How do native iPad apps compare with "pixel doubling" iPhone/iPod touch apps on the iPad? When Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall first introduced their magical new device, one of the bullet points hardest hit was that most of the (then) 150,000 iPhone apps would "just work" on the iPad -- either letter-and-pillar boxed, 1:1 in the center of the iPad screen, or with 2X "pixel doubling" that made both horizontal and vertical sizes twice as big (480x320 iPhone apps would show up as 960x640 on the iPad's 1024x768 screen).

It looked fine on the videos but people on the scene said there was a little (or more than a little) jagged edged, aliases, blurred chunk going on in there.

So we put some games and other apps to the test to see for ourselves and the verdict...

Eh, they're alright. The looks faired from okay to pretty good, but when compared to native iPad apps you really notice the lack of iPad-ness -- like watching an SD movie blown up to HD, you start to miss the details. It's almost claustrophobic at times because you know a real iPad app could just blow out of those lower-res constraints. And while the sliding screens work really well on the iPhone, once you get used to popovers and sidebars on the iPad, you miss those as well when they're not present.

  • For Universal Binaries (apps with both iPhone and iPad interfaces included), this is a moot point of course. You get the best of both and a consistent experience between devices.
  • For free iPad apps, just download the higher res version. It can be a pain to double-up on your apps but it's worth it.
  • For paid apps, try the iPhone version first but check out the iPad versions and if the extra usability or functionality is worth it to you, get it.

I ended up getting almost all native iPad apps, but I'm a sucker for UI. If you've found any iPad versions you couldn't live without, or any you wish you hadn't spent the cash on, let us know in the comments!

Videos and screenshots after the break!

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