Chrome for iOS has been my main browser since I bought my iPad over a year ago. I love the way it syncs my bookmarks and history with my desktop Chrome browser and its familiar UI. But one thing that occasionally annoys me is its speed. From the start Chrome was marketed as the fast browser but so often on iOS it feels like I’m browsing in bullet time.
I blamed it partly on having the first iPad with a retina display (3rd gen) which is a little underpowered to push around all those pixels. But mainly, I just figured that all mobiles and tablets were slow, right? Well, not quite…
An early Xmas present to myself, the Nexus 5
Yep, I received my Nexus 5 just the other day, and man I’m impressed, everything is so fast. Maybe I was jaded by my old Android 2.35 phone, but I never expected the Nexus 5 to be so snappy and pleasant to browse the internet with. I’m almost preferring it to the iPad even given the massive difference in screen size. Could it actually be quicker than the iPad?
The Nexus 5 took 693ms to complete, and the iPad took a whopping 6283ms. The iPad 3 is an order of magnitude slower than the Nexus 5!
Could the iPad 3 hardware, released only 20 months before the Nexus 5, really be that much slower?
Let’s try iOS Safari
After browsing some heavyweight sites for a few minutes Safari definitely feels a good bit faster than Chrome, and the benchmarks confirm it. Sunspider 0.9.1 gave iOS Safari a result of 1303.4ms, half the speed of the Nexus 5 but almost 5 times the speed of iOS Chrome!
Sunspider 0.9.1 Results
(lower is better)
|Android Chrome (Nexus 5, Android 4.4):||693.2ms +/- 0.7%|
|iOS Safari (iPad 3, iOS 7):||1303.4ms +/- 0.4%|
|iOS Chrome* (iPad 3, iOS 7):||6258.5ms +/- 0.4%|
* Strangely, while running the benchmark on iOS Chrome the little spinner in the iOS 7 status bar which normally indicates network activity would flicker on and off, which didn’t happen when running on iOS Safari. Probably not a clue to the bad perfomance though because this never happened when running Octane 2.0 which gave just as abysmal a result.
Octane 2.0 results
(higher is better)
|Android Chrome (Nexus 5, Android 4.4):||4042, 3876|
|iOS Safari (iPad 3, iOS 7):||1346, 1484|
|iOS Chrome (iPad 3, iOS 7):||260, 260|
This test, probably more taxing than Sunspider 0.9.1, shows the same trend but this time the differences are actually magnified. The Nexus 5 was almost 3 times faster than iOS Safari, and this time iOS Safari was over 5 times faster than iOS Chrome. (Boy did Chrome feel slow on this one, each run took 13 minutes!)