Android vs. iPhone: Which has the faster web browser? Two studies disagree

Mar 18, 2011 By Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Android phones vs. iPhones - it's the smart phone equivalent of the Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees.

And two recent studies on which has the speedier web browser - two studies that contradict each other - are providing more fuel to the fanboy/girl fire.

According to a new study released Friday from Blaze Software, web pages load 52 percent quicker on the Samsung Nexus S running Google's 2.3, also known as Android , than the Apple 4 running iOS 4.3 - both the latest phones running the latest versions of their respective operating systems.

Blaze, based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, provides services that make websites load faster on mobile devices - such as .

The company said in announcing its study that it ran more than 45,000 webpage loading tests, across the websites of Fortune 1000 firms, on both Android 2.3 and iOS 4.3 to get its results.

"First of all, we found that Android's browser is faster," Blaze said. "Not just a little faster, but a whopping 52 percent faster. Android's Chrome beat iPhone's Safari by loading 84 percent of the websites faster, meaning Safari won the race only 16 percent of the time. While we expected to see one of the browsers come out on top, we didn't expect this gap."

And, in spite of the optimized JavaScript engines in the newest releases of Android and iOS, browsing speed wasn't improved when compared to previous versions of the two mobile operating systems.

"Both Apple and tout great performance improvements, but those seem to be reserved to JavaScript benchmarks and high-complexity apps," Blaze said. "If you expect pages to show up faster after an upgrade, you'll be sorely disappointed."

But, as PC World magazine pointed out on its website, the Blaze study contradicts a report released last month from Gomez, a Lexington, Mass., company and owned by Detroit-based Compuware.

Like Blaze, Gomez offers technology to help make websites and apps load faster on mobile devices.

The Gomez study found that Apple's iPhone loaded webpages an average of 17 seconds faster than phones running Google's Android OS.

For its study, Gomez used data from its own customers and looked at 282 million webpages loaded across 200 websites.

While fans could point to the Gomez study and Goolge devotees could tout the Blaze report, PC World said both prove that mobile browser tests are overall unreliable.

"With real-world testing, there too many variables, such as network congestion and server problems," PC World said. "Closed networks and benchmarks, on the other hand, aren't really representative of what real users will experience. In any case, if you're complaining that your super-futuristic smart phone renders pages a second or two slower than the competition, you may want to step back, take a walk and rethink your priorities."

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not rated yet Mar 18, 2011
There's no contradiction here.

One study is comparing Android 2.3 on the Nexus S vs iOS 4.3 on the iPhone 4 - a very clearly defined comparison.

The other is just "iOS vs Android on a large scale".

They're both valid benchmarks, but they're measuring entirely different things.
not rated yet Mar 19, 2011
safari is horrid, can't believe it still exists. No real cool browsers at the moment, just bohemoth company stuff. Firefox is getting bloated now, there needs to be a new underdog browser that whips butt like firefox once did.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2011
Perhaps Blaze's findings relate more to the fact that the iPhone 4 has approximately 92% more pixels (the iPhone 4 has 614,400 while the Galaxy S has only 320,000) to calculate and render to the display in full 24bit color! I suspect that data density might take a bit longer to handle before the page is finished and ready for our viewing pleasure. Of course, it should also be noted that at heart both Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome browsers are using the same WEBKIT rendering engine developed by Apple, and still owned by Apple, although licensed by Apple to Google Android and others under FOSS licensing. So essentially the rendering engine being used and tested is identical anyway!
not rated yet Mar 20, 2011
There is a CNET post that provides more information on this matter. An exerpt from that post states that Blaze used "their own proprietary app, which uses an embedded Web viewer that doesn't actually take advantage of Safari's Web performance optimizations," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. "Despite this fundamental testing flaw, they still only found an average of a second difference in loading Web pages."

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