Which Browser Should You Be Running On Your iPad And iPhone?

Final Placing And The iOS Winner's Circle

With the mobile Web Browser Grand Prix, we've dropped the placing tables, brackets, and point system entirely. Since we lost so many categories of testing in the transition from the desktop to mobile, the remaining categories are mostly from the Essential bracket: CSS, DOM, JavaScript, and Standard Conformance. At the same time, the remaining categories from the Important bracket are upgraded due to the slower time scale on mobile devices: HTML5, Page Load Times, and Security. Only hardware acceleration (HWA) remains. But, due to the slow progression of titles able to exploit HWA, even that will arguably play a bigger role for casual gaming on mobile devices long before supporting hardcore games on the desktop.

Our new final scores are the geometric mean of all eight mobile WBGP composite scores, which makes creating the placing table and applying a point system unnecessary.

Drum roll, please. And the winner is...

Surprise, surprise, it's Apple's own Safari.

Placing
Browser
Score
1st
Safari
70
2nd
Maxthon
54
3rd
Dolphin
53
4th
Axis
52
Chrome
5th
Sleipnir
51


Safari's access to Nitro really pushes it way ahead of the other browsers designed for iOS. While Dolphin, Axis, Chrome, and Sleipnir all have slightly different scores, they are basically equals. With page load times and a smoothness nearly equal to Safari, Maxthon is really the only third-party iOS browser that stands out. But, in the end, any third-party Web browser on iOS is essentially tantamount to using an older version of Safari with a slightly different user interface and additional features. Therefore, if for whatever reason you decide against using Safari on your iOS-based device, you're best off simply going with the browser that you like the best.

Due to Apple's App Store mandate that all third-party iOS browsers utilize Safari's stock engines, browser competition on this mobile operating system is practically non-existent. Unless Apple reverses course, allowing other developers to compete using their own unique rending and JavaScript engines, we really only need to check in with iOS every time the platform receives a substantial upgrade.

But Tom's Hardware, I hate Apple. What about Android?

We're already working on it, folks. With Chrome, Firefox, and Opera providing their own unique engines, distinct from the stock Android browser, and Dolphin, Maxthon, and Sleipnir providing their own take on WebKit, Android is where the real mobile Web browser action is. That mobile operating system should be just as vibrant and competitive as any on the desktop. Stay tuned next week for the Android Web Browser Grand Prix.

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38 comments
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  • esrever
    All of them are the same since apple doesn't give developers any freedom.
  • ksampanna
    I mean, c'mon ... bt obviously
  • LuckyDucky7
    Was this review even necessary?
    There is no choice of browsers on iOS. None. Every "browser" is just a sub-par Safari wrapper.

    It's not like people buy iOS devices for the ability to tailor the device to their liking, after all- it's not called the "reality distortion field" for nothing.
  • victorious 3930k
    You may have forgotten the useful extra features category, where Chrome for iOS wins by MILES.
  • murzar
    Quote:
    But Tom's Hardware, I hate Apple. What about Android?


    Such condescension! What about people who actually like Android more? Or find its features more beneficial?

    Not every Android user hates Apple.
  • barathn
    I like the last paragraph
  • gamecube
    I hope next week we see not only tablet review. I'm more interested in the phone part of Android.

    And Ubuntu just release 12.10. This is a good time to have another Ubuntu Web Browser Grand Prix.
  • I'm curious what the benchmarks would be like if they installed the Nitrous Cydia tweak, which allows third party apps to use the Nitro engine. Any chance we can get a follow-up?
  • no IE ?
  • amdfangirl
    Quote:
    no IE ?


    On iOS?
  • amigafan
    No iCab mobile and no Atomic Web Browser :(
  • blackmagnum
    Hey Apple... This is unfair!
  • why should you buy apple products to begin with?
  • abbadon_34
    hmm...this article seems to imply I can stomach any Apple product post-Apple II
  • jaquith
    If you don't have an Apple iOS product then frankly go away, you're talking out your 'back side,' and go Troll somewhere else. Keep in mind all but two of the TH Editors have an iPhone and a slew of other Apple products - fact.

    I've tried Chrome and Dolphin and keep coming back to Safari. Most of these benchmarks are within milliseconds so ± <0.05~0.10 seconds or ± <1~2FPS in the real world is negligible, so it comes down to features. Chrome isn't bad but it still needs some improvements in it's UI and features which still aren't ready for prime time.
  • monkeysweat
    I have noticed on iOS 6 the newer Safari is much faster than it used to be, but speed isn't everything here,, how about features? I use chrome because it is better at blocking popups, quicker to switch to 'incognito' for banking, etc, also it syncs with my desktop history and favorites --- AND in my opinion has a better way of managing the tabs,,, Safari doesn't do any of this. I get lots of popups and redirects which I don't get on Chrome.
  • jaquith
    I like that Chrome syncs with my PC but where's the history (aside from recently closed tabs)? As far as pop-ups (even with Block Pop-up - 'on') and ad bars I've seen little differences between Safari and Chrome; try TH site. I do agree and I do like the 'incognito' but most of my e.g. banking is done on either my PC or Bank's App.

    On some sites Chrome isn't recognized as mobile friendly but it's not Chrome's fault, it's the site's fault.

    I have little doubt and look forward to later versions of Chrome that will solve many of these odd problems and fine tune their App.
  • drip50291
    um...what about Opera? Its faster with one bar of 3G than Safari is on Wifi.
  • blackened144
    murzarNot every Android user hates Apple.


    Maybe not but they yell the loudest.
  • kajunchicken
    What about web browsers available through Cydia? You know... the ones that AREN'T stuck with Apple's crappy limitations.
  • adamovera
    esreverAll of them are the same since apple doesn't give developers any freedom.

    ksampannaI mean, c'mon ... bt obviously

    LuckyDucky7Was this review even necessary?There is no choice of browsers on iOS. None. Every "browser" is just a sub-par Safari wrapper.It's not like people buy iOS devices for the ability to tailor the device to their liking, after all- it's not called the "reality distortion field" for nothing.

    cknobmanOne of the biggest waste of time articles ever published on this site. WTF Toms?

    Not everybody is aware of what's going on with browsers on iOS. I've had people request this article, and I've also heard people say "I use browser X on my iDevice instead of Safari because it's faster." Before Nitro, I would have to agree with you, esrever, they were all the same. Not anymore. I think the fact that Apple continues to limit 3rd-party browsers to using the stock engines, yet has a new JS engine that only Safari can access is complete BS. And Nitro plays a big part in real-world usage that isn't easily seen on benchmarks that measure any one aspect, just look at and page load times. All iOS browsers are the same, right? Then how come Safari is the only one who can walk and chew gum at the same time? Nitro. If Apple kept the playing field level and they all were forced to use the same engines, they could always evenly compete on featureset, but with Nitro, the fix is in. The question is, how long can Apple keep this up while being the dominant player in the tablet sector?
  • adamovera
    "just look at -RoboHornet Pro- and page load times" is what I meant to say, for some reason it pulled my link to the RoboHornet Pro article from the post...
  • adamovera
    gamecubeI hope next week we see not only tablet review. I'm more interested in the phone part of Android.And Ubuntu just release 12.10. This is a good time to have another Ubuntu Web Browser Grand Prix.

    I started with tablets due to the Internet connection. Studies show that tablets, unlike smartphones, are used overwhelmingly on WiFi connections as opposed to mobile data. Plus, mobile data varies too much. Whatever numbers I get here won't necessarily translate in San Fran or NYC, or even to another provider were I am.
    I'll probably include Ubuntu in a Windows-based WBGP sometime down the line, that won't be for a while though. Android is next, and Windows 8 is probably more important to most readers than Ubuntu right now.
  • adamovera
    amigafanNo iCab mobile and no Atomic Web Browser

    I picked them based on these three criteria:
    1) They have to be a regular browser - the Mini browsers have way too many issues with tests not running
    2) They have to be free (as in beer) - and no trial stuff, either
    3) Popularity/Rating
    iCab Mobile and Atomic didn't pass #2.