One of my favorite thing about the iOS world is how many AAA industry veterans are returning to their roots of indie development, potentially bringing decades of experience with them. This is the case with Glenn Corpes, whose 20+ years in video games has had his hands in Populous, Dungeon Keeper, and a ton of other great games. On the App Store, he's released Ground Effect [$2.99] and is hard at work on Topia: Age of Creation.

Anyway, in a recent interview with Glenn explains that even though the iPhone 4S looks identical to the iPhone 4 on the outside, the internals represent an even bigger leap than the one between the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Corpes calls A4 devices "irritating," as they had tons of potential utilizing shaders, but were ultimately too slow at processing the actual pixels. Things were only made worst by the Retina Display, as App Store customers quickly became disinterested in anything that didn't push all 614,400 pixels.

He explains that some of the cool shaders we've seen in Infinity Blade 2 could be done at a lower resolution, but you just can't release games like that. A5 devices, on the other hand, are powerful enough to use shaders that would have only been useful on PC's and current-generation consoles before. While fully utilizing the 3GS required code rewrites, developers can take advantage of the 4S by simply using better shaders. Even more spare horsepower can be utilized with anti-aliasing, post processing effects, and other things A4 devices weren't capable of.

I imagine just like the 3GS, it'll take some time for developers to actually start taking advantage of all the new capabilities iPhone 4S. I can't wait.


  • Anonymous

    For someone who's had a game console from the Atari 2600 to the Playstation 2 and Xbox, I'm astounded at the games coming out based on the Unreal Engine. Surprisingly, these were initially meant for the iPhone 4, despite Corpes' problems.

  • Cat Astrophy

    Except when the 3GS came out they didn't really have any other smartphone competition. Now with Android churning out some serious competitors, Apple dropped the ball hard on needing to pump out a leader in nearly every category. Also, of course the 4S is going to be a bigger leap, we had to wait longer between the 4 and the 4S than we did with the 3G and the 3GS.

    • Anonymous

      Leader in what catagories?

      • Cat Astrophy

        Let's see. Data? LOL @ 3G HSPA. Tiny screen (which makes the resolution seem higher because it's so tiny). Crappy front camera (don't they want people to use FaceTime?). 512MB of RAM...WTF? You lose half of it from the basic apps and the iOS essential processes! Doesn't support USB On-the-Go (oh wait...doesn't even HAVE USB). What a terrible send-off for poor Jobs. Apple had the freedom to do these tiny upgrades back in the 3GS days but with Android taking huge bites out of their marketshare they really needed to blow the lid off the roof with an iPhone5. Especially after that pointless delay over the summer.

      • Anonymous

        Psudo-typical avatar (Sean Connery) and blah blah about Android on an article about Mac. Also raving on about the typical things like USB blah blah.. Why don't you ask why the iPhone doesn't have a HDMI input and BluRay support.. Boring.. You're a blowfly..

      • Anonymous

        Right......... so basically the stuff that the average smartphone/mobile device owner ios/android doesnt care about.

      • Im not

        The only actual flaw that's relevant to the average consumer is how restrictive Apple is with iOS. There's nothing really wrong with the hardware. The fact is that practically all iOS devices are capable of running Adobe Flash and alternative browsers, however Apple simply won't let that happen. We could have a Mozilla Firefox app with full Flash support by now.

    • Anonymous

      Apple put a SGX543MP2 in the iPhone 4S which is twice faster than the next fastest smartphone, which is the Galaxy S2 with the Mali-400MP4. From the point of view of games, gamers, and game developers, which is what this site focuses on, Apple already made a huge push over the competition for this generation.

      • ChristiSeattle

        Have you even seen what's available on Android or are you simply talking out your ass like every other ignorant fanboy?

      • Anonymous

        why don't u amaze us?!?!?!?! otherwise .. free-trolling!

      • Anonymous

        Are you kidding me? I have BOTH the GS2 and IP4S and I have to say that games are better looking, more optimized (smoother), and just a better gaming experience with more quality apps on the iPhone. Now, I love my GS2 as well! I bought it because I wanted to taste what android had to offer. My biggest issue to date is how fragmented android has become with HTC, Samsung, and Motorola churning out handsets trying to out spec each other. In reality, while the processor of my GS2 is slightly faster than the processor of the A5, the graphics of the A5 completely destroys the graphics in the GS2. That's a fact that can be found everywhere (with many tech sites). In fact, if anything, both the phones cover different aspects of what I would love in my dream phone. If they only put them together!

        Overall however, at least in my opinion, I believe that the IP4S is currently the most powerful gaming workhorse that any smartphone has to offer. I have yet to find any android game that looks better than infinity blade (1 or 2) and that says something.

      • Anonymous

        If you have a list of currently shipping smartphones with a much better GPU than the iPhone 4S or a list of games on Android that are noticeably superior graphically to refute my point that Apple is making good progress in this area, feel free to mention them and dispel my apparent ignorance in this matter.

      • Cat Astrophy

        A huge push for developers would be open source. Apple has so much crap locked down that all the good stuff comes from jailbreaking. 1GB of RAM would have gone much further in providing an actual smooth experience. The cost of developing games that would produce graphics so detailed that the 4S processor would be needed are likely going to need to price themselves out-of-market, not to mention be niche because they don't pull in nearly the total revenue the casual games too. Sure they can still make money like Chair Ent, but so can Rovio for a lot less.

        You don't get to focus on just one aspect of the new phone. All gamers and non-gamers get the same upgrade and everyone uses their phone for more than just games so it definitely matters.

        Grats on a phone with a Ferrari engine that still has $50 tires, a rusted axle, 5 miles to the gallon, neon lights and 4 hood ornaments.

      • Adams Immersive

        Then to be fair, Android fans also shouldn't get to focus on just selected aspects of a new phone 😉

      • Anonymous

        It's obvious that u don't use a 4s! Much smoother than smooth?!?! It's as smooth as it can be, trust me! Iphone 4 was smooth as well with the OS, but it was slow in games (A4 is an antique already). 
        Let me tell u why ios is ok even with 512 ram: while android has true multitasking (and it requires a bigger memory foot-print for apps open in the background), ios has their own type of multitasking that freezes the apps in the back thus, they take a lot less memory! 
        And don't forget, PS3 and X360 both have........ yep, u've guessed, 512!

      • Anonymous

        When the iPad 2 was released, Tim Sweeney of Epic Games came out and said 512MB of RAM was not a limiting factor for game development since that's the same as current consoles, which is the standard point of reference. Yes, consoles can be programmed close-to-metal while iOS is comparatively heavy with background tasks, but much of this is offset by the lower resolution of the iPad 2 compared to consoles so less RAM is needed for the GPU. If Epic Games believes 512MB of RAM is not a problem for the iPad 2, then 512MB is even less of a problem for the iPhone 4S since the resolution is lower. 
        Bill Karagounis, manager of Microsoft's performance team, has also gone on the record as saying more RAM results in a higher battery life drain. People portray Apple sticking with 512MB of RAM as them skimping and compromising the user experience, but independent technical analysis by partners and competitors bears out the reason why. 512MB is not a major size limitation for developers while provides superior battery life to 1GB of RAM. It was a compromise to maximize overall user experience not hinder it. As you say not everyone using the phone with focus on games, but battery life affects everyone.

      • Dr. Mark Lipschitz

        You have no clue about what you are talking about.  First, games will always run like crap when developers have to make a game compatible with so many different chipsets.  Every time a new Android phone comes out I have to update my phone, it seems like I have to update my Android phone everyday.  Are these games optimized for my particular phone? This is killing my ram.  You got the car analogy all wrong.  The iPhone is the Ferrari all the parts were specifically made for this phone.  Android phones are more like GM cars that use the same parts in different brands and models. 

      • Anonymous

        fragmentation?  pshh... look at the pc gaming world, it can't get any more fragmented, yet it owns all macs.

    • Anonymous

      are u serious? u're on a website for mobile gaming! how many games out of all the ones u see here do u see on android as well?! The competition with android (at this point) is for the ones who like big numbers, like 20000Ghz, 20000inch screen, 20000MB RAM etc, but in terms of gaming, there's no real competition for iphone, other than dedicated mobile consoles. (btw, with all the big numbers in android phones, iphone's dual core video chip is 2 times faster than anything in android's court)

      • Cat Astrophy

        Where's Minecraft? The tables are turning on where games are getting developed first.

      • Anonymous

        Nope, it just matters what platform has more games, and so far ios has a looooot more! 

  • C

    Just got my iPhone 4S from someone off Craigslist! I'm psyched for iPhone 4S optimized games!!!

    • Anonymous

      gaming on phones suck, ipad2 ftw

  • Curtis Shideler

    Sure the 4S is faster and can offer better gaming than the 4G. But are there enough 4S owners out there to make games for JUST them? If game developers are smart, they'll cater to the largest audience first and make games that will sell over games that look a little better just for the sake of looking better.

    • Anonymous

      With 4 mil sold in the first weekend (who knows how many till today), YES there are enough owners! Not to mention that the ipad2 has the same specs (A5, 512, same videochip).
      That's better than most androids.

  • Orest Shvadchak

    It's still just a phone..

  • John Francis

    I will say as a dev that the 4S performance is absolutely amazing. There's bound to be some market segmentation if people really take advantage of it but I'm continually pleased with core performance improvements in iOS devices.

    • Cat Astrophy

      512MB ftw am I right?

  • Dona Duan

    I perfer iPhone 4S to the android smarphone. Though I seldom play games, I like watching moives on the trip with my 4S or iPad.

  • Greatnoob

    Hello there guys, I'm currently an iOS developer and have switched from Android's SDK to the "XCODE way".

    I'd like to highlight that the post is completely true concerning shaders. Here are my observations:

    1. The iPhone 3GS is far superior than the iPhone 4 GPU-wise
    2. The iPhone 3GS can run some of my GPU-heavy games at 45-60 fps where as CPU-heavy games (which require a lot of hit detections per ticks and fancy two dimensional looping) are what slow down games
    3. The iPhone 4 is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of the iPhone 3GS, it excels at CPU, drowns itself at GPU
    4. If the A4 Chip had used Imagination's SGX540 Chipset I guarantee the iPhone 4 will outmatch the iPhone 3GS by a huge mile while having higher textures AND better performance CPU-wise

    Recently I got my hands on the iPhone 4S:
    1. The iPhone 4S (referiing specifically to the A5 SoC) basically:
       a) demolishes the previous dilemmas (iPhone 3GS with better GPU and inferior CPU performance and the iPhone 4 with better CPU but inferior GPU performance)
        b) runs at even HIGHER frame rates with extra-high res textures
        c) allows developers, such as my team and I, to implement mind-blowing shaders which are commonly seen on consoles on a mobile device
    2. The iPhone 4S is not a step-up, it's a revolution
    3. Combine the A5 with a bigger screen and overclock it a couple of hertz and I guarantee the iPhone 5 will do better than the iPhone 4S in screen size AND in speed

    In conclusion, the A5 chipset is by far the MOST beneficial factor for developers and is the best combination, with the added benefit it beats even upcoming smarthphones (as they are all using SGX540 and/or similar spec'd GPUs or SGX544's which are single core GPUs)

  • Windy Green

    I perfer iPhone 4S to the android smarphone. Though I seldom play games, I like watching moives on the trip with my 4S or iPad.