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Browser Wars: Speed & Benchmark comparison

Posted: , by Ray S.

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Browser Wars: Speed & Benchmark comparison
It's been a while since we last compared the marvelous mobile web browsers that we have at our disposal. So, after many new versions and updates, as well as entirely new offerings in the area, we decided it's finally time to put the leading browsers through their paces.

We decided to make a speed (page loading) and benchmark browser comparison featuring the following contenders...


THE CONTENDERS

  • ICS Stock
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Dolphin
  • Opera Mobile
  • Safari


THE RULES

The first test in the comparison has to do with speed! We're comparing the time needed for all browsers to load a set of web pages. With each browser, we loaded every page three times, with the first time being performed after a restart of the device. The purpose of this is to take into account both first-time and consecutive loading times of the web pages. In the first table below, you'll see the average timing achieved by each device for every page, as well as an average time figure, which is the average of the device's timing for all four pages.

The phone we used for the tests was the Samsung Galaxy S III with Android 4.0.4 ICS. Safari was tested using the Apple iPhone 4S.

All tests were made with Flash turned off in all browsers. Both the Galaxy S III and iPhone 4S were connected to the same Wi-Fi network and positioned at the same distance from the hotspot.

In the second test, we ran the BrowserMark and Ringmark benchmarks on all six browsers. When completed, BrowserMark returns a single "Score" number, while Ringmark shows the number of supported web features and successfully completed tests. Please bear in mind that such kinds of synthetic benchmarks don't always represent the browser's real-world performance.


TEST #1: PAGE LOADING TIMES

Although some may find it hard to believe, our first test proved that Chrome for Android isn't the ultimate go-to mobile browser. At least, not yet. With Ice Cream Sandwich, Google made some tremendous improvements in the system's stock browser, and it looks like this piece of software still isn't willing to step aside and surrender its place to Chrome. Most of the times, the stock ICS browser managed to slightly outperform Chrome, which practically guaranteed it the top spot, shared with Safari. Chrome took the silver with a convincing average result of 9.2 seconds, followed by Firefox and Dolphin. Opera Mobile finished far behind its competitors, but we should note here that the browser loaded the pages almost fully, and was perfectly operational, even though the progress bar stayed at about 90% for a long time. Nevertheless, since we are measuring the time it takes for the browsers to completely load a page, Opera Mobile's results ended up quite poor.

We'd also like to mention that we experienced no failed loading attempts with the iPhone 4S's Safari. With pretty much all other browsers, there were times when the loading progress would just stuck, or the page would not start to load at all, or would take suspiciously long to load completely. We have not taken those failed attempts into account for the the results that you see below.



PhoneArena.com (seconds) NYTimes.com
(seconds)
NationalGeographic.com
(seconds)
Imdb.com
(seconds)
Average
(seconds)
Android ICS Stock 11.9 7.6 9.4 4.1 8.2
Chrome 16.6 9.6 6.5 4.2 9.2
Firefox 15.3 9.6 10.5 7.6 10.7
Dolphin 18.9 13.8 10.3 4.2 11.8
Opera Mobile 16.3 27.5 22.3 9.7 18.9
Safari 12 6.5 10 4.4 8.2
* Lower is better


TEST #2: BENCHMARKS

You just can't make a comparison nowadays without checking out the benchmark numbers. Although we all know that these scores don't necessarily represent the browsers' real-world performance, we're relatively convinced that the numbers do stand for something, although it isn't perfectly what it is. The philosophy behind Ringmark is a step in the right direction, as it simply checks if a browser supports a number of basic and advanced technologies, including HTML 5. It's worth noting that many of these advanced browser/web technologies aren't needed for a full browsing experience yet, but some of them will probably become popular in the near future. Once again, before we go on with the scores themselves, what the Ringmark figures represent is the number of supported web features and successfully completed tests.



BrowserMark
(score)
Ringmark
(features / tests)
Android ICS Stock 167134 56 / 237
Chrome 158902 56 / 258
Firefox 75911 26 / 101
Dolphin 102398 56 / 237
Opera Mobile 44733 26 / 101
Safari 87231 56 / 251
* Higher is better


CONCLUSION

The tests we did kind of proved what we have previously observed when using these most popular mobile browsers. The stock Android browser in ICS is still a bit faster and smoother than Chrome in most situations, but this doesn't really matter much, as we know that Google is phasing it out, and replacing it with Chrome in Jelly Bean. The rest of the Android gang is also very strong, with Firefox trying to close the gap with the others, and Dolphin still holding strong positions. At this point, it is mostly a matter of which experience suits you best, with some small exceptions. Meanwhile, Apple seems to be doing a good job of keeping Safari on par with the best Android browsers, mixed with the traditional top-notch stability found in iOS.

At the end of the day, it becomes evident that there currently isn't a definite leader in the mobile browsing space, which is a good thing, because it will keep all parties motivated to improve and innovate their offerings.

Which is your current browser of choice? Do you plan to change it after seeing these results? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

68 Comments
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posted on 21 Aug 2012, 09:53 19

1. POLICE (banned) (Posts: 61; Member since: 21 Aug 2012)


But was the S3 on flight mode when doing the test?
Cause its a full OS it has so many apps running at the background, where's iP4s has few apps running.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:01 21

3. bucky (Posts: 1222; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Lol maybe we should check the temperature and humidity scale for that day as well. I think there was a full moon which would definitely hamper results.

We clearly need a re-test.

Nice to see that there a bunch of great choices.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:08 4

6. taz89 (Posts: 1946; Member since: 03 May 2011)


lol agree 2 different os so its never going to be possible to do a true comparison...alos even if the s3 oe any android phone was offline there will always be background app they just wont be able to connect to data..these test show how each browser has been modified for there respectable os..if one is faster than the other than its probably better optimized..i would guess if you were to put safari on android or stock ics browser on the iphone they will perform differently as they were not optimised.

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:41 1

53. i_am_aman (Posts: 13; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


what about the wifi in S3 & IP4 that too can make the diff...? :P

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 15:31 1

59. taz89 (Posts: 1946; Member since: 03 May 2011)


lol accidently thumbed you down...you are very right about wifi...if the wifi component is cheap on ome device and a more expensive wifi compoment on another it could very well make a difderence although probably in the miliseconds

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:24 2

24. joaolx (Posts: 334; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


It still has a faster cpu and more ram.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:45 1

33. sadaivadai (Posts: 156; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


The test conducted in this way is better .. Since we are not going to close all the apps when using the browser ..

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 09:58 16

2. abdane (Posts: 471; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


wow, shocked to see stock browser better than chrome ! o.O

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:02 3

30. jaoowolabi (Posts: 201; Member since: 07 Jun 2012)


yeaa but im still goin to use chrome. CHROME FTW

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:14 3

36. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


not surprised at all
try both on a galaxy nexus and you will feel it

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 19:50 2

48. The_Godfather (Posts: 146; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


Google Chrome ------ The Beast

posted on 26 Aug 2012, 07:07

65. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


is there a way to port ICS browser to jellybean ? Chrome sucks

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:04 5

4. -box- (Posts: 3566; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Wow, Opera needs to get itself updated or something. I remember when it was the go-to browser if speed was key, especially with its compression and "turbo" functions

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:19 1

11. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


opera mobile is not the same as opera mini. Opera mini is the speed browser I do believe. It still is the champion. However it uses side loading tricks and data compression to achieve that speed, which would give it unfair advantage in a regular browser test.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:28

12. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


what's the difference of mini and mobile?

i've been using opera because opera usually doesn't load all flash content and such and I like the interface.

the close button on the ics stock browser and chrome is very prone to accidental touches. it's the worst part for me since I frequently switch between tabs.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:23 2

23. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


on mini pages are rendered on opera serwers and compresed
on mobile phone renders page and you can choose to compress data or not
mini for slower phones and bandwith save
mobile for fast phones
I have browsermar on sgs3 international 75.000
and moto razr has 55.000
i don't know where they find this results
probably apple payed them

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:31 2

28. POLICE (banned) (Posts: 61; Member since: 21 Aug 2012)


Did you just type from your phone?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 15:14 1

43. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


yep :)

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 17:05 2

46. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


one is the regular mobile browser with full features, and the other is a more limited browser meant for quick page loads and very limited data use. Its been in use since RIM was popular. Basically when you put in a web address it pulls up over at Opera's servers who more or less take a medium resolution snap shot and send it to your phone. The result is that it loads up lightning quick and uses like 1/5th the data. The downsides are the lack of page options like flash, HTML5, ect.

posted on 26 Aug 2012, 12:20

66. rusticguy (Posts: 2811; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Opera mini doesnt work well for responsive sites and many sites are going in for responsive design.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:07 8

5. OpTiMuS_BlAcK (Posts: 411; Member since: 04 May 2012)


At least Dolphin is still the best in HTML5 :)

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 21:44

52. torr310 (Posts: 306; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


I tried both ICS stock and Chrome, Dolphin has way better UI.
It's a snap to switch between your favorite webs on Dolphin.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:11

7. rusticguy (Posts: 2811; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Check performance on responsive design based sites also with adaptive images ... perhaps test on bostonglobe.com

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:14

8. hung2900 (Posts: 714; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


One thing that the article forgot is page loading time also depends a little bit on resolution.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:14 2

9. androidornothing (Posts: 143; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


Chrome with Jelly Bean will kill any browser out there.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:16 3

21. aaronkatrini (Posts: 236; Member since: 06 Jun 2012)


wow! android is all about linux and people support google instead of firefox.... mah! Sad Tux is Sad :(

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:18 1

10. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


For these comparisons, you should also do "chrome on iOS" since that is available just to get a feel for how the different OS's use the same/similar code, also any other browsers that might be available on both iOS and Android for the same point.

What I find interesting is how few "features" Safari has compared to Android's stock/chrome browsers and still doesnt manage to best them. 26 features for iOS and 56 for android stock. Yea... looks like iOS has another place where it needs an update to a really old system.

posted on 31 Aug 2012, 17:24

71. Hemlocke (unregistered)


You need to get out more, or take a college class, because reading is obviously not your strong suit. You read what you WANT it to be, instead of what it really is, so the second paragraph just makes you look like a pathetic fanboy. I'm reading, and so is everyone else, 56 for both. Having owned plenty of Android and iOS devices, the only real difference comes down to personal preference where browsers are concerned.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:35 2

13. vivzek (Posts: 23; Member since: 03 Jul 2012)


I use the Dolphin browser a lot these days and it seems to be doing the work pretty fine and reliably.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:37 1

14. macfire111 (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Aug 2012)


why has internet explorer been tested ? Or is it not considered good enough for these "tests"

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:40 2

16. The_Innovation (Posts: 531; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


Pretty much.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:14

20. aaronkatrini (Posts: 236; Member since: 06 Jun 2012)


good point! but IE performance on mobile is quite pleasant! (ok, i had to try it myself to believe it LOL) thumbs up ;)

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:39

15. The_Innovation (Posts: 531; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


lol, Safari.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:48 1

17. redmd (Posts: 786; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I use opera mini for slow mobile internet connections but use the stock Android browser for everything else. Chrome has a lot of catching up. It's slow and not smooth when zooming.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 10:54 2

18. hung2900 (Posts: 714; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


One thing that the article forgot is page loading time also depends a little bit on resolution. Why not MX 4quad vs iphone?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:12 1

19. aaronkatrini (Posts: 236; Member since: 06 Jun 2012)


I use Opera Mobile for the UI and features (like text re-formatting for better reading).
I'm pretty sure benchmarks say the truth about these browsers, but thats not all. I mean there were many things not covered by this test. Example : second time load page! very very important!

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:18

22. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


when I see results of sgs3, i thought that it is mistake or this iste is lying
and then i realise that you tested probobly us version with snapdragon
please test international with exynos
i like opera mobile and on cortex a9 it is much faster
in browsermark it has 75.000 and national geographic is loaded in max 6 second in clear cash and 20mb wifi

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:24

25. shadowcell (Posts: 300; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


On the Android side I found Chrome to be the best for loading desktop sites with smoother scrolling than the ICS browser. May be a bit slow but you don't get that "jarring" feel when moving up and down the page. The tabbing system is top notch being more productive rather than fun gestures.

Dolphin HD still remains the best when it comes to reliability and HTML5 site viewing.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:29

26. Hatshipuh (Posts: 13; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


Preferred the Stock Browser over Chrome because of the quick settings, made one handed navigation easier.
But now I went with Sleipnir Browser, though loading pages is slower than Stock or Chrome, because I really dig the UI and easier gesture control than Dolphin.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:29

27. speckledapple (Posts: 877; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


To be honest, with internet speeds these days and overall hardware, just like the laptop or desktop, browser speed matters little.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:32

29. Hatshipuh (Posts: 13; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


Btw I'd like to see the browsers tested on a Galaxy Nexus, so the Stock JellyBean Browser can be included.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:21

31. Ray.S (Posts: 239; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


The stock JB browser is the Chrome browser.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 21:18

50. AppleWho (banned) (Posts: 57; Member since: 06 Aug 2012)


not mine...lol...I modded mine to include flash...runs awesome...I will take it over what is tested per this article. I do like chrome because of my desktop bookmarks sync, though.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 21:19

51. AppleWho (banned) (Posts: 57; Member since: 06 Aug 2012)


plus, were these tests done on a tablet or phone, ICS or JB, all tested on same phone type or various phones?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:33

32. observer (unregistered)


This comparison is flawed. do you know why? It doesn't compare on the software stability. The app with the most tricks that ease up the browsing experience. If you compare these two, Opera Mobile will win easily.

Opera feels very smooth when browsing although it's a little bit late with rendering the web page. also, no matter how many tabs open it will stay stable and it's funny because i tried all the browsers available on android. ALL (Firefox, Chrome, Stock browser) of them crashes at some point of my browsing, Opera doesn't. It just go very strong until i get bored and turn off my tablet.

Last, The tricks i'm talking about are smooth scrolling, good bookmarking features and the most awesome trick of all, is the go to the end of the page or the beginning of it with 1 touch, Scroll faster until a small icon with an arrow shows up and touch it.

Opera Mobile WINS single handidly for the complete package experience. It's just under appreciated by critics.

I'd recommend it to all users.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:53

34. NobiAB (Posts: 3; Member since: 21 Aug 2012)


I use Opera Mini while using operator's data plan and Dolphin while using wLan...Seems quite practical for me...

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:11

35. Benjammin (Posts: 2; Member since: 22 Jul 2012)


Good job on the tests. Isn't the new Dolphin Beta supposed to be really fast?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:31

37. AppleWho (banned) (Posts: 57; Member since: 06 Aug 2012)


I am running JB AOSP Flash browser on my N7 - call me when you test JB devices.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:39

38. Planterz (Posts: 230; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


I want to know how Firefox compares in page loading speeds with the adblock plugin installed.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:59

39. Mobile-X-Pert (Posts: 565; Member since: 20 Dec 2010)


I would like to see how internet explorer 10 will perform on WP8 with Sanpdragon S4.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 14:02

40. MingLiangChen (Posts: 13; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


I actually feel that Opera is the smoothest..

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 14:44

41. SmartPhoneStream (Posts: 157; Member since: 21 Jun 2012)


What about Maxthon browser?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 16:41

44. jinwons (Posts: 89; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)


I think this test is somewhat flawed because stock browser in GS3 is not pure android ICS browser. Samsung modified it a bit in Touchwiz UX, probably adding some GPU acceleration into it. So they should use Galaxy Nexus for this kind of testing.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 16:48

45. richardyarrell2011 (banned) (Posts: 510; Member since: 16 Mar 2011)


I love the stock browser no doubt and don't really want to lose the stock browser just because of jellybean updates on my Galaxy S3. Seems like we are losing too much first flash on jellybean now the stock browser on jellybean. Chrome better be real good otherwise my Galaxy S3 will remain on ice cream sanwhich for a while. I might just purchase the Galaxy Note 2 and that will be my jellybean device while the Galaxy s3 will be my ice cream samwich device.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 18:56

47. jeroome86 (Posts: 57; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


I like chrome and Dolphin the best. But I miss the reader on my iPhone. Wish they implement this on the Chrome browser.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 20:32

49. jgcaap (Posts: 35; Member since: 22 Feb 2011)


how about windows phone browser? Doesnt it pown down every browser out there ? i wish we had something similer for android.

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:45

54. picka_vi_materina (Posts: 156; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


FYI, PhoneArena, iPhone isn't done loading when the progress bar finishesh. Check out the top bar and you'll find another loading wheel. Apple is trying to full people by letting them think it finished loading ahead of everyone else, when in reality it's completely different.

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:45

55. bander (Posts: 6; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)


I use Dolphin & I love it

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:46

56. picka_vi_materina (Posts: 156; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


BTW, Nokia N9 is not far off from those dual/quad cores. It was pretty much 2/3s slower and it's a 1GHz single core A8, not even A9.

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 08:35

57. kindlefireowner (Posts: 311; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


I have opera, dolphin, and firefox on my phone. I like opera the best because it's just easy to use. They should have put UC Web in that test. UC Web is faster than all of them.

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