"Android can never be as smooth as iOS" myth busted

Two months ago, a Google intern kicked off a discussion about why Android is laggy: a sore point in the hearts of Android fans, and gave what seemed like a pretty legitimate explanation to non-developers. It spurred a huge discussion not only on the Internet, but right here with arguments being brought by both sides. 

In a nutshell, the former Google intern Andrew Munn said that UI rendering is happening as a main thread in Android while in iOS it’s in a dedicated thread given a real-time priority and that is why many find Android laggy. Moreover, Munn suggested that that’s an inherent flaw of the way Android is built. That’s why Android was to remain somewhat laggy despite dual and quad-core chips roaring under the hood, and actually whatever hardware is thrown in an Android device. We definitely advise you to check out Munn's first post to get all the details he touches on.

However in the recent months many people who really are experts in threaded programming in particular and Android at large have chimed in with comments saying Munn’s statement is uninformed at best and misleading at worst and his conclusions are simply false. We have to admit, that the technicality of Munn’s first post was very convincing to us as well, especially given the fact that Android and apps built for it are indeed often laggy.

The experts have a different opinion, though, and it’s backed by more experience and facts. So here’s the other side: Jay Freeman who made Cydia says that Munn’s post is “simply wrong,” Bob Lee, CTO of Square and former Android core library lead described it as “fallacies” and Matthew Chaboud, senior engineer at Avid brusquely concluded: “uninformed crap.”

Before we quote the developers, let us first include their own disclaimer: “While I'd love to explain why Android is laggy, while iOS, WP7 etc are fluid, I can't. I cannot claim that I know how a lot of little issues managed to cascade to an inferior experience for many of us.”

So with no further ado, here’s the details on all the fallacies of Munn’s initial post:

Matthew Chaboud, Senior Software Engineer at Avid:


Bob Lee, CTO of Square and former Android core library lead:

Jay Freeman's, iOS developer and developer of Cydia:


Brent Royal-Gordon, iOS developer:

All of this argues with Munn's arguments, but not with the existence of the problem itself. And it exists, at least if you ask the majority of Android users. Have you encountered any additional arguments explaining why? Don't hesitate to share your them along with your opinions in the comments below.

source: Andrew Munn via TheVerge

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68 Comments

1. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

FINALLY THE TRUTH COMES TO LIGHT!!!!!!!!! MUCHOS GRACIAS PHONEARENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Duh. And mostly from people on the other side, they had to prove him wrong now I can continue saying that Android will keep growing in terms of look quality and performance

39. JonGarrett

Posts: 34; Member since: Aug 06, 2011

you will NEVER find this kind of story on any apple fan site. they love to spread lies and misinformation about Android when 9 times out of 10, they've never used an Android device save for a broken piece of equipemnt you typically find at Best Buy.

13. tahnik

Posts: 200; Member since: Jul 17, 2011

Ya...it's right...Our windows sometimes lags...Don't they? iOS is very good i have to admit though... But Android gave us the freedom....It gave us the capability to customize the phone as we want... In iOS you are only able to do what your OS choose you to do...But in android you choose what your OS will do....:)

22. asimo

Posts: 41; Member since: Jan 05, 2012

yeah on ios you cannot not ask too much to the system, so it *never* lags... In fact it's your BRAIN that slows down, not ios that's smooth! (this one was easy sorry) ---------------------------->[] (i'm out)

45. kgdadon

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 25, 2012

YOU my friend hit it on the head with a sledge HAMMER !!! good post!

64. steve19800

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 16, 2012

That's probably the reason why Android prones to lag and less smooth. There are too many 'personality' to test.

23. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

yeah thanks a lot PA. appreciate it.

2. medalaster01

Posts: 43; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

"It’s because on iOS all UI rendering occurs in a dedicated UI thread with real-time priority. On the other hand, Android follows the traditional PC model of rendering occurring on the main thread with normal priority." said by jay freeman's which means android acts like windows on desktop and ios a more mobile oriented software. one more reason to stay Android.

4. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Eh.... not exactly

14. rcrider4

Posts: 118; Member since: Nov 14, 2011

That was the quote from the intern that Jay Freeman was refuting. It is not his own statement. Pay closer attention and you would have seen the quotes around that statement.

17. kylie

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 22, 2012

so you dont want mobile os in mobile,you want non-mobile os on your mobile

43. SleepingOz unregistered

We want SMARTER OS on our SMARTphones!

59. kylie

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 22, 2012

then why do you make the wrong choice. Buy a windows phone or an iphone.

62. thebikerboi2

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 01, 2011

tht depends, personaly i dont think smartphones are ready to handle a desktop style OS, simply not powerful enough although they are getting more powerful. plus you will never escape the fact that, the OS will always be orintated around the device.

5. JSern

Posts: 282; Member since: May 22, 2011

Nope. WP > iOS > Android in smoothness.

12. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Windows is indeed the smoothest but the menu ui block styling is akin to that of a the commadore 64 era and as so the processors don't need to break a sweat

16. JSern

Posts: 282; Member since: May 22, 2011

Yup, that's one point

51. BattleBrat

Posts: 1476; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Yes, you are right, WP is the smoothest I had the TITAN and a 4S side by side, the Titan is the smoothest, I own a RAZR, and it is pretty smooth for Android, I would like to see what my RAZR will do on ICS....

7. GPFboyJS

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 27, 2011

Sorry to say but both Android and iOS lag in some areas. I have friends with the latest iPhone 4s and myself running the latest Android phone. There are areas that the Android is substantially faster in rendering and others that the iOS device is faster. Ultimately it is the job of the App Developer to make the code of their application as efficient and optimized as possible. The OS is just the canvas.

8. nwright94 unregistered

Maybe other people have good luck with their Android handsets, but I haven't owned a smooth Android handset yet. My old Atrix on dual core being the laggiest. I understand thats probably because it was on froyo before I returned it for a windows phone. Now as for iPhone, mine probably lagged just as much as my old backflip. It was rooted so it wasn't the laggiest, but anyone whose owned a backflip understands what I mean. Now if you want smooth, get a windows phone.

9. c.hack

Posts: 614; Member since: Dec 09, 2009

I was going to respond on my Android tablet, but the keyboard was too laggy to type even a sentence and then it locked up. Yeah, Android's great - if you like to pay to debug Google's beta software. I use both Apple (original iPad and 4s) and Android (DX2 and A500 both dual core). Android cannot compete in responsiveness and smoothness with Apple. Even the dual core A500 is a laggy embarrassment compared to the first gen iPad.

24. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

You have the worst luck with stuff dude... I use my GT10.1 to post on PhoneArena several times a day without issue...

31. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Part of your problem is the DROID X2. Sure, it's dual core, but it also only has 512 megs of RAM. My Atrix, however, is pretty damn smooth, or at least it is when I don't have fifteen processes running in the background. Time to uninstall those Glu games!

41. ZayZay

Posts: 571; Member since: Feb 26, 2011

Do you sound this stupid in person too, or is it just on the internet? If you feel and hate android and it's laggyness so much, why do you have an android tab? Is your beloved Apple to expensive for you? You're funny because you are always saying "Well my friend has an android and it..." or "Well I had an android and it had this problem...? You are the replica of the annoying apple fanboy the commercials display. Good luck in life if you act like this all the time.

10. redmd

Posts: 1935; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

I would rather have this "lag" than not having Bluetooth file transfer or microsd slot or USB mass storage.

11. JSern

Posts: 282; Member since: May 22, 2011

Android users. U MAD?

32. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

not at all android may be not as smooth as iOS but this shows it could change android keeps getting better and better and anyone with 4.0 can tell you that

36. blazee

Posts: 414; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

Nope. R U?

15. zaryab_hussain77

Posts: 104; Member since: Jun 30, 2011

Ios is f**king simple n boring

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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