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

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

Victims of the Transition to Mobile

Our start time test is now scaled back to just a single tab, started "hot". Tablet operating systems only load the page in the active tab, and additional background tabs do not load until they're selected, making the eight-tab start-up time difficult to accurately measure and basically irrelevant. Likewise, most people never actually power down their tablets, making “cold” start times irrelevant as well.

Current mobile operating systems also handle memory and multi-tasking in a very different manner than PC operating environments, with a focus on suspending background applications and single-tasking. Therefore, the memory efficiency tests from the desktop suite are also not needed.

With the loss of the 40-tab memory test and the inability to load all tabs simultaneously, the page load reliability and responsiveness tests cannot be applied to mobile platforms either. While we could include "smoothness" and/or "usability" indicators, because this is the first time we're running the WBGP on iOS, we want to see how the raw numbers stack up before injecting any subjective metrics into the equation.

Because tablets do not have on plug-ins like desktops do, the Flash, Java, and Silverlight tests from the desktop WBGP test suite are gone, too. And finally, mobile platforms do not yet support WebGL, so those tests from the regular WBGP suite were dropped as well.

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

Test System Specs
Model
Apple iPad (third-generation)
Operating System
Apple iOS 6
Home ScreenHome Screen
Display
9.7" LED-Backlit IPS Retina Display (2048x1536)
Processor
Apple A5X ARM Cortex-A9 @ 1 GHz (dual-core)
Memory
1 GB LP-DDR2
Storage
16 GB
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n
Local Web Server Specs
Operating System
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS Server Edition "Precise Pangolin" (32-bit)
Processor
Intel Pentium 4 @ 2.41 GHz
Motherboard
Biostar P4M80-M4
Memory
768 MB DDR @ 333 MT/s
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce FX 5500 128 MB DDR (AGP)
Storage
Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJD, 160 GB EIDE, 7200 RPM
Extra Packages
Apache2, MySQL Client, MySQL Server, PHP5, PHP-GD, PHP5-MySQL, PHPMyAdmin, SSH, Node.js, NPM
Network Specs
ISP Service
Cox Preferred (18 Mb/s down, 2 Mb/s up)
Modem
Motorola SURFboard SBS101U
Router
Linksys WRT54G2 V1
Benchmark Suite
Page Load Time
Start Time (Yahoo! homepage, Cached)
Uncached Load Time (Eight Test Pages)
Cached Load Time (Eight Test Pages)
JavaScript
RIABench JavaScript (Nine Tests)
Apple SunSpider v0.9.1 (Google Mod)
Mozilla Kraken v1.1
Google Octane v1
FutureMark Peacekeeper v2
RightWare BrowserMark
DOM
Mozilla Dromaeo DOM Core
CSS
Kaizoumark
HTML5
GUIMark2 HTML5 (Four Tests)
Asteroids HTML5 Canvas 2D And JavaScript
HTML5 Canvas Performance Test
Impact HTML5 Benchmark
Mandelbrot Set in HTML5 (FHD)
Hardware Acceleration
WebVizBench
Standards ConformanceHTML5Test.com
The CSS3 Test
Ecmascript Language test262
Facebook ringmark
SecurityBrowserscope Security


The iPad, local Web server, and all software were updated as of midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on October 15th, 2012.

Now, let's break some new ground and see how the iOS Web browsers stack up against each other.

This thread is closed for comments
38 comments
    Your comment
  • 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.