chainfire logoHere at TechNorms, we rock a variety of different devices. Some of us enjoy iPads, others the classic Galaxy S II, and our editor has a nice iPhone. It’s one of the perks of being a technology journalist, really. You can always justify a shiny new device as being a “work purchase.” However, we still hang onto some older stuff. We still have an original HTC Evo 4G, an Android phone for Sprint that is decidedly more dated these days.

With another mobile OS, we might be forced to upgrade to a new phone (not that we’re thinking of anyone in particular, Apple). This is Android, though. For every problem there is a creative hack by somebody over at XDA, as long as you have the technical expertise to use it. Chainfire 3D is one of those hacks. Even better, it doesn’t require much of any technical expertise (we assume you can copy files to the SD card). Here’s why you should look at this impressive app.

What Chainfire 3D Does?

On a technical level, Chainfire 3D sits in between the Android system and your display. In this comfortable slot as a third wheel, it can filter commands and change what’s shown on the screen. Think of it as a really cool way to customize your video performance. Not that this procedure is risky, but make a Nandroid backup anyways before installing.

The app is really targeted at the lower end of Android, though high-end devices can still get some use out of it. However, if you’re stuck with a cheap smart phone that really can’t do as much, Chainfire can give it one hell of a performance boost.

Something For Everyone

Chainfire does come with a couple features that everyone can use, even on high-end Android. The app can toggle settings for images displayed on the screen so that they take up less memory. It’s like underclocking the graphics part of your phone.

We tried the low-end settings and found that it helped performance a noticeable amount. Everything generally felt quite snappy. The TechNorms website (the full version, not mobile) rendered flawlessly with zero tiling or fuzzy placeholders. Our full site isn’t exactly light on the formatting, so it was pretty impressive to see that kind of performance on the Evo 4G.

The Evo is a great phone and all, but it certainly does not handle rendering images quite as well as it should. However, with Chainfire running, everything looked good. We tried to get some kind of stutter or fuzziness by zooming in and out and scrolling around the page, but all the images remained perfectly smooth.

The other feature targeted at all phones is the addition of night mode. Using electronic gadgets at night can be kind of blinding. Night mode renders the screen in entirely one color, similar to f.lux and CyanogenMod’s color system.

Supposedly this sort of filtering is better for you and improves your circadian rhythms. We can’t confirm this, but a filtered screen is certainly easier on the eyes at night. If you pick amber as the filter color, then it’s even still readable. Dish out for the pro version of Chainfire and you can set custom colors and everything.

Using night mode is better for battery, too. Since the screen is only using one color, it draws less power. To top everything off, Chainfire can put a nice-looking toggle icon on the launcher for easy switching.

A Kick In The Pants

The other end of Chainfire 3D is an option to force all graphics to run in high-resolution mode. Your phone might not want to display images in 32-bit color, but the app forces it to do so anyway.

The results are nothing short of spectacular. We got Samurai II: Vengeance THD to actually play. This is a game designed specifically for quad-core Tegra 3 devices (e.g. not our single-core Snapdragon Evo 4G). Not only did we get it to run, but it ran completely and utterly flawlessly. Hell, our phone was even undervolted.

Seriously, give this game a try. The manga-style graphics look absolutely gorgeous. The whole thing looks like something you’d see on a video game console. Quite frankly, this is the best visuals we’ve ever seen our trusty old Evo 4G put out.

Chainfire works. We were quite proud of ourselves for getting a game designed for devices exponentially more powerful than our own to not only run, but run perfectly. This is one useful app.

Installing The Kick

In order to run Chainfire 3D in super awesome mode, you need a plugin for your processor. Installation is as easy as copying a file to the SD card. Download the pack of plugins from here and extract the contents.

There should be three different files, one for each type of processor. If you don’t know the phone’s processor off the top of your head, google “(name of your phone) specs.” That should return a page with the name and processor type (Qualcomm, Nvidia, or PowerVR).

Once you know which one works with your device, copy that .zip file over the root of the SD card. Now open up Chainfire and select the option to “Install plugins/shaders.” The app should find the plugin you copied to the SD card. Select it and let Chainfire install.

Now go back to the OpenGL settings. Scroll down to the plugins option and select the one you just installed (it should be the only option). To put your phone into super mode, turn off “Reduce texture quality” and “Reduce texture size” and turn on “Unroll textures.” There, it’s in super mode.

Final Thoughts

Chainfire 3D is quite an app. We’ve never seen anything like it before (there’s no way something like this could ever make it to iOS) and it is impressive. A slight downside is that it is having some issues on Honeycomb and ICS, but those should not stop you from checking out Chainfire 3D. Whether or not you’re looking for a little extra battery or a whole lot more performance, Chainfire can do that.

For details/queries/questions, visit the Chainfire 3D thread over at XDA.

Download Chainfire 3D Android App:


Chainfire 3D in Google Play Store