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Android-iPhone browser speed test called 'flawed'

Bloggers pick apart Blaze's methodology for measuring Web browser speeds on Android and iPhone.

By Jeff Caruso on Thu, 03/17/11 - 4:19pm.

Blaze Software stirred up an Apple fanboy hornet's nest today when it released the results of a speed showdown between browsers on Google's Android and Apple's iPhone - and bloggers are now claiming that those results are flawed.

The study said that Android's Chrome Web browser was, on average, 52% faster than iPhone's Safari browser.

However, Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop points out that the test methodology says the study was done using the iPhone's embedded browser UIWebView, not Safari per se:

The problem with using UIWebView is that, even though it's based on Safari, it didn't receive any of the updates that Safari did in iOS 4.3. Using an embedded browser is not the same as using the official browser. Apple's Safari Web browser included the Nitro JavaScript engine that Apple said runs JavaScript up to twice as fast as its predecessor. Since UIWebView didn't include any of those enhancements, it's kind of disingenuous to say that Android beat Safari.

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Spearately, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet reached the same conclusion:

Hold on a moment. Blaze is using a custom app. There's a problem with that. As I talked about the other day, Apple is limiting the use of the improved Nitro engine in iOS 4.3 to Safari. Other apps that use the UIWebView controller used by applications to access the web. This could well skew the results significantly.
Given the UIWebView controller issue, combined with the wildly fluctuating results I was getting for one site, I'm going to say that all data puled from this test should be treated as speculative and for entertainment purposes only.

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Jon Gruber's Daring Fireball piles on:

That's not to say it isn't interesting that Android's WebView for apps is faster than iOS's UIWebView for apps, but it just isn't true that these results are indicative of anything regarding Mobile Safari's performance. It's easy to see that Mobile Safari is faster than UIWebView - just run something like the SunSpider benchmark twice, once in Mobile Safari and once in any app from the App Store with a web content view. On my iPhone 4, Mobile Safari runs SunSpider almost three times as fast as an app using UIWebView.

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And PCWorld's Jared Newman points out that the results are vastly different from another recent study:

Perhaps the big takeaway here is one that we've known for some time: browser speed tests can be pretty unreliable. With real-world testing, there too many variables, such as network congestion and server problems. 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 smartphone 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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