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Which Web Browser Should You Run On Your Android Device?

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

Versus The Desktop Web Browser Grand Prix

As we stated in our exploration of iOS-based Web browser performance, much of the desktop benchmark suite had to be dropped from mobile testing. Let's quickly recap the losses.

Start time is scaled back to just a single-tab “hot” start. Mobile OSes only load the active tab, and background tabs aren't loaded until they are made active. This makes the eight-tab start time irrelevant. Since tablets are usually never powered down unless they run out of battery, “cold” start times are also irrelevant.

Current mobile operating systems handle memory and multi-tasking in a very different manner than PCs, so the memory efficiency tests from the desktop are not needed, either. With the loss of the 40-tab memory test and the inability to load all tabs simultaneously, the page load reliability test cannot be conducted either.

We also lost plug-ins, so Flash, Java, and Silverlight aren't needed. WebGL was jettisoned too, since no mobile Web browser supports it yet.

Versus The iOS Web Browser Grand Prix

We lost WebVizBench and Psychedelic Browsing on Android, since the tests fail to run on too many browsers. However, JSGameBench makes a return as our hardware acceleration benchmark.

There was no need to substitute the GUIMark2 HTML5 Vector Charting tests with GUIMark3's Vector Test, as we did on the iPad. In an odd reversal, the GUIMark3 version crashes on most Android browsers. We did, however, need to scrap the Bitmap Gaming portion of the test, as well as the Asteroids HTML5 Canvas 2D & JavaScript benchmark because Dolphin has issues running those tests.

Sadly, we're all out of CSS performance tests: Kaizoumark will not run on several browsers, the CSS Stress Test & Performance Profiling is a bookmarklet and will therefore not work on Android, and Maze Solver still has serious issues with Firefox.

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

Test System Specs
ModelAsus Transformer TF300T
Operating SystemGoogle Android 4.1.1 "Jelly Bean"

Display10.1" LED-Backlit WXGA IPS (1200x800)ProcessorNvidia Tegra 3 (quad-core) @ 1.2 GHzGraphicsNvidia ULP GeForceMemory1 GB DDR3Storage32 GB eMMC FlashNetworking802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4 GHzLocal Web Server SpecsOperating SystemUbuntu 12.04.1 LTS Server Edition "Precise Pangolin" (32-bit)ProcessorIntel Pentium 4 @ 2.41 GHzMotherboardBiostar P4M80-M4Memory768 MB DDR @ 333 MHzGraphicsNvidia GeForce FX 5500 128 MB DDR (AGP)StorageWestern Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJD, 160 GB EIDE, 7200 RPMExtra PackagesApache2, MySQL Client, MySQL Server, PHP5, PHP-GD, PHP5-MySQL, PHPMyAdmin, SSH, Node.js, NPMNetwork SpecsISP ServiceCox Preferred (18 Mb/s down, 2 Mb/s up)ModemArris Touchstone Telephony Modem TM502GRouterLinksys WRT54G2 V1Benchmark SuitePage Load TimeStart Time (Yahoo! homepage, Cached)Uncached Load Time (Eight Test Pages)Cached Load Time (Eight Test Pages)JavaScriptRIABench JavaScript (Eight Tests)Apple SunSpider v0.9.1 (Google Mod)Mozilla Kraken v1.1Google Octane v1FutureMark Peacekeeper v2RightWare BrowserMark v2DOMMozilla Dromaeo DOM CoreHTML5GUIMark2 HTML5 (Three Tests)HTML5 Canvas Performance TestImpact HTML5 BenchmarkMandelbrot Set in HTML5Hardware AccelerationFacebook JSGameBench v0.4.1Standards ConformanceHTML5Test.comThe CSS3 TestEcmascript Language test262Facebook ringmarkSecurityBrowserscope Security

Although applicable links are included in the table above, we've also created a delicious account dedicated to chronicling links to Web Browser Grand Prix benchmarks.

The Transformer, local Web server, and all software were updated as of midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on November 24, 2012. Detailed methodologies are explained on the individual benchmark pages.