After watching my sister use Snapchat to take a photo and then taking a screenshot of the result instead of taking it using the built in camera app, I was wondering what possible benefits this had for the user.

I'd imagine that Snapchat saves in a highly compressed format as it's sending it over mobile data, but does it display that on the screen to be re-compressed by whatever it is that's saving the screenshot? Or is there no difference in terms of size of the file and quality of the photo?

(Sorry if this should be on a different site, I wasn't sure if mobile questions were kosher here)


The answer to the question in your title is yes. Screenshots will almost always be smaller than a camera image.

Take the iPhone 6 as an example. The screen size is 1334x750 pixels. The camera can take images up to 3264x2448 pixels. There are 8 times more pixels from the camera than from the screen. Screenshots are generally stored as PNG files (on Android at least), which are not compressed as much as JPG files from the camera, but the camera images will usually still be larger.

However, I know that Android camera has the option to take photos at a lower resolution, which would be a better solution for getting smaller image files.

Snapchat also has the option to save the image to your phone before sending. This does pretty much the same thing as a screenshot, but saves as a JPG file, which is smaller than the PNG a screenshot would take.

So while a screenshot will generally be smaller, there are better ways to make the file size smaller.


Snapchat automatically removes images/messages after a set period of time, so it's common for users to screenshot a message/image in order to save it locally. From Wikipedia:

Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers.

In fact, the Wikipedia article even has a whole section on screenshots detailing this.

  • I was aware that the picture didn't last on Snapchat, it was the difference between taking a screenshot of a picture and just taking the picture using a normal camera app that I was wondering about, sorry if I wasn't clear enough.
    – Yann
    Dec 15 '14 at 11:53
  • I was answering the "possible benefits this had for the user" portion. Otherwise this would be platform-specific and may do better on the Android or Apple SE site. Dec 15 '14 at 11:56
  • But wouldn't make sense on either individually, as it's a cross-platform app, and cross-posting is something of a faux pas.
    – Yann
    Dec 15 '14 at 11:58

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