Android Smartphone Web Browser Is 52 Percent Faster than iPhone Browser, Study Finds
As if the smartphone wars weren’t fierce enough already, now comes an additional piece of ammunition for defenders of Google’s Android mobile operating system. On average, the Web browser pre-installed on Android phones loads Web pages 52 percent faster than the Safari browser on Apple’s iPhone, according to a study released today.
The purported Safari speedup has “no material impact on real-world sites,” according to Guy Podjarny, chief technology officer at Blaze Software, the Ottawa, Ontario-based startup that carried out the tests.
Blaze specializes in technology that makes Web pages load faster in multiple browsers. The company collected the data in its own test laboratory, where it has racks of Samsung Nexus S and Galaxy S phones running Android 2.2 and 2.3, along with Apple iPhone 4 devices running iOS 4.2 and 4.3. In what Blaze claims is the largest study to date of smartphone browser performance, the company timed the Android and Apple phones on 45,000 visits to the public websites of all of the Fortune 1000 companies. About 84 percent of the time, the Android phones finished loading the visited page first, while the iPhones won only 16 percent of the time.
“I was betting on Android to be a little faster. But 50 percent faster—that is a much more major difference than what I was anticipating,” Padjorny says.
Blaze provides a free service called “Mobitest” that allows website owners to test the performance of their sites on actual phones in Blaze’s labs. Once it had built the Mobitest facility, the company realized that it could also be used to compare smartphone browsers, Podjarny says. “We said, ‘What interesting insights can we harvest,’ and one of the ones we were most curious about was who is actually faster—is iPhone faster than Android? Now that we have over 45,000 measurements, we definitively know the answer.”
The lesson for Apple in the study results, Podjarny says, is “you should measure your assumptions. We have this tool now. Go ahead and use whatever internal tools you have too, but then test it [on Mobitest] and see if it fares as expected.” And there’s a larger lesson for Web developers: they shouldn’t assume that their sites will perform identically on Android phones and iPhones. “Site owners need to take care to measure performance and understand what their site looks like when viewed through the lens of an iOS device and an Android device,” Podjarny says.