Attention, gamers: Your smartphone display's super-high resolution means little, and here's why

It's only when we feel we have sufficient data to back our point up do we feel comfortable making sweeping generalizations, but in the case of smartphones, its fair to say that we have our very own little Space Race. The rush is spearheaded by the Android crowd for the most part, with competing Apple doing things its own way, preferring to weigh in indirectly. But the facts are facts — deca-core processors, more generous allotments of RAM than ever, and tiny displays that fit more pixels than your 50-inch flat-screen...
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104 Comments

85. xperian

Posts: 417; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

both iphone and samsung don't have real antialiasing, but samsung looks antialiased because of upscaling. If it was rendered in QHD, you would see stairstepping (when looking through some kind of zooming lenses, because of very high ppi, or even not see because of pentile), but on iphone it would be more noticable because of lower ppi. Phones are not yet powerful enough for real antialiasing

7. luis.d

Posts: 354; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Killer work, Chris!

28. CamaroSS

Posts: 173; Member since: Jul 24, 2012

Yes, but go easy on the synonyms =) It can backfire sometimes :P "your eyesight likely just isn't 'acute' enough"

8. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Omfg once again iphonearena does it. So because games for now are scaled up, and not really supporting 2k screens the tech ofc isn't needed.... Well when I put on my VR cardboard, I wish my S6 had 4k.....

17. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Yes, it's a very poorly written article. It's like saying 4k TVs are useless because YouTube doesn't have enough 4k content yet. Sure I am guilty of stream low quality movies and not caring if it even approaches blue ray quality. Sometimes it's not necessary. But when you watch a Pixar film or something like Avatar or Jurassic world, you want at least 1080 and if they make 4k versions eventually. Sweet! Bring it on! Don't downplay more resolution because your favourite handset is only 750p and your fine it. What a joke of an article. ...

22. Niva.

Posts: 440; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

I'm really not sure why people use cell phones for VR, if VR is so hugely important why don't you get dedicated hardware? We're already past the point of diminishing returns and specs for the sake of specs when it comes to phone display resolution or camera megapixels. It really doesn't matter all that much. That being said I agree with the fact the article was stupid, especially the title.

31. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Actually, yes, 4K TVs still have limited appeal today, because there simply isn't enough content to warrant the hefty premium you'll be paying for tech that will drop dramatically in cost two years down the line when you'll actually have stuff to watch on it. In any case, what you seem to forget is that our job here is to evaluate tech as it stands right now, not 5 years from now. And right now, the price of, lets continue with the TV primer, a 4K flat screen largely trumps the gains in image quality when content is as limited. Once Pixar movies start rolling out in 4K, it'll be an entirely different argument. Until then, it's probably a better idea for the average Joe to stick to a more reasonably priced, 1080p TV. Oh, and just to be clear, my favorite handset is my Android phone.

46. Tizo101

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

since you've already brought the price into the equation... why do you have a problem with the 2k screen on the S6 since it cost as much as an iPhone 6 which has a lower resolution?

49. CamaroSS

Posts: 173; Member since: Jul 24, 2012

How about keeping TVs out of this discussion :P 4K TVs are awesome and you notice the difference right off the bat on 50+ inch screens and the price is actually dropping faster than it did in early 1080p days. People should avoid 1080p TVs at this point if they want to keep their new TV for couple years.

67. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

4k TV's are a 1000 now. You would be a fool to buy a 1080p set for 800 now.

88. cheetah2k

Posts: 2198; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Netflix Chris.. you heard of it yeah? Has 4K mate.. maybe you should get out of the Apple store?

12. jove39

Posts: 2143; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Asphalt 8 - plate looks better on iPhone 6 Plus. S6 is bad and iPhone 6 is worst. 1080p > 1440p > whatever weird resolution iPhone 6 has. It's hard to understand how 1080p has more detail than 1440p...may be game has 1080p assets and samsung ruins them while upscaling?

16. Macready

Posts: 1813; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

The iPhones get different (better) textures in Asphalt and the Plus scales down from an internal 2208x1242 (1242P) resolution to 1080P, which helps sharpness and reduction of artifacts too. The S6 just gets 1080P from the game developers and scales it to its native 1440P resolution. The API's and especially software support for those API's (from the game developers in this case) are important for the final results too. Here's hoping that Vulkan does for Android what Metal did for iOS in certain games (and Vulkan will probably replace Metal for iOS too).

20. TyrionLannister unregistered

Asphalt 8 on Android: OpenGL Asphalt 8 on iOS: metal. Here's your answer.

29. jove39

Posts: 2143; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

How OpenGL vs Metal decrease detail in assets? Metal improved performance in terms of fps...but detail in assets has very little to do with that.

51. TyrionLannister unregistered

It was upto devs. They could have kept the graphics same with increased fps, or they could have increased graphics keeping fps same. It was the latter with Asphalt 8.

13. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

"This isn't just a problem that can be fixed by display makers like Samsung or LG, though, as software developers have at least as big a role to play by ensuring that their games actually do look better on more advanced hardware. As it is, they seldom do, and while we can't blame them, we sure hope that further investments by both sides will eventually lead to tangible benefits. Of course, even if that does happen, it'll remain to be seen if as pixel-dense screens as 1440p panels really improve user experience, especially when considering that they don't come free — not for Samsung, and not for you." Lol that is the most laughable conclusion I ever read, especially that last sentence considering Apple charges you a lot more for the puketastic yellow tinted low res display than Samsung does for their gorgeous display. So that pretty much nullifies this entire article. And if it doesn't come free for Samsung....why do we even care? Do we want them to just pocket the difference like Apple does and rip off the consumers? Even if the GS6 used a 750p display and it costs less because of it, the consumer wouldn't see it. Samsung would see it in their profit margins so and the savings wouldn't be passed down to us anyways, so give me the 1440p display any day. Ps. I do notice quite a big difference in that shot with the wrench he hi lighted. It's pretty glaring actually. Also, this test doesn't touch on video or movement that our eyes are designed to process. Plus there are no studies where they ask which picture looks better where it will be obvious which smartphone would win. Don't get me wrong. The Optimus G, Nexus 4, Moto G 1st gen, and Xperia Z3 comoact all have good looking displays for their time, especially the Optimus G and Moto G. But sorry. Besides maybe the Optimus G display, 1080p display and up look a lot better in usage. The iPhone 6 display is yellow tinted junk though. Way too warm and the whites look dirty yellow if it's on auto brightness. You have to crank up the brightness on that tiny 1850 mah battery for it to not look like yellow tinted junk and I can't do that without crippling the phone.

14. BattleBrat

Posts: 1476; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

THE RESOLUTION IS FOR VR HEADSETS!!!

19. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Considering that iPhone 6 scales everything down from 1080p on a smaller screen and S6 has Pentile matrix (30% less subpixels) on larger display I'm suprised thet the difference is so noticeable.

24. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I could be wrong but I don't think the iPhone 6 down scales from 1080p or it would choke on that 1810 mah battery. The iPhone 6 plus runs natively at a higher resolution than 1080p and down scales to 1080p but I believe the iPhone 6 stays exactly where it is.

60. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

IP6 doesn the same thing, otherwise quality would be much worse. It also has very little to do with the battery. Display's size and brightness are much more important.

21. TyrionLannister unregistered

I've been saying that for ages. Higher resolution doesn't affect gaming performance.

25. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Display size is a huge factor that this article ignores. Well it did mention dminishung returns in had sets 5inches or lower but then goes on to include a 5.5 1080p display. I mean what? Stay consistent, that's important to the reader. Lol

27. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Doesn't ignore it at all. In fact, it argues that point extensively.

33. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Go proofread your article, the only time it mentions display size is the introduction paragraph and not in very much detail either. You just mentioned there are diminishing returns in anything 5 inches or smaller. Nowhere did you mention that a tiny 3.5 inch iPhone displays are small enough that you can make the same conclusions by staying the iPhone 4s resolution is high enough and 750p is overkill. Or nowhere did you mention that 1080p would make a huge difference on 5.5 inch displays like on the iPhone 6 plus. You should maybe put a 720p 5.5 inch display like a Zenfone or Alcatel phone vs a 1080p 5.5 inch display like the Oneplus. And then compare that difference with the difference between the One X vs the M7. With proper parameters and control like that, only then can you begin to make any relevant comparison. Sorry, but when comparing a 4.7 inch 750p display, vs a 5.5 inch 1080p display, vs a 5.1 inch 1440p display,, the display size is more of a factor than the resolution ever is. The parameters are just poor.

37. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Read the article.

26. Andrewtst

Posts: 696; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Stupid article! It is so obvious. The iPhone 6 is badly pixelate. Only at least up to iphone 6 plus standard is acceptable. S6 2K display is yes well known useless on over high resolution but at least FHD is must!

57. gaming64 unregistered

Because it isn't a 1080 display? Games do not depend on the resolution for instance. Resolution doesn't boost gaming experience. It's just there for graphics wh*res as flamebait material.

30. Shocky unregistered

So what have we learnt? #1 Many games don't run at 1440p, #2 Many games are not optimized for 1440p #3 Due to #1 and #2 it's not always easy to see a difference. Great, thank you Captain obvious. In other news, farts smell and the sky is blue.

32. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

#4 Even if games ran at 1440p, you'd have a pretty hard time noticing the difference from 1080p on a tiny, 5-inch display. And just to be clear, this (and the other points you made) are far less clear to the general populace than you obviously think. #5 Given #4, one can't help but wonder if a 1440p really is worth it, especially right now, with content tailored for it being as scarce. That's not all, however — performance drops, and so does battery life.

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