Why do non-retina games look so bad on the iPhone 4?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Doju, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. Doju macrumors 68000

    Jun 16, 2008
    Chaos Rings is by far my favourite iOS game. I've played it quite a bit on my 3GS, and the graphics look phenomenal. They're aliased, though, which I don't mind due to the size of the screen.

    I received my iPhone 4 the other day and went to play Chaos Rings on it, understanding it's not retina enabled, but under the impression that due to the dpi simply being doubled and the size of the screen staying the same, it would simply be downgraded to half resolution and look identical.

    It doesn't! It looks horrible. Like some poor attempt at anti-aliasing was attempted. The graphics look like someone took a screenshot and attempted to lower the quality. It's very… smudged looking.

    It's hard to show, but I'll try:

    iPhone 4:



  2. tizzl10 macrumors regular


    Aug 25, 2010

    the same reason why standard definition programming looks like crap on a HD television display.
  3. nfl46 macrumors 604

    Oct 5, 2008
  4. Xenc macrumors 65816


    May 8, 2010
    London, England
    The pixels are being stretched to fill the full resolution of the screen, causing pixelation.
  5. v15h44l macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2008
    If you look hard enough at your question, you'll find the answer!!!

    ......"non Retina"
  6. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    No, not stretched. Quadrupled.

    "Stretched" would mean a different sized screen, which isn't the case.

    In this case, 1 pixel becomes 4 pixels. But those 4 pixels take the same place of the original pixel. No stretching involved.

    I'm kind of surprised that the OP sees much difference. I haven't noticed my old apps looking much different on the i4 than they did on my 3G.

    (I wonder if it's a case with this game specifically...perhaps the rendering engine is outputing things differently on the new hardware than it did on the old one?)

    I dunno. I just know that many of the old apps I have don't seem to look much different. I just checked one namd "Fairies Fly," for example, and it looks the same as I remember it looking before.
  7. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    Indeed. The i4 actual needs 4 times as many pixels. The app is just up-scaled.

    Just like when you watch SD content on a HD tv: it doesn't look very good.
  8. Meyvn macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2005
    It would be far more helpful to see a side-by-side rendition of the same frame, of very close to the same frame, rather than two completely different angles, color schemes, and places in the game. As it stands, I'd agree the bottom frame looks better, but I'm not sure it's to do with the different devices.

    Assuming it is, however, I'm going say that it seems likely there's two things going on simultaneously:

    1. The upscaling algorithm isn't working well with some games/apps, and the pixel smoother isn't very good. I've experienced this problem with certain PSX and PS2 games on the PS3.
    2. They look even worse by comparison because of the actual retina-approved apps by comparison.

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