I disagree. It's different strategic planning, and imo, more dynamic.
In the case where snaking is NOT allowed: You require strategic planning in where you rigidly build your cities.
In the case where snaking IS allowed: You still require that strategic planning in where you build your cities, but there is some flexibility when doing so. However, you also require strategic planning in HOW you build your cities, as development locations impact future resources.
Out of the two cases, since you only build once and have to manage for the rest, I'd rather my strategic decisions take place over the course of the game instead of a one shot deal. It makes for a more dynamic game.
That's the way I see it though.
Sorry, but you are wrong. There is not much strategy involved, nor is it very dynamic.
Without snaking you have to carefully weigh all the possible options against each other, and determine what the best place for a city is. Do you go for the best tile yield? Or do you want access to a river? Is there a resource that needs to be protected? Is there a valuable choke point that needs blocking? Strategy games are about making these kind of choices. Once in a while you'll come across a place that meets more than one or two criteria, making that a very valuable spot to settle. But those should be the exception, not the rule. True, it is not very dynamic, but again that is what strategy games are all about; making a choice and dealing with the consequences.
With snaking on the other hand, you can have it all. You can have the best tile yield AND access to all possible bonuses AND include resources in the city AND block choke points AND shape the area of influence to benefit you most AND create a highway for your units. There is no downside, you're only slightly limited by the number of buildings you can place. No strategy involved. It's not very dynamic either, 95% percent of these objectives are known at the moment you settle the city. Reaching them by carefully placing buildings is just busywork.
Snaking like we used to wasn't too great, but in the current system you can auto-place, get a more-or-less round city, grow to be next to a river, and NOT be able to take advantage of it. I don't call that snaking. And call-it-snaking-or-not, a huge city next to a river but with no river buildings doesn't make sense.
The problem here is that Stardock didn't go with one-tile cities with internal building, but stuck with on the map placement of buildings. It removes a sense of scale. In civ, no one complains that stuff that is on the tiles next to a city is not somehow included in that city. People understand that those are separate regions. But in Elemental, your city expands into these tiles, making the map seem smaller in scale. At the city scale, it makes less sense then that you can't expand beyond the first ring of tiles. But if you look at this at the strategic level, that city has become so big that moving around it takes several turns for an average unit to move around it, which makes even less sense.