March 9, 2021

The Galaxy S21 is the only Android phone that doesn’t suck at Snapchat


Snapchat on Android has historically proven to be pretty terrible when it comes to camera image quality. For years, the app would just be screenshotting the camera viewfinder and using that directly. It was effective (and arguably necessary based on the sheer amount of Android phones and differences in software between them) but sure didn’t look too great. Now with the new S21 series, it seems like Snapchat is finally playing nice, and giving us some of the highest-quality Snaps we’ve ever seen.

In my testing of Snapchat on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, pictures and video both look really, surprisingly great. This was so shocking because we’ve heard for years how Snapchat on Android is supposed to be getting better, but haven’t seen any real improvements outside of the Google Pixel series with the Pixel Visual Core.

Below are a few pictures and videos taken from Snapchat on my Galaxy S21 Ultra. And while you won’t these comparisons them below, I’ve also noticed very similar camera quality improvements with Snapchat coming out of the S21, with the S21 looking better than the S21 Ultra in some situations.

So how was this miracle achieved? All of this is thanks to Samsung’s partnership with a few app developers to bring its camera AI (and correspondingly, quality) to third-party apps, presumably by enabling the use of Android’s CameraX library. This is most noticeable in apps like Snapchat and Instagram, where the camera actually looks really good on the Galaxy S21. If you have a Pixel phone, you’ll probably notice this in a few apps too, but in my experience there’s a lot less of a distinction with how the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 compare to previous generations.

It’s great that Snapchat works well on the Galaxy S21 series, but for the app to really be viable with good quality on Android, other device OEMs need to start supporting the CameraX library to a greater extent. Google is providing the tools — now it’s on the OEMs to actually use them. Until then, if you want have great-looking Snapchat on a modern Android flagship, the Galaxy S21 series is your best bet.

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