communication via chat, photos, and video.

But unlike other similar apps or social media platforms, Snapchat has a flaw that really stands out and splits its users into two camps. Namely, the photo quality on Snapchat varies a lot. Normally you would think that this happens because some people have bad cameras, but there’s more than meets the eye here.

The Problem with Snapchat

Snapchat has a lot of mystery surrounding its scoring algorithms, favoritism for different operating systems, and very frequent changes to the base code, many of which are made without notice. Here are a few other factors that affect the Snapchat photo quality based on the devices used, as well as the reasons why the photo compression may not be as bad as you would think.

Android Photos Controversy

While Snapchat doesn’t have outstanding photo quality overall, most users that complain about their photos are Android users. However, they have good reason to do so because of how the app fails to take advantage of the Android camera API software.

Instead of using the actual API software which would allow more control over the quality, Snapchat just takes a screenshot of what the phone’s camera is seeing. Needless to say, this reduces the quality considerably. It has also caused a lot of controversy when people realized that iOS phones don’t share this issue.

What’s even more interesting and frustrating at the same time is that Android phones with superior cameras than their iOS counterparts still upload low-quality photos in comparison.

But is this intended? Is Snapchat consciously favoring Apple devices or is it simply a matter of compatibility between Snapchat and Android OS?

Most Apple devices tend to run on the same version of iOS. This makes it a lot easier for Snapchat to offer support for Apple devices. When it comes to Android OS, there are many variations used for a wide range of devices. This makes it hard for Snapchat to offer enough support across all Android phones.

Of course, some would argue that Snapchat’s developers just like taking the easy way out by resorting to screenshots instead of implementing a proper code to take advantage of Android cameras and their superior capture quality. This is why, even though Android phones tend to have better cameras than iOS phones, the picture quality is still worse.

Why Is Compression Used?

There’s a simple reason why the quality of photos posted on Snapchat is not satisfying to most users. Allowing full resolution photos to be uploaded would slow down the site too much. Not only that but the data usage would also be a lot higher for users.

Another advantage of using photo compression is that this allows users to upload and send photos faster even with a sub-par internet connection. This is what Snapchat is all about, after all. As frustrating as this may be for a lot of people, there’s just no way the app would function as well as it does now without sacrificing the image quality.

Are Things Looking Up?

For a while, Snapchat allowed users to control the video quality for Snaps. Sure, there were only three settings, but it was still something. These days you can’t even do that anymore.

Another interesting fact is that Snapchat never used or hinted at the development of a Snap quality control feature. Since less and less control over quality is offered to users, it’s hard to believe that the situation will improve any time soon.

Unless Snapchat finds a better way to compress the Snaps or at least a way to provide more support for Android cameras, there will always be a sense of inequality between Android and iOS users.

Final Thought

Many people are happy with the way things are and many aren’t, but that is true of almost any social media platform. Although iOS users are favored by the photo compression system and the way the app interacts with the camera’s API, at the end of the day, the photos aren’t all that fuzzy, unclear, or horrible to look at.

After all is said and done, in order for Snapchat to function the way it does, it is essential to use compression on photos and videos. Putting quality aside, the company is also doing its users a big favor by keeping the data usage at a minimum.

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